Livestock and the Air We Share

Written by Evan Embree

If you read my last installment, then it’s no secret that commercial livestock farming is threatening our staple food supply.  However, there is an even more pressing issue – the quality of the air we’re breathing. With the increasing popularity of meat-based diets and an inevitably growing population, beef cattle production is becoming more profitable than ever, which is certainly not good news for our planet.

An article written by Maanvi Singh for NPR gives us the facts.  In a study conducted just 7 years ago, it was found that of all greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, methane gas from livestock made up almost 40 percent – showing that it had risen over 10 percent in the prior decade.  One of the most common gas secretions from these animals is methane, a chemical even more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Livestock give off methane through bodily gases due to the fermentation process their mostly grass diet must go through before digestion; essentially burps and farts are building up to gradually damage our atmosphere.  And the animal most to blame? Cows. Over half of these pollutants are generated through cattle farming. What’s even more worrisome is that there are no signs of slowing down in the near or far future.

Emissions from the agriculture, fishing, and forestry industries have doubled in the past fifty years, and experts predict that collectively they could increase by a whopping 30% by 2050.  An article in the Stanford Report notes that general livestock waste is also a factor affecting our planet.  Only a third of the feed they consume is used for energy, and the rest is secreted through phosphorus-filled waste.  They give off around eight times the phosphorus that humans do, and the EPA reports that high levels of phosphorus can have many adverse effects on the environment, including the overgrowth of algae that suffocates the aquatic life below.  The list of dangers could go on and on – it is clear that our diet choices truly have an impact on our home.

Despite all of this heavy content, there is a relatively simple solution – limit your meat intake.  Even if you don’t cut it out altogether, every step forward is a good one. Our plant-based specials this week include:

Spring Salad – featuring buttercrunch lettuce grown in our own Well-Fed Garden and mix of berries, grapes, and almonds with a creamy goat cheese dressing.

Vegetarian Flatbread – housemade dough topped with spinach, artichoke hearts, and a blend of feta, romano and ricotta cheese.

Cauliflower Steak – pan seared and served with black bean puree, spinach, and jalapeno coulis.

Vegetable Plate – seasonal vegetables, this week we have broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, red peppers, and sweet potato.