To eat meat or not is a debate environmentalists have been hashing out for decades. Everyone agrees that no meat from a feedlot is good for the environment, but many believe that livestock play a crucial role in creating diverse forms of agriculture that imitate nature. The Huffington Post has a great interview with Nicollette Hahn Niman, a rancher and the author of Righteous Porkchop, on the role meat plays in a sustainable world.
Here are some of our favorite quotes:
“One thing I’ve become convinced of is that the best farming mimics nature. Natural ecosystems are all built on the relationships of sunshine, water, plants and animals. So, I would say that, actually, the most environmentally sound diet includes some meat, dairy and eggs.“
“All food from animals — meat, dairy, fish, eggs — should be treated as something special. Anyone raising food animals in the traditional healthy way without relying on industrial methods, drugs and chemicals, is someone who will benefit from people embracing this approach.
We think Meatless Monday is part of a shift in attitude about meat. Towards something that is precious, not something consumed without thought, or in enormous quantities.”
“If we really want a sustainable healthful food system, we need to take the dollars we’re putting into agriculture and shift it towards good methods. I support the use of public funds for agriculture – but I don’t understand why we’re not putting it towards a food system that is environmentally benign and producing healthy food.”
We’ve all heard the mantras, seen the bumper stickers, puzzled over the portmanteaus–”Buy local,” “locavores,” “glocal.” But what if local is not the simple solution we’ve been told? What if eating locally, in some instances, can compromise your access to fresh food or unnecessarily skew market prices? That’s the premise of a recent post at the Atlantic by Barry Estabrook, former contributing editor at Gourmet magazine. Estabrook writes:
“It has all but become an article of faith that sourcing food locally is the most sustainable alternative to our current global food production system. But there is a growing body of evidence that local may be only part of the answer.
“Speaking at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions event last week, Richard Pirog, the associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, said larger regional food economies might be the solution.”
This approach–eating regionally, or within one’s watershed–is an idea long explored by Heifer International. In a fall 2009 article in “The Exchange” newsletter (PDF), Arthur Getz Escudero took a look at Heifer’s efforts, particularly in North America, and introduced many of us to a new term: the “foodshed.”
Volunteers help build a chicken coop at Felder Farm in Little Rock, AR
The idea of crops mobs has been getting some press lately (most notably in the NY Times). The idea is pretty simple: landless farmers, gardeners, and wannabe farmers get together and mob a farm helping weed, prepare soil, build farm structures and do other labor intensive farming work.