GRA
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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:42 pm

LeftieBiker wrote:The reasoning on pork vs beef is this: while grain-fed beef is bad, pigs are also fed grain. (Chickens are also fed grain and suffer terribly from close confinement.) In addition, pigs are usually (inhumanely) confined and thus produce huge amounts of concentrated sewage. Some of it is treated and used as fertilizer, but it's much more dangerous than cow manure, and a lot of it ends up in waterways. In addition, cattle can be raised on grass alone, with much less confinement. So eating grass-fed beef is better than eating pork from an environmental perspective, an animal welfare perspective, and a human food requirement perspective. Cattle may emit more methane, but pig confinement operations are usually environmental and animal welfare disasters. I genuinely can't think of a reason to choose pork over beef, because while cattle operations use much more land, pig "farms" combine the production of dangerous effluent with a breeding ground for pathogens that can easily move to human hosts - like influenza. The latter is also true of chicken confinement operations. Remember "swine flu" and "bird flu"?
California Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, was on the ballot in California as an initiated state statute on November 6, 2018.[1] The measure was approved.

A yes vote supported this initiative to:
  • establish minimum space requirements based on square feet for calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens and
    ban the sale of (a) veal from calves, (b) pork from breeding pigs, and (c) eggs from hens when the animals are confined to areas below minimum square-feet requirements.
A no vote opposed this initiative, thus:
  • keeping in place minimum space requirements based on animal movement—not square feet—for calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens and continuing to ban the sale of shelled eggs from hens—but not liquid eggs from hens, veal from calves, or pork from breeding pigs—that are confined to areas not meeting space requirements based on animal movement standards.
Overview

Did California pass a similar ballot initiative in 2008?

In 2008, the Humane Society developed a ballot initiative, titled Proposition 2, to ban the confinement of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in a manner that did not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. Proposition 2 did not provide specific square feet when defining prohibited confinement. Rather, the size restrictions were based on animal behavior and movement. Opponents, such as the Association of California Egg Farmers, claimed this was too vague. Voters approved Proposition 2, and the law went into effect in 2015.[2]

Proposition 2 did not ban the sale of veal from calves, pork from breeding pigs, and eggs from hens. The California State Legislature approved a law that banned the sale of shelled eggs from hens confined to areas that did not meet Proposition 2's standards. Regulators interpreted the law as requiring producers who wanted to sell shelled eggs in California as needing to provide hens at least 0.8 square feet per hen.[2][3][4]

What did Proposition 12 change about farm animal confinement in California?

Proposition 12 of 2018, unlike Proposition 2, prohibited the confinement of calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens in areas below a specific number of square feet, rather than restrictions based on animal behavior and movement. Proposition 12 also banned the sale of (a) veal from calves, (b) uncooked pork from breeding pigs, and (c) shelled and liquid eggs from hens when the animals are confined to areas below minimum square-feet requirements.[1]

Beginning in 2020, Proposition 12 was set to ban the confinement of:[1]
  • calves (young domestic cows) in areas with less than 43 square feet of usable floor space per calf and

    egg-laying hens (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) in areas with less than 1 square foot of usable floor space per hen.
Beginning in 2022, Proposition 12 was set to ban the confinement of:[1]
  • breeding pigs and their immediate offspring in areas with less than 24 square feet of usable floor space per pig and
    egg-laying hens in areas other than indoor or outdoor cage-free housing systems based on the United Egg Producers' 2017 cage-free guidelines, which define cage-free housing as areas that provide 1.0 to 1.5 square feet of usable floor space per hen and allow hens to move around inside the area.
Re pigs etc., do you have a source with numbers? I'll need to get Smil's book back, but he and other sources I've read compared emissions, food requirements to slaughter, land use etc. Pigs used to be fed food scraps, but intensive livestock raising practices have obviously changed that. From an energy/resource perspective, IIRR the advantage was wholly in favor of pork and even more so poultry, as they could be raised to slaughter in much shorter periods of time while providing more meat per lb. of feed. Once I get the book back and have checked the numbers I'll post some, and we can pick this up again. Meanwhile, as an example of the conclusions reached by the studies I'm familiar with, here's a news article reporting a study from 2014: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-most-p ... k-poultry/
Raising beef for the American dinner table does far more damage to the environment than producing pork, poultry, eggs or dairy, a new study says.

Compared with the other animal proteins, beef produces five times more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out six times as much water-polluting nitrogen, takes 11 times more water for irrigation and uses 28 times the land, according to the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Cows are not efficient at converting feed to protein for human consumption, said lead author Gidon Eshel, an environmental physics professor at Bard College in New York.

Eshel used U.S. government figures to calculate air and water emissions and how much water and land were used in the lifetime production of beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs.

While other studies have looked at the issue, this is one of the most comprehensive pieces of research quantifying and comparing the U.S. environmental costs of different meats and other animal protein. . . .

In the study, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs all had comparable environmental footprints, so close there were no statistically significant differences among them, Eshel said. But cows were off-the-chart different. The study did not look at plants or fish raised for human consumption.

Cows burp major amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is dozens of times more potent than carbon dioxide. Their digestive system makes them produce considerably more methane than pigs, chickens or turkeys do, Eshel said. The manure used to grow feed for cows also releases methane, as does their own bodily waste.

Because they are bigger and take longer to put on weight for meat, cows eat more food over their lifetimes than other animals raised for protein.

Nitrogen, from fertilizer runoff, can harm rivers, lakes and bays, causing oxygen-depleted "dead zones." The use of irrigation water is a major issue out West when there are droughts, like the current one in California. So much land used for farming changes the biodiversity of a location, Eshel said.

"It really looks like beef is a lot worse environmentally than these other meats," said Ken Caldeira, an environmental scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Caldeira wasn't part of this study, but has a separate study of beef's greenhouse gas footprint around the world, published this month in the journal Climatic Change.

Eshel calculates that the average American who switches from beef to pork would reduce the equivalent of 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, which is about nine days' worth of the nation's per capita greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA calculates that it is the same as the emissions from 61 gallons of gas or what comes out of the smokestack from burning 580 pounds of coal.

Caldeira said his calculations found that "eating a pound of beef causes more greenhouse warming than burning a gallon of gasoline."

Even though pigs have the reputation for being dirty, the data shows that they "come out pretty clean" when compared to cows, Eshel said.

The message from the study is "whenever possible try to replace beef with other sources of protein from animal sources," said Eshel, who said he doesn't eat meat now but used to raise cattle on a kibbutz in Israel. . . .
Oh, just found this review by Bill Gates of "Should we eat Meat?" , who like me is a fan of Smil's interdisciplinary approach:
Is There Enough Meat for Everyone?
https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Should-We-Eat-Meat
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Wed Dec 19, 2018 12:32 am

I don't have time for a longer response, but the above excerpts essentially use math to trump actual conditions. Stalls that are too small to allow an animal to turn around, much less to take a short walk, are allowed. Animal welfare laws have improved conditions from "absolutely nightmarish" to merely "cruel" because the animal confinement industry had a decades-long head start on establishing practices that were so bad, from both welfare and environmental perspectives, that logic itself (twice as much space must be a huge improvement) got twisted into the service of the confinement industries.

Grain fed beef is undoubtedly far worse environmentally than grain fed pork, which is why I suggested you eat grass-fed beef. If you are concerned about grain conversion efficiencies, though, back in the day I did the math on the dairy industry, and it takes something like 6lbs of grain (or silage and grain) to produce a pound of milk, and about four times that much to make a pound of average cheese, not hard which takes much more. So while comparing the worst practices in the beef industry to the best practices in the pork industry can make it seem like pork is "better," comparing best to best makes grass-fed beef better in every category except methane production. And I have a very strong hunch that the methane produced by fermenting pig shit isn't being factored in - and that is a HUGE amount of methane, believe me. I live in dairy country, and when they apply treated pig waste to the fields it's pretty horrific. It makes one long for the days of cow manure as the only organic fertilizer. Pigs are also significantly smaller than cows, so in a pound for pound comparison pork involves the suffering of more animals, and more suffering per animal, especially when you account for the generally much more cruel breeding practices in the pork industry, and the higher intelligence and great disruption of natural behaviors it entails. You may want to ask yourself why there aren't a lot of people making the same choice of pork over beef that you have made. I'm a bit out of touch now in this area, but it was a genuine surprise to me that you have done so.
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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:09 pm

LeftieBiker wrote:<snip much for time> You may want to ask yourself why there aren't a lot of people making the same choice of pork over beef that you have made. I'm a bit out of touch now in this area, but it was a genuine surprise to me that you have done so.
I have no idea how many people are making the same choices as me, as the % who care enough to alter their diet for environmental or ideological reasons has always been tiny. That being said, I eat far more poultry these days than beef or pork,as the numbers generally favor that. As to how many animals are having cruelty inflicted on them, I can't say that has ever been a factor in my decision - once I decided to remain an omnivore, the ethical question of whether or not to eat meat had been made, and I confess that whether lots of smaller animals die or fewer big ones do has never been a part of my calcs, although for reasons of anthropomorphism I'm probably more likely to prefer killing birds or pigs (my copy of "Charlotte's Web" notwithstanding) rather than cattle.

Here's another ethical question for you - as a lifelong meat -eater, I've always felt that it was only just to return the favor (and complete the third 'R'), by letting whatever organisms wish to gnosh on me do so once I'm dead, so no embalming or cremation. OTOH, I've also had an organ donor sticker on my driver's license since I got my first one, and fully intend to have whatever parts can be of use to someone harvested, and feel that donating my body to a medical school so students can learn would be the best societal value I can think of. So, does providing the (relatively small) amount of nutrients left in me after death to other species to slightly even the score (probably something like other species eaten by me = 5,000, me eaten by other species = 1), outweigh the good I can do specifically for our species by donating my body for medical use?

Oh yeah, just found a book I've begun reading, which shows just how hard it is to reduce your emissions essentially to zero:
No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process
https://www.amazon.com/No-Impact-Man-Ad ... 0312429835
What does it really take to live eco-effectively? For one year, Colin Beavan swore off plastic and toxins, turned off his electricity, went organic, became a bicycle nut, and tried to save the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his young daughter and his Prada-wearing wife along for the ride. Together they attempted to make zero impact on the environment while living right in the heart of Manhattan, and this is the sensational, funny, and consciousness-raising story of how they did it. . . .
It was apparently also made into a documentary. I'll tell you one thing, I'm not giving up toilet paper!
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:00 pm

It's so hard to be buried in a way that actually makes a positive contribution to the ecosystem (chopped up and fed to a worm bed at an organic garden?) that I have no doubt that donation is the better route, especially for someone who takes any drugs at all other than aspirin. I plan to be cremated, which I think is the best easily-accomplished option.

Removing animal welfare concerns from the equation, you are left with "What is best for the environment?" That would eliminate any animal products that come from "factory farms" because of the pollution produced and because they breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (They even appear to breed dangerous viruses, by providing an ideal environment, with large numbers of hosts in a small area, for them to develop rapid mutations.) There are many Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms that specialize in meat, dairy and eggs. That is where you should, given your concerns, look for your animal products. As a completely irrelevant-to-you side benefit the welfare of those animals is also usually much better. There being no such thing as a free lunch, at least the only downside there is higher prices.
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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:37 am

GRA wrote:https://www.greencarcongress.com/2018/1 ... ganic.html
Organically farmed food has a larger climate impact than conventionally farmed food, due to the greater areas of land required. This is the finding of a new international study published in the journal Nature.

The researchers developed a new method for assessing the climate impact from land-use, and used this, along with other methods, to compare organic and conventional food production. The results show that organic food can result in much greater emissions.
  • Our study shows that organic peas, farmed in Sweden, have around a 50 percent bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed peas. For some foodstuffs, there is an even bigger difference – for example, with organic Swedish winter wheat the difference is closer to 70 percent.

    —Stefan Wirsenius, an associate professor from Chalmers
The reason why organic food is so much worse for the climate is that the yields per hectare are much lower, primarily because fertilizers are not used. To produce the same amount of organic food, you therefore need a much bigger area of land.

The ground-breaking aspect of the new study is the conclusion that this difference in land usage results in organic food causing a much larger climate impact.
  • The greater land-use in organic farming leads indirectly to higher carbon dioxide emissions, thanks to deforestation. The world’s food production is governed by international trade, so how we farm in Sweden influences deforestation in the tropics. If we use more land for the same amount of food, we contribute indirectly to bigger deforestation elsewhere in the world.

    —Stefan Wirsenius
Even organic meat and dairy products are—from a climate point of view—worse than their conventionally produced equivalents, claims Wirsenius.
  • Because organic meat and milk production uses organic feeds, it also requires more land than conventional production. This means that the findings on organic wheat and peas in principle also apply to meat and milk products. We have not done any specific calculations on meat and milk, however, and have no concrete examples of this in the article.

    —Stefan Wirsenius. . . .
What a crock! Ignoring the obvious lack of substance, what is your purpose posting this garbage?
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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Thu Dec 20, 2018 5:11 pm

DaveinOlyWA wrote: What a crock! Ignoring the obvious lack of substance, what is your purpose posting this garbage?
To provide information on subjects from a variety of perspectives, so people can make their own minds up. I hate having anyone provide me with info solely from one side of an issue, and think that many people feel likewise. It doesn't matter whether I agree or disagree with the opinions expressed or think the conclusions are valid; as long as it's from a reasonably credible source (e.g. peer-reviewed paper) I'll post it, and everyone can make that decision for themselves.
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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Thu Dec 20, 2018 5:49 pm

LeftieBiker wrote:It's so hard to be buried in a way that actually makes a positive contribution to the ecosystem (chopped up and fed to a worm bed at an organic garden?) that I have no doubt that donation is the better route, especially for someone who takes any drugs at all other than aspirin. I plan to be cremated, which I think is the best easily-accomplished option.
I'm pretty much ibuprofen-only at this point, but that could obviously change if I develop some condition or injury. As to burial, the ideal from an eating perspective would be if I died in the wilderness on some solo trip, and the carrion and bugs just do their thing in situ. I have looked into organic burial, but so many jurisdictions make that a pain. I think cremation is out for me. While nice and neat, do I really want to be adding carbon to the atmosphere (and likely burning fossil fuels to do so) after I'm gone? Of course, I imagine medical school cadavers or what's left of them are cremated, so maybe there's no winning that one.

Burial at sea is an option, and as we can't survive without the ocean maybe that would be the best choice. As a regular Monterey scuba diver, I'm well aware of the speed with which a complete carcass can be reduced to just a few small bones. Starfish and crabs will do that to a seal or sea lion in four to six weeks, start to finish.
LeftieBiker wrote: Removing animal welfare concerns from the equation, you are left with "What is best for the environment?" That would eliminate any animal products that come from "factory farms" because of the pollution produced and because they breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (They even appear to breed dangerous viruses, by providing an ideal environment, with large numbers of hosts in a small area, for them to develop rapid mutations.) There are many Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms that specialize in meat, dairy and eggs. That is where you should, given your concerns, look for your animal products. As a completely irrelevant-to-you side benefit the welfare of those animals is also usually much better. There being no such thing as a free lunch, at least the only downside there is higher prices.
That is, of course, the trade-off. It's those intensive livestock operations that have made meat cheap and widely available, and which consume far less land in the process. While people like us can afford the higher prices for free-range livestock that is raised without cruelty, it simply isn't possible to provide all the meat that people want to eat at a price they can afford by that method. I see no technical solution to this problem at this point (barring the artificial meat route, and that's currently even more expensive while also being less acceptable to the consumer); only large-scale social change that makes meat-eating far less popular could solve it. Alternatively, there's the Soylent Green approach :o :shock: , but I suspect there'll be even less enthusiasm for that than reducing meat consumption, even though it would allow us to eat meat in a closed cycle without harming other species. :lol:

BTW, when you say you're a vegetarian, do you go the whole hog (sorry, couldn't resist), or are you one of the hyphenated-prefix varieties? Giving up eggs wouldn't be any major sacrifice for me, as I eat an omelet maybe every couple of years, but you'll have to pry cheese and yogurt from my cold, dead hands. So, even though I haven't drunk milk in decades I'd fall into the Lacto-vegetarian subgroup in the unlikely event I ever give up meat. I'm essentially a Flexitarian now, but could see being a Pollotarian (I've never been big on seafood, so that's not an option) without experiencing too much sense of loss. For those unfamiliar with the various types: https://vegetarian-nation.com/resources ... egetarian/
Last edited by GRA on Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:03 pm

That is, of course, the trade-off. It's those intensive livestock operations that have made meat cheap and widely available, and which consume far less land in the process. While people like us can afford the higher prices for free-range livestock that is raised without cruelty, it simply isn't possible to provide all the meat that people want to eat at a price they can afford by that method. I see no technical solution to this problem at this point (barring the artificial meat route, and that's currently even more expensive while also being less acceptable to the consumer); only large-scale social change that makes meat-eating far less popular could solve it.
If one were willing to eat worm "meat" or insect "meat" (which we already do, like it or not) then there isn't a problem with providing meat in a cost effective way. Remember that factory farms just shift environmental costs to the government and consumers, as do most other large corporate sectors. Eating less meat and getting it from a CSA farm wouldn't be much more expensive, especially with "external" costs considered.

I started as a lacto-ovo vegetarian somewhen around 1978, was briefly an ovo-vegetarian (until I saw how willing producers are to lie about their chickens being "free-range") and then was vegan for quite a few years. Having cheated so much on foods that contained some milk and even eggs, though, I eventually just settled on "no meat (which includes seafood) eggs or dairy on the plate, but occasional baked goods or desserts with small amounts of dairy, or even smaller amounts of egg." I'm now also on a low FODMAP diet for gut reasons, so I may as well be vegan again, variety wise.
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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:23 pm

As all the Bay area's Burger Kings now serve Impossible Whoppers, I decided to try one last week. I also had a coupon for a couple of Whopper Jrs. and two small fries, so was able to directly compare by eating a Whopper Jr. first, rinsing out with water, then the Impossible Burger, then the other Whopper Jr. The Impossible Whopper cost a bit more than a regular Whopper, $6.19 vs. $4.89 IIRR, so there's room for improvement there.

As far as appearance goes the Impossible Burger was fine if perhaps a bit dry-looking, as far as I could see it under all the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle slices, and I don't think any meat eater would have a problem with it at least in that situation. I didn't take it apart to look at it because I was trying to view it as someone just eating a burger would.

Impossible foods makes the following claim:
Impossible™ delivers all the flavor, aroma and beefiness of meat from cows.
Based on a single test, I disagree. it's not that it tasted or smelled bad - AFAICT, it had almost no taste or smell at all, and lacked the juiciness of a beef burger when biting into it.

I'm about as far from a foodie as it's possible to be, but it reminded me of my opinion of Domino's pizza: If you closed your eyes, could you tell if you were eating the pizza or the box it came in? A bit of an exaggeration to be sure, but that's what came to mind. It's not objectionable in the way that many of the vegetable "beef" substitutes my mom used to try to get me to eat when I was a teenager were, it was just a complete zero, and all the flavor came from the condiments and vegetables.

If you were to grade the typical fast food burger as A-, higher quality hamburger as A, and grass fed, free range, no antibiotics or growth hormones organic hamburger A+ (only had it once way back when and it was the best hamburger I've ever eaten, a total revelation, but it was god-awful expensive then and probably not much cheaper now), then the Impossible Whopper would rate C+ or at best B-. I can't see anyone not motivated by ideology choosing it over the real thing, so work remains to be done. I suspect the best way to get all the taste, smell, and texture of actual meat without the slaughtering is to grow it in the lab, as some companies are doing and hope to commercialize in the next few years. I think I'll give the Impossible Whopper one more try, to see if I was just unlucky that day.
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Re: GCC: International study finds organic food has larger climate impact than conventional, due to greater land use

Sun Jul 07, 2019 4:46 pm

Seitan (wheat gluten) has the same texture as extremely tender beef, and doesn't have a strong flavor of its own. (What flavor it has is reminiscent of vanilla custard, oddly enough.) I'm surprised that efforts aren't focused on that, unless it's because it can't be patented.
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