[FoRK] Vegetarian > Hybrid

Kevin Elliott <K-Elliott at wiu.edu> on Fri Feb 2 13:38:50 PST 2007

At 16:32 -0800  on  1/26/07, J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
>- Somewhere around 40% of the US beef herd is raised on non-arable 
>or marginally arable
>land on local forage. Other than grasses collected for winter forage 
>in these regions (which
>requires little more than irrigation), they largely feed themselves. 
>The key point being that
>the idea that we are trading beef for grain is a bit of a false 
>dichotomy, since for a
>significant portion of production we are trading beef for waste land 
>and therefore few
>valuable natural resources were spent on creating that beef.  In 
>some parts of the US, feed
>grain (which is rarely the same as what we eat) is dirt cheap and 
>uses less land, making it
>the preferred way to feed cattle.

Indeed.  Having spent 2 years in Northern Nevada, the choice there 
was not Cattle or Grain.  It was Cattle or nothing.  Winter is to 
long and to cold, summer is to hot.  Water is available but very much 
a resource that must be managed.  Large scale irrigation mostly 
sounds like a recipe for large scale evaporation.

I suspect that most of the feed grain is being used to pad out forage 
for long winters.  I'd also be curious how transport cost factors 
into all this- I suspect that a great deal of the cattle production 
in Nevada is driven by the California market.  Eliminating grain 
feeding might stop production in Nevada, but the cost would be 
shipping cattle from farther away.

>- In the western US, cattle are a critical part of the ecosystem and 
>eliminating the range
>cattle would have disastrous consequences to the ecosystem.  Cattle 
>replace the bison in the >ecosystem, and are essential to it.  Well, 
>essential if you do not want to significantly alter
>the mix of flora and fauna found in the ranges.  From that 
>perspective, ranching the western
>US is healthy for the ecosystem there.

In a similar vein, I don't think it would be possible to reintroduce 
the bison and replace cattle.  My understanding is that bison are 
basically undomesticated (and it may not be possible to domesticate 
them), and are a much more dangerous animal to raise in a world of 
fences and property rights.  Not that I'm against more buffalo- 
buffalo is damn tasty.  I've been surprised and amused to see that 
safeway has started to carry ground buffalo as a standard, though 
expensive, item.  Noting makes a better burger!
Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
AIM/iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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