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What is the Environmental Impact of Eating Meat? – Discussion Continues

Source: “The Great Meat Debate” ~Common Ground Kansas

In February, 2012, I wrote an article about my conversion from vegetarian to omnivore: Is Eating Meat Sustainable?. Days before Easter, 2012, I was alerted of the New York Times essay contest, “Calling All Carnivores; Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat: A Contest”. The elite panel of judges compelled me to enter: Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer, Peter Singer, and Andrew Light. In June, 2012, I published my submittal through Biocadence: What is Ethical Eating?… Is Eating Meat Ethical?. I have been delighted by this discussion, as it has continued amongst Biocadence followers. Much to my surprise, Google searches have yielded the Biocadence blog as the #1 result for queries such as: Is Eating meat sustainable? and What is the truth about eating meat and sustainability? 

Source: Earth Policy Institute
Credit: Angela Wong / NPR

One especially well-read follower sent me a link to the article: Visualizing A Nation of Meat Eaters : NPR. She prompted the vital question, “Even if animals are raised kindly, they still require so much resource – how does this influence the ethics debate?” I think it is important that every intellect be involved in this curriculum. Please share your thoughts. I include my response below, and ask for the discussion to continue!


I would love for statistics and arguments used in the meat ethics debate to involve many more variables, including but not limited to the following:

~ The soil/ruminant relationship and it’s incredible carbon sequestering capacity!!!! When these (only recently forgotten) techniques are embraced, beef/water ratios can lower from 1 lb/2500-6000 lbs to 1 lb/122 lbs (Source: The Vegetarian Myth).

~ The devastating impact that feed as “food” has on energy-use, the environment AND nutrition.

~ The ENORMOUS disparity between energy-use associated with CAFOs (consider import/export of goods to maintain operation, cesspit emissions, feed as “food”, antibiotics, etc.) vs. polyculture/beyond-organic farms (requiring a tiny sliver of resources necessary for CAFO operations). See Joel Salatin at Tara Firma Farms for a profile of the beyond-organic operation in Petaluma, CA. For more, check out my tour of Tara Firma Farms.

~ The negative impact of grain/gluten/legumes/sugar in many human beings, and resulting energy-use associated with healthcare/pharmaceuticals. There are increasingly convincing arguments that prevelant illnesses may be linked to diets consisting of these foods.

~ The depletion of soil (a carbon sequestering magician) associated with farming of annuals (ex: grains) and mono-crops, and the environmentally destructive potential of farming without ruminants, considering our current population/land ratio.

~ The energy and environmental costs of global relations and global conflict: while soy and corn are subsidized and used as ingredients in artificially inexpensive/low nutrient food-like exports, they are inextricably tied to global relations and global conflict.

~ The disparity between the amount of meat in demand and the amount of meat that is necessary, especially in a diet designed to free the body of the “hunger”-like withdrawals that can be associated with a diet heavy in grain/wheat/gluten/legumes.

In conclusion, I think that it is short-sighted to educate the masses with statistics that include energy-use data from CAFOs, without including data about the above mentioned issues. The quantity of meat, and how the meat is raised are so critical to ethical eating. I’m really excited to see how the curriculum evolves as more compassionate intellect is devoted to it!!!

A few quotes from books I recommend:

“In fact, the cow, or domestic herbivore if you will, is the most efficacious soil-building, hydrology-cycling, carbon-sequestering tool at the planet’s disposal. Yes, the cow has done a tremendous amount of damage. But don’t blame the cow. The managers of the cow have been and continue to be the problem. The same animal mismanaged to abuse the ecology is the greatest hope and salvation to heal the ecology.” ~ Joel Salatin, author of Folks, this ain’t normal

“It is my conviction that growing annual grains is an activity that cannot be redeemed. It requires wholesale extermination of ecosystems–the land has to be cleared of all life. It destroys the soil because the soil is bared–and it has to be bared to grow annuals.” Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth

Written by Annie Tichenor, Founder of Biocadence, LLC.


Common Ground Kansas

Visualizing A Nation of Meat Eaters : NPR

The Vegetarian Myth

Joel Salatin at Tara Firma Farms

Folks, this ain’t normal

Quicklinks to Most Popular Biocadence Articles:

“The Hunger Games”… Fiction or Non-Fiction?

What is Ethical Eating?… Is Eating Meat Ethical?

Use Biodegrable Trash Bags!

Embracing the Fulcrum: Reconciling My Belief in the Law of Attraction With My Sustainable Living Transition

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What Do You Gift a Sustainable Living Transitionist for His/Her Birthday? Tara Firma Farms & Farmstead, Here We Come!!!

How does a recovering over-consumer celebrate her birthday? My birthday just passed and I’m thrilled to share my pictures and experience. My husband, Dan, is exceptional at gift giving, because he thinks about the gift recipient’s interests through the process. Dan researched a name I mention often (Joel Salatin), scouting out Salatin’s interactions with California farms. He gifted me a tour of  a local farm that implements many Polyface Farms strategies: Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma, CA.

Founder, farmer, mother and mentor Tara Smith guided our group. She began the tour by sharing the experience that forked her road, leading her to launch Tara Firma Farms in 2009. She and her husband were working hard and steady in the corporate life, when they were introduced to Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. Tara smiled humbly as she described her son’s sentient response to her transition to sustainable living language (joyfully obsessive as it can be). “Stop talking about it, and just do it Mom!”, he said. Craig and Tara Smith sold the catamaran they used for their touring business in the Caribbean, and bought a farm in Petaluma, CA!

Enjoy these lively pictures, by my talented husband, Dan Tichenor. Join us on my Tara Firma Farms birthday tour!

What a farm! It inspires me to see what the Smith family has built since 2009!

After our farm tour we lunched at Farmstead, in St. Helena. Simple, clean, farm-to-table ingredients make a delicious meal. Impeccable service adds delight, a peacefully slow garden walk makes the soul smile, and a boy soaking his head in the restaurant fountain gives a giggle!

What an amazing birthday!!!! In addition to this fantastic experience, I received other gifts, from loved ones who have clearly noticed my sustainable living interests. My husband spoiled me with a large planter (half wine barrel) for our small shaded porch. My reading teaches me that I may have success with leafy greens on a shaded porch… maybe herbs. Edible is a must! Flowers can come later… maybe:)! This will be my first garden, porch or otherwise, and I will appreciate all comments, thoughts, and suggestions! Mr. Dan also did research on eco-friendly cookware and presented me with his findings. Any readers who’ve used ManPans, or any other eco-seasoned cookware, please message me with your thoughts! From friends and family:

  • The WonderWash portable washing machine! I promise pictures, as I will assemble this next week!
  • T-shirts by Locally Grown Clothing Company. Stylish, soft, and a perfect fit!
  • Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
  • A Microwave Baked Potato Pouch!!
  • A long time friend and soul sister went to the farmer’s market for in-season, local produce and gluten free tortillas, and cooked enchiladas for us in my kitchen. After eating we wrote song lyrics for hours!!!! What a gift! I just finished the last of the enchiladas yesterday:)!

What do you gift to your loved ones who are in sustainable living transition and/or over-consumption recovery? Biocadence has already received great feedback from followers! David Dixon of Plant And Plantcare would like an adobe brick oven! Mr. Dixon shares that he and his wife are planning to build a “pole barn in the spring… [they] are closing it in with earth bag framing… this will be [their] housing… the brick oven will go in the lean-to patio… [they] will use it for heating and cooking…”. My homesteading, permaculture, and blogging friend Joyness Sparkles shares that her husband LOVES his old-fashioned shaving kit, and will never go back to electric or disposable shavers!!! She adds that she would love a nap for her birthday. She is one of the hardest working sustainable living transitionists I know. A nap, and two, and three! Take them, dear Joyness! My favorite pencil-drawing artist, Risa Jenner, shares that she would love reusable sandwich bags! Good thinking Risa!!!! I am very excited to read more input, as the art of gift-giving evolves for our recovering over-consumer community!!!

To my readers outside of Northern California (as most of you are), I have a special message for you! When I began researching beyond organic farming, homesteading and permaculture, I had trouble finding a local farm similar to Polyface Farms. I didn’t expect that my husband would find it for my birthday, over a year later! If you are looking for a local farm with integrity and beyond organic practices, don’t stop! If it doesn’t exist in your area today, it will soon. The movement is growing, folks! In the meantime, pick up a pre-owned copy of Novella Carpenter’s Farm City and consider starting your own small operation!

I highly recommend the Tara Firma CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.  Meat, dairy, and produce combos (which I have not seen before in a CSA) represent beyond organic farming models that are supported by Tara Firma Farms, as well as the farms they partner with to supplement their CSA boxes! Tara Firma makes an organized box drop in Oakland, CA, which I intend to use for now. To my Walnut Creek, CA friends who are interested in nutrition, sustainable eating, and farm animal welfare– message me if you would consider ordering consistently from the Tara Firma Farms CSA. Let’s come together, and give cause for a Walnut Creek/East Bay drop to be added to the Tara Firma CSA route!

Quicklinks to Most Popular Biocadence Articles:

“The Hunger Games”… Fiction or Non-Fiction?

What is Ethical Eating?… Is Eating Meat Ethical?

Use Biodegrable Trash Bags!

Embracing the Fulcrum: Reconciling My Belief in the Law of Attraction With My Sustainable Living Transition

Our goal is to reach 1000 FaceBook page likes (click here)! “Liking” our page will include our industry related news updates and musings in your newsfeed (1-3/day). If you already “like” it, consider sharing our content with your friends, using the one click sharing buttons below. We appreciate your help in reaching our goals!

How to Handle “Too Much” Produce?! Creative Solutions for a Food Surplus “Mistake”

A few weeks ago, we brought home a huge Farmer’s Market bounty, forgetting that our CSA box was scheduled to arrive the same week! How did we handle all that produce?

Quicklinks to Most Popular Biocadence Articles:

“The Hunger Games”… Fiction or Non-Fiction?

What is Ethical Eating?… Is Eating Meat Ethical?

Use Biodegrable Trash Bags!

Embracing the Fulcrum: Reconciling My Belief in the Law of Attraction With My Sustainable Living Transition

Our goal is to reach 1000 FaceBook page likes (click here)! “Liking” our page will include our industry related news updates and musings in your newsfeed (1-3/day). If you already “like” it, consider sharing our content with your friends, using the one click sharing buttons below. We appreciate your help in reaching our goals!

Sustainable Food Photography

What is sustainable eating?

There are many different answers to this question. I’ve certainly written a few articles on the subject!! While answers of all sorts resonate to me, I’m increasingly attached to the question. Why? Because the answer is evolving, and will continue to evolve. The important thing is that the question (and the resulting data that emerges) prompts a process that will enrich all of our lives. Exploration of sustainable eating is what is most important. It presents a curriculum that we must all participate in.

Following is a tiny, simplified summary of what drives my sustainable eating choices today.  For more detail, visit my article: What Is Ethical Eating?… Is Eating Meat Ethical?

…What? Where? How?…

What we eat is important, yes. For now, the data I’ve collected has led me to a diet of many vegetables, a little bit of meat, and as few grains as possible. Where: the source of ingredients is critical, and an arguably more important focus-point than the “what” (as the “where” determines the “what” in a locavore diet). How: feeding soil is essential, and the process of re-engagement with our food sources is sacred.

Achieving joy as I adjust my diet is a huge priority, because behaviorally sustainable adjustments will impact my footprint more than large adjustments made once or twice. I’ve been delighted to find that this achievement is as natural as the food I’m ingesting. I rarely use recipes because my meals are built around the following questions:

What is in season? What is local? What is fresh? What is in my kitchen today? How can I ensure that I do not waste the fresh food I have?

The answers to these questions create the recipes. I retreat from the equation and fall into an inevitable cadence. The resulting meals feed not only my husband and I, but purpose, process, intention, ambition, compassion… AND FLAVOR GALORE!

Here are some photos I’ve taken in the last week, in an effort to chronicle the experience. Please share your thoughts! If you enjoy this peek into my sustainable eating endeavors, I will be sure to make it a recurring theme!

Our goal is to reach 1000 FaceBook page likes (click here)! “Liking” our page will include our industry related news updates and musings in your newsfeed (1-3/day). If you already “like” it, consider sharing our content with your friends, using the one click sharing buttons below. We appreciate your help in reaching our goals!

Fork the Road!

Hello Biocadence friends! This week, I write about a particularly special catalyst that forked my road and sent me along the path of the sustainable living transitionist. It is important to treasure these defining moments. If we let them, they will connect the fabric of our stories and hold post as the sentinels of our most venerable ambitions.

In October 2010, my husband and I visited Bali. After one day on Bali the blood pumping through my system seemed to sparkle, my steps felt light, and my spirit was lifted into the puffy clouds of gratitude.  Was it the island air? The fantastic food? The simple freedom of vacation? The sound of the ocean? Had someone drugged me? As 2010 recedes further into the past, I become more convinced that a good old fashioned epiphany and the humble grace of the Balinese people induced my cataclysmic euphoria.

Early in our visit, we toured the Green School. We were led through the grounds by Co-Founder and bamboo enthusiast, John Hardy. During the tour I felt a physical and emotional harmony. My body understood what Mr. Hardy was illustrating. I wanted to jump and cartwheel and scream: “I remember! I remember!” A familiarity with the knowledge of our ancestors had been renewed! The bounty of simplicity and the sweetness of giving back to the soil crystallized. I was positively tickled to learn of a curriculum that honors these principals as sacred and fundamental!

The Green School practices Bio-Intensive Gardening strategies, as a vessel for teaching and feeding the students and residents. In 2010, I did not fully understand Mr. Hardy’s commentary as he pointed to the edible landscaping to the left, to the right and straight ahead! In my examinations of sustainable solutions to the consequences of over-consumerism, I’m steadily pulled back to the soil for answers and reminded of my Green School tour. Jack Johnson’s lyrics echo: “Puzzle pieces in the ground, but no one ever seems to be digging […] the answers could be found, we could learn from digging down, but no one ever seems to be digging”. Founders John and Cynthia Hardy have been “digging“, to be sure!

The Green School is a boarding school that integrates sustainability into the curriculum while focusing on Math, Science and English. “We want children to develop spiritual awareness and emotional intuition, and to encourage them to be in awe of life’s possibilities.” (Source: 20% of the student population is reserved for scholarship students from Bali and other Indonesian Islands (Click to read about sponsoring a student). The Green School also offers weekend and week-long Green Camp experiences for families and/or individuals!

I yearn to return to the Green School. Until I can visit Bali for months at a time, I am sobered by my inability to reconcile 36 hours of round trip flying with my footprint goal. For now, I choose to serenade the memory instead.

As I reminisce, I will share images from the tour with you! **All photos were taken by my talented husband and artful photographer, Dan Tichenor.

Welcome Bridge:

Structures are open air and built with bamboo:

Edible landscaping covers the property:

Administration building. “No Shoes Please”!:

When it’s too warm for outdoor learning, the “indoor” classroom is used. A small air conditioning unit pumps cold air into a canvas shell that is attached to the floor around a classroom of desks:

“The only way to make truly sustainable architectures is to connect our buildings to nature – not insulate them from it!” – Rachel Armstrong

While I record personal triumphs, hiccups and day-in-the-life learnings, I am slowly concocting not only a job for myself, but a purpose. I am fueled by remembering the fork in my road. Creating Biocadence is a deluge of ferociously exhilarating liberation. The reality of the challenge strikes, evoking a gasp. The water plunges over me.  The chilling refreshment frees me. I see vivid abundance and possibility in my closed lids. I lift my chin from the current of daily life and calmly breathe through smiling lips. As the rush reverberates, I offer appreciation to the Green School!

Please support Biocadence by subscribing to this blog, “sharing” my content using the one-click buttons below, following the Biocadence Facebook page, by “liking” it, and by strutting your sustainable self and showing the world that living more sustainably is the way to go!

Quicklink to previous posts:

Triumphs AND Hiccups

Reusable Paper Towels

Recycle Your Recycled Toothbrush

Is Eating Meat Sustainable?

Dance to an Earth-Beat

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