There is hope in honest error; none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist.
- J. D. Sedding
However, Mark Bittman’s continued portrayel of meat as “bad” and produce as “good” is starting to annoy me. My background in science, especially agroecology, instructs me that everything needs to be looked at in context to it’s connections to other organisms and natural processes. Well managed livestock, for example, can be a nice complementary activity with other forms of agriculture and can reduce input dependency. In terms of human health and sustenance, we all know that animal products contain more calories, protein, and fat (i.e. nutritional density) than most plant-based foods. In a world of dwindling food supplies, those things are important. Instead of labeling one food as good or bad, let’s look at some of the nuances and grey areas of meat production (part of the whole reason behind this blog!). Although I do agree with Mark’s labeling of some food as “nonfoods” and other food as just “food”. Soda and Hot Cheetos are undoubtedly “nonfoods”. Let’s say bye, bye to them…
So while Mark was railing against the supposed ills associated with animal agriculture (as if it’s all done the same exact way around the world), I began to think about the old farm we used to have. We rented 20 acres of land in a floodplain that was not appropriate for crop production because much of it was under water for 3-5 months a year (flooded fields are considered a food safety hazard for crops). However, because it flooded, it kept the pastures greener much longer into the dry California summer. The hard clay held onto moisture and nutrients, but would scare most fruits or vegetables away by constricting their roots. Hardy perennial grasses, clovers, and mustards did just fine there and supported a diverse menagerie of animals that we raised. So I think you get my point that pasture and animals were a good fit with the land.
In the next 40 years, we have to produce as much food as we have in the past 8,000.