Monday, June 1, 2015

Defending Beef- a book report

The Case for Sustainable Meat Production The Manifesto of an Environmental Lawyer and Vegetarian Turned Cattle Rancher By; Nicolette Hahn Niman I have a friend whose daughter and son-in-law own a ranch in New Mexico. They presently have a herd of cattle of 19 head. Working together they are trying their best to raise cattle the right way which means range fed. He asked me to read this book and then write a report. He knows that writing reports on important books is something I enjoy doing. I have just finished reading, so here goes. As usual I will add my own comments. In my opinion, the author did a credible job of pointing out the advantage and the necessity of including beef in the food available to humans. Much of the world’s surface is unacceptable to crop planting. That is where cattle are the most productive. Their interaction with the earth is beneficial to it. They chew the grass, step on the soil and leave their droppings and urine as they move along. This encourages grass to growwhen exposed to sunlight. The depressions allow rain water to puddle and the nutrients to be added. She was, and still is, a vegetarian. She married a man who was and still is a rancher. She helps him on the ranch by doing any chore necessary. She firmly believes that living on a ranch among animals is rewarding and beneficial to understanding and appreciating the relationship. She doesn’t explain why she personally doesn’t eat meat. I believe that adds persuasion to the words she writes. She strongly condemns modern animal husbandry, particularly as practiced in the U.S.A. This process which is largely dependent on drugs is unnatural and has little or no concern for the wellbeing of animals. They no longer are considered animals but merely products to sell. For most of their lives they are confined to feed lots as they are being fattened as rapidly as science will allow. I spent 23 years of my life living in Iowa. The stench as you neared a confinement was atrocious. I often wondered how people could live and work in those conditions, never mind how it was to be a cow or pig herded together like that. The other phenomena I experienced was the step by step process of farmers being driven from their farms as the mega farms took over. I felt then and I still do today, that it was wrong. Raising families on farms is the healthy and wisest way to rear children. They learn work habits from an early age and assume their responsibilities as normal. Interacting with live stock of any kind brings them to appreciate what life is all about. There is another book I read which I recommend to you. It is called “Soil not Oil” by Vandana Shiva. I wrote a book report on it February 14, 2010. It was an article published in my third book entitled “Still Angry”. In it she points out the tremendous expense of energy in the production of food when the same result could be attained by families living on farms as millions did just 40 years ago. The largest farms receive the greatest government subsidies. They and Agri-business and drug companies all benefit the most while rendering the greatest harm to the environment through polluting land and water. I can assure you that in the current debate in Congress about granting the President authority to make trade agreements, that counties like Japan, who have traditionally defended the small farmer, are being pressured once again to let our mass produced and hugely subsidized agriculture overwhelm them and close them down. It is my sincere hope Japan will not cave. I might add that we continue to pressure Europe in the same fashion while they have continued to support small farms as being beneficial to maintaining their landscape and livelihoods of those families. After NAFTA was approved the process of lowering tariff protection was begun, in short order reducing to zero in Mexico. Millions of farmers were forced to enter the U.S. when they could no longer sustain their families with their produce and meat from their small farms. There is much in this book of a technical flavor far beyond my limited knowledge. It adds to the truth of Mrs. Niman’s words that she writes from knowledge and experience. The conclusions drawn make complete sense to me. If our elected leaders would only reflect on the harm their programs are inflicting on our country and the world they might find the wisdom to reverse the process towards small family farms. Not only are the chemicals harmful to the land she believes that they are harmful to people as well. She is convinced that obesity is caused more from huge intakes of sugar and carbohydrates than from eating meat. In conclusion beef and other livestock raised in a humane fashion are not only essential for the survival of humans but also add to human joy and good health. Grains alone cannot sustain human life. Grain together with domesticated livestock can and will. I highly recommend reading. Jack B. Walters May 31, 2015

No comments: