Photo by thebittenword.com/Flickr CC
Chefs and farmers gathered recently in Chicago to exchange ideas about making the food system healthier and more environmentally sustainable. The summit was hosted by Chefs Collaborative, a Boston-based non-profit (of which Nicolette is a board member). Panels and workshops ranged from butchering whole hogs to food production's role in global warming.
Nicolette led a discussion focused on meat. Because there seems to be a growing perception that meat is inherently bad for the environment, she posed the question: Can meat be part of a sustainable food system? She led off with her own answer, an emphatic "YES!" It all depends on how and where animals are raised, and how meat is used. "Environmentally beneficial farming mimics natural ecosystems," she said. "Healthy ecosystems involve plants and animals functioning together."
Moreover, environmental statistics about meat production are often misunderstood. Take global warming. Because the greatest portion of meat's global warming contribution comes from deforestation in Latin America, India, and Asia, domestically-produced meat is unconnected to those emissions. Additionally, livestock raised without being fed fertilized crops are unrelated to another large part of the global warming equation: fossil fuel-based agricultural chemicals.