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Time for a One-Eighty on Cows and Climate – Part 1

Thursday, March 14, 2024 1:27 PM

Time for a One-Eighty on Cows and Climate – Part 1
APRIL 29, 2014 

About Joann S. Grohman
Joann S. Grohman attended UC Davis (Animal Science). She has 8 children and 16 grandchildren. Her interest is child development including nutrition. She is the author of Keeping a Family Cow.

I listen to many talks by highly qualified scientists and others deeply concerned about our future, as well they might be. Some are concerned about climate change, others about starvation. In their summary remarks – I wait for it: their suggestions for how we can mitigate disaster always include a well-meant suggestion that we eat less meat on the grounds that to do so will liberate more resources to grow human food. Few seem to question this supposed cause and effect. 

Cattle are not competing with humans for grass, their real food. The fact that corn and soy are fed to animals reflects the artificial circumstances in which the animals are kept. Cows are being criticized for making inefficient use of what is not their natural food. This use of land and feed is part of the agribusiness/CAFO complex. A more courageous suggestion would be to banish CAFOs and instead feed animals locally on their natural food. This would eliminate both competition for grain and the CO2 burden associated with its commercial production. 

Furthermore, there is no shortage of land. An artificial competition has been set up leaving animals, especially cows, as offenders. There is no shortage of land or resources for local food production, although current usage is inhibited by restrictive zoning. Food production in an integrated small farm system is capable of being far more productive per acre than the agribusiness model since all of the different parts support each other, plus benefit from the hand of the owner. The cow’s manure goes to feed the soil instead of causing pollution.
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