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Sustainability: The Impact of Food Choices

Just like our preferences and taste in food have evolved over time, more and more consumers now pay attention to how their food is prepared and want it to be processed “sustainably”.

This brings us to the environment talk – whether that is due to consuming less meat, buying organic eggs, or farm-produced fresh vegetables, there is always a group of people who believe that altering their daily diet will lead to a positive impact on the environment. But does it?

In this article, we will be looking at some of the pros and cons of varying food choices that we make, methods and techniques farmers use, and their immediate impacts on sustainability that directly shapes the environment, animals, and our food choices

What is Sustainability?

It is not only about keeping the global environment clean and green. Sustainability is a broad concept that defines the capacity to continue to do what we do in the best interests of everyone. From a farmer’s perspective; they want to sustain the quality of life for them and their children, their community’s health, and the soil that produces fresh farm food.

As farmers around the world work on producing and enriching more food to feed the ever-growing population, conservationists make sure that all’s done in a manner that does not destroy the earth’s natural habitat and fresh produce.

Limitations Faced by Sustainability

Environmental – Change in water resources becoming scarce. Feeding a large population while preserving nature.

Social – Global challenges that include a shortage of skilled labor, rural to the urban population, crop, and pest prices.

Climate Change – To increase sustainable production requires resilient systems under increased climate, economic, social, and technological uncertainty.

A Look at Sustainability Trade-Offs

A perfect beef patty consists of some of the earth’s richest ingredients. But how is it prepared? Is the procedure sustainable eventually? Let us take a deeper look:

Grass-fed beef comes from cattle raised primarily on grass, pasture, or hay. Some grass-fed beef programs include non-grain products, such as soyhull pellets and others.

While grain-fed beef comes from cattle who are fed a diet of high-energy grains, which includes corn, soy meal, and other ingredients. Grain-fed beef may also be called corn-fed.

More recent studies have analyzed the greenhouse gas emissions related to livestock and beef production, as concerns about the sustainability of beef have recently been raised. An article in the Washington Post explained some of the key considerations and noted there are many connected factors, including methane emissions, manure management, specific feeding and cropping practices, and more. Some grass-fed cattle are better for the planet than some grain-fed, and vice versa.

Food Fact

About 80 percent of beef in the United States is grain-fed. Because the animals receive a high-energy diet, they reach their final weight faster, which reduces the amount of land and water required.

According to one research doctor, if we want more land for wildlife and recreation, it means we have less land to grow food on. If we have less land to grow food on, we then focus on how to be more intense and efficient, which can have deleterious effects on the environment. A balance is needed.

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