Last night I had the opportunity to watch a presentation and panel discussion regarding agriculture and sustainability. The importance of grazing animals (beef cattle and sheep) for preserving and maintaining the health of grassland ecosystems was one of the topics covered. The health of Canadian grasslands was once managed by bison. North American bison were hunted to virtual extinction over a hundred years ago. These days the ruminant animals that help preserve the health of grasslands by grazing on them include beef cattle and sheep.
Greenhouse gas emissions were also covered. The use of beef cattle and sheep in holistic farming to maintain healthy and biodiverse grassland ecosystems can result in net neutral or negative greenhouse gas emissions. We currently do not have a technology in place that effectively turns over the grass while leaving the natural ecosystem undisturbed like ranched beef cattle or sheep does.
As a trainer and therapist, people see me to improve their health and quality of life. For anyone that knows me and has followed what I do, I am a proponent for a lifestyle that is both good for you and for future generations. I consider the science and my sources of information. In the past few years, many ‘documentaries’ about food have emerged - none of which display scientific rigour in the information they present. Instead they cause mass confusion. Anyone with a slight interest and background in basic physiology and scientific method would be ashamed to associate themselves with any of these recent dramatic ‘documentaries.’
I’m not writing this to get into the politics or religious arguments about the superiority of diets. I’d simply like for anyone who is reading this to consider your sources of information. Instead of latching onto a hot, controversial claim or soundbite, have you ever met a farmer and talked to them about their practices? Most of Canada’s agricultural product comes from family farms. Like any other business, they are in the business of making money, but they also care for the quality of their product and the animals they raise. They are concerned about their children and leaving the land in better condition for the next generation. At the end of the day, they feed their families with the same product that they sell to ours.
I implore you to please ask yourself: Are my dietary choices impacting the environment? If so, how?
Have you considered that holistic livestock farming can have a positive impact on the environment? In certain ecosystems that are largely not suitable for crop farming. like grasslands, ruminant livestock are crucial to that ecosystem surviving.
If transportation and industry make up the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, what steps have you taken to lessen your carbon footprint? How wasteful is your lifestyle?
Do you drive long distances? Do you fly frequently?
These factors have a greater impact on the environment than agriculture. Making a choice to live closer to work, work closer to home, or work from home can make a difference over time.
Do you like exotic fruit? Unfortunately, most of the exotic fruit in stores comes from halfway across the planet. Consider eating local food if the environment is one of your concerns. The demands we place on the marketplace are what the market delivers. If we collectively choose more local products, we can spare a lot of energy that goes into harvesting and importing foreign goods.
Do you eat everything that is in your fridge and not buy excess food that goes to waste?
If the impact that agriculture has on the environment is your concern, how efficient are you at utilizing the resources you purchase?
Don’t let food go to waste.
If you’d like more information on farming and where your food comes from, go to farmfoodcare.org They’re an organization put together by farmers to help bridge the information gap between cities and farms and connect us city dwellers to the people that are responsible for the food we eat.