Bastrop Cattle Company

  (Bastrop, Texas)
Bastrop Cattle Company
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Carbon footprint production and transportation measurements

Yesterday I wrote about hearing Mark Bitman speak on NPR and how he was encouraging people to change their diets to help the environment.  After writing, I went out on the web and did some more searching -- especially in regard to my statement that it seems that everybody's carbon footprint would be decreased if they bought local.

OK, so there is a study out by Carnagie-Mellon that has actually tried to measure food's carbon footprint.  They have figured out that 85% of the carbon footprint is made up of how the food is produced or raised.  WOW!

They then figure that transporation of the food only accounts for 11% and the transportation between seller and buyer is a mere 4%.

Now, I didn't see the report -- I would like to -- I just read what one person was quoting from another person who did see the report. 

What was interesting (and this is why we should all see the information as close to the source as possible!), the guy who was writing the article - went on to state that since transporation is such a small part of the footprint it could be argued that sunny, poor countries may actually be a better place to raise food than developed countries ----

Stick with me here!

ie if you live in Iceland and you use lots of energy to raise greenhouse tomatoes you are creating more of a carbon footprint than if you raise the tomatoes in the field in Mexico and air frieght them to Iceland.

I kid you not! 

Now I can see where the industrial way of producing crops and raising meat would leave a big footprint -- lots of petrochemical based fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, but what if you're not using all that stuff?

Now, wouldn't the transportation carbon costs become proportationally bigger?

Again, I'd really like to see the research and report. 

The article I saw was at:


Reducing the Carbon Footprint by Buying Local

Between throwing hay to the cows and delivering meat in Austin, I try to keep up with the food trends in the country.  This past week I listened to Mark Bitman being interviewed on NPR.  He was promoting his new book, Food Matters, which maintains that all of us can have a positive impact on the environment just by altering our eating habits.  Now since part of his suggestion was that we all eat less meat, I was a bit "vexed" to say the least!  So this weekend, I surfed on over to the NPR website and looked up some more on the interview.  I wanted to see if Mr. Bitman had differentiated the carbon footprints between grass fed meat and feedlot or industrial meat.  I also wanted to see if he talked at all about local, and sustaninable agriculture as part of the solution to reducing carbon dioxide.

No, he hadn't; at least not in the interview.  Maybe he does in his book.  I can hope!

Obviously, I have a self-interest in promoting grass fed beef.  And I do think that the grass fed movement for meat - be it chicken, beef or pork - does have a very important place in reducing our individual and collective carbon footprint.

 On my website blog, I talk about all the difference in how grass fed meat is raised versus industrial meat, and how that substantially reduces the carbon footprint of both the producer and the consumer.

However, what I think is of concern to all of us producers here on Local Harvest is getting the word out about how local, sustainable agriculture and local purchase of the produce, meats and products coming from local farms, ranches and artisans substantially reduces the carbon footprint of all of us -- as a nation.

Mr. Bitman talks a lot about reducing the intake of animal products and increasing the intake of veggies and fruits as a primary way of reducing each person's carbon footprint.  Now, I think (even though I raise and sell grass fed beef) that everyone would be better health wise to eat smaller portions of meat and substantially increase their vegetable and fruit intake.

However, here is my question; if you are giving up meat but sourcing your vegetables from across the country or out of the country, just how much have you really reduced your carbon footprint?

I think it is important that the word get out -- if people really care about the environment, then buy local, sustainable produce and meats. 

As the bumper sticker goes "Eat Local, its Thousands of Miles Better".

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