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The "Myth" of Sustainable Meat?

M Marx


Joined: Feb 14, 2012
Posts: 57
Location: Los Angeles
Interesting article, maybe some of you mythical meat farmers can write to the author?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/opinion/the-myth-of-sustainable-meat.html?_r=1
Shawn Harper


Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 220
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
    
    1
No point writing him, he is a militant vegan. His distortion of the facts is proof of that. He uses worst case scenarios and bad examples of sustainable livestock.


She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches changes.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
I'm waiting for the article: "The Myth of Sustainable Soybeans"

He conveniently ignores the use of stacking functions in a properly designed system.

Here's a little fact for the fanatics out there - it is more sustainable and responsible to eat pork that was raised on restaurant and grocery waste than ANY vegetable product grown for humans.

Would this be considered sustainable? http://velacreations.blogspot.com/2011/12/fired-grasshoppers.html


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Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
It is true that Mr. Salatin and others must import corn onto the land as an input. He (an no other production farmer) are running closed loops. This article is more of a meta argument against industrial civilization imo.
John Seay


Joined: Mar 31, 2012
Posts: 23
He uses very poor examples; but none the less his argument is valid. There are sustainable ways to produce meat; but not enough land to do it for everyone. The article uses terrible wording to get the point across. Bottom line - all 300,000,000 Americans can not sustainably eat meat.
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
John Seay wrote:He uses very poor examples; but none the less his argument is valid. There are sustainable ways to produce meat; but not enough land to do it for everyone. The article uses terrible wording to get the point across. Bottom line - all 300,000,000 Americans can not sustainably eat meat.


Depends on what meat we are talking about. Different animals have different feed to weight conversions. Beef is not very efficient at feed conversion due to its large mass. In the authors example he says 10acres per animal, I know for a fact that you can get far more meat from 10 acres with rabbits, tilapia, quail and chickens than from 1 steer.

This is a classic example of BS in = BS out

The author has a preconceived notion that meat is not sustainable, uses an animal with terrible efficiency and worst case scenario land to justify his position.

SE, MI, Zone 5b "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
~Thomas Edison
John Seay


Joined: Mar 31, 2012
Posts: 23
That is true. According to the AMI website though, 55% of meat consumed in this country is red meat with beef taking the lead. So, to provide sustainable meat to the masses would require a major shift in diet from red meat to fish and poultry. I doubt he used cows as an example because they are inefficient; more so that they are the preferred meat in America.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
more than 1/3 of all food produced in the US ends up in the landfill. More than 1/2 of all biomass produced ends up in the landfill, too. If that waste went through livestock systems instead, then yes, a majority of Americans could have access to sustainable meat.

Here's a little example: 100 lbs of veggies is sent to your local restaurant. To get that 100lbs of veggies, 100lbs of biomass was thrown away in route to the restaurant (at least). At the restaurant, another 30lbs or so is thrown away or not eaten. So, when you look at what is being produced on the original piece of land, it's 70lbs of food consumed, 130lbs of waste. That 130lbs of waste could produce 100lbs of tilapia, 43 lbs of chickens, 33lbs of rabbits, or 33lbs of pig. That's a lot of food that is far more nutritionally dense than the original waste.

That's a very basic integration, but if we stack some more species here, we could get more food. Feed that 130lbs of waste to rabbits (producing 33lbs of rabbit), and they'll also produce 100lbs of manure that can be feed directly to your tilapia (another 77lbs of meat). Use the slaughter waste from the rabbits and the tilapia (60lbs) to feed ducks, and gain another 20lbs of food. Congratulations, you just turned 130lbs of waste into 130lbs of food. And we haven't even talked about feeding the manure from the tilapia and ducks through other species, like BSF, earthworms, pigs, mushrooms, plants, algae, etc.

And you know what? We didn't use any more land than the original amount for the veggies (aside from housing the animals).

If we keep stacking species and functions, we can gain even more food from that same waste, incorporating earthworms, mushrooms, ducks, insects, etc. The trick here is to cascade your species so that each one is a consumer and producer in the loop.

I don't know about you, but I consider that pretty efficient and sustainable. This can work really well on the small, local scale. This is why it is important to support your local producers that are using the abundant waste streams in your area.



tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3080
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
Abe Connally wrote:
Here's a little fact for the fanatics out there - it is more sustainable and responsible to eat pork that was raised on restaurant and grocery waste than ANY vegetable product grown for humans.


how do you figure? I can raise vegetables on restaurant and grocery waste, too.


regarding the article, I didn't get the impression that the author believes "sustainable meat" can't or doesn't exist, just that it's not readily available. and I think he's right. the same argument could easily be applied to plant sources of food, too, which I believe the author also understands.

some of you seem to think he's setting up straw men by naming Joel Salatin and bringing up some bad practices. the fact remains, though, that Joel Salatin is easily the most well-known producer of pastured meat in this country and his practices are not without their problems, some of them substantial. many (probably most) pastured chicken operations do use fast-growing hybrid birds. many pastured pork operations do nose ring the animals. many operations that start small do try to increase their market share and grow endlessly.

many of us know of or run operations to which these criticisms don't apply. but that doesn't let the rest off the hook any more than the transgressions of the rest make us responsible for their bad practices. the majority are still doing it wrong regardless of whether some are doing it right. so I don't believe the article is really out of line, or at least not far out of line.

one thing I believe he's spot on about is that the amount of meat currently consumed can't go on. I believe several of you are right that sustainable meat can be accomplished, but not at a scale to replace current industrial production. at least with the meats that most folks are familiar with. I will reserve judgment concerning the alternative critters that Abe and Brad mentioned. they might have a chance, but they're certainly no slam dunk.

the author also sort of glossed over the issue of losing nutrients through sewage, which isn't really a problem unique to meat consumption, but he did mention it. I think nutrient loss and pollution (runoff, sewage, nitrification, et cetera) might be more critical problems to solve than which diet is above reproach. those problems are shared across industrial agriculture, whether plants or animals or both are involved.


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Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
John Seay wrote:That is true. According to the AMI website though, 55% of meat consumed in this country is red meat with beef taking the lead. So, to provide sustainable meat to the masses would require a major shift in diet from red meat to fish and poultry. I doubt he used cows as an example because they are inefficient; more so that they are the preferred meat in America.
He uses beef because it is easy to criticize and use misleading stats. 10 acres for a cow? Where? For an article that doesn't cite any sources, it's hard to take those figures seriously.

How much of the 55% of the meat is pork?

I assume that if 55% is read meat, then 45% of the meat is fish and poultry already. That's almost half of the meat consumed. So, not such a big step, really.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
tel jetson wrote:how do you figure? I can raise vegetables on restaurant and grocery waste, too.
Sure you can raise veggies with it, but your conversion would be a lost less efficient. The responsible route would be to produce the most food possible with that waste, ie cycle the nutrient through an animal.

tel jetson wrote:regarding the article, I didn't get the impression that the author believes "sustainable meat" can't or doesn't exist, just that it's not readily available.

I don't know. He sure seems to paint the picture that sustainable meat is a "myth".

one thing I believe he's spot on about is that the amount of meat currently consumed can't go on. I believe several of you are right that sustainable meat can be accomplished, but not at a scale to replace current industrial production.

I respectfully disagree. We currently produce more waste than food. Any system like that has huge opportunities for increased production.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3080
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
Abe Connally wrote:
That's a very basic integration, but if we stack some more species here, we could get more food. Feed that 130lbs of waste to rabbits (producing 33lbs of rabbit), and they'll also produce 100lbs of manure that can be feed directly to your tilapia (another 77lbs of meat). Use the slaughter waste from the rabbits and the tilapia (60lbs) to feed ducks, and gain another 20lbs of food. Congratulations, you just turned 130lbs of waste into 130lbs of food. And we haven't even talked about feeding the manure from the tilapia and ducks through other species, like BSF, earthworms, pigs, mushrooms, plants, algae, etc.


color me skeptical.

130 pounds of waste fed to rabbits gets us 33 pounds of rabbit meat and 100 pounds of manure.

100 pounds of rabbit manure gets us 77 pounds of tilapia meat.

slaughtering those rabbits and tilapia gives us 60 pounds of waste, so we're up to 170 pounds of animal we've made out of 130 pounds of vegetables?

60 pounds of slaughter waste gets us 20 pounds of duck meat. so we're up to 190 pounds of animal, plus I assume some extra from the ducks that isn't food.


I'm all for the stacking of functions and species you describe. I'm doing similar things myself, and always trying to do better. but again, color me skeptical.
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
I agree with that. If the author would have titled it, "The Myth of Sustainable (cheap comercially raised) Beef", it would be far more accurate IMO.

Depending on your source there was ~50M Bison in the US with no human inputs before that got ruined. Now we have replaced that with 92M head of cattle with metric tons of inputs.

It's similar to the BS alternative energy counter arguments that are thrown around. "Well there isn't enough [insert alt. energy source of your choice] to meet all of the energy needs we have now, so it's not a solution."

It's not as simple as substituting A for B. We need to substitute A for C,D,E,F,G..

Assuming:
A=B
A=C+D+E+F+G..
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3080
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
Abe Connally wrote:Sure you can raise veggies with it, but your conversion would be a lost less efficient. The responsible route would be to produce the most food possible with that waste, ie cycle the nutrient through an animal.


the same stacking of species you describe for animals can be used with plants, too. better yet, integrate plants, animals, fungus, even bacteria and algae as you mentioned.

really what I'm getting at here is that I think we're falling prey to a false dichotomy. there's no need to pick one or the other. the author of the NYT article appears to be guilty of this, let's not fall into the same trap.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
color me skeptical.

130 pounds of waste fed to rabbits gets us 33 pounds of rabbit meat and 100 pounds of manure.

100 pounds of rabbit manure gets us 77 pounds of tilapia meat.


Actually, the 33lbs of rabbits and the 77lbs of tilapia are live weights, not meat. So, that 60lbs of slaughter waste is part of the 110lbs (33 +77) of animals. Your actual meat yield on that example would be around 65lbs.
The total live weight would be around 130lbs. Additionally, you would yield leather, feathers, fish oils, manures, etc.

You can exceed 100% efficiency in biological systems because we don't usually take account of water, air, or sunlight additions to the system. I regularly produce more lbs of mushrooms than the original substrate weight I grow them in.
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
tel jetson wrote: really what I'm getting at here is that I think we're falling prey to a false dichotomy. there's no need to pick one or the other. the author of the NYT article appears to be guilty of this, let's not fall into the same trap.


Exactly!!

I think you both make valid points. It not so much this or that but an inefficent system as a whole is not sustainable not necessarily the individual parts of the system.



Aside:
Abe do the Tilapia eat the manure directly or is it used to grow algea for the Tilapia?

Just curious as I raise both and hadn't done that before.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
tel jetson wrote:
the same stacking of species you describe for animals can be used with plants, too. better yet, integrate plants, animals, fungus, even bacteria and algae as you mentioned.

really what I'm getting at here is that I think we're falling prey to a false dichotomy. there's no need to pick one or the other. the author of the NYT article appears to be guilty of this, let's not fall into the same trap.

Yes, I agree, it is not useful to fall into the trap of a false dichotomy. My point is that sustainable meat is a reality, and is being produced locally all over the US. And there are plenty of ways to produce it. It just might not make the front page of the NYT.

I have tried to stack plants in similar ways, but it is not as easy or as efficient. I think it is because it is easier to have a contained food bowl in front of an animal, so very little gets "lost" to the surrounding environment.
John Seay


Joined: Mar 31, 2012
Posts: 23
I think it's important to note that our population is too high to provide any sustainable food to everyone. Also I think water is an important input to think about when deciding the most efficient means of producing food. This whole debate is somewhat useless considering everyone here is at least alike enough to realize that our systems of living in the country are broken.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Brad Davies wrote:
Aside:
Abe do the Tilapia eat the manure directly or is it used to grow algea for the Tilapia?

Just curious as I raise both and hadn't done that before.

a little of both. If you throw rabbit manure in water, algae will start growing almost immediately. But the tilapia will also eat the manure. Rabbit manure is actually very good food for a lot of other animals. We feed our rabbits some alfalfa, so the manure is rich in protein. You can use that to feed tilapia, chickens, ducks, pigs, earthworms, etc.
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
Abe Connally wrote: a little of both. If you throw rabbit manure in water, algae will start growing almost immediately. But the tilapia will also eat the manure. Rabbit manure is actually very good food for a lot of other animals. We feed our rabbits some alfalfa, so the manure is rich in protein. You can use that to feed tilapia, chickens, ducks, pigs, earthworms, etc.


That's awesome!

I had the manure going into a worm bin and was feeding the worms to the Tilapia, now I can be less picky about getting some manure mixed in. :thumbup:
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3080
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
Abe Connally wrote:
I have tried to stack plants in similar ways, but it is not as easy or as efficient. I think it is because it is easier to have a contained food bowl in front of an animal, so very little gets "lost" to the surrounding environment.


aquatic plants are pretty good this way. they're basically taking a bath in their food and don't have to fight gravity like terrestrial plants do.

I think that if we're not all on the same page, we're at least reading the same chapter.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
depending on your system for the tilapia, you could grow algae on purpose with the manure, and even with the worm tea. Algae is pretty easy to grow, just keep the water warm, full of light, and get some nutrients in there. I do it on accident all the time!
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
John Seay wrote:I think it's important to note that our population is too high to provide any sustainable food to everyone.


We don't know that for sure. According to Geoff Lawton permaculture systems can be 5-20x more productive than modern agriculture. So if modern Ag can keep most of us fed now, there's no reason to think permaculture couldn't do better with less.

John Seay wrote: Also I think water is an important input to think about when deciding the most efficient means of producing food.


Good point, everything needs water or Blue Gold as I think it will be called in the future.

John Seay wrote: This whole debate is somewhat useless considering everyone here is at least alike enough to realize that our systems of living in the country are broken.


Agreed, but hey we learn something from these debates. I now know I can feed my Tilapia rabbit manure
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
Abe Connally wrote:depending on your system for the tilapia, you could grow algae on purpose with the manure, and even with the worm tea. Algae is pretty easy to grow, just keep the water warm, full of light, and get some nutrients in there. I do it on accident all the time!


I did the same thing last year in my pool. I would over feed every 1 -2 weeks to get an algea bloom, then not feed until the algea got under control.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Brad Davies wrote:Agreed, but hey we learn something from these debates. I now know I can feed my Tilapia rabbit manure

Now you need to learn how to feed your rabbits using tilapia manure: http://velacreations.blogspot.com/2011/12/rabbit-fodder.html
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
tel jetson wrote:aquatic plants are pretty good this way. they're basically taking a bath in their food and don't have to fight gravity like terrestrial plants do.

I think that if we're not all on the same page, we're at least reading the same chapter.


I would be interested to learn more about how you've successfully stacked plants in this way. That could be very useful information.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6440
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
133
Another point to ponder, is that many livestock are raised on land that is poorly suited for crop production.
If you look at a pasturing operation like Greg Judy's, you quickly realize that besides livestock, he is building soil, hence future croplands.
Raising animals properly can benefit future uses of the land.

If we can use our resources to build, rather than merely consume, it does become sustainable.

Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Brad Davies wrote:
John Seay wrote:I think it's important to note that our population is too high to provide any sustainable food to everyone.


We don't know that for sure. According to Geoff Lawton permaculture systems can be 5-20x more productive than modern agriculture. So if modern Ag can keep most of us fed now, there's no reason to think permaculture couldn't do better with less.


I agree, Brad. We don't know the carrying capacity of the land for a society living a different way. We know for certain the way we presently live and produce food industrially isn't sustainable and so those things should be changed while trying to reach a stable population. Most of our agricultural land is not being used efficiently to grow food, it is being used efficiently to turn petroleum into food (10 calories in per 1 calorie out or something like that) or maybe I should say "food". Growing corn and soybeans industrially is not the most space-efficient means of growing food, as folks have pointed out. It's merely the most labor-efficient (only about 1% of the US population farms anymore).

Here's a series of articles I read recently about feeding the world on the Primal Diet (basically vegetables and some meat, no grain) which I think makes some good points about how it might be possible for everyone to eat a healthy sustainable diet: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/can-we-feed-the-world-on-the-primal-blueprint-diet-part-1/#axzz1rx6Dik5r


Idle dreamer

tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3080
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
Abe Connally wrote:
tel jetson wrote:aquatic plants are pretty good this way. they're basically taking a bath in their food and don't have to fight gravity like terrestrial plants do.

I think that if we're not all on the same page, we're at least reading the same chapter.


I would be interested to learn more about how you've successfully stacked plants in this way. That could be very useful information.


nothing too revolutionary to share. my successes have involved using Azolla to add nitrogen, Lemna to use up excess nitrogen, Nelumbo, Typha, and Saggitaria for starchy crops. there were some water hyacinths, too, for oxygen and fish food, but I haven't gotten to the fish part yet. currently, all of these filter grey water/urine. future plans are more ambitious and, though they've been demonstrated successfully by others, are largely theoretical to me. I'm really interested in tying in the aquatic plant and animal production passively with the effluent from my soldier fly/worm bin. I feed that with restaurant and coffee shop waste.
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
nothing too revolutionary to share. my successes have involved using Azolla to add nitrogen, Lemna to use up excess nitrogen, Nelumbo, Typha, and Saggitaria for starchy crops. there were some water hyacinths, too, for oxygen and fish food, but I haven't gotten to the fish part yet. currently, all of these filter grey water/urine. future plans are more ambitious and, though they've been demonstrated successfully by others, are largely theoretical to me. I'm really interested in tying in the aquatic plant and animal production passively with the effluent from my soldier fly/worm bin. I feed that with restaurant and coffee shop waste.

sounds like a great start! I hope to add an aquatic element to my systems someday. There are a lot of possible interactions and relationships there.

BSF and earthworms are some of my favorite creatures. They can consume just about anything, and produce excellent animal and plant food. They can usually fill several niches in a small system, and I just love seeing them turn waste into treasure.

I love the possibilities of mushrooms. I have just begun to integrate them with our homestead last year. They have so many functions to offer (food, medicine, building materials, waste integrations, animal food), and seem like there's a type of mushroom for just about every job. I currently grow several types of oyster mushrooms on paper, cardboard, orchard prunings, and corn stover. The leftover substrate is decent animal feed, as the shrooms digest the cellulose, opening up some nutrition for the animals. What was once basic biomass becomes a nutrient rich feed. They also produce a lot of CO2, and like high humidity, perfect for an aquaponics greenhouse.

The possibilities are endless...

Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Tyler Ludens wrote:
Brad Davies wrote:
John Seay wrote:I think it's important to note that our population is too high to provide any sustainable food to everyone.


We don't know that for sure. According to Geoff Lawton permaculture systems can be 5-20x more productive than modern agriculture. So if modern Ag can keep most of us fed now, there's no reason to think permaculture couldn't do better with less.


I agree, Brad. We don't know the carrying capacity of the land for a society living a different way. We know for certain the way we presently live and produce food industrially isn't sustainable and so those things should be changed while trying to reach a stable population. Most of our agricultural land is not being used efficiently to grow food, it is being used efficiently to turn petroleum into food (10 calories in per 1 calorie out or something like that) or maybe I should say "food". Growing corn and soybeans industrially is not the most space-efficient means of growing food, as folks have pointed out. It's merely the most labor-efficient (only about 1% of the US population farms anymore).

Here's a series of articles I read recently about feeding the world on the Primal Diet (basically vegetables and some meat, no grain) which I think makes some good points about how it might be possible for everyone to eat a healthy sustainable diet: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/can-we-feed-the-world-on-the-primal-blueprint-diet-part-1/#axzz1rx6Dik5r

At the end of the day, I'm not growing food to feed the world, I'm growing food to feed my family and community. Our efficiency is measured by how we take advantage of our particular situation, resources, people, etc. in a sustainable way.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Abe Connally wrote:
At the end of the day, I'm not growing food to feed the world, I'm growing food to feed my family and community. Our efficiency is measured by how we take advantage of our particular situation, resources, people, etc. in a sustainable way.


Multiply that by a bunch more folks and pretty soon feeding the world sustainably is a problem which is on the way to solving itself. Throwing up our hands and saying sustainable food growing is impossible ensures the problem is unsolvable.
Kay Bee


Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
tel jetson wrote:
Abe Connally wrote:
That's a very basic integration, but if we stack some more species here, we could get more food. Feed that 130lbs of waste to rabbits (producing 33lbs of rabbit), and they'll also produce 100lbs of manure that can be feed directly to your tilapia (another 77lbs of meat). Use the slaughter waste from the rabbits and the tilapia (60lbs) to feed ducks, and gain another 20lbs of food. Congratulations, you just turned 130lbs of waste into 130lbs of food. And we haven't even talked about feeding the manure from the tilapia and ducks through other species, like BSF, earthworms, pigs, mushrooms, plants, algae, etc.


color me skeptical.

130 pounds of waste fed to rabbits gets us 33 pounds of rabbit meat and 100 pounds of manure.

100 pounds of rabbit manure gets us 77 pounds of tilapia meat.

slaughtering those rabbits and tilapia gives us 60 pounds of waste, so we're up to 170 pounds of animal we've made out of 130 pounds of vegetables?

60 pounds of slaughter waste gets us 20 pounds of duck meat. so we're up to 190 pounds of animal, plus I assume some extra from the ducks that isn't food.


I'm all for the stacking of functions and species you describe. I'm doing similar things myself, and always trying to do better. but again, color me skeptical.

skeptical for good reason. looks like the numbers are based on ideal formulations of feed that have been used to quantitate conversion efficiencies.

what are the odds that vegetable waste will provide an ideal ration for any of those animals listed?

I'm all for stacking functions, too, but with a healthy dose of realistic expectations.


"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari

Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7
Abe Connally


Joined: Feb 20, 2010
Posts: 1381
Location: Chihuahua Desert
Kay Bee wrote:
skeptical for good reason. looks like the numbers are based on ideal formulations of feed that have been used to quantitate conversion efficiencies.

what are the odds that vegetable waste will provide an ideal ration for any of those animals listed?

I'm all for stacking functions, too, but with a healthy dose of realistic expectations.

I was illustrating a point based on stacking animals down a waste stream. If you pick components of your waste stream well, they can provide excellent rations for the animals listed.

Do we need a disclaimer on every statement saying that we are discussing a hypothetical situation?
Shawn Harper


Joined: Mar 01, 2012
Posts: 220
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
    
    1
Abe Connally wrote:
Kay Bee wrote:
skeptical for good reason. looks like the numbers are based on ideal formulations of feed that have been used to quantitate conversion efficiencies.

what are the odds that vegetable waste will provide an ideal ration for any of those animals listed?

I'm all for stacking functions, too, but with a healthy dose of realistic expectations.

I was illustrating a point based on stacking animals down a waste stream. If you pick components of your waste stream well, they can provide excellent rations for the animals listed.

Do we need a disclaimer on every statement saying that we are discussing a hypothetical situation?


I wish it were not so, however most don't assume worst case scenario before doing something.
greg patrick


Joined: Mar 17, 2012
Posts: 167
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
    
    1
I like Joel Salatin. Joel say's he isn't a cow farmer, he's a grass farmer. Actually, he claims he's a soil microbe farmer.

Without soil, we have nothing.

How much top soil do we have left? How much glyphosate soil sterilization? We have major desertification going on here in the central valley of California, the worlds' most productive region, where we're loosing 178 km2 of arable, fertile land each year. The depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer in the middle of our country will lead to millions of acres being taken offline there as well. Twenty more years of ag-business as usual left, tops. Then what? Look at Mesopotamia to see the answer. What is now the desert of Iraq was once called the fertile crescent, the bread basket of humanity. Now it's sand and rock.

We need to rebuild our soil, and the only ways to do it are flooding it and running livestock over grass. So it isn't so much a matter of vegan vs paleo, or corn vs cows. We need to be asking 'How do we repair our soils?'. No soil, no food, regardless of what you want to eat. Unless we rebuild our grasslands immediately, we will lose these to production for ANY purpose. The best way to re-build grassland is to run cattle or bison in a smart, intense, Joel Salatin style. The article acknowledges this by quoting 'Michael Pollan, “It is doubtful you can build a genuinely sustainable agriculture without animals to cycle nutrients.” In other words, raising animals is not only sustainable, but required.'

So we don't get to have these trite intellectual discussions about which food is more ethical, sustainable, etc. In the end, this hot air won't do anything to sustain us. We need to focus on doing what's best for the land. Grass based agriculture is the only realistic way to do this. Let's get our animals on pasture, then work out the fine points once we're underway.


'Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance.' - Hippocrates
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3080
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
greg patrick wrote:I like Joel Salatin. Joel say's he isn't a cow farmer, he's a grass farmer. Actually, he claims he's a soil microbe farmer.

So we don't get to have these trite intellectual discussions about which food is more ethical, sustainable, etc. In the end, this hot air won't do anything to sustain us. We need to focus on doing what's best for the land. Grass based agriculture is the only realistic way to do this.


the objection to Salatin's practices is that while they're all well and good for his land, he imports large amounts of conventionally grown grain from elsewhere. so he's externalizing the negative impacts of his farm. while that may seem like picking nits to some, I think it's a very reasonable criticism. it's important to consider all the impacts of our practice, regardless of whether we see them or not.

Salatin also imports large volumes of kelp meal from Iceland. that may be a temporary solution to improve mineral depleted dirt, but I would suppose that it will go on indefinitely because minerals are also constantly leaving in the form of meat.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
greg patrick wrote:

We need to rebuild our soil, and the only ways to do it are flooding it and running livestock over grass.



I tend to be skeptical of any claims about the "only way" to do something. It is too limiting. Not all of us are in a position to flood our land or run livestock over grass. I think it is fabulous if the people who can do those things will do them and demonstrate to the rest of us how they are doing it, but to say those are the "only ways" to restore soil is limiting, in my opinion.



greg patrick


Joined: Mar 17, 2012
Posts: 167
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
    
    1
OK, I'll bite. I don't see planting yams and spreading compost over hundreds of millions of acres as a viable option. I will admit that the area under my deciduous trees is pretty mulchy and nice, but taking acreage offline for a generation isn't necessarily a great option either when running cattle over grass would provide food and restore the land immediately.

How else?
 
 
subject: The "Myth" of Sustainable Meat?
 
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