Organic Grass Fed Beef Environmental Benefits


Change to Grass-fed-Beef = Save the Environment?

You're thinking how this can be true, right? Well, it is. Not only are there many health benefits to grass fed or pasture raised beef, there are also many environmental benefits too. Some of the environmental benefits have a lasting impact on a global scale, and some of the benefits improve the local conditions. Some of these advantages are obvious, but most are not.



How Grass Fed Meat Will Save the Planet


Top 5 Environmental Advantages to American Grass Fed Beef

  1. Grazing cows can help to maintain the landscape.
  2. Grass fed cattle promote a more sustainable agriculture.
  3. Pasture raising cattle result in healthier (and more) animals (not just including cattle).
  4. Organic beef ranching promotes cleaner water.
  5. Grazing prevents soil erosion.

Pasture Raised Beef Animals + Grazing = Greener Grass

One practical environmental benefit to grass fed beef, is that with the help of the rancher, the cattle actually help maintain and enhance the prairie grass and farm landscape. If the cattle are rotated properly between pasture fields, they can actually help the grass to grow faster and to spread.

Spreading the Seeds:

Pasture cattle can take a barren (but grassy) field and turn it into a fertile area. How? Nearly everything about their grazing is beneficial. Even just by eating the grass they are helping it to grow.

You're thinking this can't be true, right?

Take a look:

A grazing cow eats the grass. --> The grass goes into the first chamber of its stomach and eventually gets regurgitated. The grass seeds get separated from the blades of grass. --> The seeds get blown away or directly implanted into the ground (the hoofs of the cow also help the grass to implant by pressing it into the ground).
It's that simple. Grazing cows can help the grass grow just by eating it. But let's not forget that if the cattle are grazed properly, they can also help the grass to grow with their natural fertilizer!  What's great about their manure is that it doesn't contain any chemicals from hormones, so it's great for the environment.

Grass Raised Animals + Pasture = Sustainable Agriculture

I don't want to bore you with the facts, but 60% of all the corn, and 50% of all total grains grown in the United States goes to feed livestock. So the next time you are driving down the interstate somewhere in the Midwest, think about how much of the grains we actually consume versus what is planted.

Imagine what the same boring Midwest drive would look like if we didn't have to plant all of these crops to feed livestock. Instead of seeing corn in the summer and nothing but dirt in the winter, we would see grass.

  Grass Fed & Pasture Raised Livestock Corn Fed Livestock
Ground Cover Green grass. Crops in the spring and summer, bare fields the rest of the year.
Soil Fertile from natural manure. Fertile, but only because of the synthetic fertilizers used to make the crops grow faster.
Overall Sustainability This option is definitely sustainable, because it provides a natural fertilizer and ground cover to protect the land. This option is not sustainable. It uses a lot of pesticide, insecticides and synthetic fertilizers to encourage crop growth. Most importantly, it wastes valuable natural resources to grow crops that won't even be used for human consumption.

Don't get me wrong. We do need crops, but should we sacrifice our environment to plant them for animals, when there is a better alternative?

Grazing + Cattle = More Animals = Healthier Environment

Natural animals equal a healthier environment. Why?

Because doing what is natural for grass fed cattle meat is going to make healthier animals. If we could restore natural grasslands for cattle to graze on, we would be helping out other animals to live a healthier life.

Try to answer the following questions about the American grasslands:

  • Can you name five animals that live in the American grasslands?  Did you name the coyote, red fox, badger, monarch butterfly, eagle, deer or prairie dog, or did you choose one of the hundreds of other animals?
  • Can you name one animal that lives on the American grasslands that is endangered species? Answer: bison, black footed ferret or prairie chicken are three of the many endangered species.
  • Can you name one animal that lives in a grain field? You can probably think of two: rats and mice, but there are a few others.

The point of this quiz is to show how many animals depend on grasslands to live. The size of the American grassland is decreasing for many reasons that really can't be controlled. However, the growing of grains so that they can be conveniently fed to livestock is a controllable reason, and it is an irresponsible reason.
How can you help? Well, if you only want to do one thing it's this: switch to fresh and tasty grass-fed beef. One person won't make a difference, but if more and more consumers make the switch, the beef industry worldwide will be forced to explore organic grass fed beef.


Grass Fed Cattle = Cleaner Water

There are many pollutants that are filtered out of your water before you drink it. Some of these pollutants can't be controlled, but most of them are the result of everyone trying to make the most profit right now. Let's look at some of the water pollution that is caused by having thousands of cattle in one place.

The water cycle is a circle. If it rains, the water that goes into the ground goes with it, and eventually ends up in a river or lake. But not just water can flow into a lake.

Huge amounts of manure in one place leak into the ground soil and contaminate the water supply. Wait, you said that manure (in proper amounts) was good for the soil. Don't worry, it is. But if you don't use it properly, or if you don't dispose of it properly, it will cause serious problems.

  • Manure is naturally nutrient rich. If it gets into lakes or rivers, it will cause huge amounts of algae to grow. These algae can kill the fish, because they eat away the fish's food source.
  • The ammonia from the manure can combine with other chemicals – the result is acid rain. Acid rain also kills the fish in rivers and lakes (and ruins your paint job on your car).
  • Chemicals, such as antibiotics and hormones, which are injected in grain fed cattle, have been found in lakes and rivers. These are the same hormones that are banned from meat in the European Union because they have been shown to cause cancer. Do you want these in your water?

How Can Switching to Organic Grass-fed Beef Help this Problem?

Certified organic beef meat ranchers use a more natural approach. The beef animals have to eat something, so they are given enough land to graze. If grazed properly, the soil can absorb their manure as a nutrient, not as waste.

Also, natural beef doesn't use growth hormones on their cattle to accelerate growth. So the water (and the meat) will not be harmed by these dangerous chemicals!

Agriculture places a burden on the water supply in general, but pasture raised beef animals don't overload the water cycle with waste and chemicals.

The production of meat accounts for nearly 20 percent of the planet's carbon emissions. In the book “Meat: A Benign Extravagance", that will be released in February 2011, author Simon Fairlie argues that a moderate consumption of meat can be healthier than a vegan diet. His argument stems from the fact livestock best feeds on hard-to-use biomass in most agricultural systems. Animals from small farms are adept at fighting off predators and pests that help to enrich the soil.

Fairlie contributed the following statement to Time magazine:
"... [O]f course, it is not what we eat individually -- it is what we eat as a whole society that has Meathe impact on the environment. Some vegans may continue their vegan ways. I'm arguing for meat in moderation, not to eradicate meat entirely, nor to overconsume it."

One of Fairlie's arguments is how meat eating is the target of misinformation spread by vegetarians and vegans, who use the popular argument that a meat-free diet is easier and friendlier on the environment and that industrial animal farming is one of the worst crimes committed against the planet. However, less than 5 percent of US livestock facilities produce 40 percent of farm animals. Hundreds of animals cramped in a small area leaves tons of waste, which causes an unnatural form of raising animals and leaves a negative environmental impact. However, Simon Fairlie argues animals raised according to natural laws have a positive effect on the planet-

The Pros of Eating Meat from an Environmental Point of View

Fairlie advised Time magazine (providing a bigger picture in his book, Meat: A Benign Extravagance) that many of the statistics used by vegetarians and vegans to make meat eating look bad does not tell the whole story. One such statistic is the UN's popular statistic stating that meat accounts for 18 percent of the world's carbon emissions. According to plan, this statistic makes cattle account for all deforestation, rather than development and logging. Another widespread fact is that the ratio between plant foods used to make meat is around 5 to 1.
Fairlie makes the argument that this only takes into account providing animals with foods for human consumption, which is popular in the United States. Feeding livestock (cattle as on example) their true diets (grass, which is not consumed by humans) the more accurate ratio is 1.4 to 1. Small farming also spurs fertilizing soil and getting ride of predators and pests. Plus, animals thriving on food waste and whey (e.g. pigs and cows) are producers for the environment.

One caveat is that Fairlie's assumptions advocate organic farming to fully sustain the argument that meat eating is good for the planet. Cutting our meat consumption by 50% would also help. Many considerations (such as industrial farming practices) must be in place before confirming that meat eating is good for the planet.

Factory Farming is Bad for the Environment

Most of the meat raised in industrial farms in the United States is not healthy for you, the animals, or the environment. The waste generated by animals in smaller farms is used as fertilizer, which is healthy for the environment. On the contrary, the waste that an industrial farm generates is so large that it cannot be used as fertilizer. As a result, the excess of waste is held in big lagoons or spread onto nearby crops. The waste can frequently get to groundwater or land in rivers, lakes, and other big bodies of water where there is a thriving eco-system. Farm Sanctuary, an organization that helps protect farm animals, explains how this phenomenon is affecting the environment:

"The quantity of waste produced by farm animals in the U.S. is more than 130 times greater than that produced by humans. Agricultural runoff has killed millions of fish, and is the main reason why 60% of America's rivers and streams are "impaired."

In states with concentrated animal agriculture, the waterways have become rife with pfiesteria bacteria. In addition to killing fish, pfiesteria causes open sores, nausea, memory loss, fatigue and disorientation in humans."
Other alarms raised are the fact animals raised in unsanitary environments and fed a poor diet are given antibiotics to prevent illness. Seventy percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are used for agricultural purposes, so it accounts for a high percentage of human antibiotic consumption.

When animals are treated with antibiotics their weight increases four to five percent. This weight augmentation is translated into a price rise of the meat that the consumer buys. The use of antibiotics also favors an antibiotic resistance, making it necessary to increase the doses given to the animal and consequently, the price that the end consumer has to pay. Needless to say that these operations are responsible for catastrophic food recalls such as the recall of a half billion eggs (due to a Salmonella outbreak in August 2010) and the 2008 recall of a million pounds of beef. Here's another reason to take a complete probiotic supplement on a daily basis.

Is Meat for Everyone?

We can assert that the farming strategies used in the United States are harming our health and the environment.

When referring to meat consumption, please note that we am only advocating organically farmed, properly raised livestock that has space to roam, availability to natural foods free from antibiotics and other enhancers used in conventional farming. My point is that everyone can benefit from animal protein, from a clinical point of view. This benefit could be small or big (some cultures consume less meat). Meat is not necessary as part of a carb heavy diet, but other animal proteins like eggs and raw organic dairy could be used (in lieu of big slabs of meat!)

 Not all bodies require the same ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids, in fact, many people's engines rev faster with lots of vegetables and little animal proteins. However, many would fall ill under this diet. In addition to fat/carb/protein ratio, the quality of meat and its cook state (well done, rare, medium rare, etc) also has an effect on health benefits.

Turn Your Back on Factory Farms

Most people in the United States get their meat from factory farms that use unsustainable industry practices, a condition which must be revolutionized in order for meat to become environmentally friendly. As long as you recognize what the caveats for health meat eating are (rules that protect the animals and the planet as well as your health), the ill effects of factory-farmed meat will become more apparent. Another reason, grass-fed meats are best.

Healthy meat consumption takes into account the following:
  • Meat should be grass-fed and organic

  • Meat should be bought from local farmers (the farmer's market in your area is an excellent source) who can vouch for antibiotic and pesticide-free farm practices.

  • Animals should be in their natural environment, living in a natural setting and eating natural foods.

  • The farmer should understand how best animals, plants, soil, water, and habitat work together to produce a self-sustaining, health ecosystem.

  • With organic food accounting for less than 2 percent of food production (with local food under 1 percent), we have a long way to go towards health farm practices. Supporting health farm practices by taking the above items into considerations will have long lasting effects on your health and the environment while advocating for the safety of farm animals worldwide.

Organic Beef = Better Soil + More of It

Soil erosion is a major problem for farmers. Why is it a problem? What causes this problem? The problem is that the top layer (and most fertile layer) of soil will blow away if there is no ground cover on it.

How can we prevent soil erosion from happening? Of course one way is to plant grass that can be grazed on by animals such as Texas grass fed beef animals. If properly grazed, grass fed beef can decrease the amount of soil eroded. Because more pasture raised beef equals less grain that needs to be produced, you have even less erosion.

So pasture raising helps save the valuable top layer of soil, but it also helps to make the soil more fertile in two ways. First, it naturally fertilizes the soil with manure. Second, it allows the fields that would normally be planted to rest and regain their nutrients naturally.

It's really time to start shopping for healthy grass-fed-meats! Don't you agree? American Grass Fed Beef is what our parents were raised on - let's get back to basics.


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