The world loves meat. So much so that demand for meat products is projected to grow by nearly 70 percent by 2050. But meat production places a significant strain on the planet’s resources. Research shows that today’s meat-producing efforts uses one-third of the Earth’s fresh water and land surface and generates nearly one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions.
But that’s not going to stop most of us from eating it because it’s too darn delicious. The founders behind San Francisco-based Memphis Meats know this, and they’re responding with what could be a disruptive change to the trillion-dollar meat production industry. Memphis Meats is making “clean meat.” It’s also delicious. But there’s one problem: It costs about $18,000 a pound.
Hundreds of livestock ranchers in the drought-stricken U.S. Northern Plains are embracing what organizers say is the first lottery designed to provide some much-needed relief to their operations.
The prize? Tons and tons of hay.
Ranchers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana have been suffering through the region’s worst drought in 30 years, which has withered grazing fields, causing a severe spike in the cost of hay to feed their animals.
While the ranchers search for affordable hay, some have been selling off cattle they cannot afford to feed. If the drought persists, cattle and beef prices will rise, livestock economists said.
Every spring, as the snows thaw, water rushes down the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, spreading life, then death into the Gulf of Mexico. The floodwaters are laden with fertilisers washed from fields and factory farms. As spring turns to summer, excessive nutrients first drive a huge bloom of living plankton, then cause death on a gargantuan scale as a dead zone blossoms across the seabed. Most years it grows swiftly to over 5,000 square miles of seabed, killing everything that cannot outrun it.
A new report lands much of the blame for the dead zone at the door of modern industrial agriculture. America’s addiction to cheap meat, fed on corn and soy in vast indoor factories, comes at a high cost in human health problems and environmental destruction. None of these costs are paid for by the companies that produce the meat and feed, such as Tyson, Cargill and ADM.
The workers, most often immigrants and resettled refugees, slaughter and process hundreds of animals an hour, forced to work at high speeds in cold conditions, doing thousands of the same repetitions over and over, with few breaks.
This production feeds the average American, who eats about 200 pounds of meat a year. And the furious pace of the work causes a set of chronic physical ailments called musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, an array of injuries to workers’ muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves, that cause sprains, strains, or inflammation.
In the 1940s, a small group of scientists, Moore et al., discovered that adding antibiotics to animal feed would improve the animals’ rates of growth. Since, ranchers and farmers have been routinely administering antibiotics sub-therapeutically – or in doses too small to treat illness – to their livestock. According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, in 2011, the quantity of antibiotics sold for meat and poultry production in the U.S. was nearly four times greater than the quantity sold to treat sick Americans.
While widespread public alarm on this practice has only recently sounded, evidence has long suggested the human health risks associated with the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in food animals. In 1976, Dr. Stuart Levy and a team of researchers released astudy that documented the impact of antibiotic use on farm chickens and farm workers. Though disputed at the time, significant research has since supported these findings.Several researchers today have linked the excessive use of antibiotics in livestock with the development of drug resistance in humans.
To prepare the guidelines, the advisory committee studies up (here’s a list of some of the data they draw on), hears from other experts, holds public meetings, and prepares a draft. At the last public meeting, held Dec. 15, 2014, the committee presented highlights of its draft via Powerpoint, and triggered an explosion of reaction among meat producers. Meat-industry representatives who were at the meeting say that between sessions, the recommendation for “lean meats” was removed from any mention at all.
Kari Underly is slicing through half a hog as if it were as soft as an avocado … until she hits a bone.
“So what I’m doing now is I’m taking out the femur bone,” she explains to a roomful of about 30 women watching as she carves the animal. “The ham is a little bit of a drag, if you will, ’cause we have to make money, and not everybody wants a big ham.”
Underly is a fit, 46-year-old master butcher from Chicago. Her father and grandmothers were butchers. She put herself through college cutting meat. These days, she encourages other women to enter the business.
Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to a new report. But governments and green campaigners are doing nothing to tackle the issue due to fears of a consumer backlash, warns the analysis from the thinktank Chatham House.
The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming.
There’s a convincing case for substituting lab-grown meat for conventional meat in the human diet. Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat, in vitro meat, and (less attractively) shmeat, from “sheets of lab-grown meat”—has the potential to sharply reduce the number of animals raised and slaughtered in awful conditions on feedlots. Feedlots not only create unconscionable animal suffering, but threaten human health as well, disseminating pollution, contaminating groundwater reservoirs, and acting as breeding grounds for disease. Zoonotic diseases—that is, those that leap from animals to humans, such as avian and swine flus—are often the result of intensive feed-lot farming.
Global consumption of meat must be reduced, according to a new report that warns of serious implications – both in terms of food scarcity and the wider environmental impact – if current trends continue.
The research from Cambridge and Aberdeen universities highlights a worldwide trend for American-style diets, leading to a large increase in meat and dairy consumption, the BBC reports.