By not eating industrialised meat! We, as consumers, hold all the power! Our complacency, however, over the last 50 years or so, have led to a terrible degradation to an iconic American way of life: cattle ranching. Instead of wide open spaces with cattle roaming, eating, and living the way they should, the meat-packing industry has turned beef into an assembly line-processed substance that barely resembles true beef. Motivated by greed and devoid of any character, nutrition, or sustainability, the huge feed lots that supply large, and ever-increasing businesses with meat products (fast food chains,) are an environmental and health nightmare (e-coli, salmonella, etc.) Yet meat packing associations have nevertheless lobbied congress to deregulate the industry, lower workers’ safety standards and wages, and even make it illegal to criticise them (Oprah was sued for saying she’ll “never eat another burger again,” for example.)
The problem with making the beef industry sustainable, is it’s size. Too many people want too much meat, and they don’t want to pay too much for it. All those things, should be reversed in people’s minds if the industry is going to change; Eat less meat (have less heart attacks,) eat better quality meat (organic, grass fed, free range, no antibiotics or hormones, and local!,) and with the money you just saved by eating a little less, spend a little more on the good stuff!
When we care about are food, we care about ourselves, and our physical health improves dramatically. Weigh that in with the world-wide environmental, social, economic, and health benefits of eating more mindfully, and that adds up to one hell of a savings! Check out Fast Food Nation, and In Defense of Food, a couple great books on the subject.
ktjphoto is absolutely right. Grass-fed beef is the most environmentally sustainable option, and it’s also healthier for the consumer and more humane for the cows!
Amen ktjphoto! Vegetarianism is one of the best ways to lower your carbon footprint as industrial agriculture is THE LARGEST cause of carbon dioxide. If you must eat beef or any other meat, make sure that it is sustainably raised, organic, and local to have the least impact on the environment. In addition to this, Americans need to eat less meat. We currently consume 50% more meat than we did in the 1950’s, this is because food prices are skewed (but that is a whole different issue) among other regulatory and market problems.
If you do not wish to become a full fledged vegetarian, you can still do good for the planet by limiting your meat intake. Check out http://www.pbjcampaign.org/numbers for some really great information about how you can lessen your environmental impact by eating less meat/ animal products.
The better question is “Why should we make American beef production more sustainable?” Beef is high in protein, but also high in triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, both of which help clog arteries over time. The less meat of any kind we eat, the better off we all are. Don’t get me wrong, please. I like beef. I just don’t think it’s good for our health, period. One can easily obtain a complete protein through a proper vegetarian style diet.
See Prevention Magazine and the American Heart Association websites for citeable support for this answer.
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