Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Response to a Suburban Mom

The following is a response to a suburban mother that I have as a friend on Facebook. She is very much into locally grown, organic food. I have absolutely not problem with this, but the idea that it is healthier is far over-done and in many cases false. We need modern agriculture to produce the food needed for our growing world population. We simply cannot produce the affordable food needed in large quantities in a local food system. She also is a proponent of grass-fed beef. Again, I have no problem with this but the benefits are over sensationalized. My response to her follows:

I commend you for supporting local farmers. I am selling some of my beef locally and it has really re-connected me with my customers. Locally grown meat and produce is fresher and in most cases better than those bought in the store. However, I still contend that locally grown may not be a good option for those in large metro areas, especially those on lower incomes.

As for grass-fed beef, it is a good product and a good option for some. Let me preface my comments by saying I am a rancher and I recently completed my masters degree in range management. The health benefits of grass-fed beef are real. However, the amount of omega-3 is misleading. There really isn't that much difference. The leanness is just a matter of how the animals are fed and my grain fed beef is probably just as lean.

The real issue is the acres. It takes many more acres to finish a grass-fed beef. It also takes longer to get them to market. Agriculture is a very competitive business, especially for land. I simply cannot find enough land to finish my beef on grass. I also feel I am contributing far more food to our world by raising crops on my tillable acres.

On our farm we have went to no-till crop production. This allows for rain infiltration similar to that described by the author in your article. It also saves soil and in the end we use fewer herbicides and less fuel. Most of the farmers in our area have also gone to no-till.

The e-coli issue more of an issue of proper handling and cooking of the meat. There is no more e-coli now than there was fifty years ago. If utensils are properly washed and meat cooked to proper temperatures, e-coli is not an issue.

Again, I am not criticizing you. I enjoy your posts and I commend you for buying local. I think it is a better experience for farmers and consumers alike. But also know you are only getting part of the story. We need modern agriculture to feed our world. Farmers and ranchers and all those involved in agriculture have the best interest of consumers in mind.

1 comment:

  1. Glen,
    Did you see the article in the LA Times today? It did a great job of spelling out some of the facts that get lost in the small vs. large, local vs. corporate debate. Here's a link.

    I sent the author a note to tell him thanks for his thoughtful coverage of the story. He did a better job of saying what I've been trying to say.

    P.S. Blast from the Past, I got an e-mail from Phil Reilly today.