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Permaculture better for our food chain

Readers' Letters
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT The Environmental Working Group’s new “Meat Eaters Guide” found that a lamb chop dinner accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than a hamburger.

You forget to mention the horrific impact of government farm subsidies for massively earth-destroying crops like corn, soy and wheat (Meat the gas makers, Oct. 13). Those agricultural products have for decades turned soil into a toxic dust land. These products are turning our meat animals into nutritionally inferior food sources - these animals are grass eaters!

You forgot to say very much about the big difference between the environmental impact of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and the environmental impact of organic, sustainable, permacultural farming. The lack of information here is saddening.

It's troubling to think what this meat-is-bad-for-us mindset can lead to. For instance, more politicians (who know little or nothing about nutritional science or environmental science), prodded on by big food lobbyists who profit from the selling of cheap, nutritionally deficient packaged food. These politicians have already legislated concerning what foods we can eat and forced heavy regulatory burdens on farmers who run environmentally sound businesses often putting them out of business. If we need some new legislation, let's get rid of or totally revamp the farm subsidies and give more help to the small farmer.

I find it ironic that the photo in your headline depicts a sheep that appears to be living in a spacious and healthy environment - not a CAFO.

I hope you do a follow-up that informs people about the nutritional and environmental differences between grass-fed meats and CAFO meats. I hope you explain the environmental impact differences between CAFOs and permaculture farming techniques. That would be educational.

Ann Waugh

Boring

Cultured beef reduces emissions

It's a fundamentally dishonest article, because (it's) lacking the relevant context-making facts (Meat the gas makers, Oct. 13).

Twenty-eight percent of all the massive emissions-producing cows in the world live in the small territory of India. Why? Because people there share some of the prejudices of this article and refuse to eat cows - also refuse to kill them or allow normal environmental factors to constrain their population.

Us beef-eaters are far less guilty of emissions-encouragement than the beef-abstaining (and in many cases vegetarian) Indians. Should we work to do even better, and move on to 'cultured meat,' i.e. beef grown in labs from cells? Of course, and inevitably we will - a development in our ongoing technological progress. The exact opposite of the self-defeating approach of returning to some kind of organic nature.

Think of it: cultured meat. Much more humane, excellent for the environment, and probably much better for health after the kinks are worked out. And who will oppose this progress? It's already being opposed, called 'Frankenmeat,' by people who share the prejudices of this article.

Even after we get cultured meat up and running and end all emissions from our beef eating, Indians will continue generating massive cattle emissions - until they overcome their ancient superstitions against killing cows, prejudices are all too similar to those of this article. The coddling of superstition since the 1960s, praising it as 'spiritual' and 'difference,' is a root cause of the cow-emissions problem.

People who honestly want to reduce emissions will encourage investment in faster development of cultured beef, and will relaunch the old enlightenment struggle against superstition.

Ira Straus

Arlington, VA

What is carbon footprint of raw food?

I just read the 'Meat the gas makers' article that appeared in October's Sustainable Life issue (Oct. 13).

I really liked it and thought it would be good if you followed the article up with an analysis of raw foods and their effects on our environment. I suspect that they would be shown to have the least harmful effects of any diet.

Linda Seaton

Southeast Portland

Fast-food drives U.S. meat demand

The study does ring true when considering the present-day farming practices (Meat the gas makers, Oct. 13).

Industrial farming has destroyed our relationship to the land. The natural process of grazer feeding off the land and then fertilizing the land has turned into a disgusting process of waste and inefficiency.

Unfortunately, the industry is fed by an insatiable demand for fast food. The fast-food industry is without a doubt the number one driver of meat demand in the U.S. If Americans practiced natural farming, and committed themselves to eating and living healthily, the article would have hardly any merit.

However, America's continuing addiction to bad food, inactivity, consumerism and ignorance validates the study's claims.

David Lindsey

Highland, IN