The Water Footprint of Beef: Industrial Vs. Pasture-Raised

When someone asks us, “What’s the best way to lower my water footprint?” the conversation always drifts to meat eating. That's because meat, especially beef, has a high water footprint – 1,800 gallons of water per pound of beef produced.

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Regardless of how the animals are raised, most of the water footprint of beef comes from how they’re fed, and more specifically the water it took to grow their feed. While they may start out eating grass, in the US, 99 percent of all livestock spends some final portion of their life “finishing” in a feedlot or concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) where they eat mostly corn- and soy-based feed, along with forage like alfalfa. The other 1 percent continue grazing on pastureland and are given very little supplemental feed. Both systems have a very high green water footprint because both rely heavily on rainfall; pastureland grasses and most corn and soy crops are typically not irrigated.

It would be beneficial to have real data from rigorous and comprehensive field studies to help supporters of sustainable food production answer those questions for which there is mainly anecdotal information to answer.

For the full article, please click here.


GRACE Communications Foundation develops innovative strategies to increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current food, water and energy systems, and to promote a more sustainable future.

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Seafood: an affordable choice on Food Day

featured.jpgSo often we hear what not to eat—no sugars, red meat and fried and processed foods. We know we need to eat real, healthy and sustainable food but we don’t always know what are convenient and affordable options. Currently, the average American eats 140 pounds of sugar and only 14.5 pounds of seafood a year, showing our diets need an overhaul. As Food Day is taking place during National Seafood Month, we invite you to take the Healthy Heart Pledge to eat seafood twice a week and learn more about how seafood in its three forms—canned, frozen and fresh—can be affordable healthy options for all of us.


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Commit to Greening Your Diet with the Meatless Monday Food Day Pledge

featured.jpgFood Day is all about bringing awareness to the simple changes we can make to improve our diets, and as the Meatless Monday staff dietitian, I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s theme, “Toward a Greener Diet” and the Meatless Monday Food Day Pledge.

Meatless Monday has a simple tagline: “One day a week, cut out meat for our health and the health of our planet.” It’s a small action that, when adopted broadly, can have a huge impact.


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Green Plate Special: Making Meals at the Largest Restaurant Chains Healthy, Sustainable, Humane and Fair

featured.jpgIn these busy times, we spend nearly half our food budgets eating out. This means that big restaurant chains have an enormous influence on what we eat and how food is produced – and a lot of power to move our food system in a better direction.

Unfortunately, many restaurant chains serve unhealthy, unsustainable food, including factory-farmed meat and dairy that pollute the environment and are produced with routine antibiotics and other harmful chemicals. They also pay workers a dismal wage and provide limited opportunities or benefits for their employees. 


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Four Books for Food Day from Island Press

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Like Food Day, Island Press believes that America has the resources and the will to create a more sustainable and healthy food system. Over the past 30 years, we have teamed up with some of the most innovative thought leaders in public health, urban planning, and environmental conservation to education and inspire the public. In this spirit, we have created a Food Day reading list -- four books from the Island Press library that raise awareness of the key issues of our day: health, food, and the environment. We hope they will inspire you to create positive change, and maybe have a little fun in the process. For more information, please visit https://www.islandpress.org/

Through October 26th, Island Press is offering every book in their catalog for 50% off! Find over 800 titles at this limited-time offer at www.islandpress.org  


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When Consumers Are Confused, Animals Lose

featured.jpgA friend recently texted me a picture of egg cartons and this desperate plea, “tell me which one means the birds lived outside like real chickens!” Each one featured a different claim: “free-range,” “cage-free,” “Organic,” and “raised humanely on Amish farms.” My answer, unfortunately, was that none of those labels guarantee birds really lived outside. “Free-range” doesn’t require any demonstration to the USDA that birds had outside access. “Cage-free” means just that, but birds are often raised indoors. Organic can be meaningful in lots of ways for consumers but we know that some large organic farms are getting by giving their hens as little as a concrete, enclosed porch. And while Amish farms may sound nice, that claim also doesn’t guarantee outdoor access or any standards of animal welfare. 

This is a problem for more than just the birds. 


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Rethinking the Big Mac? Environmental Limits to Meat Production

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Trends point toward a planet that will be even more crowded and tightly bound than ever as the population soars from seven to nine billion and prosperity rises for hundreds of millions by 2050. Such global forecasts have led to vigorous discussions about resource constraints over the last few years. For instance, projections from the “Alternative Worlds” report by the National Intelligence Council posits that the world will need 35 percent more water, 40 percent more energy and 50 percent more food by 2030. In short, more basic nexus resources will be stretched by more people. Throw in the wild card of climate variability and in creeps that uncertain feeling about global prospects.

The way things are going, feeding the world could become even more precarious than it already is. One of the biggest questions around global food security is whether the current industrialized meat production system can meet growing future demand. The resource intensity of meat production can’t be ignored as neighbors in developing countries emulate the meat-heavy Western diet. The symbol for global economic development is more aptly imagined as a steak on every plate. Concern about water for meat production is as essential as it is immense, yet it is just one massive wave in the sea of resources necessary to keep global meat consumption afloat.

For the full article, please click here.


GRACE Communications Foundation develops innovative strategies to increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current food, water and energy systems, and to promote a more sustainable future.

Add your reaction Share

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