Foodprint: The Surprising Ecological Footprint of a Little Meat


If the thought of eating like a vegetarian to lower your ecological footprint makes your stomach churn, here is some good news. It turns out the diet with the smallest possible footprint * foodprint (for New York state) contains a portion of meat and dairy. That's right, the smallest foodprint is a mix of veggies and meat.

Omnivores now have some serious eco-credentials backing up their taste for blood (so to speak). But where is the beef?Cornell scientist Christian Peters is the lead author on the study showing that although a low-fat vegetarian diet has a much smaller footprint than a typical New Yorker, a little meat can go a long way in reducing the ecological footprint. By taking advantage of crop rotation and better land management strategies, grazing animals actually decrease the amount of land needed to obtain the same calories.

The recommended 'dose' for a sustainable small foodprint is to eat only about 2 oz cooked meat or eggs a day. A single serving of meat is often estimated to be about 3 oz, or the size of a deck of cards. (insert quick math calculation here) This, leaves you with eating about 2 servings of meat every 3 days. Certainly, this small amount will keep our buddy the cow (highland cow pictured) in business, but not in feedlots.

Naturally, your specific foodprint depends on where you live, and the availability of such resources as soil, water, and sunlight. But, this work points out the benefit of having a diverse system of agriculture that takes advantage of your local area's resources, tradition, and taste.

Via:: Cornell Chronicle Online

*Designates an update

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