I was talking with a friend yesterday, who was admiring my paintings of fruits and vegetables. His family had been cattle farmers and he mentioned a couple of things about beef that I found surprising. 1) Yale's food service claims that sourcing beef from New Zealand has a smaller carbon footprint than sourcing locally. 2) During the latest round of climate negotiations he read that giving up beef would have the biggest impact globally on climate change.
Worse than cars, I wondered? How is that possible?
I found a good post by David Suzuki that includes the source of the New Zealand idea and also explains why increasing consumption of factory farmed beef on a global scale is a dangerous trend: Food and Climate Change
I'm not a beef booster, but since switching to all-local diet in a northern climate I've come to appreciate the value of animal protein between November and May!
I guess, like anything, the real answer is, "It depends." Many farmers around here have a lot of hilly, rocky soil that has been denuded of trees for generations. Grazing is an appropriate use for the land and provides beef and lamb that is low in fat and high in nutrition.
Factory farming, corn-fed cattle, and cheap processed foods seem to be the real culprit. They're bad for our bodies and bad for the planet. Perhaps Yale's food service could partner with regional farmers -- and as a result provide a market for sustainably raised protein?