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Cowspiracy is a new documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio that shines light on the animal agriculture industry and how it is impacting greenhouse gases, global warming and the future of our planet.
At Natural Stacks, we're seekers of the truth. We want to discover the optimal way of living - and sometimes that means questioning what you think you know. Cowspiracy certain forces us to question the sustainability of their own food choices.
Here are some STAGGERING true statistics:
- The meat and dairy industry produces MORE GREENHOUSE gases than ALL cars, boats, planes, and trains COMBINED.
- Methane gas from livestock is 86% more harmful than CO2 emissions from cars and fossil fuels.
- Factory farming is the LEADING cause of environmental degradation and resource depletion on our planet.
- Livestock produces 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Animal agriculture - due to farm runoff - is responsible for more water pollution that any other cause (including chemicals, nuclear radiation, garbage, etc)
- Cattle are responsible for 130X more waste than humans. rember that the next time you see all the garbage we're repsonsible for!
- 34 trillion gallons of water used in the US ALONE 1500 gallons of water per day per person - 1/2 of that attributed to the water footprint to put meat on our plates.
- A single 1/4 lb hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to get to your table
- Over 900 gallons of water are required to produce a pound of cheese.
- Domestic water use 5% vs 55% for agriculture.
- Shorter showers, recycling, and other water saving ideas combine to save 47 gallons a day. This is NOTHING compared to the 660 gallons required to put that 1/4 pound hamburger on your plate!
"The meat and dairy industry produces MORE GREENHOUSE gases than ALL cars, boats, planes, and trains COMBINED."
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
In short, it means that our current system is broken. We cannot sustain our current population, our current farming practices or handle growth of either without making alterations to our production and consumption practices.
WHY isn’t anyone talking about this?
It seems like something this crucial to our economy, health, and future would be the preeminent topic de jour. However, these statistics and facts will take many by surprise - and that is no accident.
Due to concerns over things like financial interests and public hysteria, the men and women in black suits are keeping this topic under wraps.
Money is the biggest factor. As any investigator or journalist is taught, follow the money and you'll find your answer. In short, those with vested interests have enough money, power and influence to keep this quiet.
The few who have seen enough to "blow the whistle" found themselves being SUED or worse - KILLED. Sister Dorothy Stang was murdered in Brazil for her efforts and former factory-farmer Howard Lyman was sued by The National Cattleman's Beef Association when his comments on the Oprah Winfrey show results in her renouncing hamburgers.
Due in part to Lyman's experience, any statement or claim that undermines the profitability of the American Agri-Business now falls under the jurisdiction of The Patriot Act. (Yes, the terrorism act!)
Real Concerns - Feeding Our 7 Billion Mouths
Politics and financial interests aside, there is the issue of resources and sustainability. How do we continue to feed our population?
This is where the documentary takes a very "pro-vegan" turn, claiming that the only way to curb our impact enough to make a difference is to stop consuming any meat or dairy products.
Their evidence is strong. As presented above, the animals we raise for livestock are consuming 5X the resources we are as humans. The waste produced is astronomical and the effects on our climate are significantly greater than those caused by transportation.
We're running out of land to farm, forests to harvest, and fish to catch.
This truly a double-edged sword. We want to provide our fellow man the food and lifestyle we're accustomed to - but it's coming at the cost of our future...
Fixing The Current Method
One thing we can agree on is this: the current meat and dairy industry is not sustainable. There simple is not enough land to continue to feed our growing population with the current system.
Joel Salatin at Polyface Farms has championed the grass-fed movement for years and he feels that his Polyculture farming method can feed the world and solve our issues. I'm no expert, but here are some quick bullet points on how we can address the issues presented in Cowspiracy using Salatin's methods.
- Turn the farm into a polyculture (multiple organisms raised on the same land) rather than a monoculture (only one "crop" raised). In polycultures, like in nature, the other organisms (chickens, hogs, etc) help offset the footprint of the cattle.
- Animals and crops are raised on the same plots of land in a rotation. For example, cattle go through a field first, eating the grass and dropping manure. When the grasses are eaten, the cattle are rotated to the next field and the "free-range" chicken are brought into the first field behind the cattle. The chickens pick through the manure, eating bugs, crickets, flies, and all the other things chickens eat.
- The same land can be re-used - reducing land use impact
- Methane emissions offset when chickens scratch through, spread as fertilizer and pick out bugs, for food (remember that 130X waste #)
- Chickens, then do not have to be fed (nor do cattle, pigs, etc - reducing the resources required to produce food for us
- The "by-product" of each animal is the starting resource for the next animal in that field - a practice that SIGNIFICANTLY reduces the resources needed to produce viable livestock (feed, fertilizer, etc) and helps keep the land sustainable and usable forever, where monocultures do not.
- In the movie Cowspiracy, they show projections to feed Americans their current average of 209 pounds of meat per year…saying that we do not have enough land to feed our world with this method - but the calculations were done with ONLY beef. Again, this is the problem with monocultures - and realize that ZERO monocultures exist in nature! On a polyculture farm, these protein requirements can be met without needing MORE land by eating a combination of beef, pork, chicken and eggs that utilize the SAME land.
- This is an underlying issue in the documentary. Almost every scenario examined - even the possible solutions - were based on monocultures. Switching our organic farms over to polycultures will greatly reduce the amount of stress on our natural resources, increase the quality of food produced - improving our health, and increase sustainability for the future. Had the pro-vegan agenda not been so strong, they might have shown this as a viable solution.
- Moving to a polyculture system closes the loop and make the cycle self-supporting. it removes the need for humans to "INPUT" resources in the beginning in order to receive an "OUTPUT" product. By acting as stewards and supporting the cycle, we can improve the animal's quality of life, reduce the number of corn and soy factory-farming operations trying to meet the demands of factory-farmed beef, and reduce the impact of greenhouse gases and waste products produced. We also churn out healthier food for ourselves. It's a win for everyone - except those at Monsanto, Tyson, Perdue, and other factory-farming establishments who stand to lose fortunes we cannot imagine.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
We're proponents of a high-fat, moderate protein and low carb diet. We like grass-fed steaks and grass-fed butter in our coffee. And while this documentary makes it clear we need to be vigilant about HOW our meat and dairy are produced, I don't think we should all turn vegan in order to save the planet as the movie suggests.
There is a solution - one I do not claim to have at this time. But I do not agree that we should stop eating animal products. Our ancestors evolved into the Apex species we are today when we added animal products into our diet. In order to survive, thrive and live optimal, we need to find a way to protect our most valuable resources - our home, our food, and our health.
Here's what we can do: Remove Yourself From The Cycle
- As much as possible, produce your own food. This will reduce our dependence on factory farms and as an individual, we'll reduce the carbon footprint of our food consumption. Not everyone will be able to raise their own chickens or cattle - but even something as simple as a home herb and vegetable garden makes a significant impact.
- For the things you cannot produce on your own, buy local - but make sure those farmers are producing food with a sustainable model. Every dollar we spend on food supports a farming method. Which method are YOU supporting?
- Demand that your protein powders come from grass-fed cattle! Protein powders are a dairy product - meaning they're involved in this animal agriculture system as - to the tune of 477 million pounds produced in the US in 2012 alone. (6) Since it takes 1000 gallons of water to produce a single gallon of milk in the FACTORY-FARMING MODEL, and anywhere from 1.5-2 gallons of milk for every 0.5 Cup of whey, we can clearly see how choosing CORN & SOY-FED whey only adds strain to this cycle. Again, every dime we spend is a vote for our health, our future, and the sustainability of our lifestyle. Go grass-fed!
- Plant trees! Deforestation is reducing our planet's ability to get rid of excess carbon dioxide. The more trees we plant, the better impact we can have on this. No it will not replace or save the rain forest, but imagine the impact if every person planted a single tree...7 billion new trees would have serious positive impact on the planet.
- Hunt for your meat. Wild game does not require farmer-produced grain or water for us to raise it. This meat is as natural and carbon-neutral as can be.
- Keep recycling, carpooling, conserving water, etc - but realize that is a drop in the bucket compared to the animal agriculture situation that is being covered up - help get the word out. Tell your friends and help this wave swell up until we’re able to do something about it!
"Do what you can do, as well as you can do it, every day of your life.” - Howard Lyman
- The 2006 UN Report that started it all.
- Salatin, J. Polyface Farms. http://www.polyfacefarms.com/