Saturday, July 26, 2008

Growing Meat

I was talking to a colleague the other day about high animal fat diets and that it was not mainstream thinking but if it did become proven that it is the best diet for humans then the world may not be able to support such a large population. This would be due to the inefficient use of land when it comes to growing meat. I had taken, hook, line and sinker the notion that vegetable growing is the only environmentally safe use of land for food growing. On the face of it, it makes sense that it would be inefficient to grow plants and then feed them to animals and then eat the meat. Why not just chop out the middleman? But then I began to think about it a little more deeply.

Firstly the argument is wrong because most land is actually not suitable for growing crops that humans can eat. Sure it would be silly to grow sheep on highly arable market garden type land but not many people would do that. Instead animals like sheep are often grown on high country land that is very poor. This would actually represent the most efficient use of land.

Secondly animals could be considered as vital components of the food producing process. Humans can’t eat grass but they will thrive on grass fed animals. Animals like cattle use their special digestive systems to convert inedible grasses into lovely food like steak, milk, butter and cream. We can actually live off a diet of fresh animal products without ill effect yet we will soon suffer diseases if we attempt to live on maize or rice alone. Animals are marvellous engines used for the production of nutritious and tasty food.

When I look at New Zealand where I live there are vast areas of unutilised land. We could feed most of the world with animal product if we utilized it all. Yet we are closing meat plants due to poor demand while the world grows fatter and less healthy.

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