We hear a lot about sustainable agriculture, but what exactly is it?
Over the next few weeks we are going to talk about some of the practices that CultivatR and our vendors do to make agriculture better. Better agriculture is good for everyone; the producer, the consumer and the environment.
The first topic we are going to discuss is Beef. We often hear how eating beef is bad for the environment. Like so many things these days, we are only hearing about part of the problem and part of the solution. It is not the consumption of meat that is hurting the environment. It is the production method. By changing the production method, animals can actually help our environment.
People often ask, why do we only sell grass fed beef? The answer is because it is the most sustainable and properly done, it has added health benefits and tastes amazing. Cattle are meant to graze and eat grass, not sit in a crowded pen and be fed grain. The reason cattle are fed in intensive feedlots is efficiency. It is the fastest way to get cattle into our food system. The arguments for feedlots are;
- That we need more food to feed the world; this is the way to keep prices low
- The faster we feed cattle the less emission they produce
The first argument was true in the 1950’s when feedlots were created to increase food supply for the baby boom of the 1950s. People also did not understand climate change back then. Because of education and technology, feedlots have become so efficient they are actually producing beef too fast. This is leading to an oversupply and lower prices for the feedlot operators and the ranchers who raise cattle. Secondly, beef is not what is being fed to hungry people around the world. The modern system is only good for the packing plants. We will remind you that there are only two companies that supply 95% of Canada’s beef.
As for the second argument, there is some truth. If something is done quicker it will produce less emissions. It makes sense for part of the operation . However, when you look at the total operation, growing/buying feed, transportation costs, animal waste management, it is not actually true.
That leads us to Grass Fed Beef. Properly raised grass fed cattle spend their whole life in pasture grazing on grasses. It does take cattle a longer time to finish on grasses, but it is easier on the animals stomach because they are meant to eat grass. The key to a well run grass fed beef operation is healthy grass. Just like your lawn at home, native grass will regenerate on their own. Ranchers work hard to ensure that the cattle are not just using the land, but helping it at the same time. Using rotational grazing, the cattle are moved from one area to the next in a sequence to keep the grass growing properly. Again if you think of your lawn, if you cut it too short it will die, if you leave it too long it dies too. Cattle work like lawn mowers ensuring that the grasses are healthy. In addition to this, the cattle also fertilize and aerate the grasses. These processes create healthy soil and biodiversification of microbes which can sequester large amounts of carbon Properly grazed pasture can act as a major carbon sink, offsetting emissions. Maybe Grass Fed beef might actually lead to net negative beef.
At CultivatR we do the work for you and we're very proud to work with Gemstone Grass Fed Beef and all of our producers that are trying to make agriculture better for you and the environment.