Better than Bean-o?
I won’t go through the statistics detailing how much energy and water that livestock producers need to produce a pound of beef; you can look that up easily online. What I will tell you that if you think there’s no interest in taste between grain-fed and grass-fed beef, go to a high end butcher, or drag yourself to Argentina for a week—the Argentine diet of their grass-fed beef and creamy gelato will mean you’ll have to be dragged back home. I personally have reduced my beef consumption—mostly for health reasons, but in the big picture, the American beef industry is simply not sustainable. I’ve mentioned before that the smells you encounter driving up I-5 in central California are enough to turn you off beef. But what if we could somehow reduce the environmental damage from beef production, while ensuring healthier cows, and to that end, a better tasting steak on your grill? Well, someone’s figured this out. A farmer in Vermont found that he could reduce his cattle’s methane emission by feeding them grasses and other plants rich in Omega-3’s. Little known fact: cows—and bulls--create a lot of methane, which when released into our atmosphere, is even more damaging that carbon. Tinier known fact: most of the gas that cattle leak out are not from the, umm, back end—they burp it out. So a farming couple in Vermont changed their cattle’s diet, nixing the grains for grasses such as alfalfa and flax. The result? Prettier cows with silkier coats, a reduction in vet bills, and less gas burped out of cattle’s rumen, the first stomach in their digestive system. Apparently the French dairy conglomerate, Danone, has done this for years—and the reduction in methane varies by farm to 10 to 20 percent. Happier farmers, and (for a while), happier cows—and this little story shows that making adjustments don’t have to be draconian, or even negative.