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Can Grazing Animals Save the World?: A Report From the Slow Meat Symposium

Years ago, The Zimbabwean biologist and environmentalist, Allan Savory of the Savory Institute, believed that large roaming animals, such as elephants, were destroying Africa’s great plains, leading to desertification.

In the years that ensued, some 40,000 elephants were killed in hopes of saving the plains. But, much to Savory’s dismay, the culling of these animals didn’t make a significant difference. After years of additional research, he determined it was poor management–not overgrazing–that led to desertification. In fact, Savory explained, he found that by allowing livestock to graze and roam across the plains, the natural cycle of what he describes as “birth, growth, death and decay,” actually has the potential to restore the world’s grasslands. Read more

Can Drones Expose Factory Farms? This Journalist Hopes So.

When Mishka Henner’s infamous feedlot photos made the internet rounds last year, they caught most viewers off guard. Filled with what looked like colorful pools of ink, smeared across beige canvasses, their captions made it clear that the black flea-sized dots in the photos were in fact cows, and the “ink” was liquid manure collecting alongside giant feedlots or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

When Will Potter, the author, TED fellow, and journalist behind the blog Green Is The New Red, saw the images, he didn’t just feel nauseous, shake his head, and click on something else. He wondered, what else could we learn about CAFOs by documenting them from above? Read more

Beyond Nose to Tail: Wearable Food Waste

As a former vegetarian who has evolved into an ethical omnivore, I’m glad that nose-to-tail dining has taken off.  I only began eating meat once more pasture-raised meat from humane sources became readily available and I believe that to eat meat, we should use every bit and scrap of an animal that gave its life to nourish us. Read more

Making a Racket: Christopher Leonard Goes Behind the Scenes in the American Meat Industry

Factory farmed chickens have it bad, but in Christopher Leonard’s new meat industry exposé The Meat Racket, it’s the farmers who get plucked. Leonard, a former agribusiness reporter for the Associated Press and now a fellow at the New America Foundation, subtitled his book The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business, and he’s not kidding about the “secret” part. When Leonard set out to investigate how four huge companies came to more or less dictate the state of our meat supply, he ran into balky bureaucrats and fearful farmers. Read more

The Woman Behind the New GMO-Free Meat Label

In June, Claire Herminjard, a purveyor of organic grassfed beef, received some great news. After nearly a year of making her way through red tape and government paperwork, and collaborating with several other food companies, the news broke that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had approved a new label for GMO-free meat. As a result, the owner of Northern California-based Mindful Meats could finally use the Non-GMO Project Verified label on her beef. Read more

Meat on Drugs, Stop the Superbugs

Antibiotics use is widespread in the production of livestock, helping to create “superbugs,” and aggravating the public health problem of antibiotic resistance.  To address these issues, Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, in a new report released today, “Meat on Drugs: The Overuse of Antibiotics in Food Animals and What Supermarkets and Consumers Can Do to Stop It,” calls on supermarkets to stock only meat and poultry raised without antibiotics, and urges consumers to buy these products.  Consumers Union is asking Trader Joe’s to lead the transition by selling only meat and poultry raised without antibiotics. Read more

Eating Less, Better Meat: Yes We Can

I’m a vegetarian. But my husband’s not. And, go figure, my kids aren’t either. Which is exactly why I care about the meat I buy. Yes, I buy meat. I’d rather not, but if it’s coming into the house–and into my kids’ bodies–then I need to know exactly what I’m buying. And I not only want to know how it’s affecting my family’s health, I also care deeply about how it’s affecting our family’s environmental footprint (including climate change).

Enter Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) new Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health. In it, EWG took a close look at how a variety of protein foods rank when their total, “cradle-to-grave” greenhouse gas emissions are calculated. Then we factored in the non-climate environmental impacts (like water pollution) and health effects of meat and confirmed that, indeed, not all meat is created equal. Read more

Eating Liberally & Kitchen Table Talks NYC Present: What’s the Matter with Mass-Produced Meat?

More Americans are demanding higher quality meat–animals fed appropriate, antibiotic-free diets on small farms and slaughtered humanely–and they are choosing to eat less of it, too. Whether turned off by endless recalls, or turned on by the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat, growth in campaigns like Meatless Monday show a powerful shift in the Zeitgeist.

Meanwhile Big Meat is taking on the Environmental Protection Agency to maintain its right to let manure run into our waterways, as it defends the excess antibiotic use (80 percent of antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to livestock), inhumane practices, and consolidation of the industry as the only way to feed the world. The beef industry has even invested in a communications degree that aims to revitalize the consumer image of industrial beef.

The conversation around how we bring meat to the table is multifaceted and is the subject of a lively discussion on April 14 at New York University entitled “What’s the Matter With Mass-Produced Meat?” Read more