Jobs for the Boys

Chatting in Notso Bigtown’s only health food shop* about their Jacob sheep (we’d bought some chops from one of their flock last week) the conversation turned to the carbon footprint – hoofprint? – of grass-fed versus non-grass-fed meat and milk. I got lost around about the point where he mentioned methane digesters  – it was a bit like an episode of the Archers, back when the Archers had some farming in it – but I gathered that the emissions for grass-reared meat are much lower than the scary headline figures for meat generally. Of course, he would say that, seeing as that’s what he’s selling, (and we would believe him, seeing as that’s what we like eating) but it did seem as though even quite intensive meat and milk production could be made greener with a bit of management.

‘Well,’ I said hopefully, ‘if they start putting the carbon footprint on the labels in the supermarket, that will help keep emissions down.’

‘Not really,’ he said. ‘Then they’ll just get consultants in to look at the figures and massage the footprints down to something acceptable.’

Carbon-footprint masseur – there‘s a job title for the Noughties. Or, given that the decade is almost done, the Teenies, or whatever we’re calling the next one.

*Unless you count the bakery – doughnuts are healthy, right?

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8 Responses to Jobs for the Boys

  1. Jenny says:

    ‘lower for grass-fed’? Oooo, MOST of NZ’s cows are grass fed, happily roaming the hills at random and our rather poor emissions rating is due to the number of our cows. Recently there has been controversy about some barn-raised cows an enterprising European farmer has started raising here. The idea being to cram even more hoofs into the virtual paddock, as it were. I hate to think what our rating might become should farming head in that direction.

  2. disgruntled says:

    I read somewhere that it’s more environmentally sound to buy New Zealand lamb and ship it over here, than to buy intensively raised lamb here. But all our sheep roam happily over the hills round us too, so I think we’re all right.

  3. Jenny says:

    Whew. Although, does the lamb you don’t know taste better?

  4. The PaperBoy says:

    You aren’t actually surprised that Sainscos and Morrisda woud stoop so low as to massage any of their figures are you?

    Can’t beat quality local fare though – it’s fantastic to be able to go into the butchers and him have a list of the farms from which his produce has come and in the case of my preferred butcher – Learmonth’s in Jedburgh (it’s worth a detour if you’re passing by for the bacon and award-winning pies and bridies – no connection other than being unable to pass it without nipping in for something) they’re never more than 15 miles from the shop in my experience.

    Local food for local people – and tastes all the better for being able to go and satisfy yourself that the animals are in favourable conditions. Oddly I believe nothing that any major corporation tries to tell me.

    Cynical? Moi? You betcha!

  5. I am deeply suspicious of supermarket food. I really like to know where it came from – usually. I am lucky to live in an area where I can buy local food at farmers’ markets, and fish from the waterside.
    My daughter lives across the road from Edinburgh farmers’ market. Feel sorry for those who have no option but to buy everything wrapped in shrink wrap.

  6. disgruntled says:

    The problem is that as the big boys sell the bulk of the food that’s consumed in this country, they’re the ones who have to actually improve things in order to make a difference.

  7. The PaperBoy says:

    The real problem is that Joe Q. Public is more concerned with filling his face as quickly (no time to cook, must zap in the microwave) and conveniently (no time to shop, must drive to big supermarket shed and fill trolley quick) as possible and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about where it comes from (whether it’s from “up the road” or the other side of the world), how it got there (many supermarkets do not allow for local produce to be delivered locally – so even if they have something from 5 minutes up the road, it’s been on a 200 mile round trip to their depot) nor what’s in it nor what it costs neither in cash, animal welfare nor any other concern.

    At least that’s the only possible explanation that I can rationalise for the monumental number of ready meals that are sold packed with trans-fats, salt and sugar when the self-prepared equivalent has none, very little and none of them in respectively at astronomical prices for what’s in them.

    Those people that own (never mind operate) a rolling pin and oven are becoming fewer and farther between – it’s all too common to see families where the kids have grown up with everything coming from a frozen box leaving home and doing exactly the same because they know no better and have never observed food being prepared from scratch so don’t even want to try to do something else.

    I consider myself phenomenally lucky to have grown up in a family where both my mum and grandmother cooked and I learned “at their knee” how to do the basics then and it’s never left me. Really telling when you move away from home for the first time (uni) and out of a flat of eight people, you’re the only one that knows how to reliably boil an egg. As my mother is fond of telling me “you’ll never starve” – testament to being able to rustle up something to eat however unpromising the content of the cupboard.

  8. Carbon footprintedly: – intensively grown meat is worse than grass-fed meat is far worse than being veggie. Unless of course you are eating meat grown in the north or in highlands were no crops other than grass will grow. In that case the meat you eat is the only food that will grow and on a planet fairly short of food it’s a good thing to eat.

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