Did you know that food purchased from big-box grocery stores travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets to your kitchen table, and global food production expends 10 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of food. At a ten-fold net energy loss, and the entire global food system dependent on a diminishing non-renewable resource, it is time to get serious about our food choices. It’s time to invest our food dollars in food that’s grown sustainably, and close to home!
Properly managed pasture land is the most ecologically sustainable form of human agriculture. Perennial pastures require no mechanical tillage, planting, or harvesting, like fruits and vegetables. Also, pastures sequester atmospheric carbon, and balance the natural emissions of livestock.
Consider these two photos. The first is of our farm in Greenback, TN. The second is a conventional/industrial farm in the USA. Consider the many differences.
For Our Health
The bovine digestion system is a marvel of nature’s engineering, and here is what it accomplishes. Grass transforms energy from the sun into carbohydrates, and cattle transform these carbohydrates into protein that we can eat. However, why are the carbohydrates found in grasses and legumes different than those found in corn and soybean meal? The answer is simple: cattle have adapted to break down the complex carbohydrates in grass far better than the simple sugars in high-energy, corn based feedlot rations. So, cattle raised on pasture have far less total fat and virtually no saturated fat.
Also, cattle that eat grass on pasture have meat richer in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, unlike feedlot beef, grass-fed beef contains conjugated linoleic acid which has been shown to reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer and helps people with weight management by reducing total body fat. And finally, cattle raised on pasture have meat that is richer in antioxidant vitamins and higher in healthy carotenoids like beta-carotene.
For Our Economy
Did you know that the state of TN exports 750,000 head of cattle every year? At an average of $1.50 per lb., that’s $675M in revenue. However, we have 6.5M people in our state, and each eats an average of 50 lbs. of beef per year. That’s 325M lbs. of beef! At an average price point of $5 per lb., that’s $1.6B leaving our state. So we’re selling cattle for $675M and buying back packaged beef for $1.6B. By not eating local beef, Tennesseans are throwing away billions of dollars, and we’re exporting thousands of jobs from our state economy!