Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to eat without causing harm

This is an excerpt from an excellent and eloquent piece on a blog I have just found called "Organic Farmshare". To really understand and appreciate what is being said you should go to the blog and read the whole thing....

“The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet… Agriculture is carnivorous: what it eats is ecosystems, and it swallows them whole.” Lierre Keith 1.

Homer, Ancient Greek historian and author of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey”, was said to have walked across northern Africa, never leaving the shade of a tree. In a short few hundred years, irrigation and the tilling of earth for grain crops brought devastation to countless ecosystems, leaving in it’s wake barren desert. In their book, “Climates of Hunger” Reid Bryson and Thomas Murray describe how civilizations have encouraged desertification. “A fence built around a large field in the desert brought abundant wild grasses in two years, without planting or irrigation, simply by keeping out the men and goats.” The truth is, the way we grow food right now virtually guarantees desertification and starvation.

We need a new way of feeding ourselves, one that isn’t so destructive. We need a system designed not only to sustain but to regenerate our soils, our waterways and our culture...

Here is a very important point:

..........You may be vegetarian and get much of your protein, mineral and fat soluble vitamins from dairy foods. In order to provide you with milk, the cow needs to calve every 18 months. 60% of calves are male. It doesn’t take long to work out that letting these males grow to adult size will overcrowd the pasture very quickly. You may not choose to eat cows but some one has to eat the offspring of your dairy production. That’s where meat eaters come in. Think of them as serving you. If you’ve chosen to forgo dairy foods and eggs also, you may consider the vegetarian and animal eaters as serving you by providing nutrient rich manure from their animals for your plants.

I am not sure about this farm share thing but I hate websites that say contact us for more information and only put the glitzy photos and sweet music online. Obviously they are trying to make an awful lot of money out of city dwellers who want to eat responsibly and I am not sure whether this is how best to proceed.Sometimes, it seems to me, those people with more money than time will happily part with a fair few dollars for something attractive but will not support something cheaper and more community based. So, it is a way to reduce their footprint, at least.

1 comment:

Vivienne said...

I've heard the whole methane debate too - about how cattle, sheep, pigs etc create so much methane.

What I really do know about that is when cattle are fed corn (which is not what their stomachs are designed for) and corn is a cheap, subsidised feed, they actually produce MORE methane, and also require more antibiotics and hormones in order to stay healthy. If animals are left to eat pasture grass (what they ARE designed for) they can manure the pasture, grow better grass, not need antibiotics and growth hormones. AND they produce much less methane gas.

Now there's an idea - stop feeding cattle the wrong food and let them live outside, this would go a long way to reducing their impact.

Oh, and I did enjoy reading this blog!