Saturday, November 14, 2009

Factory Beef Farming = Environmental Disaster

The dark shadow of the American food system as reported by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization is the consequences of the huge and crowded feedlots in which most cattle and virtually all hogs spend their lives. The most obvious problem (especially if you live downwind) is the manure. The excrement pollutes the air, and contaminates recreational lakes, rivers, and farm irrigation systems with E. coli. The E. coli is finding it's way into our vegetable crops. The large amounts of fertilizer for the corn and cattle feed crops wash into streams that empty into the Gulf of Mexico, creating oxygen deficient dead zones. The methane produced by even the organic, grass fed variety is a greenhouse gas 25 times more destructive to the ozone than carbon dioxide. It is estimated that livestock are responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. That's more than the emission from transportation; not including the environmental cost of producing and packaging feeds for livestock, shipping them, and so on. So, if avoiding early death from the over-consumption of red meat doesn't persuade you to eat less, the environmental consequences should be convincing enough.

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