Celebrating Earth Day means something different to everyone. For some, it’s an opportunity to hug that tree you’ve been eyeing for the past 364 days. Other folks prefer to celebrate with a long bike ride and a cold shower. But if awareness is your thing, keep reading. We’re going to tell you a bit about why pasture-raised meats generally and Grass Roots meats specifically are an eco-friendly choice for your dinner table.
To summarize, it’s all about the poop. Sure, everybody does it. But when lots of animals, especially large animals like cows and hogs, do it in the same place for a long period of time the waste can wreak havoc on an ecosystem. Part of what makes conventional feedlots an environmental disaster is the excess waste that builds up in a concentrated space. The byproducts from this manure ends up in the soil and local watersheds.
In well managed pasture-based systems, however, there is a symbiotic relationship between the animal and the soil. Manure is more evenly distributed over a larger space. And because the animals till the soil as they graze, the rich nutrients in the excrement can be broken down and absorbed into the soil, ensuring its fertility. (Here’s a link to a study detailing how grazing cattle increase the amount of carbon in the soil, which improves it’s fertility and slows global warming.)
Another fun poop fact: in multi-species systems—which Grass Roots farms are—the varying nutrients from the different kinds of manure awaken inactive seed beds and promote the growth of native grass species.
The short of it is that poop—when well managed—is necessary for a great ecosystem. Which is why each Grass Roots farm monitors its impact on the land and measures its carrying capacity. All our farmers are careful to only produce the number of animals the land can bear. And they all take measures to ensure minimal impact. Here are a few.
- None of our fields are sprayed with chemicals or pesticides—not only because doing so can be harmful to the animals, the land, and the consumers who eat them, but also because organic manure is a safe haven for insects and becomes its own productive ecosystem.
- To prevent erosion, our animals are moved regularly so that they are not destructive to hillsides.
- All our farms establish a buffer zone around water ways to prevent possible contamination. Animals are fenced out of carefully identified areas so that vegetation will remain in place and will protect water sources.
Grass Roots farmers work to minimize our ecological footprint and are committed to appropriate scale and regenerative farming practices. And we encourage all eaters to consider the impact of their food choices. If you want to be a conscientious omnivore, remember: if it’s not meat raised on grass…pass!