In the last few years, and even more in the last few weeks, there has been great discussion and great debates on what is the “best”, the “healthiest” and “most sustainable” diet.
I am going to share with you Date Creeks 2 cents on the matter.
Right here I will admit I don’t believe there is one diet that is right for every body. Some of us do well on a paleo diet, others do well on a plant-based diet and even others eat lots of grains or a lot of meat. Every body is different!
While I am not satisfied without potatoes; my mother thrives best on meat, Savannah loves her vegetables, Stefan will not touch a salad.
A lot of debate has come out whether chicken and pork are more "sustainable" than ruminants (red meat) such as cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo and deer. I have done my own research and I can’t say I agree. Pork and chicken are often portrayed to better than cattle and sheep, when (cattle) are fed or finished on grain. This is more thinking along the lines of the damage feedlots are known to cause to their surrounding environments (manure lagoons, importing grains, soy or corn and the inefficient production of bovine to the burger you find at your local supermarket.) Truthfully, beef cattle spend about 1/3 of their life in a feedlot whereas pigs and chickens will be born, raised and processed without feeling freedom.
As you very well know I’m talking about grass-fed; grass raised, grass-finished — grass all the way! You and I know how beneficial it is to raise our cattle the way they were meant to; on pasture, from start to finish. During their life on pasture or prairies, they are a magnificent beast of carbon draw down!
Ruminants have a very unique way of eating; they have a bacteria in their stomach which allows them to eat grass and digest it, turning the plant mass into calories. (Fun Fact: Cattle do not actually gain weight or get energy from the grass itself, but rather the bacteria or gut flora, that converts the blades of grass into energy. They digest the dead bacteria, and it is replaced every 20 minutes or so — Which is why cattle are constantly spotted “chewing cud” to digest the tough grasses).
As we know there is grass in just about every corner of this planet, hence why deer are native to a large majority of Earth. Ruminants are one of the few animals who can solely live off grass and shrubs. A lot of these nutrients are only available to humans after the ruminant turns it into energy for their system - in time becomes the meat that us humans can consume.
Before Europeans settled North America there was an estimated 30 - 100 MILLION Bison roaming the plain -which are ruminants- who eat grass. (Look into 'Megafauna'!)
Guess what? These bison had no inputs! No one was feeding them an unnatural diet, confining them. They had been thundering across the plains for thousands of years; self-sufficient, along with deer, elk, caribou and many other ruminants.
Chickens and other poultry require more than grass. They do not have the biological makeup to live solely on grass. (Eh-ehm, or strictly vegetarian.) They need bugs and seeds and other things to survive, a lot like pigs. They have just ONE stomach, like us, and need to find their nutrition through various sources.
Savannah and I have traveled quite extensively and the only place I’ve come across chickens that have survived living wild is in Kauai, Hawaii. Those little guys are thriving! Maybe some of you have seen this, they are all over the place. Quite funny actually! It's a temperate climate with plenty of fruit, bugs, seeds — all year long. There are not very many places out where they can survive. Aside from their original habitat, India and East Asia. So, to a raise these two-legged birds that CAN NOT fly, by the thousands, we need to grow their feed. What is a cheap crop to grow? Soy, corn and wheat.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up chicken anytime soon. I think they are very funny critters and quite tasty! Just food for thought!
Pigs, like wild boar, also require more than grass. Yes, they can and will eat grass, they quite like it! They cannot survive off of grass alone. As “rooting” animals they need seeds, nuts or roots. Or, there is the pork in most grocery stores, fed grains (back at the soy, corn and wheat again!) Which we need to grow. Surprisingly, there are quite a few places where pigs are native, such as Southern Europe and places in Asia. Believe it or not, domesticated pigs have made out pretty well in Texas. Long ago escaping and starting out on their own, and they do very well. Let this show that pigs do not NEED the grains they are fed, but it is an inexpensive and loosely managed way to fatten animals. (Look into Mangalica pigs!)
Due to mountain ranges, vast rivers, extreme weather, cities, irresponsible agriculture combined - let us say that about half of the planet is not suitable for crop growth.
What does grow? On the steep sides of those mountains or in that soil that is to sandy or salty to grow crops… GRASS! What can we use that for?
Our growing population needs food. I believe at some point we will be using about all of the worlds surface to supply food. I hope I’m not around to see that day!
What can we do to feed our people, heal our planet and our bodies, treat our livestock with respect?
I am not saying that my opinion is the only one that matters, or is even right. What I hope you can walk away with, is to make your own educated opinion.
Do your research.
By all means do what works best for you!