by Cynthia
Meet Charlie

We have a new baby at Walnut Ridge Farm.  Our first Dexter calf was born on Sept 28th. His mother was named Peppermint Patty by her previous owners, so we named the little bull Chocolate Charlie. (I always felt sorry for Peppermint Patty because her crush on Charlie Brown was unrequited). We were hoping for a heifer we could keep to build our small herd, but this fellow is just so darn cute.

Mom is distracted by the donkeys who are curious about their new pasture mate

Cows are in the news this week. At least in the form of beef. A report was released by scientists writing for the Annals of Internal Medicine that seems to contradict what nutritionists have been saying for decades about the health consequences of red meat consumption. The report is not actually saying to “EAT MORE BEEF”, it’s saying that the previous nutritional advice about the health benefits of restricting consumption of beef and lamb was not based on the results of rigorous scientific research. Now the authors of the report are being accused of bias, as they may have previous ties to Cargill, one of the biggest beef producers in the U.S.

The report in the Annals of Internal Medicine was, however, careful to point out that their report does not address the impact of the beef industry on the welfare of our planet.

As far back as 2011, The Environmental Working Group released the Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health. Here’s an excerpt of that document:

“By eating and wasting less meat, consumers can help limit the environmental damage caused by the huge amounts of fertilizer, fuel, water, and pesticides, not to mention the toxic manure and wastewater, that goes along with producing meat,” said Kari Hamerschlag, EWG senior analyst and author of the report.

He’s talking here about factory farmed beef, not pasture-raised, organic beef produced on small farms by farmers serving their local farmer’s market or individuals who purchase directly from their farms. The report goes on to say that:

“Choosing healthier, pasture-raised meats can also help improve people’s health and reduce the environmental damage associated with meat consumption.”

For people interested in “sustainable eating”, it seems clear that eating less beef than the average American does (four times a week) is beneficial to our health AND the environment. When you do choose to purchase beef, buy it from a local farmer whenever possible. Ask if it was produced without the use of antibiotics. Ask where the meat was processed. Ask if it was raised on pasture. Eat more beef, but only if it came from a cow raised on pasture as near to your home as possible. If finding local beef seems like too much trouble, you can always switch to tofu!

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