CrossFit Discussion Board  

Go Back   CrossFit Discussion Board > CrossFit Forum > Nutrition
CrossFit Home Forum Site Rules CrossFit FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Nutrition Diet, supplements, weightloss, health & longevity

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 09-28-2007, 10:05 AM   #1
Skylar Cook
Member Skylar Cook is offline
 
Skylar Cook's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Jupiter  FL
Posts: 839
Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

Grass fed beef is harder to obtain than grain-fed, as well as more pricey. Generally accepted fact.

Now what I'm wondering is- how sustainable is grass-feeding (maybe "sustainable" isn't the best word, hopefully you'll get the gist)? Paleo is generally considered less "sustainable" than 90% of the world's grain-intensive diet, e.g., there's no way everyone on earth could eat paleo even if we dedicated all our resources to growing/producing only paleo foods (caloric density isn't high enough, etc.). Now what about grass-fed beef? Yes, grass is plentiful, but what if ALL cows were to be raised on grass? Could it be maintained? Just wondering if anyone has done any research on the topic...
__________________
"If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize." -Ali
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2007, 10:54 AM   #2
Ben Kaminski
Member Ben Kaminski is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Cincinnati  OH
Posts: 875
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

I don't know the answer, but I don't see why it wouldn't be possible if consequences were accepted.

Feed lots would be replaced by pastures, with a minimum X square feet per animal to sustain constant feeding. Multiply that by hundreds or thousands of animals, and they'd need to convert corn/soyfields into pastures just to get the land!

The dollar earned and dollar cost per acre would be a factor. Compare those figures to corn or soy and that would be a gain/loss.

Don't forget subsidies that reward the overproduction of corn and soy.

Lots of issues. Hire a lobbyist, get them started on the report, and present it to Congress!
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2007, 12:07 PM   #3
Matt DeMinico
Affiliate Matt DeMinico is offline
 
Matt DeMinico's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Sterling Heights  MI
Posts: 1,939
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylar Cook View Post
Grass fed beef is harder to obtain than grain-fed, as well as more pricey. Generally accepted fact.

Now what I'm wondering is- how sustainable is grass-feeding (maybe "sustainable" isn't the best word, hopefully you'll get the gist)? Paleo is generally considered less "sustainable" than 90% of the world's grain-intensive diet, e.g., there's no way everyone on earth could eat paleo even if we dedicated all our resources to growing/producing only paleo foods (caloric density isn't high enough, etc.). Now what about grass-fed beef? Yes, grass is plentiful, but what if ALL cows were to be raised on grass? Could it be maintained? Just wondering if anyone has done any research on the topic...
I'm sure it could be done. Look at the millions of square miles (I think) of land that's used to produce grains, and there's still a ridiculous excess of it. Why not put that effort into growing grasses tall three times per season, harvesting it, let it grow back, harvest it again, etc? Regardless, corn and grains take X amount of energy in, and grass on the same acreage takes in the same amount of energy from the sun, but just doesn't store it in an easily accessible package. I don't know the difference on energy stored in corn per acre vs the energy stored in grass per acre, etc. But I'd be willing to bet that if growth rates were taken into account, grass wouldn't be so far behind as you think.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2007, 01:32 PM   #4
David Osorio
Affiliate David Osorio is offline
 
David Osorio's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Brooklyn  New york
Posts: 229
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

There are many "hidden costs" associated with industrial farming. Unmanageable wastes, top soil erosion, the reduction of biodiversity, increased transportation/manufacturing costs (fuel consumption), aquifer depletion, not to mention the social strain put on local communities, health 'costs' to animals, healthcare costs for humans eating said products and the associated taxes needed to manage industrial farms (billions).

Single Crop industrial farms may produce larger output per unit of labor, but sustainable farms that practice diverse farming methods have greater output per unit of land. Let me repeat that.. Greater output per unit of land. (1.) The reason we don't see a lot of sustainable farms is because ~90% of government subsidies are directed toward industrial farms making rural farming communities unable to compete with agrobusiness.(2.). In order to set up sustainble farms you'd have to create more jobs, invest more time and money on the education of farmers and rotate crops according to seasonal changes. Organizations like Heifer (3rd link) are doing some great great work in this area and i suggest you check them out for information on Heifer supported farms in your area.

The best thing we can do is make informed decisions about where we’re buying our food from and direct it toward the “good guys/girls”


http://www.factoryfarm.org/docs/Foundations_of_Sand.pdf (all the dirty details)
http://www.isec.org.uk/articles/bringing.html (economic costs)
http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.183217/ (Heifer international)
(all w/f safe)
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2007, 01:45 PM   #5
Garrett Smith
Member Garrett Smith is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Tucson  AZ
Posts: 2,264
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

Awesome article on grains and their "impossible" sustainability WFS:

(can't get through to www.anthropik.com due to exceeded bandwidth--YES! people are reading this stuff!)

Sorry, I would have gotten the article, we'll have to find it later.

Basically:
  • Grain farming destroys the fertility and climate of the lands that are used for it
  • We're cutting down forests to grow grains and the grains ruin the land and topsoil
  • The current population levels of the Earth are unsustainable due to the use of grains for human and animal food and the subsequent destruction of the earth used to grow the grains (requiring new farming land that will eventually be ruined too)

IMO, there is no sustainability of any practice if the population continues growing as it currently is.

Funny thing that Jason points out in the article--the Middle East is/was also known as the "Fertile Crescent", back before the start of agriculture (which started there). Look at that area's climate and fertility for plants now.

Buy grass-fed.
__________________
RepairRecoverRestore.com - Saliva, Blood, and Stool Testing
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2007, 07:19 PM   #6
Jeff Evans
Member Jeff Evans is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Baltimore  MD
Posts: 296
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

Michael Pollan does a very extensive analysis of this exact question in The Omnivore's Dilemma (highly recommended book by the way). He concludes it is very sustainable, in stark contrast to the way we do things now which is heavily reliant on artificial nitrogen fixation via the Haber process. I am currently trying to get some of these arguments into Wikipedia's article on the Paleo diet (see the talk page), but right now it's quite a biased mess.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2007, 09:43 PM   #7
Win Featherston
Member Win Featherston is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: St. Charles  MO
Posts: 419
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

I'd like to second the recommendation of The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm about half way through the book right now, and it's a real eye-opener. It will definitely make you think a lot more about your food choices.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2007, 06:02 PM   #8
Matt DeMinico
Affiliate Matt DeMinico is offline
 
Matt DeMinico's Avatar
 
Profile:
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Sterling Heights  MI
Posts: 1,939
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Smith View Post
Awesome article on grains and their "impossible" sustainability WFS:

(can't get through to www.anthropik.com due to exceeded bandwidth--YES! people are reading this stuff!)

Sorry, I would have gotten the article, we'll have to find it later.

Basically:
  • Grain farming destroys the fertility and climate of the lands that are used for it
  • We're cutting down forests to grow grains and the grains ruin the land and topsoil
  • The current population levels of the Earth are unsustainable due to the use of grains for human and animal food and the subsequent destruction of the earth used to grow the grains (requiring new farming land that will eventually be ruined too)

IMO, there is no sustainability of any practice if the population continues growing as it currently is.

Funny thing that Jason points out in the article--the Middle East is/was also known as the "Fertile Crescent", back before the start of agriculture (which started there). Look at that area's climate and fertility for plants now.

Buy grass-fed.
Garrett, I almost always agree with you, but on this one, I have to disagree with you on the earth's population being unsustainable. If modern farming methods (sustainable ones) were used across the planet, we could feed 10 billion humans and return 10% of the currently used farmland back to nature.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2007, 06:50 PM   #9
Garrett Smith
Member Garrett Smith is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Tucson  AZ
Posts: 2,264
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

Matt,
I may be wrong on just the sustainability of food for the population, I'm not going to argue that.

There are so many other practices (ie. modern medicine and its massive failures with extensive waste of resources) that are unsustainable I just don't see the "modern" way of life and all of its accoutrements as being sustainable at all.

It only makes sense to me that if the population keeps growing, keeps getting sicker, keeps eating more, keeps consuming more resources, keeps making more waste, that eventually the scale tips in balance.

Yin balances Yang. The correction is coming, nothing lasts forever. Once the correction comes, I do believe the population that is left will do things differently the next time around.
__________________
RepairRecoverRestore.com - Saliva, Blood, and Stool Testing
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2007, 06:52 PM   #10
John Nauman
Member John Nauman is offline
 
Profile:
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Wichita  KS
Posts: 3
Re: Grass Fed Beef Sustainability

I raise cattle and in my part of the country (Kansas) most of the cows spend the majority of their lives on grass. They are only fed grains the final 60 to 120 days of their lives because that is what most of the consumers want - marbled meat. Grass finishing a cow is not really an easy thing to do. They have to be kept longer (two years) and they have to be slaughtered when the grass is prime, usually in the Spring or early Summer.

With grain prices as high as they are right now you would be hard pressed to convince row crop farmers to start raising cows. A fellow can make a whole lot more money on an acre of ground raising beans and corn than he ever could raising a cow. Plus you only have to work a few months of the year and then set back the rest of the year and collect money from Uncle Sam. There are no subsidies for cow farmers and you have to work year round.

Having said all that I always keep back a calf and grass finish it for myself.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Grass Fed Beef. Why? Sam Lepore Nutrition 6 01-31-2007 04:01 AM
Grass fed Beef Steve Melone Nutrition 9 09-14-2006 04:41 PM
Grass Fed Beef-What to look for David Cynamon Nutrition 4 07-12-2006 05:27 AM
Grass-Fed Beef Michael Hill Nutrition 1 05-09-2004 07:50 PM
Grass Fed Beef Robert Inn Nutrition 4 02-22-2004 05:21 PM


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:26 AM.


CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit Inc.