Top | Sift

Can cows save the planet?

(article, Culinate staff)

There's been much debate in recent years over the role livestock play in climate change. On the one hand, livestock (chiefly cattle) are responsible for a great deal of greenhouse-gas emissions. On the other hand, as a recent Time magazine article pointed out, if we raised livestock without the modern crutches of corn, feedlots, and the like, the animals could actually help sequester carbon instead of increasing it:

bq. It works like this: grass is a perennial. Rotate cattle and other ruminants across pastures full of it, and the animals' grazing will cut the blades — which spurs new growth — while their trampling helps work manure and other decaying organic matter into the soil, turning it into rich humus. The plant's roots also help maintain soil health by retaining water and microbes. And healthy soil keeps carbon dioxide underground and out of the atmosphere.

The big problem? Some 99 percent of beef cattle produced in the U.S. aren't raised in this way.