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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

So Much Misinformation

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By Dennis Sun

As everyone knows, being in an agriculture business is never easy, especially for those in crops or livestock. This summer’s drought and last week’s snowstorm is an easy reminder.

We can live with nature, we’re used to it. However, it’s hard to take when news articles are published about ag and are just plain wrong. Such is the case with an article I recently read in the Reader’s Digest

This article was initially published in the New York Times and re-printed in the Reader’s Digest. The Reader’s Digest has always been a magazine one could read from cover to cover for humor and good information. It is entertaining and informative, and we trusted the information to be true. However, this time I will let you be the judge. 

The article was titled, “How To Eat Better For The Planet,” so I’m sure you know where this is going. 

The article was made up of questions and answers, starting with, “Does what I eat have an effect on climate change? Yes. The world’s food system is responsible for about one-quarter of the planet-warming greenhouse gases humans generate each year.”

Another question asked, “Which foods have the largest impact? In general, beef and lamb have the biggest climate footprint per gram of protein. Livestock accounts for roughly the same amount of emissions as all the cars, trucks, airplanes and ships in the world today, while plant-based foods like beans, pulses, grains and soy tend to have smaller effect. Pork, chicken, eggs and mollusks such as clams, oysters and scallops are somewhere in the middle.” 

The article continues, “These are only averages. Beef raised in the United States produces generally fewer emissions than beef raised in Brazil or Argentina. And, certain cheeses can have a larger greenhouse impact than a lamb chop.”

“Is there a simple food choice I can make that would reduce my climate footprint?” the article asks. “Consuming less red meat and dairy will typically have the biggest effect for most people in wealthy countries. A number of studies have concluded people who eat a meat-heavy diet could shrink their food-related footprint by one third or more by moving to a vegetarian diet.”

“Why does meat have such a big effect on the climate?” the article continues. “It’s often more efficient to grow crops for humans to eat than it is to grow crops for animals to eat and then turn those animals into food for humans.”

The article also says, “Beef and lamb have an especially large climate footprint for another reason – the stomachs of cows and sheep contain bacteria to help them digest grass and other foods. But, those bacteria create methane which is then released through burps and flatulence.”

Well, thank the Good Lord we have checkoffs to combat these far-out mistruths. It is money well spent. Families living in the middle of New York City have no reason to disbelieve this article. They never have a chance to hear or read about the benefits of livestock grazing such as carbon capture or fire suppression. 

I bet people on the West Coast watching all the fires burn wish they had more grazing livestock and forest management. Climate change, along with nature’s drought and mismanaged forests have created quite a tragedy – not to mention all the greenhouse gases. What a climate footprint! They need our prayers.

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