Monday, October 25, 2010

Thoughts on Meat and Grass

I have similar views on meat and grass. They are both great. But they are also both over-utilized. Kind of a default in meals or landscape planning. I think changes would be beneficial in both cases. Let's start with meat:

Meat comes from animals. These animals lived for a certain length of time before they were killed for their meat. During their lives, they had to eat to grow. This usually means grains, like corn, wheat, etc. How much acreage of these grain plants are used just to feed animals that will in turn feed us?

The link above reviews how the numbers vary, from 2 pounds of corn per pound of cow, to 20 pounds of corn per pound of beef. In any case, I'll just say 10 pounds of corn makes one pound of beef. So a 1/4 pound burger requires 2.5 pounds of corn that the animal fed on. Obviously a guy eating corn will be responsible for less acreage of corn planted to feed him than a guy that eats beef. So for our meat we have all the processing and space required of cows, and all the processing and space of their grain feed required. Eating lots of meat is costly for the environment, as compared to eating grains.

According to the previous link, 1/2 of all our harvested acreage goes to livestock feed. It also compares eating grain-fed animal meat to driving a cadillac. The quantity of land required to support meat production is one reason not to eat so much meat. I'm not a vegetarian, and I don't see any pressing need to become one, but I do think that we could cut down on the amount of meat in our diets.

My second issue with meat is the huge disconnect between the living animal and what we put in our mouths. It is my personal opinion that every person should have to kill a cow before they eat beef, kill a chicken before they eat one, etc. This makes a lot of people queasy. But seriously. People that are willing to eat dead animals should be willing to appreciate that they are responsible for killing dead animals. We need to be ok with that. I think if everyone killed an animal once or twice, or even watched a video of it, maybe people would find it easier to consume a little bit less meat. I think consuming less meat is a good idea. Especially for me, because I can be a pretty hard core carnivore sometimes.

The above is a link to Overlooked: The lives of animals raised for food. May bring tears to your eyes. Anyway, I think it's a good thing to see. More and more people are decreasing their consumption of meat, and I think it helps in terms of money, health, and the environment.

As far as grass is concerned, think about it. Why do we have to have it everywhere? Why grass and not something else? It's soft underfoot, but we put in sikewalks and try not to walk on it. Some might say it looks nice. I think maybe we are raised to think this. But think about it, if you're going to have a landscape portrait on your wall, would you rather have one of grass, or plants native to your area, or other plants? You don't see many huge portraits of grass. As the matter of fact, I've never seen any. There may be grass in a portrait, but it is never the focus of the piece.

The guy in the following link thinks grass is analogous to debt. We have both because we want to have what others have:
I don't have any problems with grass. It's a good place for a picnic. It's a good place to walk bare foot on. It's a good place to run and throw balls and play. But think of all the places that have grass in them. It's not just areas that are used for these things. You see it in lots of places that people never are meant to walk on. Here at University Village, there are huge swaths of areas between parked cars and buildings, and between roads and fences, and behind buildings... places that no one wants to walk, or picnic, or play, when there are so many better areas away from the cars.

Now consider how much it costs to water all of this grass. How much time and effort it takes to mow the lawns, use fertilizer, weed killer, etc. All the digging for sprinklers. Grass gets used in places like Utah where it is too dry, and so it costs more than in other areas. And yet we do it. Because everyone else does.
When I go up to research park to the clinic on my bike, there's this tiny little patch between properties that is untended by people. At some times of the year, there are sunflowers. There are also purple flowers, white flowers, yellow flowers, and a number of green plants. There are mice there, and maybe some snakes. A number of birds are always about there too. There are bees and bugs, and all kinds of little things. At some point it will get 'developed' and all this will disappear. And it will become grass and cement. I don't think grass can compare, and cement certainly can't.

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