An ‘efficient’ food supply

Sara at Down To Earth Blog is wondering about our food. She raises quality small-lot beef.

Study shows some meat/dairy is more efficient than total vegetarian diet

“One of the issues that people often bring up to me as a beef producer is the “footprint” of eating meat versus a strictly vegetarian diet. I know that my cattle are raised on land that could not be (or should not be) used for any sort of cultivation, but I’ve been looking for some good research reports on the subject. I got some leads from friends at the American Farmland Trust.

“A study at Cornell University looked at a range of diets in terms of how much of New York’s population could be fed by food produced within the state.

“Although a strictly vegetarian diet uses the least total land mass, a diet that includes some meat and dairy is more efficient in terms of total land use and sustainability. The reason is that fruits, vegetables and grains must be grown on high-quality cropland. Meat and dairy products from ruminant animals are supported by lower quality, but more widely available, land that can support pasture and hay.

This is news to me. Vegetarian friends will find it impossible to believe that livestock may be necessary in order to feed us all.

The wonder of systems and ecology is how often one approach buggers the other approach. Our brutish industrialization has damaged many things. We look for solutions, but it’s not easy.