The Beef About Beef: Part 2 Our Role in World Hunger
Good morning friends and local food eaters!
Here is the next installment of our thoughts on why local grassfed beef is a meaningful choice to make.
Part 2: World Hunger
Humanitarian & Food Security Reasons Why We Should Choose 100% Grassfed Beef
Personally, Brooks and I have a strong interest in and desire to do our part in helping alleviate poverty and hunger. We have been to places like Haiti, Tijuana, Guatemala. We want to be agents of change. This is actually why we got into farming in the first place.
If we are going to pay attention to global issues, we need to consider the question of world food production with a growing population.
The conventional agriculture stance is that we must use more chemicals, more infrastructure, and more centralization of production in order to maximize yields to FEED THE WORLD.
Ever since France Moore Lappe published Diet for a Small Planet in 1971, there is the widespread belief that we should all eat less meat, so that we can feed the world. This has been an easy argument for corporations like Monsanto to latch onto and use as a sort of moral imperative for why we also need to genetically modify foods, use chemicals, rely on technology, and maximize/centralize food production. If it takes three or more pounds of grain to produce one pound of [conventional] beef, then surely it is better to not eat beef and use those three pounds of grain as aid to developing countries?
The thing is, this doesn't account for the fact that all beef is not raised in the same way, using tons of grain and producing concentrated waste.
It also doesn't account for the fact that food production and distribution doesn’t really work this way.
According to this 2016 report by the Environmental Working Group,
"The real experts know better. Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization argues instead that the current conditions of “modern” agriculture are “no longer acceptable.”
"The key to ending world hunger while protecting the environment is to help small farmers in the developing world increase their productivity and income, and to promote “agro-ecology” everywhere, including in the U.S.
"Poverty is the root cause of hunger, not too few exports of U.S. wheat, corn, soybeans and meat. American exports go to people who can afford to buy them.
"American farmers are helping meet growing demand from millions of people in developed and developing nations who can afford better, or at least more diversified diets. This is a welcome business opportunity for our farmers, but those exports aren’t going to the countries where hunger is chronic. [emphasis mine]
"86 percent of the value of U.S. agricultural exports last year went to 20 destinations with low numbers of hungry citizens and human development scores that are medium, high or very high, according to the U.N. Development Program.
"Only half of one percent of U.S. agricultural exports, calculated according to their value, went to a group of 19 countries that includes Haiti, Yemen and Ethiopia. These are nations with high or very high levels of undernourishment, measured by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
"Even the hungriest countries produce most of their own food. Overall, in 2013, American farmers contributed only 2.3 percent of the food supply for the 19 most undernourished countries through food exports and aid.
"We won’t end world hunger by doubling production in the United States while putting our nation’s environment and health at risk. We can and must help end world hunger by helping people in the hungriest countries do a better job of feeding themselves and ensuring that their farmers make a good living.
"Reducing poverty, increasing income for women, providing nutrition education, improving infrastructure like roads and markets to increase access to food, and ceasing wars and conflict could all help undernourished populations better feed themselves.” [emphasis mine]
American agriculture needs serious reform, but not necessarily in order to export more. We need to reform our agriculture in order to stop the many serious issues facing our environment and food security: soil loss, climate change, antibiotic overuse and superbugs, greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, dangers of GMOs, dependence on fossil fuels, and on and on.
Again, we need a paradigm shift towards working with nature, versus working against nature.
We don't necessarily need to give up beef, we just need to give up factory-farmed grain-fed beef.
If you want to help stop world hunger, you don't need to become a vegan. Consider what it is that you are buying into when you buy cheap food. (Remember Food Inc. and Omnivore's Dilemma? It's easy to forget about these things sometimes.) Find a local farmer or supplier of 100% grassfed beef that you trust.
If you want to help stop world hunger, donate to Heifer International, a nonprofit that aims to reduce hunger and poverty worldwide by bringing livestock and education to women and communities to spark grassroots improvements in the food supply.
Or, volunteer your time or money in your own community. There are hungry people everywhere.
If you want to help stop world hunger, let’s work towards food security everywhere by supporting local, environmentally appropriate and socially responsible food production.
~Anna Santini and Brooks Miller
One month left to sign up for The Meat CSA before deliveries start in February!
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National Geographic 5 Step Plan to Feed the World
Huffington Post: Iowa Farmer's View on Why National Geographics 5 Steps aren't enough
Sustainable Dish: How much feed does it take to produce a pound of conventional beef?
Joel Salatin on Feeding the World