What about beef and the environment?

Do you think eating plant based protein is better for the environment than eating beef? That is what the companies behind this campaign want you to believe. Unfortunately they are not telling you the whole story because it’s not in their best interest to expose who is actually feeding you the truth.

The industrialization of agriculture was a by-product of war. After WWII there was a chemical surplus from bomb making that was applied to crops as an experiment. Crop yields increased causing a glut of grain in the marketplace. Oversupply meant the prices dropped and many found it cheaper to feed this grain to livestock than hay. As a result the cattle grew more quickly and the feedlot industry evolved. The companies that got rich supplying chemicals for war turned their heads to agriculture and many never looked back. Agriculture became big business and vast tracts of biodiverse native grasslands quickly vanished under the plough. Farmers saw huge opportunities growing grain but their excitement didn’t last. Over the years both chemical and food companies started to consolidate and today only a few mega-corporations monopolize the marketplace. Food companies compete against each other on price in the retail environment to attract consumers. The collateral damage is farm and ranch families who are continually pushed to lower their costs of production to meet corporate demand for cheap ingredients. Farmers must maximize yields which usually involves expensive chemical inputs like fuel, herbicides, pesticides, dessicants, fungicides and several others. Most farmer aren’t getting rich growing these crops, so who is benefiting from promoting plant based proteins?

Mega-corporations see where the money is. They sell farmers seed (often genetically modified) and chemicals so they can mass produce commodities which in turn keeps their prices low. These companies have deep pockets for marketing whatever message sells their interests. In this case that plant based protein is better for the environment than beef. But is this true? It’s no surprise that beef became a target because when compared to grain production there is little money in livestock for these companies. So why not promote getting rid of beef production altogether so you can create a need that benefits your bottom line, like saving the planet? Instead of grazing lets convert the grasslands to monoculture crops and demonize cows as bad for the environment and your health. But cattle have been an integral part of agriculture for thousands of years. They can eat grasses and plants that people can’t eat and turn them into nutrient dense protein without being fed grain or being put into feedlots. Historically farms were mixed operations where cropland was rotated with livestock to replenish soil nutrients. People understood the importance of having livestock as part of building healthy soil. Also, anyone who understands ecosystem processes will realize that grain production is not viable everywhere, including TK Ranch.

The glaciers removed the topsoil here leaving a thin layer that has evolved to grow wild grasses and plants that form the basis of a biologically diverse landscape. Cattle replaced bison in this ecosystem and have become an part of keeping it healthy. In fact properly managed cattle help sequester carbon by keeping the grasslands rich and biodiverse as a part of the natural nutrient cycling process.

Healthy grasslands sequester 80 tonnes of carbon per hectare, that’s 25% more than cropland.

Raising grass-fed and finished beef is a win-win-win-win. Grazing animals keep endangered grasslands healthy that act as a carbon sink and provide critical habitat for threatened species. The end product is heart healthy nutrient dense grass-fed beef. The next time you hear someone promoting the benefits of eating plant based protein think about who is sending the message. We need biodiversity and wild prairie is now more endangered than the rain forest.

When you eat beef you help conserve grasslands and the species that live there. You can’t say that about plant based protein.

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