Our health is directly affected and dependent upon the health of our planet. That is why it is so important to support responsible and restorative practices.
Cows can have a positive impact on the environment. A new study shows they can help mitigate climate change, restore soil quality and improve biodiversity if we use a sustainable grazing method called "adaptive multi-paddock" grazing, or AMP. AMP mimics the natural behavior of migratory, wild-grazing herds. It is a certain type of rotational, grass-fed farming that allows cattle to graze in one paddock at a time, giving other paddocks a chance to grow and regenerate at an accelerated pace. This method can be used for other livestock as well.
Research clearly demonstrates there are no net emissions of greenhouse gas with a well-planned AMP grazing system. With AMP grazing, carbon is sequestered (or captured) in the soil. This provides for countless other ecosystems to exist which improves biodiversity, controls erosion, increases soil water-holding capacity, and allows for greater drought resilience. In a four-year study, greenhouse gas emissions from an AMP system were actually reduced to a "negative" amount!
Industrial agriculture is touted to be the most efficient way to feed the world, but more than half of the world's calories (close to 60%) come from wheat, rice and corn which is unsustainable. Annual or, monoculture crops, destroy biodiversity and cause excessive soil erosion. Not only that, but countless wild animals are displaced from their homes and thousands of creatures are killed when soil is tilled. Economically, compared to areas with industrial agriculture, organic agriculture “hotspots” have lower county-level poverty rates and higher median household incomes.
Health Benefits of Grass-Fed vs Grain-Fed Farming
Grass fed animal products are not only better for the environment, they're better for the animals and public health. Levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) increase by two- to three- fold when cattle are grass-finished as opposed to grain-finished. This is significant because CLA is associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease and optimized cholesterol levels. The ratio of dietary fats (omega-6 to omega 3) is also healthier in grass-fed beef.
Grass fed meat is also higher in antioxidants like vitamins A and E, along with the enzymes superoxide dismutase and catalase, which neutralize free radicals that could otherwise hasten oxidation and spoilage, and wreak havoc on our health. Grain feeding encourages the growth of E. coli in the animals' gut, as it leads to a more acidic environment. Grain-fed cows live in a state of chronic inflammation, which increases their risk of infection and disease.
The bottom line is Mother Nature knows what she's doing, always did, and who are we to tamper with that? But, if you don't want to believe Mother Nature, you can't ignore the science!