Tag Archives: Kim Stackhouse-Lawson

Food Waste — We All Play a Role…

A study performed by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2011 found that in the United States approximately 40% of all food grown for human consumption is wasted. While beef “food waste” is lower than that average, its’ 20% figure still staggers me.

Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson with my favorite blonde cowgirl...

Dr. Stackhouse-Lawson with my favorite blonde cowgirl (a couple of years ago)…

Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, through her work developing a lifecycle assessment for beef (NSF certified 2013), identified that cutting consumer waste of beef in half would improve the overall sustainability of beef farming by a whopping 10%. As a cattlewoman who cares about environmental responsibility, this statistic caught my attention.

Because I am both a farmer and a consumer, I recently spent some time thinking about things that I do, both at the feed yard and in my kitchen, to reduce waste.


As a Cattle Farmer:

  1. The majority of my cattle are born and raised in the Sandhills of Nebraska. This unique grassland ecosystem allows for cattle to turn land not suitable for crop production into meat all while improving wildlife habitat and protecting the natural beauty of the land.
  2. After the cattle move from the ranch to my feed yard in preparation for harvest, more than half of what they eat is “by products”. In other words, during the final phase of beef production, cattle are *recyclers* and eat the part of the plant that is leftover after its’ primary use is complete.
  3. The majority of my cattle live their entire lives within a two hour radius of my farm which reduces both animal stress and transportation costs. Both of these components lesson the environmental footprint of my beef.
  4. The waste material (manure) that my cattle produce is recycled by my favorite farmer and used to maintain soil health on our crop farm.
Homemade meatloaf with home grown tomatoes is one of my summer favorites!

Homemade meatloaf with garden fresh tomatoes is one of my summer favorites!

As a Mom and a “food consumer”:

  1. My favorite farmer and I eat dinner leftovers (reheated for lunch)
  2. Food not eaten by our family is fed to my favorite teenager’s Rhode Island Red Laying Chickens, and thereby *Recycled* into eggs for our family.
  3. We make frequent trips to the grocery story (mostly because as a working mom I struggle on organized planning for meal preparation, but on the positive side this decreases the amount of food purchased that deteriorates in the refrigerator before being eaten.)
  4. Any portion of food individually taken at the dinner table is expected to be eaten. Our girls are good about cleaning their plates and not taking more food than they are able to eat. This facilitates saving leftovers for future lunch use.

It is estimated that food waste costs the average American family of four $1365.00-$2275.00 per year. This out of pocket cost is in addition to the environmental impact of wasted resources as well as food security issues. While reform is needed at each sector of the food production system, food waste at the household level is the most costly as the resources needed to deliver the food to the plate are highest at this last stage of the food production chain.

How do you limit food waste in your kitchen?

Author's note: Reducing food waste is a personal goal.

Author’s note: Reducing food waste both on my farm and in my kitchen is a personal goal. I plan to revisit this topic periodically and hope that you will share in the journey by thinking of and sharing ways that you too can reduce food waste.

Together we can make a more sustainable planet…


Filed under Environmental Stewardship, General

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