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Cows and carbon

Recently, an article was published that caught my eye. The title read: “Organic meat production just as bad for climate, study finds”.

The analysis estimated the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from different foods and calculated how much their prices would need to rise to cover the potential ‘harm’ they cause by fuelling changes to the climate.

Yet, here’s what they missed with the aforementioned article.

If we only look at the scenario in terms of emissions, we are not considering the whole story. Cattle certainly belch methane, but this is part of a carbon cycle and this cycle is hugely important to the overall health of plants, and therefore to us as humans and every single ecosystem.

Here’s why:

Really think about ALL of that. It’s miraculous. And it all started with a cow’s belch.

An increasing amount of carbon can be sequestered in the soil when cattle are managed well. Then, the cow eats grass (carbon) and the cycle goes around again.

In Australia at the moment, carbon soil content is sitting between 0.7% and 3%. A wonderful farmer-led organisation called Carbon8 is supporting more and more farmers to transition to regenerative farming with the goal of rebuilding the carbon in the soil to a minimum of 8%. You can read about their great work here:

This remarkable biogenic cycle is worlds apart from extracting ancient carbon and methane from deep in the earth and introducing it to the atmosphere. That is not a cycle, it’s a concerning one-way street.

Rather than being reductionist in the way we view and approach incredibly nuanced and beautifully complex systems, let’s consider the natural cycles that foster soil, animal, human and atmospheric health. Sunlight, trees, grass and grazing animals – Nature at her best, doing what she has always done.

References and inspiration from: Diana Rodgers, Sacred Cow; Instagram: @sustainabledish and recent conversations with regen farmers.


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