I have been passionate about the intersection of agriculture, energy and waste for a long time. The environmental issues associated with industrial agriculture – and meat in particular – are intricately linked to climate change, as agriculture contributes roughly 10% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and as much as 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The bulk of these emissions are from large-scale production of corn & soybeans, most of which is used to feed animals kept in confinement feedlots.
There is a better way!
But replacing some of the meat in your diet with tofu or other soy products is probably not it. Soy has become virtually as ubiquitous in our diet as corn has over the last several decades. Beyond your own health are the associated environmental issues: the synthetic fertilizer and diesel fuel required for industrial scale corn and soybean production release carbon at a rate of approximately 1,000 pounds per acre, not to mention the emissions associated with trucking these commodities around the world. Perennial grasslands, on the other hand, actually store carbon at roughly the same rate: 1,000 pounds per acre.
So for example, one of the 350-acre farms with which we work in Vermont is actually a net carbon sink of roughly 175 tons annually. For comparison, the average American home (heating, cooling, cooking, electricity, etc.) is responsible for about 13 tons of carbon emissions each year. So just one of our partner farms can offset the greenhouse gas impact of more than a dozen homes!
But don’t confuse the equation by buying from farms in Missouri or New Zealand. Folks are doing things right, right here in New England! Our little diesel truck often gets over 20 MPG, and it now feeds hundreds of families in the Boston area.
Join us, and help us to grow our partner farms to convert more acreage to perennial pastures – and capture even more carbon in the soil!