(2008-09-14) Boyd Grassfed Slow Food

Stowe Boyd went to a Slow Food dinner with lots of Grass-Fed beef.

Jan'2009 update: over drinks, Stowe said that these folks have refined a process of raising cows and chickens together than they call "the most efficient process of converting sunlight to protein" (reducing the big vegetarian argument against Eating beef). But his post doesn't have details on that aspect. I Commented...

I did find:

  • HowTo notes which includes the mention of following with chickens.

  • cow-health issues associated with eating grain instead of grass (ruminants)

  • DavidEvans' process (from 2004): "The animals in my model provide a necessary tool for managing the environment," he said. "They have a symbiotic relationship. Our grasslands have evolved over the years. The animals help sustain the environment and all the other subspecies, underground, aboveground. In my model, the animals are out in the pasture, in their most natural environment." The cattle are joined by hens and roosters. A mobile henhouse is hooked up to a pickup truck and dragged about 50 feet away to a new location every few days. This is to ensure the land is not overgrazed. The hens eat what they would eat in the wild and help fertilize the soil.

  • grass management. The main idea of Mi G is the rule of the "second bite", which means do not let the animals back on the grass until it is grown back and and is a darker green color. Especially in two or three days, when the grass is light green and very tender. You can graze short, but you need to give the plant adequate rest to recover. Depending on the season that could be 2 weeks or 2 months.

  • details on how location of water, bushes, and rocks affect grazing patterns/capacity.

Update: Stowe Boyd says his source was Michael Pollan's Omnivores Dilemma.

Jan'2009 update: Brian Halweil and Danielle Nierenberg write Researchers at the University of Wales are looking at how introducing different grasses--which are what ruminants are meant to eat--into cattle diets can help reduce the Methane emissions from belching, flatulent cows. While the diet fed to cattle and dairy cows on factory farms encourages them to gain weight quickly, it also leads to a variety of digestive problems. Scientists believe that more-digestible feed will reduce these problems and thus help curb Methane emissions. Not surprisingly, some of the grasses found commonly in U.K. pastures and meadows-- including white clover, rye, and a flower called bird's foot trefoil--are highly digestible. And a Swedish study in 2003 found that beef cattle raised organically on grass emit 40 percent less greenhouse gases and use 85 percent less energy making beef than cattle raised on grain. References: Henning Steinfeld et al., Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options(Rome: FAO, 2006); Daniele Finelli, "Meat is Murder on the Environment," New Scientist, 18 July 2007; C. Cederberg and M. Stadig, "System Expansion and Allocation in Life Cycle Assessment of Milk and Beef Production," International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, vol. 8, no. 6 (2003), pp. 350-56.

  • others dispute this: While cattle fed forage actually produce more methane than grain-fed cattle, the increase may be offset by the increased carbon recapture of pastures, which recapture three times the CO2 of cropland used for grain.

Jan29'2009: Bruce Eckel notes Michael Pollan's TED talk from 2007 on the same topic, and noodles around at seeking the Essence of Dynamic Language-s, Open Space-s, Agile Software Development, and Business (Team Work). He's trying to figure it out for the daily working experience of software development (I'd like to create a company/group/association of developers that Self Organize-s the way an open-spaces conference does, but I have no idea how to accomplish that). (BetterMeans, PermaCulture)

Jan'2011: Robert Paterson considers how this changes the whole Food Industry. This is what PermaCulture looks like. Looks chaotic but it is not. Again the principle is "Fit". We plant to mimic nature and to enhance nature. Most are perennials. As the system ages, it gets more productive. For the parts all reinforce each other as the animals do on a grass farm. Too many slugs = not enough ducks! (Family Farm)


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