14 votes

Is anyone else interested in (or actively pursuing) meat from more ethical and sustainable sources?

I consider both industrial meat production and veganism to be sub-optimal across all dimensions. I've recently jumped into this growing niche market for more sustainable and ethical meat. It's a little more pricey, unless you buy in bulk (e.g. 1/4 to full cow at a time), but I think it's worth it in the end.

I'm looking to share sources of info and network of producers/farms in this regard. Allan Savory has the Savory Institute which I found to be a good start. Though FYI there have been back-and-forth essays written about the criticism and defense of these practices (too many to post here but easy to find in the two above links).

I found one local family-operated farm that practices e.g. "organic" (in this case no herb/pest/fungi-cide) farming (crops for the animals), legitimate free-roaming chickens and sustainable land management that allows soil and ecology equilibration (reducing fertilizer use and subsequent runoff). Plus, buying and directly supporting local farmers and ranchers is always a plus!

EDIT: I foresee this thread being hijacked towards a discussion about how "meat is bad" and how we eat too much meat etc. I am being narrow here because I want to be pragmatic, rather than opine on global economics and dietary needs.

14 comments

  1. [5]
    45930
    Link
    I don't pay too much attention to this stuff aside from sometimes paying more at the grocery store for something with some labels on it (which I mostly assume are worthless but it makes me feel...

    I don't pay too much attention to this stuff aside from sometimes paying more at the grocery store for something with some labels on it (which I mostly assume are worthless but it makes me feel better about it).

    The reason I'm not super bullish on your approach is it doesn't work if everyone does it. You're sort of bringing it back to pre factory farming, but haven't solved the underlying issue that created the need for more "efficient" farming in the first place. To produce enough meat for everyone "your way" would require too much farm land, and too many farmers. The only difference is now animals raised properly in the old style are a "premium product" so there is enough land to do it for the people who are willing to pay more. If too many people were willing to pay more, there wouldn't be enough.

    Basically what I'm getting at is I don't see a way around "eating less or no meat" as a solution to meat-related issues in the long run. As someone who loves meat, this makes me sad. Maybe some kind of combination would work where all meat comes from your style of farmers but there just isn't very much and it becomes an extreme luxury. But at that point it's not really in the realm of possible.

    4 votes
    1. cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Lab grown meat is about the only possible way, IMO. Vegetable-based meat substitutes too (although that is technically eating less meat ;), which is why I was super excited for the Beyond Burger...

      I don't see a way around "eating less or no meat" as a solution to meat-related issues in the long run

      Lab grown meat is about the only possible way, IMO. Vegetable-based meat substitutes too (although that is technically eating less meat ;), which is why I was super excited for the Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger to finally arrive here in Canada. Even though I still much prefer my homemade black bean burger as a burger alternative, they take some effort and planning to make properly, so the beyond burger is still "good enough" for when I am feeling lazy and want a burger I can just throw on the grill. Hopefully one day lab grown meat will be as affordable though, since there is just no substitute for "real" meat sometimes, especially the cured kind.

      3 votes
    2. JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      I never said anything about less meat. I only mentioned veganism. I omitted any mention of my other strategies, including reduced meat consumption, because I didn't want to write a generic rant on...

      Basically what I'm getting at is I don't see a way around "eating less or no meat" as a solution to meat-related issues in the long run.

      I never said anything about less meat. I only mentioned veganism. I omitted any mention of my other strategies, including reduced meat consumption, because I didn't want to write a generic rant on the subject. I'm specifically looking to discuss alternative sources of meat.

      For the record, I think reduced meat consumption is important. By no means is what I am asking a substitute for that. I would (and have the intention to) enthusiastically trade quantity for quality.

      3 votes
    3. [2]
      mike10010100
      Link Parent
      But the shift towards meat as a "luxury" product means that vegetable substitutes would gain marketshare and mindshare, no? Which would shift the entire market towards locally sourced luxury meat...

      The only difference is now animals raised properly in the old style are a "premium product" so there is enough land to do it for the people who are willing to pay more. If too many people were willing to pay more, there wouldn't be enough.

      But the shift towards meat as a "luxury" product means that vegetable substitutes would gain marketshare and mindshare, no? Which would shift the entire market towards locally sourced luxury meat items (thus reducing supply chain length) and general-availability vegetable products, which would be a fantastic chip out of climate change.

      2 votes
      1. 45930
        Link Parent
        Yes but the hypothetical is if everyone decided to reject factory farming. OP mentioned that his meat is more expensive, but if you buy in bulk it's not so bad. But that's with very little...

        Yes but the hypothetical is if everyone decided to reject factory farming. OP mentioned that his meat is more expensive, but if you buy in bulk it's not so bad. But that's with very little interest in such things. As it stands now, people that are pretty well off can just make the personal decision to pay a little more and consume more sustainable meat.

        The poor are very unlikely to make such a tradeoff voluntarily. Someone who buys whatever chicken is on sale so they can feed their families meat at all will not choose to buy chickens from a local organic farmer instead. Potentially they will choose to not eat chicken. That would be generally positive for environment. I'm just saying their choice to not eat chicken in the first place, or decide that they will only eat expensive premium chicken (and never being able to afford it) is essentially the same thing.

        I guess I can see a world where there's a balance and some significant minority of people like OP only eat premium meat, and people who can't afford to do otherwise continue eating factory meat. But I don't see what that does at the end of the day. Unless that significant minority of luxury meat eaters also meaningfully limits their intake of meat (not implied by eating higher quality meat, and higher quality meat is not a prerequisite to do this), then there's no real change in outcome other than some family farmers make more money. And your money stays local and is used responsibly. I'm not totally discounting that. I buy a lot of clothes that are made in USA or in a foreign factory with reputable labor practices. I end up spending more per item and buy fewer items overall than I used to. But the main thing is reduced consumption. Like I could buy fewer cheap clothes just as well as fewer expensive clothes. I think meat is the same way. Maybe it's a trick on your own mind to eat less of something expensive feels like you're trading something off rather than just eating less.

  2. [2]
    Gyrfalcon
    Link
    This is something I learned a bit about in this article, which you may find interesting.

    This is something I learned a bit about in this article, which you may find interesting.

    2 votes
    1. JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      Yea, TBH those kind of people (ex-vegans) are what made me think about this. I was never a vegan but there are some aspects that I agreed and found common ground. Usually the most thoughtful...

      Yea, TBH those kind of people (ex-vegans) are what made me think about this. I was never a vegan but there are some aspects that I agreed and found common ground. Usually the most thoughtful omnivores I've known.

  3. [3]
    Alfred
    Link
    I've recently stopped eating beef, (specifically Brazilian beef), and I'm looking at splitting an order from this local-to-me farm with friends. I have found its actually a lot harder to avoid...

    I've recently stopped eating beef, (specifically Brazilian beef), and I'm looking at splitting an order from this local-to-me farm with friends.

    I have found its actually a lot harder to avoid beef with dubious origins, and in the US a lot of fast food beef comes from a cow in Brazil, or from the parent company of the owners of cows in Brazil.

    Our order hasn't come from the farm yet, but I've taken to bringing/eating black bean burgers now and I really like the brand I buy.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      Oh nice! Regarding the Brazilian beef, I find that the majority of it is in the domain of fast food. At least where I live, where there is a large culture of ranching, most decent restaurants make...

      Oh nice! Regarding the Brazilian beef, I find that the majority of it is in the domain of fast food. At least where I live, where there is a large culture of ranching, most decent restaurants make their own patties from local beef. So that might be something worth asking your server next time you want a burger.

      1. Alfred
        Link Parent
        I'll definitely keep it in mind to ask.

        I'll definitely keep it in mind to ask.

  4. [2]
    EightRoundsRapid
    (edited )
    Link
    I do a lot of my food shopping through a thing called Neighbourfood. It's all local produce, and traceable if that's an important aspect of anyone's consumption. The pickup point at my local pub...

    I do a lot of my food shopping through a thing called Neighbourfood. It's all local produce, and traceable if that's an important aspect of anyone's consumption. The pickup point at my local pub is a very convenient five minute walk away. Three of those minutes involve waiting to cross a road.

    2 votes
    1. JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      Oh nice! We have one or two delivery-based organizations that do this. Every two weeks they drop off enough produce for 2 people (well, it you eat a lot of veggies) and then you leave your empty...

      Oh nice! We have one or two delivery-based organizations that do this. Every two weeks they drop off enough produce for 2 people (well, it you eat a lot of veggies) and then you leave your empty bin out the following drop off time. Traceability is interesting, not something I thought of before.

      2 votes
  5. [2]
    acdw
    Link
    If you're in the Portland (OR) area, try looking at Camas Davis's work -- I read a book by her called Killing It about how she became an ethical-as-possible butcher and now teaches classes. Her...

    If you're in the Portland (OR) area, try looking at Camas Davis's work -- I read a book by her called Killing It about how she became an ethical-as-possible butcher and now teaches classes. Her website probably has links and stuff; I think her book does in an appendix.

    2 votes
    1. JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      Oh nice! Thanks for that. I am definitely interested in learning from professionals / role models in this area.

      Oh nice! Thanks for that. I am definitely interested in learning from professionals / role models in this area.

      2 votes