The Myths of Sustainability Relative to Beef Production…

cabstripsteakI really love to eat beef!

I really love to eat beef, and it is important to me that I feel good about my food choices.  Because I care about the environment and the sustainability of our earth, I strive to raise beef responsibly.  At the end of the day, I want to feel good about both how I spent my day raising cattle and also about the beef that I place on the dinner table for my family to eat.

This is a good way to end the day...

This is a good way to end the day…

There are many myths regarding the topic of sustainability and beef production.  I asked Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson to address a few of these in the hopes that it will enable us all to have a clearer picture of the “sustainability of our beef”.

Anne: What are the top 3 myths that you hear about related to sustainability and the beef production chain?

Kim: 1) Grass fed or organic is more sustainable than conventionally-raised beef. This is simply not true. When it comes to measuring sustainability, more efficient utilization of resources like land and water is the most important thing. I am not advocating that consumers should not eat grass fed or organic beef or that they should choose conventional beef. The great thing about food is that in America, we have a choice – but if you are choosing one production method because you believe one production practice is more sustainable than another, you are misinformed.

2) Eating less beef improves your individual sustainability. Beef producers have reduced their environmental burden by 9 percent in five years. Cattlemen and cattlewomen are already working toward a more sustainable future and beef is necessary to provide protein to a growing global population. In fact, every agriculture product will be necessary as we work to provide food for more than 9 billion people with a balanced diet without depleting our natural resources. Furthermore, many cattle ranchers are located on land that cannot be utilized for crop production and cattle do a great job converting forage that is otherwise unusable by humans to a nutrient dense protein.

3) All of the environmental impact of food occurs on the farm – Actually, in many of the sustainability impact categories we measured, such as energy use, the consumer and retailer use more energy than the farmers. This illustrates why it is so important to evaluate sustainability across the entire supply chain – so that improvements can be made where they actually make a difference.

Feel good about what you cook.  Megan does :)

Understanding where your food comes from helps you to feel good about what you cook. Just ask Megan  🙂


Filed under General, Sustainable Spring

7 responses to “The Myths of Sustainability Relative to Beef Production…

  1. Karla Pazour

    Keep up the good work spreading factual info — and thanks to Dr. Stackhouse Lawson for her studies and putting it into a level that I can understand!

    • Thank you, Karla! I appreciate your support. I agree that Dr. Stackhouse Lawson does a great job taking a complicated topic and putting it into terms that are relatively easy to understand.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting,

  2. Rex

    Anne and Karle,
    “Livestock’s Long Shadow” recommends that the American meat production systems be used rather than the other way around to reduce greenhouse gas. Why us that always lost?

    • Rex,

      Livestock’s Long Shadow is a highly flawed document that is frequently used to perpetuate myths regarding the sustainability of food animal production. Part of the reason that Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson is leading the beef sustainability study is so that we can have an accurate account of the environmental footprint of the beef industry. The results from the initial study are currently being validated, and when the first part of the study is complete and validated then I plan to blog in more detail about it then.

      Thanks for reading–I share your frustration.

  3. Another good post… Hope you have a happy and blessed Memorial Day weekend 🙂 Hope you get some sun and warmer temps (just not too warm 😉 )

    • Great to hear from you! We got some needed rain on Friday night, and have had pretty nice temperatures since then. My youngest two girls and I went down to our pasture ground with the horses this morning to check fences and have a little bit of fun. The grass is really growing now, and I hope to take cattle down to graze it sometime this week. I hope that all is well!


      • That sounds like a great day… nothing new here just getting spring things done as you are 🙂 Glad you all are well and getting some nice weather and green grass 🙂

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