23
   

If you are a low/no meat eater, how do you feel about meat imitations?

 
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 11:57 am
@farmerman,
Thanks, i wasn't going to argue with the Wikipedia **** without a more solid basis. I did specify good grazing land, and had thought about coming back to offer a scenario of a steer grazed on two acres. In New Mexico, we needed about 15 acres per head for the horses we boarded for others. Of course, that part of New Mexico (and any part of New Mexico of which i am aware) are not known for cattle production on the open range.

My main points were about the environmental effect of agonomic chemicals, the effects of erosion, and the sustainabilityof an acre of ground for grazing as opposed to the same acre used to produce soy beans.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 12:28 pm
@Thomas,
Sorry, I forgot to provide the actual link for the edible protein per acre. Here it is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_protein_per_unit_area_of_land
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 12:33 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
OK, so far so good. How much value to you assign to the amount of chemical fertilizer used on that acre, and how much value to you assign to the amounts of chemical herbicides and pesticides used on that acre--in regard to what they do to the environment?

I don't, because it's irrelevant to the argument I make. Fertilizer is necessary if the plants you fertilize feed humans. It is just as necessary if they feed animals that feed humans. Either way, you need to grow plants---on fertilized fields.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 12:37 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

20 lb per acre is ridiculous. I raise 12 cows that net out at 750 lb per, and I raise em on rotating 3 pastures of 6 acres each. So Im raising about 500 lb per acre. Wherever they got the 20 lb per acre may be if wed raise cattle in ARizona or Utah, but not Pa.

Fair enough. Do you feed them anything but the grass that grows on these 18 acres? What would your protein yield per acre be if you grew corn, or beans, or whatever source of protein grows best where you live?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 01:12 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

farmerman wrote:

20 lb per acre is ridiculous. I raise 12 cows that net out at 750 lb per, and I raise em on rotating 3 pastures of 6 acres each. So Im raising about 500 lb per acre. Wherever they got the 20 lb per acre may be if wed raise cattle in ARizona or Utah, but not Pa.

Fair enough. Do you feed them anything but the grass that grows on these 18 acres? What would your protein yield per acre be if you grew corn, or beans, or whatever source of protein grows best where you live?

Farmerman: Although the US Department of Agriculture does not have data for where you live, they do have it for the US average. They say it's 44 bushels of soybeans per acre, or 2640 lb per acre. (That's for 2009, the latest year for which they have data.) According to nutritiondata.com, 100 grams of soybeans contain 17 grams of protein. So the product of an average American field yields 448 lb of pure protein per acre.

Also according to nutritiondata.com, 100 grams of beef contain 29 grams of pure protein. So the 500 pounds of beef you grow amount to 145 pounds of pure protein.

Granted, I can't be too confident in what this comparison means, because I don't know how your area's farmland productivity compares with the national average. But for what it's worth, the average US soy field produces about three times as much protein per acre as your cattle grazing lands do by your own account.
hingehead
 
  3  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 01:20 pm
@farmerman,
George Monbiot, noted lefty vegetarian, recently wrote a piece in the Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation
That recants the 'meat bad for environment' line, based largely on this piece by Simon Fairlie that looks at the usual green/vegan claims about meat production with a more scientific eye.

Basically many of the assumptions about meat production are clearly wrong, for example on water use it is assumed that none of the water used returns to the environment. And the carbon emissions from livestock while too large aren't anywhere near as large as claimed. Industrial livestock production (feedlot, intensive) is not good on any level, but traditional production is not evil.

The Monbiot piece is a good read for a 'fair and balanced' approach.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 02:13 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
But for what it's worth, the average US soy field produces about three times as much protein per acre as your cattle grazing lands do by your own account
If we were only comparing protein equivalency Id (maybe) agree. But a pound of meat gives many more nutrients than just protein. All things in BALANCE. We compare biomass and total nutrients including carbs and minerals and vitamins. You could live on soybeans as you could meat but youd be sacrificing balanced nutrition and youd be starving yourself of several key nutrients and trace nutrients.
Tofu is "fortified" isnt it? . Ive seen tofurkey where they actually add protein . (This came up at a dinner party that was held by some vegan friends). The best thing we had that night was lottkies, crisp and fried nicely with onions and served with little dabs of sides.

Anyway, raising soybeans is an intensive work loaded chore

1. pre -prep. Most all bigger farms grow "Roundup Ready" soybeans so the fields are hit with Roundup or Lasso or Ally.

2Still pre prep-Fields are fertilized using animal manures or chem (animal manures are hotter and must be allowed to airate

3No Till seeding is practiced in half the farms but the main means to seed is to do row cropping.(Very expensive machinery-Think several lamborghini Mercialagos).

4 mid season Roundup is sprayed for broadleaf

5. The soybean Field is grown as an intermediate after corn or rye or wheat. Soybeans are impractical to grow (due to prep and equipment) for anything less than 200 total acres or so.

6Custom harvesting is usually done around here. A service with several big Massey Combines just treavel the countryside like ag gypsies and take the crop and buy it on spot.(Think many more Lambos)

Farmer only knows what his crop is worth when the elevators start taking the haul .

Most farmers around here grow soybeans to make hog feed, along with crushed oats, corn chop, and brown sugar or molasses. (Much nutrient is added because of the need for extra calcium and selenium which is unavailable around here.

0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 02:13 pm
@hingehead,
Ill read it tonite , thanks.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 04:30 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Setanta wrote:
OK, so far so good. How much value to you assign to the amount of chemical fertilizer used on that acre, and how much value to you assign to the amounts of chemical herbicides and pesticides used on that acre--in regard to what they do to the environment?

I don't, because it's irrelevant to the argument I make. Fertilizer is necessary if the plants you fertilize feed humans. It is just as necessary if they feed animals that feed humans. Either way, you need to grow plants---on fertilized fields.


Well, it's relevant to the argument i am making, whether or not you are willing to face it. I specified grazing cattle, so we are not talking about feed lot animals, to which grains and other plant food sources are fed. You don't have to fertilize grazing land--the steers themselves do that.

And you are side-stepping a point i've been making for pages about environmental impact. The Illinois River was killed by the silt run-off from soy bean farming. Aquia Creek was dying from the fertilizer run-off in northern Virginia. It is not simply a matter of the production efficiency of grazing versus raising crops, it's also about environmental impact, and it's about sustainability. Good grazing land is ludicrously sustainable, the steers eat up the grass at one end and fertilize at the other. If you have ever watched steers in a field, they're doing both jobs at the same time. You can literally see them pooping while they eat.

Environmental impact and the sustainability of the fields concerned, whether for crops or for grazing has been a major part of my point all along.
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 04:34 pm
By the way, FM's comments on soy bean cropping didn't even touch on the amount of fossil fuels used in the process. Add that to the list of evils deriving from tofu-eaters.
0 Replies
 
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 04:57 pm
Because it hasn't be brought up yet, there are additional efficiency factors here for comparison of plant and animal products.

1) Transport - In the example of Soy v Beef, the %mass of protein per each product is also a factor for transport. The transport of Xlbs of protein of beef is much more expensive than that of a Xlbs of protein from a plant crop. Transport costs are significant component in measuring efficiency.

2) Processing - The energy required for machinery and refrigeration are significant. Even the transportation of butchered meats move in refrigerated trailers. Processing is also a labor intensive. Most plant products can be processed with full automation, butchering requires a much larger amount of labor to augment automation. Processing involves lots of electricity, but if we are talking about efficiency, we also have to factor what powers (literally) the people in the buildings. They are fed by foods that have already been through this entire cycle (be them plant or animal based). The fewer human laborers needed for processing, the more efficient this part becomes.

3) Shelf life - While the majority of both plant and animal based products require refrigerated storage, more plant products don't. Those plant products that do require refrigeration tend to not spoil as fast as animal products.

4) Run-off - The issue of fertilizer run-off has been brought up for plant crops and it's certainly a valid criticism, but compare the run-off from a cattle farm and it's effect on creeks and rivers. Thomas already brought it up, but the crops that feed livestock also have run-off. Getting grass fed animal products is rare. Most industrial farms use corn, and interestingly soy is more and more becoming a part of... music please... livestock feed... after it is processed into meal.

6) Food Preparation - Once an animal product is bought, it still have to be cooked, and this uses more energy. While many plant products are heated as well, all plant products can be found in raw form in meals. The heating of meat after all is to kill germs. When the meat is cooked to the required temp, not only is bacteria and viruses killed, but also vital nutrients. Heating vegetables does the same thing, but vegetables are not required to be heated. the ratio of cooked food for animal products is dramatically higher than that of plant products. So if protein is a major reason to eat meat (it is not), then having a process that will ultimately destroy much of it by time it is ingested, is very inefficient.

Efficiency of animal products compared to plant products is dramatically different.

Animal products are much less efficient
R
Than plant products.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 05:51 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
Well, it's relevant to the argument i am making, whether or not you are willing to face it. I specified grazing cattle, so we are not talking about feed lot animals, to which grains and other plant food sources are fed.

You can specify what you want, of course. Just keep in mind that you're "specifying" away the typical hamburger that a typical consumer will get at her typical grocery store, or at her McDonald's around the corner. In the US, about 80% of all beef appears to come from cattle in feedlots. (I have to remain vague because well-sourced percentages are hard to come by, in part because there seem to be no generally-accepted definitions of what qualifies as a free-range, grass-fed steer as opposed to a feedlot steer. But when you Google "percentage beef feedlot 'free-range'", numbers like this tend to come up.)

With this (pretty big) qualification, I am happy to concede your point. Having rigged the comparison by specifying an untypically 'green' way of producing beef with a typically dirty way of producing soy, you do correctly find that cattle-farming harms the environment less. Your finding just doesn't mean very much.

Setanta wrote:
And you are side-stepping a point i've been making for pages about environmental impact. The Illinois River was killed by the silt run-off from soy bean farming. Aquia Creek was dying from the fertilizer run-off in northern Virginia. It is not simply a matter of the production efficiency of grazing versus raising crops, it's also about environmental impact, and it's about sustainability.

Fair enough as far as it goes. But instead of switching to cattle, why don't you convert the soy-farms that killed them to organic agriculture? That way you avoid the harmful runoff and still produce several times more protein per acre than farmerman's grazing steers do. With soy, you can go organic at a cost of, say, 20% in yield. (That's a middle-of-the-road value from the papers that come up when I search Google-Scholar for "organic soy yield". Actual values reported vary from as little as no yield loss at all to as much as 40%.)

Your argument, then, isn't really an argument for soy-farming over cattle farming. It's an argument for sustainable agriculture vs.---what? exploitative agriculture? Soy farming isn't intrinsically unsustainable any more than cattle farming is.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 05:54 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:

Fair enough as far as it goes. But instead of switching to cattle, why don't you convert the soy-farms that killed them to organic agriculture? That way you avoid the harmful runoff and still produce several times more protein per acre than farmerman's grazing steers do.


The cattle protein tastes roughly 1 billion times better. Texture too. That's why I would do it.

Cycloptichorn
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 05:56 pm
@Thomas,
why the big push for soy? it's problematic for many women to use more than a very small amount of soy. it's simply not a good alternative protein source for a lot of people.

isn't there a non-wheat/non-corn/non-soy option out there?

I mention those three as they're three of the biggies for people with health-related food limitations.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 05:57 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
The cattle protein tastes roughly 1 billion times better. Texture too. That's why I would do it.

That is, of course, an unassailable reason. Smile As the man said, de gustibus non est disputandum.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 05:58 pm
@hingehead,
hingehead wrote:

George Monbiot, noted lefty vegetarian, recently wrote a piece in the Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/06/meat-production-veganism-deforestation
That recants the 'meat bad for environment' line, based largely on this piece by Simon Fairlie that looks at the usual green/vegan claims about meat production with a more scientific eye.

Basically many of the assumptions about meat production are clearly wrong, for example on water use it is assumed that none of the water used returns to the environment. And the carbon emissions from livestock while too large aren't anywhere near as large as claimed. Industrial livestock production (feedlot, intensive) is not good on any level, but traditional production is not evil.

The Monbiot piece is a good read for a 'fair and balanced' approach.


thanks hingehead - will look at this tonight
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 06:04 pm
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:
why the big push for soy? it's problematic for many women to use more than a very small amount of soy. it's simply not a good alternative protein source for a lot of people.

Because it's what we started arguing about, and because I didn't want to change the subject more often than necessary. Other than that, I have no particular attachment to soy. Indeed, if you read my very first post to this thread, you will find that I shunned the soy-based fake meats and opted for wheat-based Seitan instead.

ehBeth wrote:
isn't there a non-wheat/non-corn/non-soy option out there?

I mention those three as they're three of the biggies for people with health-related food limitations.

So do nuts. For that matter, so do dairy products. Practically every food group out there must have gazillions of people with health-related limitations about it. What's so special about wheat, corn, and soy?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 06:24 pm
@Thomas,
Sure, i understand the McDonald's argument--and it is the same as the comparison between responsible crop farming and corporate, bottom-line crop farming. But you know, a lot of people in the country know where their food comes from, even if they don't producve it. And, in Ontario, at least (and i suspect many places in the U.S.) it is a selling point that the meat offered for did not come from a feed lot. One supermarket chain even offers meat in a package with a photo of the farming couple on the label, with something to the effect of "John and Jane Doe farm near Woodstock, Ontario." There's an entire high end chain of meat outlets that makes grazed beef a selling point.

Yes, i specified grazed livestock--but i'd not be surprised to find that the proportion of responsibly grown soy beans is roughly equivalent to the proportion of grazed livestock--i.e., in both cases a fraction of total production. But you still have problems you can't avoid with crop farming--the fossil fuel usage, the cost of the farm implements, the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Those things simply aren't there with grazed livestock.

But this isn't an either or proposition--i'm not an exclusive carnivore, i'm an omnivore. And it isn't necessary to choose either meat-eating or tofu, and the middle be damned. It would quite responsible and make good sense in terms of energy and resource efficiency to graze steers in a field one year, then plant alfalfa there the next year, both of which processes fertilize the field (alfalfa is a nitogen-fixing plant, if i recall correctly), and then put crops in the following year, creating a cycle which reduces the dependence on chemical farming. Actually the problem with feedlots and what you call "dirty" crop farming is that it is corporate, bottom line farming.

Quote:
Your argument, then, isn't really an argument for soy-farming over cattle farming. It's an argument for sustainable agriculture vs.---what? exploitative agriculture?


Yup.

Quote:
Soy farming isn't intrinsically unsustainable any more than cattle farming is.


Well, it isn't "unsustainable" if it is part of a crop rotation farming plan. But it will exhaust the soil pretty quickly in monocultures, and monoculture is what corporate farming is usually about.

My problem is with two attitudes: the first, the hypocrisy of saying my way of eating is superior, and yours should not be allowed, which is the attitude of a lot of vegans. The other is the either/or, throw the baby out with the bath water attitude. Farmers are perfectly capable, and have a thousands of years tradition of cropping and grazing livestock. I see no reason to ignore the benefits of grazing combined with crop rotation to produce healthy, sustainable farms. I see no reason to give up eating greasy, juicy, wonderful meat just because a pack of strident vegans (present company probably excepted) howl for the blood of the evil carnivores.
failures art
 
  0  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 06:46 pm
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:
why the big push for soy?

I think soy is the the front and center in the diet discussion just because an earlier objection was made to it. I don't think people need to be loading up on soy, but eating it is fine.

Otherwise, I think the big push for soy comes from other ways the crop can be processed. Soy has a high oil content that people are interested in making bio-fuels out of (Not that this alone is a reason to grow the crop or that bio diesel is some magic fuel alternative).

A
R
T
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 08:36 pm
@Setanta,
To take your last points first:

Setanta wrote:
My problem is with two attitudes: the first, the hypocrisy of saying my way of eating is superior, and yours should not be allowed, which is the attitude of a lot of vegans. The other is the either/or, throw the baby out with the bath water attitude. Farmers are perfectly capable, and have a thousands of years tradition of cropping and grazing livestock. I see no reason to ignore the benefits of grazing combined with crop rotation to produce healthy, sustainable farms. I see no reason to give up eating greasy, juicy, wonderful meat just because a pack of strident vegans (present company probably excepted) howl for the blood of the evil carnivores.

OK. We shouldn't have any problem then, because neither attitude describes mine. All I was saying is that my current, reduced-meat diet does work better for me, and that a vegan diet probably would work best for me---for a number of reasons, both dietary and ethical.

Setanta wrote:
There's an entire high end chain of meat outlets that makes grazed beef a selling point.

Point taken.

Setanta wrote:
Yes, i specified grazed livestock--but i'd not be surprised to find that the proportion of responsibly grown soy beans is roughly equivalent to the proportion of grazed livestock--i.e., in both cases a fraction of total production. But you still have problems you can't avoid with crop farming--the fossil fuel usage, the cost of the farm implements, the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Those things simply aren't there with grazed livestock.

Fair enough. Unlike movement "greens", I have no major problem with fossil fuel usage. And the other problems can be much reduced with organic crop farming, even if you can't get entirely around them.

Setanta wrote:
And it isn't necessary to choose either meat-eating or tofu, and the middle be damned.

Again, we shouldn't have any problem then. I didn't say it is necessary, only that it's possible. I also said that I'm currently practicing something that's on the middle ground.
0 Replies
 
 

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