Cow Karma: Confessions of a Carnivore

My name is Kimberly and I like meat, a lot. I’ve heard that the unsustainable production of beef in the United States accounts for a large portion of the greenhouse gasses that we emit. I wanted to find out if sustainable production of livestock could mitigate our carbon footprint,  so I coordinated an internship at Grazin’ Angus Acres with the Chief Executive Farmers Dan and Susan Gibson.

Grass-fed cattle at Grazin' Angus Acres

We distributed hay to the cattle, and, prompted by my witnessing a heifer defecating, Dan informed me that the distribution of manure on the fields aids the nutrient efficiency of the soil which perpetuates the cyclical relationship between the grass, animals, and the people:  plants capture nutrients, cattle eat the grass, people eat cattle. Inspired by Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and catalyzed by events in his world, Dan Gibson began to farm sustainably, produce grass fed beef and show the importance of eating it  for our health and for the planet.

I learned many things but most importantly: cows as herbivores evolved to eat and digest grass – not corn.  Eating grass as they evolved to do, cows produce less greenhouse gases, and is way more efficient than conventional meat production.  While grass-fed beef is environmentally sustainable, but it’s not yet financially sustainable for independent farmers who do it.  On day one, we watched a documentary called “Green Beef” that highlighted the scientific and culinary importance of sustainably produced cattle. On day two, I learned that conscious beef is expensive to produce but does not have lucrative results for the chief executives. Dan told me that the farmers spend all summer and early autumn preparing for the winter months when fresh food for the cattle and his family are both in short supply. I get to purchase great meat like other New Yorkers at local Greenmarkets. That’s lessening our carbon footprint, and helping Dan and Susan Gibson meet their bottom line, but it’s not enough.

Now the foundation is laid, and we know what we need to do in order to ensure both the environmental and financial sustainability of our agricultural system:  

Carnivores, eat grass-fed beef!

Thank you Dan and Susan Gibson for your generous hospitality and warmth.

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