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Lynn Shwadchuck

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Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« on: March 06, 2013, 08:51:09 PM »
Here are a few key points gleaned from Vaclav Smil http://www.vaclavsmil.com/ on this topic. The whole chapter from his book Population and Development Review is available here: http://www.vaclavsmil.com/wp-content/uploads/docs/smil-article-2002-pdr2003.pdf

........
Animal foods provided generally less than 15 percent of all dietary protein, and saturated animal fats supplied just around 10 percent of all food energy for preindustrial populations.

In 1900 just over 10 percent of the world’s grain harvest was fed to animals, most of it going to energize the field work of draft horses, mules, cattle, and water buffaloes rather than to produce meat. By 1950 the global share of cereals used for feeding reached 20 percent, and it surpassed 40 percent during the late 1990s (USDA 2001a). National shares of grain fed to animals now range from just over 60 percent in the United States to less than 5 percent in India.

In macronutrient terms, meat now supplies 10 percent of all food energy and more than 25 percent of all protein in rich countries, while the corresponding shares are, respectively, merely 6 percent and 13 percent for the poor world.

Grain harvests in highly carnivorous countries, or in countries producing feeds for export, must be multiples of those needed for direct human consumption, and the food demand of a modern urbanite has to be a multiple of the area claimed by an overwhelmingly (or entirely) vegetarian subsistence peasant.

At least 80 percent and as much as 96 percent of all protein in cereal and leguminous grains fed to animals are not converted to edible protein.

An overwhelmingly vegetarian diet produced by modern high-intensity cropping needs no more than 800 m2 of arable land per capita. A fairly balanced Chinese diet of the late 1990s, containing less than 20 kg of meat, was produced from an average of 1,100 m2/ capita; the typical Western diet now claims up to 4,000 m2/capita.

Adequate water supply is now widely seen as one of the key concerns of the twenty-first century. Few economic endeavors are as waterintensive
as meat production in general and cattle feeding in particular.

The modern separation of large-scale livestock production from field agriculture makes it impossible to recycle the large volume of wastes produced by thousands of animals concentrated in huge feedlots or sties.

Meat production is also a significant source of greenhouse gases. Enteric fermentation in bovines is a major source of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas whose global warming potential (GWP, over a period of 100 years) is 23 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2) during the first 20 years of its atmospheric residence (CDIAC 2001). And denitrification of nitrates in synthetic fertilizers and in animal manures releases nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas with a GWP nearly 300 times that of CO2 (CDIAC 2001). But because meat production requires heavy inputs of agrochemicals and inputs of fuel and electricity for manufacturing and operating field and barn machinery, its most important impact on global warming is, nevertheless, due to CO2 generated from the combustion of fossil fuels used to make these additional inputs. CO2 is also released from the burning of tropical forests that are being converted to pastures.

.... end of clipped quotes....

Only a globally implemented carbon tax that reflects the true cost of this food will change deeply embedded eating habits, I believe. However, it does help to set an example of an alternate way of feeding ourselves. This has been my little soapbox for about three years now.

A more enjoyable read on this topic is Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

OldLeatherneck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2013, 10:21:46 PM »


The below facts are from Angela Fritz's blog at Wunderground.  She has started a series on ways to conserve water usage, this first post showed how much water can be saved by just not eating beef two days a week.  Since AGW/CC are going to lead to water shortages worldwide, I thought that this was very pertinent to this topic.

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/angelafritz/comment.html?entrynum=46#

"According to the Water Footprint Network, it requires about:
• 1,799 gallons to produce one pound of beef
• 468 gallons per pound of chicken
• 576 gallons per pound of pork
• 880 gallons per gallon of milk

Copious volumes of water are needed to grow feed for animals, and then additional water is used to care for animals, process meat, and distribute and sell animal products. By contrast, raising fruit, vegetables, and grains requires a fraction of the water:

• Carrots require only 6.5 gallons of water per pound
• Apples, nearly 100 gallons per pound
• Peas, 10.2 gallons per pound
• Blueberries, 13.8 gallons per cup
• Potatoes, 119 gallons per pound

By avoiding red meat for two days this week, you can reduce your water footprint by about 953 gallons. By continuing this practice, you can save nearly 50,000 gallons of water in a year."
"Share Your Knowledge.  It's a Way to Achieve Immortality."  ......the Dalai Lama

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2013, 10:40:38 PM »
Interesting, Old L., that carrots are so efficient. They were my best garden crop last summer and they've done well in our first-year root cellar. I plan to grow more this year.

Another point here, for those who worry about getting enough protein without so much meat, is that it has been shown that vegetables, not just seeds and legumes, provide more protein than previously thought. Even potatoes are quite nutritious. If you Google The China Study, you'll get a lot of negative commentary all over the internet from one element of the grass-fed beef lobby, but it's an awesomely well-researched and argued book.

Also, Smil's chapter makes it clear that milk and eggs are quite efficient users of inputs.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

Lucas Durand

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2013, 01:44:49 AM »
My family and I have been reducing our meat intake for a while now.
While I think I'd have a hard time giving up meat completely, I haven't found it that hard to cut back significantly.
One thing I've noticed is that by cutting back on the amount of meat we eat, we save money that can be used to buy better quality local meat for the occasions that we do eat meat.

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2013, 02:33:19 AM »
Yes, we find a locally produced artisan sausage or a free-range organic chicken is a treat that we can feel good about. Even when I was raising my boys on daily meat dishes, I made a lot of soups and served them with fresh bread. No need to be a stickler.

Supporting local small farmers is a great way to plan for a future that might be quite different than what we're used to. Wendell Berry's very worried about food production and warns urbanites that they should expect to have to get their hands dirty.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

Lucas Durand

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2013, 03:05:12 AM »
Lynn,
I agree completely.
My wife and I have been ramping up our garden a little at a time over the years.
I find the trick is to do alittle more or change a little bit every year, and before you know it five years has gone by and... things have changed.

Unfortunately, we have to fight an uphill battle with gardening because of our climate (we live in N.W. Otario).
The growing season is short, but the summers are getting really (strangely) hot - makes it hard to find seed - things that are well suited to the short season aren't usualy well suited to the heat and dry conditions we've been getting.

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2013, 04:29:19 AM »
Yes, Lucas, I've been up around Lake Superior. We're an hour north of Kingston and the old timers tell us the growing season is much longer now. But we can't count on rain at all. The garden is struggling in sandy Canadian Shield while we compost our asses off. We have lots of leaves and swamp goo. More and more we're trying to establish things that have deep roots  – perennials like berries, rhubarb, and asparagus. Permaculture, but I'm not studious.

Things that are too hard we're happy to buy from the local farmers, who have a rough go of it. We've pulled together a small farmers' market. Hardly more than symbolic, but great for community-building. That's also good for the future.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

John Batteen

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 05:52:26 PM »
It is for this reason that I am very grateful to live in a meat exporting state, Minnesota.  In the event of a crisis, we could halt exports and continue eating meat at our present pace.  Our water security here is good.  Not to say that we should though.  Conservation and sustainability are important.

Another thing worth considering is wild game.  We have an overabundance of deer in our state that routinely destroy gardens.  I don't know how sustainable this is on a large scale, but my dog and I could eat deer meat every day of the year and not put a dent in the local deer population.  Around here they're all corn-fed from the fields, so they're fat and healthy.

Many of the things that are practical to me as a rural resident are not options to urban dwellers.  I see great hardships in the future of our cities.

LurkyMcLurkerson

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 11:38:03 PM »
As a curiosity, has anybody ever come across anything discussing the efficiency differences of primarily grass fed ruminants? Rangeland, while far from pristine, is a much different sort of a thing than direct crop growing, both in terms of water use and in terms of habitat for other things. And ruminants can digest cellulose in grasses etc that we cannot, which means we're not taking land that could be used for human food production and feeding its crops to cattle that only wind up putting somewhere around 10% toward what we're going to eat of them.

Certainly it cannot be done at our current scale of consumption, regardless. It's just a generally neglected topic in the discussion, I've found, and I would love to see better detail on it than I've found. Most work on it I've seen treats all acres as the same as all other acres, too, which is a little problematic; there's a lot of land that isn't good for crops for various reasons, but can be adequate range.

Right now, we're doing the worst possible thing, of course, which is growing a whole lot of crops that are then fed to feedlot cattle who have had young supplementation on range. No way is that sustainable at all.

Also -- an aside -- eggs and dairy are more efficient overall, but they also result in meat, just how it goes. Hens in egg production are often eaten before their 2nd or 3rd birthday, they stop laying nearly as much as they age (but get tougher and, um, only good for meh stewing over time, so it's a balance.) And dairy involves breeding unwanted wee ones, the males of whom are almost always eaten.

To some degree, I wonder about what the efficiencies were in an older ag world, where people had a variety of crops and animals on the homestead or at least within their direct communities, and the whole thing was interwoven more directly -- crop waste to the chickens who give eggs until they are meat, milk cow bred for more lactation and the calves either replacement stock for the future or raised/sold locally for meat, all of their manure composted and used for fertilizer, so on.

Our population is way too high now, and most of us don't live in rural communities now, but it seems to me with just minor musing that our huge level of specialization in agriculture, including livestock, is only efficient to the degree that we discount energy, water, pollution, and habitat loss.

Just like in every other thing in capitalism, I suppose. :-\

Clare

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2013, 07:20:17 AM »
Further to Lynn's points:
We too aspire to eat less meat, are not totally vego but not far off the asian diet figure mentioned. Living here in NZ's North Island we can grow veges & fruit all year round. So we do & don't need to buy much at all.

I found this book very valuable when I first read it 30 years ago:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_for_a_Small_Planet
Of course I knew we digested proteins into their various amino acids for absorption (had memorised all their formulae for uni biochem exams) but this book still came as a whack on the side of my head. That you could combine various incomplete proteins (plant) to get as good or even better protein source than meat.
Now I see her daughter has published this one:
"Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It"
Must look out for it.

Clare

AndrewP

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2013, 10:14:57 AM »
I've cut back on my meat consumption significantly but still eat quite a bit. I worry about protein intake. I'm not worried about being deficient but I do worry that I won't get enough to maintain peak fitness. I'm also on a tight budget and buying ground beef for $1.99/lb on sale seems like a pretty good deal per gram of protein. I also eat a lot of yogurt. I'm just going to describe my whole diet and, since I assume some here are more experienced and knowledgeable on a vegetarian diet, they can critique it. Remember, tight budget and I'm not a big fan of nuts, although I do eat them from time to time, esp. sunflower seeds.

Breakfast:

Oatmeal + yogurt + an apple, orange, or grapefruit

Lunch:

Bread+hummus, possibly another piece of fruit and/or leftovers from the kids I work with (hotdog, hamburger, chicken finger, french fries etc.). These are leftovers that would get thrown out, but if I didn't eat them I would be more concerned about getting enough protein.

Snack:

yogurt, or bread+hummus, and/or fruit

Dinner:

about 3-4 days a week I have lentils+rice with either melted cheese or olive oil on top, a side of brocolli, acorn squash, butternut squash, kale, salad, beans or carrot. Brocolli and acorn squash being the most common

2-3 days a week I will have a starch (potatoes or pasta w/ tomato sauce) and a meat. Usually ground beef, sometimes chicken or sausage or very rarely a cheap cut of steak, all bought and frozen on sale. Vegetable side as above. I do eat large portions so when I do have meat for dinner it usually is about a .5-.75 lb serving.

and about once every two weeks I have fish and a salad

and about once every two weeks I make a dish out of sweet potato+bacon+onion+bacon.. but I don't do this too often because bacon is expensive and low in protein. But it tastes good.

gfwellman

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2013, 05:40:30 PM »
Whole chickens are inexpensive.  Around here that means (not on sale)
Conventional: 0.99 to 1.19/lb
"Natural": 1.99/lb
Organic: 2.79-2.99/lb

I butcher them myself, separating into four categories.
Boneless, skinless breasts (good for many recipes)
Bone in, skinless legs (good for some other recipes)
Wings & Backs
Everything else, and I mean everything (mostly skin).

Roast the wings and backs sprinkled with salt, pepper and anything else you want.  Good for snacks.  Use the first two categories for the recipes that call for them.  Keep all bones.   Combine the bones from the first three categories with "everything else" and make soup.  Recycle the bones so your soup making always has the material from one or two "new" chickens, plus bones from previous soup making - enough to fill the pot to the desired level.  This results in very rich soup.

I could afford to be more wasteful, but I really like the soup!

Tim King

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2013, 06:09:41 PM »
whats all the fuss about? not eating meat and dairy is the healthiest thing you will ever do for yourself and the environment besides why are animals our sacrificial slaves when the alternative protein is actually good for you?  why would you still want to be breast fed with calf milk when the dairy alternatives are better. look on vegan society uk and Irish vegan/vegetarian society for healthy alternatives and free starter packs.

Lucas Durand

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2013, 09:25:24 PM »
why would you still want to be breast fed with calf milk when the dairy alternatives are better. look on vegan society uk and Irish vegan/vegetarian society for healthy alternatives and free starter packs.
Tim,
I've spent some time contemplating this, but I'm not sure...
Currently my thinking is this:
Where I live, the climate is such that it is difficult or impossible to get enough protein from alternative sources locally.
In my opinion, concern for eating locally sourced foods trumps concerns about animals being used as "sacrificial slaves".

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2013, 09:54:45 PM »
Lurky,
If you haven't read Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, you might enjoy it, especially near the end when he describes a mixed farm much like the style you mention. There is a movement toward this type of small family operation, but of course it won't feed the masses unless there's a huge land redistribution and urbanites settle small plots.

Clare,
I too read Diet for a Small Planet, around 1972. Since then the author has realized we don't really need to be so fussy about matching amino acids at every meal. It's easier that she thought to get plenty of protein from a plant-based diet.

Andrew,
Your diet isn't bad, but it sounds pretty monotonous. I've been eating mostly vegetarian for ten years since my carnivorous sons grew up and I retired way too early on way too little money, so I eked out a diet on a shoestring. A few years ago someone told me it's actually a system and I should put it on a web site. So I did. You might find it helpful.
http://www.10in10diet.com/]
[url]http://www.10in10diet.com/
[/url]

Tim,
I agree vegan is best for the planet and the animal kingdom. I eat a small amount of yogurt for the probiotics and a small amount of cheese, more as a condiment than a protein source. If everyone did this, the dairy industry could be small, local, and humane like the organic creamery where I get my milk.
http://www.limestonecreamery.ca/]
[url]http://www.limestonecreamery.ca/
[/url]

Lucas,
I'm with you. Local trumps all. If we're all part of locally resilient and sustainable communities, we participate much less in the fossil fuel-based growth economy.

Thanks to all of you for chiming in on this topic. It helps me have faith that these attitudes could still be contagious, before it's too late.

Lynn
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

AndrewP

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2013, 06:42:02 AM »

Thanks for the link Lynn. The philosophy is very similar to mine. I do a number of similar things to what is described. Part of the issue is time and not wanting to cook that long. And also the first few times you make something it takes longer and are more likely to mess up. I should expand my repertoire. That would probably make ditching the meat easier. I don't have any desire to go fully vegetarian, but cutting down to once per week seems like a good idea.




Glenn Tamblyn

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2013, 11:05:09 AM »
Perhaps the big change that has occurred in our diets in the last 1/2 century, at least in the Anglo West particularly, has been to making meat the center piece of every meal. Once a roast chicken was a treat - Sunday Lunch stuff.

Now we can eat bland tasteless chicken every night, with lots of over salted, sweetened toppings to pretend it has flavor. Once we would use every cut of beef in lots of creative ways, now it is prime cuts. Once we accepted that meat might be tough, we might need a butcher who new how to age beef properly. Now supermarket chains give us tender meat through the chemists art (and the drug companies). Or we pay for expensive meat reared in wasteful ways, just so the marbling of the fat will be right.

So many other cultures can offer us Anglo's creative ideas to eat a low meat diet and still eat meat every day. They do it by using meat as a highlight rather than the mass of a meal.

The original Spaghetti Bolognaise - Spaghetti in the Bologna style - was originally a way of enlivening an other wise plain tomato sauce. Take a small amount of the most basic, worst cut of meat, roll it up and tie it into a sausage and fry it to brown it. Then take the meat, everything from the frying pan and add it to a pot of tomatoes and a bit of water. Include onions, garlic, maybe a bit of cheap vino. Then simmer very slowly for a very long time - perhaps while you were out weeding the fields. Come back, remove the now used up meat and use the sauce with spaghetti, with some really good Parmegano - probably made from milk from the sister of the steer that supplied the beef. Your meal was Wheat, Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, maybe Grapes, Herbs, and a small amount of meat.

So many cultures can offer us great ways to eat low-meat/meat-every-day diets. Asian (in so many varieties), Spanish/Portuguese/Mexican, African, dammit even a hell of a lot of Europe and probably even a lot of old recipes from within the Anglo world.

If you don't have much time to cook, cook once a weak and freeze things, then you can make components for a weeks meals. Think of multiple styles and uses.

And focus on the meat substitutes. Those things that can substitute for our meat urges for those who can't go full vegetarian; they can stretch your meat even further. Cheese, Mushrooms, Fried Eggplant, Tofu and other curds.

Look at old fashioned styles that use the cuts thrown away - Tripe anyone? And value animal fats, they carry flavor. Yes we shouldn't eat much of them for health reasons so when you do eat animal fat, make sure it is in smaller amounts but with a total flavor explosion - duck fat for example, quality over quantity. Stocks don't just have to be soups, they enrich sauces, stews and braises etc.

The old fashioned farming systems, that existed in variants all over the world were far more integrated systems. The chickens and ducks laid eggs and ate scraps, along with the pigs. The cattle grazed on poor pasture and gave us milk, leather, horns, rennet from their hooves to make cheese - oh and meat. Sheep gave us milk and wool - oh and meat. Goats fed on the land unfit for anything else, harvesting that land when nothing else could. And gave us milk and wool and leather and meat. The droppings from all these animals fertilized our fields. We grew crops in those fields. We kept bees for noney that pollinated out fields. All the waste from all our food either fed the chooks and ducks and pigs, or it produced compost to back into those fields. In a more modern variant we might feed those wastes to worm farms that give us fertiliser and worms to feed to fish farms that supply nutrient rich water for vegetables... and so on.

I live in a rural town in Australia where one of the founders of the Permaculture movement is based - David Holmgren. Through combining old food and farming ideas from around with lots of modern smarts about systems thinking, you can produce surprising amounts of food in small spaces and difficult climates.

Eating less meat is good. Eating meat more smartly is even better.

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2013, 02:59:02 PM »
Thanks Glenn for wise words about moderation from the epicentre of the permaculture movement.

What some people who are well aware of the impact the meat industry has on climate change say is that they're not going to change their lifestyle just to make a philosophical point. In a forum like this, to some extent we're just patting each other on the back. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the animal rights movement has been so shrill it's given people permission to dismiss the idea of cutting back on meat.

My experience of putting up a rich web site for non-cooks to make big batches of cheap vegetarian foods to freeze is – lots of emails from like-minded people. (Note the low activity on this thread.) I think there are more people opening their minds to this, but not nearly fast enough to beat the permafrost tipping point, I fear.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

gfwellman

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2013, 09:09:36 PM »
Great post Glenn.  I personally prefer the "meat as highlight" approach.  Indian cooking is another source of such meals.  My favorite curry contains chicken, but as a modest fraction of the entire meal.  And the spices, such wonderful spices!  There's lots of good vegetarian Indian food as well.  If you know people who think rice is bland, have them try basmati (brown or white - the brown has a pleasant nutty flavor of its own while the white has a airy flavor that goes very well with spices like cardamom, cumin, etc.)  Everyone should try white basmati with saffron at least once in their lives  :)

Amaranthus

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2013, 11:01:23 PM »
Sorry to say I like my steaks and roasts too much to give them up, so I order grass fed beef in bulk from a local farmer.  Very tasty, reasonably priced (approx $8/lb), and not tough at all, even after last summer's weather.  The farmer is an environmentally aware sort.  He gave a local talk on food security recently called "Growing Food in a Hungry World – A Farmer’s Perspective".  Unfortunately it wasn't recorded, it would have been a good educational youtube video.



I wish the city would re-evaluate it's stance on backyard hens like several other Canadian cities have lately.  I'd like to keep a couple of chickens for the eggs.  They can be very nice pets, kind of like an overgrown budgie that can't bite you.  Peck yes, bite no.

They're like any other bird.  I've got five budgies and three finches and used to birdysit parrots for a friend.  Clean their coop, feed and water them well, give them some toys and a small area to roam and they can be quite friendly.  When I was a kid our family farm was always the big summer destination, so I've picked strawberries for sale, mucked out barns, milked goats, hunted eggs, been chased by roosters and pigs, stepped on by horses and horked on by llamas.  Two chickens are less noisy than some small dogs I could name.

You don't need to eat the chickens either.  Their prime laying years are over by age 4-5 but they still lay eggs at a reduced rate and live up to age 8-10.  So, buy two hens to keep each other company, at 4-5 years, add a third hen to make up the difference in eggs and a fourth a few years later.  When the senior hens die at a contented old age, give her an honorable burial under the compost heap.  You do not need a rooster involved in any way, unless you want little baby chicks scurrying around underfoot.  I don't recommend it.

They only need 1.5 square feet per bird inside the coop and 8 square feet per bird in an outside run.  I live on a postage stamp sized lot and even I could manage that for four birds.

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2013, 02:20:18 PM »
Amaranthus, that's the best pitch I've heard yet for keeping a couple of laying hens. I have several friends who keep six or more and it seems like a lot of work and worry to me. The rooster herds and protects the hens and helps them find food in the grass. But, boy does he make a racket! I would be looking for a way not to have one.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

Amaranthus

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2013, 02:42:23 PM »
You don't need a rooster to get eggs, fortunately.  They're nasty critters.  Small dogs can sometimes be trained to herd chickens (my Oma was a genius in training dogs to be useful), but it's probably safer to put them under a rolling open bottomed lawn cage.  Keeps predators like raccoons out.  We've got fishers here, they've been known to take pet cats. 

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2013, 03:20:43 AM »
One of my chicken-raising friends had all seven killed by a fisher in the coop. He'd chewed a hole through the wall and when my friend looked into the coop, there was the fisher looking out at her. That stuff scares the heck out of me. But another more serious egg seller does have one of those rolling cages, shaded on top. Looks very safe.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

Stephen

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2013, 12:04:17 PM »
Just wanted to point out that, if you are worried about red-meat increasing Methane in the atmosphere, kangaroos don't fart.  Nitrogen was far too rare in ancient Australian soils to waste so our native Marsupials evolved to not fart methane.  Unfortunately kangaroos are very hard to domesticate (how can you build a fence high enough?), but the western red and Eastern Grey species are thriving and there are licensed shooters, so if you see kanga meat in your supermarket, try some.  It is VERY lean and requires different cooking techniques, but worth a go.

The CSIRO here in Australia have been working on isolating the no-fart gene, hoping to use it with cattle and sheep, but its early days.
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Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2013, 04:53:14 PM »
Stephen, you are actually not joking, are you?
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

gfwellman

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2013, 07:23:32 PM »
I have no idea whether Stephen is joking, but I am having trouble seeing a connection between animals producing CH4 and soil nitrogen.

Stephen

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #26 on: March 29, 2013, 12:49:35 AM »
Stephen, you are actually not joking, are you?

Not joking, but not 100% accurate.  Kangaroos and wallabies produce about 20% of the methane of cattle and sheep for each kilo of meat.
http://www.csiro.au/en/Outcomes/Food-and-Agriculture/livestock-methane-emissions/Improving-rumen-function-in-livestock.aspx

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13946941
The ice was here, the ice was there,   
The ice was all around:
It crack'd and growl'd, and roar'd and howl'd,   
Like noises in a swound!
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John Batteen

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #27 on: March 29, 2013, 05:24:53 PM »
Fascinating Stephen, thanks for the link.

What is a fisher?  If you have them in Canada we probably have them in Minnesota too, I just know them by a different name.

Lucas Durand

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #28 on: March 29, 2013, 05:31:31 PM »
John,
A fisher is like a giant weasel:

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #29 on: April 23, 2013, 11:44:29 AM »
Just don't eat beef http://nobeef.org.uk.

Or eat beef and starve the poor. http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/its-the-poor-that-starve/

Beef’s carbon footprint 25 times its own weight. http://www.nobeef.co.uk/wordpress/?p=31

Milk also has a substantial carbon footprint: The Green Ration Book reports Adrian Williams' work which has a litre of milk at 1.0 kgs CO2e (100yr measure) or 1.8 kgs CO2e (20yr measure).
http://www.greenrationbook.org.uk/resources/defra-study/

The Green Ration Book (http://www.greenrationbook.org.uk) interprets the UK Government's carbon targets to mean we should aim at 1.5 kgs per day on food.

Quote
The average UK citizen creates 11 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide a year. New UK targets aim to cut this by 80%.

Dividing the ration equally between categories “consumables”, “building”, “transport” and “government”, allows 1.5kg per day for consumables. This includes food.

On one measure a litre of milk breaks a 1.5kg daily consumables for food by itself.

A big beef steak would be nearly a week's carbon ration for consumables. http://www.greenrationbook.org.uk/category/food/

And Tesco won't tell you beef's carbon footprint:
Quote
Ms. Symonds adds that Tesco carefully picked for its initial labels products whose carbon footprints likely wouldn’t shock consumers. The retailer purposely avoided labeling the carbon footprint of beef, for instance, because beef’s carbon footprint is significantly higher than that of many other foods.

http://www.nobeef.co.uk/?p=164

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2013, 08:51:00 AM »
Does anyone have any thoughts on changing from beef to pork consumption?


Terry

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2013, 03:04:25 PM »
Does anyone have any thoughts on changing from beef to pork consumption?
Yes. Pork seems to have about one-half ( 1/2 ) the carbon footprint of beef, per
http://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/eat-smart/

Personally watching and working to reduce - eliminate all red-meat from my diet.
Not there yet.

R

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #32 on: April 25, 2013, 01:34:21 AM »
JackTaylor

As the originator of the Green Ration Book, I hope this doen't sound too much like sour grapes.

I know I should congratulate anyone that helps to educate us in the carbon costs of everyday living but while I do congratulate the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), I do groan silently when I see their information comes from cleanmetrics.com http://www.cleanmetrics.com/html/database.htm).

The reasons-to-silently-groan are reinforced by the trade marks CarbonScopeData™ and FoodCarbonScope™ and this doesn't help

Quote
The majority of this data is for US and Canadian production and processing drawn from over a dozen major agricultural states/provinces, making CarbonScopeData™ the largest commercially available LCI database for North American food production and processing

I shouldn't complain too much: my company has propriety GIS software (and data) and we do take some steps to protect our intellectual property and get our customers to pay for our efforts.  I don't like the idea of "intellectual property" but it is an important part of the income that pays for our wages.

But the open data approach now being pushed by UK governments seems so refreshing and productive. This may have started when Tim Bernes Lee convinced UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown that it was a good idea. Berers Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, says on Wired

Quote
We have seen some of the power and acceleration which happens when governments such as the UK and US have put data on the web. But this is the tip of the iceberg. The information about spending, agriculture, health and education that lies behind locked databases could be used to dramatically improve people's lives.
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-11/09/raw-data

I believe the same goes for carbon footprint data. It's value lies in everybody knowing the "carbon costs of everyday living". It deserves something like an open data policy not one that is propriety. It deserves a policy in which the workings are transparent.

Transparency is desirable because carbon footprints are not just data they are data in a theoretical framework. Perhaps "theoretical" is too posh a word. They are data in a framework of judgement. Judgement can change the results. For example, do you judge that that the time-span over which a carbon footprint is measured should be 100 years or 20 years.

To understand the result of a carbon footprint analysis, we need to know the assumptions and the source the data to judge whether there is any bias in data or methodology.

By the hits we get the Green Ration Book has basically failed but the methodology we took is, I think, the right one. We had a panel (or a citizens' jury) to do the calculations and make the necessary judgements. We tried to make our workings transparent.

I have been trying to pass the Green Ration Book to a person/organisation who can make a better job of it. But, has someone, somewhere, already done a better job, giving the carbon footprints "carbon costs of everyday living" in a way that is transparent and non-proprietary?

If you know of one, let me know.

Related the question that you and Terry posed, we used Adrian Williams from Cranfield University and found that pork was 29% of the carbon footpring of beef over 20 years and 38% using the 100 year measure. We, the "Fishergate Environmental Forum", chose the 29% figure as the "best" one.

So an 8oz pork chop may have a similar footprint to 2.5 oz of beef steak.

But a pork chop has bones in it. Beef steak does not. Does this need more judgement /theory?
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Glenn Tamblyn

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #33 on: April 25, 2013, 01:55:19 AM »
Beef to Pork?

At the moment Beef has a much higher footprint but that is skewed by the extent to which beef is grain fed which massively increases it's footprint. Around 40% of the US corn crop is fed to cattle.

Just raise beef on grassland and the footprint won't be as high. Then I'm not sure what the relativities of Beef vs Pork are.

The way pigs are farmed can be quite inhumane, and another factor for me is that pigs are actually extremely intelligent animals, far more so than cattle.

GeoffBeacon

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2013, 10:23:06 AM »
Glen Tamblyn

Grass fed cattle still cause climate change.

I've just found Carbon Footprint in Meat Production and Supply Chains https://www.ifama.org/events/conferences/2011/cmsdocs/2011SymposiumDocs/241_Symposium%20Paper.pdf It says

Quote
In this study three different beef meat production and supply chain were analyzed,  starting from the farms where the cattle is produced, two of them in the United Kingdom and one in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, named in this study as UK1, UK2, and Brazil.
Quote
GHG emissions were quantified throughout the production and supply chains until the meat achieve the final market in the UK. Total emissions per kg of bone free meat available in London market, for UK1, UK2 and Brazil farms production and supply chains, calculated in this study are 33.85, 33.99 and 45.17 kg of CO2e-100/kg,respectively.
These footprints would be even higher if CO2e(20year) were used instead of CO2e(100year).

But either way an 8oz beef steak is about a week of a carbon ration for consumables.

As I read it, the cattle in this study are on pasture lands where they graze for food but are fed from crops grown nearby.  The biggest portion of the footprint comes from the greenhouse gasses produced by the digestive system of cattle, which uses enteric fermentation.

Quote
This study has shown that in meat production and supply chains the major source of GHG emissions is related to enteric fermentation and manure deposition and management.
If pigs are treated badly that does not mean cattle do not cause climate change.

P.S. I have seen Tracy Worcester's Pig Business  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_Business and sent copies to my Members of the European Parliament.

P.P.S. I have a farmer friend with a small herd of cattle. When it's time for the cattle to change fields I am told he just goes up to the bull and tells it to move on. It does. They are beautiful cattle but it doesn't mean they do not cause climate change.
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JackTaylor

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #35 on: April 25, 2013, 10:15:58 PM »

As the originator of the Green Ration Book, I hope this doesn't sound too much like sour grapes.
Geoff, occasionally you are allowed to "press some grapes."

Congratulations on the "Green Ration Book" ... Would think you'd have a "tag - signature"
attached-embedded  at the bottom all blog and forum posts.

gfwellman

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #36 on: April 26, 2013, 04:25:07 AM »
Learn to love chicken ... at the rate we're going, that's going to be the only meat.  Unless you count jelly fish, and I don't  :P

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #37 on: April 26, 2013, 10:10:00 PM »
Geoff,
Nice work on the Green Ration Book. I think people avoid looking at this the same way they avoid reading the ingredients or calories of junk food. They don't want to feel guilty. We have the developed world populated with so many anxious, depressed individuals who eat compulsively. All the education in the world hardly makes a dent in consumption. A carbon tax will quickly drive up the cost of certain foods and then people will be in the market for know-how. What to do with beans and lentils, etc. I put all that info out there over three years ago and my site gets about 30 visits a day and most of that has to do with pretty technical stuff that only the converted would be looking for – three bin composting and how to make extra probiotic yogurt.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #38 on: April 26, 2013, 11:04:48 PM »
Learn to love chicken ... at the rate we're going, that's going to be the only meat.  Unless you count jelly fish, and I don't  :P
Some people push insects as a logical solution. Can't say I find the idea particularly appealing, but if it's insects or starvation...

I realise that might be stretching the generally accepted definition of "meat" a little.

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #39 on: April 27, 2013, 01:02:36 AM »
Fried grasshoppers are excellent finger food, better than popcorn.

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #40 on: April 27, 2013, 01:43:14 AM »
Maybe if the insects were processed into Soylent Green - style crackers...

Anyway, it's always about how much plant matter has to be eaten by an animal to produce X ounces of protein. The ratio usually doesn't wash.

"Environmental costs of production of insect-based protein vs macrolivestorck-based
protein When insects feed upon vegetation, they are able to transform phytomass into zoomass much more efficiently than conventional livestock (Nakagaki and DeFoliart, 1991). Hence much greater quantities of animal protein is generated per kilogram of phytomass consumed by insects than by conventional livestock. Moreover, insects are poikilothermic – in other words insects can change their body temperatures to match that of the surroundings. Hence they spend much less amounts of food energy and nutrients in maintinaing their body temperature than the warm blooded livestock which are the mainstay of non-vegetarian diets (Lindroth, 1993). This further enhances the overall energy efficiency of insect-based protein production."

http://www.worldresourcesforum.org/files/file/WRF2011_Tasneem_Abbasi_PS1_20Sept.pdf
« Last Edit: April 27, 2013, 01:48:19 AM by Lynn Shwadchuck »
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #41 on: April 27, 2013, 03:00:12 AM »
Maybe if the insects were processed into Soylent Green - style crackers...
No way! I like these, too.



The paper is interesting, thanks for linking.

DaddyBFree

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #42 on: April 27, 2013, 03:28:57 AM »
This is an easy one for me; I switched to a vegetarian/sometimes vegan diet 21 years ago after reading Diet for a New America (John Robbins).  I eat a few bugs here and there when riding my motorcycle (which gets as good mileage as my girlfriend's Prius), and I run locally produced biodiesel in my truck.  It's relatively easy to stay local here in the Rogue Valley of Oregon (there's even good local/organic wine).
I wish you all well at finding what suits you and your personal bodytype/lifestyle.  I have A+ bloodtype, which is also the best one to be totally veg according to the Eat Right For Your Blood Type book (D'Adamo). 

GeoffBeacon

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #43 on: April 27, 2013, 11:46:59 AM »
Lynn

Thanks for your comments on the Green Ration Book

Carbon footprints from different sources are not consistent in their detailed data or the theory that goes behind them that's why we opted for a citizens' jury approach.  In the end it's a matter of judgement - informed judgement.
 
The Green Ration Book is stalled at present and I'm looking for ideas to kick start it.  One idea was to pass some of the basic data collection to WIkipedia (e.g. put up many items like the_carbon_footprint_of_X) but they may be too credentialist to allow judgement and discussion.

A look at Wikipedia's item Carbon footprint http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_footprint has really irritated me.  They are too affected by the conventional. For example they seem to accept that 100 years is the right time-frame for carbon footprints with  the only justification that someone once said it. I fear we risk a Venus Syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_greenhouse_effect) if we (rather our succeeding generations) have a 100 year perspective. Perhaps that's too paranoid but we need to use emergency measures now.

Any ideas welcome.
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Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #44 on: April 27, 2013, 03:13:17 PM »
Geoff, we don't need runaway GW and Venus syndrome to cause terrible disruptions in the food supply and lots more Sandy-like storms. I'm very discouraged after pinning some hope on a contagion of enthusiasm for lifestyle changes. If by some political miracle the tide turned and there was a universal carbon tax, people would need help to figure out how to live without meat and other now-prohibitively expensive items. It will be easier for people to start carpooling than to figure out what to eat. So I think the more of us who are already there and able to help, the better.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #45 on: July 29, 2013, 07:15:07 AM »
I could afford  to be more inefficient, but I really like the soup!
dan

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #46 on: July 29, 2013, 10:38:35 PM »
I could afford  to be more inefficient, but I really like the soup!

What soup is that, Dan?
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

John Batteen

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Re: Meat Consumption and Global Warming
« Reply #47 on: August 04, 2013, 08:27:55 PM »
Chicken is the most carbon efficient by far compared to pork or beef.

Dairy cattle are more efficient than beef cattle.

I love beef though.  In areas like western South Dakota and Wyoming where only grass will grow, I think it makes sense to let cattle graze there.  Or goats maybe.