This is the World Organic News for the week ending the 25th of February 2019.
Jon Moore reporting!
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Just a quick note to let you know one our neighbours is weaning calves at present and they are incredibly loud. If some of that seeps into the I do apologise in advance.
We begin this week with a piece entitled: How Factory Farming Contributes to Global Warming from Ecowatch
When you add it all up, the picture is clear—contemporary agriculture is burning up our planet. And factory farms or, in industry lingo, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), play a key role in this impending disaster.
And then the piece talks about fossil fuel extraction and use, then:
Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed into CAFOs. These animals are literally imprisoned and tortured in unhealthy, unsanitary and unconscionably cruel conditions. Sickness is the norm for animals who are confined rather than pastured, and who eat GMO corn and soybeans, rather than grass and forage as nature intended. To prevent the inevitable spread of disease from stress, overcrowding and lack of vitamin D, animals are fed a steady diet of antibiotics. Those antibiotics pose a direct threat to the environment when they run off into our lakes, rivers, aquifers and drinking water.
The inhumanity of these setups is reason alone to shut them down. The antibiotic resistance they are creating is a time bomb waiting for a trigger. We have been incredibly lucky so far not to have a major outbreak of antibiotic resistant disease.
The groundwater contamination will take generations to repair. On the odd occasion the manure lakes in some of the less well regulated areas gives way and is as catastrophic as you would imagine. The arguments for these industrial units is the cheapness of the food. Having spent some time in the US last year and not being a cheese eater, or eater of any sauce for that matter, I actually tasted the meat, without adornment. It is the most bland meat I’ve ever eaten. As bland as any mass produced food, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
Now because of this and a huge cheese mountain back in the 1980s, the USFDA developed new ways for the food industry to add more cheese to its products. The industry and the consumers, it appears, leapt at this. The huge amounts of food containing cheese is mind boggling.
I can eat all dairy products except cheese. It leads to stomach cramps and other unpleasantness. It is for this reason I can assure you there is cheese in so many processed foods. The answer, of course, is whole foods and grow our own but that’s a different episode.
The point I’m making, eventually, is that the cheapness of the food is offset by the use of excessive flavourings linked to heart disease, obesity and so on. The true cost of feedlot beef is way beyond the price in the supermarket. But healthcare is not included in the price of the meat. So we have at least one hidden cost.
There are even more troubling issues.
CAFOs contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—more than the entire global transportation industry. The air at some factory farm test sites in the U.S. is dirtier than in America’s most polluted cities, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2.
Toss in the transport of feed in and cattle out and the climate change impact grows further.
The numbers quoted are mind bogglingly worrying. All because it’s “cheaper” to treat animals inhumanely for profit. The argument for CAFOs is that animals “waste” energy walking around to find feed. If they just stood still all the feed would be converted into two things: 1) keeping them alive and 2) growing meat quickly. As I mentioned above, one of the side effects of this is bland, flavourless meat. To me this convert walking energy into meat production seems a fallacy. We aren’t working with machines but living beasts. This way is not sustainable, ethically, environmentally or when the legal action kicks in, financially.
But I hear you ask: Is there a system that could replace feedlots? I’m so glad you asked.
From the site, Matter of Trust.org,
The really good news is that we have already found a solution that addresses virtually all of these problems.
It doesn’t matter if you believe climate change is an issue worth your consideration or not. It doesn’t matter whether you believe water shortages are a pressing concern, or whether you care about preserving our butterfly, bee, or fish populations.
Even if you care about just one of these many issues and pooh-pooh all the rest, your time, money, and effort is best spent by supporting regenerative farming.
The reason for this is because regenerative farming helps rebuild and optimize soil quality, and the benefits to air, water, ecosystem, food, animal welfare and human health are downstream results of this optimization.
And that’s from a piece entitled: Regenerative Farming — One Solution That Solves Many Problems.
And this is the sort of thing we need to focus on. One change with huge downstream benefits. So rather making people use thicker plastic bags rather than single use bags both made from petrochemicals, rejig the plastic manufacturing so the inputs are cellulose based rather an fossil fuels. That way the bags break down and return nutrients to the soil and so on. Rather than blaming individual consumers for not changing the world, let’s apply pressure on the root causes of these problems.
CAFOs replaced with regen ag, electric vehicles replacing petrol/diesel ones and hemp based paper instead of pine pulp just to kick off a few ideas.
We can do this, we need to do this. Those twelve years to take action we were told about back in October 2018, well we are now down to eleven years, seven months and the clock is ticking.
[Insert clock ticking here.]
Let’s get this sorted people. This is beyond left and right of politics, this is universal. If you have an election where you live in the next little while, raise the issue, give ‘em hell, make things change! We can, we must, do this. Probably yesterday but today and tomorrow and the day after that. We can do this.
And on that note I’ll draw this episode to a conclusion.
Remember: Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
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Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.
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How Factory Farming Contributes to Global Warming
Regenerative Farming — One Solution That Solves Many Problems