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Author Topic: Can we not spare the cow and ferment the grass ourselves?  (Read 8077 times)

Offline KyraLamb

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We know that a cow's 4 stomachs exist for the purpose of creating an internal environment wherein bacteria can multiply and aid in the fermentation of grass for the cow's nutritional needs. The bacteria break down the cellulose and provide the cow with missing vitamins and proteins. This provides the cow with a complete diet. In fact humans have been eating herbivores and drinking their milk for a very long time in order to obtain the nutrition found in this grass for ourselves since our own digestive systems do not adequately break down cellulose. All grass is edible to humans, but that durn cellulose does an expert job at keeping its nutrition from us.

My question is this: In these more civilized times (ideally), does it not make more sense to mimic the digestive system of the cow by blending and fermenting the grass ourselves rather than going through the gory and unseemly process of enslaving, killing, ripping apart, and processing a sentient being or putting our noses up at the love between a baby and its mama, ripping that baby from her breast and sending him off to slaughter so that we can drink the milk that was intended for him?

Can a human being mimic the fermentation process of the cow and live off of grass directly?
« Last Edit: 18/05/2012 19:07:04 by chris »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Spare the cow- ferment the grass yourself
« Reply #1 on: 15/05/2012 06:10:54 »
There was a previous discussion here.
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=43313.0   (ok, not very long of a discussion)
About this TNS topic:
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/interviews/interview/1983/

So, there is an effort to synthetically grow meat without the cows.  Is that good or bad for the bovines?

Obviously humans eat the grains from various grasses.  The cellulose stems are much less palatable. 

You might look at malting (generally done with grains (barley and rice)) which can enzymatically produce sugars from starches.  Perhaps something similar could be done with cellulose and grass stems.
 

Offline nicephotog

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Re: Spare the cow- ferment the grass yourself
« Reply #2 on: 17/05/2012 19:01:01 »
Quote
does it not make more sense to mimic the digestive system of the cow by blending and fermenting the grass ourselves
It certainly does if it's "Hops" , they were first used in the 11th century to brew beer , Why indeed plant grass when you can plant Hops.
http://www.ehow.com/about_5542128_nutritional-values-hops.html

Quote
about the appropriateness of raising animals for food
That's more of a theological problem.
Its easy to understand why animals are eaten. Most animals farmed are able to kill, in primal prehistory lower life forms of another species such as bovines do kill without provocation and as each speies normal instinct is to gather to their own for reasons from reproduction to sustaining life by cooperation, it is all the way to higher thinking and sacreligious sanctity of supporting one's own species.
The issue is not whether useles creatures are killed or killed for food, it's whether the process is ever cruel.

URL about vegetable food stuffs yield of protien.
Its interesting to note "Tofu" is alike meat in protien content.
http://www.ehow.com/about_5542128_nutritional-values-hops.html
 

Offline CliffordK

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Offline KyraLamb

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Re: Spare the cow- ferment the grass yourself
« Reply #4 on: 18/05/2012 03:49:37 »
I'm getting the feeling that there is dismissal regarding this subject. Very well, then, the ethics of vegetarianism aside:

Any thoughts on fermenting grass in order to break down the cellulose and multiply the bacteria for consumption which are very beneficial to animal nutrition? All grass is, indeed, edible- not just the seeds- although no animal produces enzymes which break down the cellulose except for some kind of termite (not exactly helpful). It is the bacteria which break down the cellulose naturally if fermentation is allowed to take place.

Some quick facts:
Animals (including humans) only need about 9% of their diet to contain protein (or, more accurately, amino acids) which is found in abundance in all plant foods (among the lowest sources of amino acids is white potatoes which still contain around 9% protein which is the minimum requirement). Nutrients in the soil contain small amounts of Nitrogen and when cattle eat grass they absorb the protein (in the form of nitrogen molecules) that is found in the grass or other legumes. The grass itself has a protein content between 10 and 16 percent. This number is not counting the protein which is found in the digested bacteria. Animal protein must first be broken down into amino acids by our digestive systems before it can be used by our bodies. Excess protein has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and cancer.

I want to know if the human consumption of fermented grass will produce the desired effect of attaining a more complete nutrition from our own backyards or if I am missing some vital factor.

I have noticed that there is an absence of information on this subject on the internet (am I really the first person to think of this? I doubt it) which is why I came here. I thought somebody would know something about bovine digestion or human digestion or the process of fermentation that I have somehow missed in my own tireless searching. Please feel free to fill me in on any important points you think I have missed or any experiences which would help me learn more about this.
 

Offline JP

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Re: Spare the cow- ferment the grass yourself
« Reply #5 on: 18/05/2012 15:29:51 »
I suspect you could ferment grass to get nutrition out.  They already do ferment cellulose to generate ethanol, and ethanol (while not terribly nutritious) is digestible by humans.  I imagine you could probably process grass to get digestible sugars and protein out of it, whether through fermentation or through chemical and mechanical means.

However, to get people to use it, you'd have to make it practical.  Why would it be more practical for a farmer to plant a field of grass and process it to get a little nutritional value out when there are far more nutritionally dense (and digestible) plants out there: wheat, soy, corn, rice, quinoa, etc.
 

Offline BenV

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Re: Spare the cow- ferment the grass yourself
« Reply #6 on: 18/05/2012 15:48:18 »
Oddly enough, I've just been chatting to a researcher who works on animal nutrition and the role of microorganisms in ruminant guts - we're hoping to discuss this on the Naked Scientists radio show/podcast very soon, so please keep an eye out for it!
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Spare the cow- ferment the grass yourself
« Reply #7 on: 18/05/2012 17:03:21 »

role of microorganisms in ruminant guts


Sounds yummy! I can hardly wait  :)
 

Offline KyraLamb

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Re: Can we not spare the cow and ferment the grass ourselves?
« Reply #8 on: 19/05/2012 22:05:13 »
Sweet! I want to learn more about the possibilities for food growing wild everywhere. I'm not so interested in what farmers do, just what I can do with the grass going to waste in my yard for my own benefit and that of my family. People talk about the food crisis and whatnot, but it seems to me that there is really no such thing. We are just uneducated about what is truly edible: dandelions, clover, thistle, chickweed, cattails, grass- food is everywhere. I want to make the most of it- crisis or not.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can we not spare the cow and ferment the grass ourselves?
« Reply #9 on: 19/05/2012 23:15:48 »
It might be interesting to look at the 3rd world food supplies.  There may be many things that have been "forgotten" in the western culture.

There was an NPR special yesterday.

"That mother is now collecting wild leaves, dried leaves, boiling them nine times so that her children can digest them. She's also collecting wild berries that, if she doesn't cook them six times, are toxic,"

The report considers this as very bad.  And, perhaps it is.  But, it is also an indication that there are food sources being used in the 3rd world that are far outside of what would be considered a Western Standard. 

"Toxicity" is also a sliding scale, as has been noted under the Canola Oil topic.  Jatropha, for example, is considered toxic, but perhaps is only mildly toxic, and would be considered a growth inhibitor when used as a protein source.  And, the Mexican variety is often cooked and eaten.

Of course, there is also Kwashiorkor, an all too common occurrence in the 3rd world.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can we not spare the cow and ferment the grass ourselves?
« Reply #10 on: 20/05/2012 11:10:04 »
Cows spend pretty much the whole day eating in order to get enough nutrition. I have other things to do, so I let cattle and sheep do that energy harvesting for me.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can we not spare the cow and ferment the grass ourselves?
« Reply #11 on: 20/05/2012 11:42:41 »
Cows spend pretty much the whole day eating in order to get enough nutrition. I have other things to do, so I let cattle and sheep do that energy harvesting for me.
However, we could potentially mechanize the process in the future. 
Cooking, grinding, boiling, micro-organisms, etc. 

So, if we eliminated the need for cattle, wouldn't that lead to the destruction of over a billion cows?
 

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Re: Can we not spare the cow and ferment the grass ourselves?
« Reply #11 on: 20/05/2012 11:42:41 »

 

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