A Critique of James McWilliams’ “Myth of Sustainable Meat”

Posted in Healthy Food & Agriculture on April 14th, 2012 by dhawkinsmo

**NEWS FLASH** April 16, 2012 – Joel Salatin just did his own rebuttal.  I am inserting his rebuttal ahead of mine because it is much better. A recent letter from Joel to the NY Times…….

To the New York Times and everyone interested in truth:

The recent editorial by James McWilliams titled THE MYTH OF SUSTAINABLE MEAT contains enough factual errors and skewed assumptions to fill a book and normally I would dismiss this out of hand as too much nonsense to merit a response. But since it specifically mentioned Polyface, a rebuttal is appropriate. For a more comprehensive rebuttal, read the book FOLKS, THIS AIN’T NORMAL.

Let’s go point by point. First, that grass grazing cows emit more methane than grain-fed. This is factually false. Actually, the amount of methane emitted by fermentation is the same whether it occurs in the cow or outside. Whether the feed is eaten by an herbivore or left to rot on its own, the methane generated is identical. Wetlands emit some 95 percent of all methane in the world; herbivores are insignificant enough to not even merit consideration. Anyone who really wants to stop methane needs to start draining wetlands. Quick, or we’ll all perish. I assume he’s figuring that since it takes longer to grow a beef on grass than on grain, the difference in time adds days to the emissions. But grain production carries a host of maladies far worse than methane. This is simply cherry-picking one negative out of many positives to smear the foundation of how soil builds: herbivore pruning, perennial disturbance-rest cycles, solar-grown biomass, and decomposition. This is like demonizing marriage because a good one will include some arguments. Read more »