The following is a letter to the editor of the New York Times that was never published, so I’m posting it here:To the Editor:Re: Health Leaders Must Focus on the Threats From Factory Farms, May 21, 2017
There is growing scientific and public consensus that industrial agriculture, of plants and animals alike, is ecologically unsustainable and counter to public health. Research and real world experiences make clear singling out animals is misguided.
Truly regenerative agriculture, with animals playing a vital role, is uniquely poised to improve the environment, including reversing climate change. Grazing, most of which occurs on non-farmable land, when well-managed, can enhance soil fertility, increase drought resilience, restore wildlife habitat, and sequester atmospheric carbon. Methanotrophic bacteria in healthy soils consume methane.
Moreover, meat, milk and eggs are highly nutritious foods. In particular, red meat contains bioavailable heme iron and Vitamin B12, common deficiencies worldwide. Red meat consumption in the United States has been falling for years as intake of sugar and processed foods has risen. Plant-based meat substitutes are nutritionally inferior to real, minimally processed animal-derived foods.
Rather than vilify livestock, we must support and incentivize pioneering carbon farmers who are emerging as a new breed of heroes, producing nutrient dense food and climate security.