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Mon, 28th Jul 2014

The true cost of farming?

Cow (c) Maksim, Wikimedia Commons

When youíre deciding what to have for dinner tonight, you might like to think about the environmental impact of the food youíre choosing. Itís long been known that vegetarian crops take up less room, and need less energy to grow farm animals. But which animals are the worse offenders? Now, new research is showing that cows are doing a lot more damage than anything else. Georgia Mills spoke to Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Science to find out more...

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The wonders of stock photos.
With all the discussion about BEEF, TNS displays a photo of a Holstein next to the article.

I have no doubt that farming practices vary from place to place.  In many places, it is possible to raise one's beef with ZERO irrigation, and relatively little fertilizer (if any at all).  Or, perhaps one could consider cattle as providing fertilizer for organic gardening.

Agricultural density is one issue.  However, beef, sheep, and goats can be raised on mostly marginal land that would otherwise be difficult to cultivate.  Goats are well known for eating just about anything.

One of the issues might be feed-lots.  However, it is also possible to raise one's beef 100% grass (and hay) fed, without bringing in high quality grains for their feed.  "Finishing" the beef with grain is popular to get that marbled fat & muscle, but it is unnecessary, and only adds fat to the diet.

Chickens, on the other hand, are usually caged and fed grains.

We don't necessarily have to remove beef from our diets, but rather we need to consider smarter farming practices, and perhaps the quantity of meat in the diet that provides a good supplement to the protein requirements.

CliffordK, Mon, 28th Jul 2014

With all this bleating (pun intended) about sheep, cows, chickens, pigs, goats etc. taking so much space to feed for little return, I do wonder if we neglect to take into account what these animals put back. In good old fashioned Anglo Saxon language s**t, poo, excrement. They do fertilise the ground they walk on. Take away these animals and we greatly reduce our ability to produce organic fertiliser. Field after field of green veg, root veg, legumes, fruit etc. would require more oil based fertiliser.

What's more, don't we need animal species other than ourselves? Modern farming has eradicated many species of larger animals. Are we prepared to welcome back the bears, wolves and big cats to re-take their place in the wild. I for one wouldn't object to that, but I'm not so sure about others. Our planet requires a balance between animals and plants. Had animals not evolved, plants might have died out billions of years ago. It is man that has determined that those animals should be our domestic farm animals. Now we must live with the consequences.

Besides, I want my egg, bacon & sausage for breakfast. Don_1, Tue, 29th Jul 2014

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