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Burps Without the Blame: New report defends grassfed in climate debate

For most of human history, our relationship with cattle has been about the foods they produce: milk, meat and cheese. Today, a new bovine "product" has captured our interest and may indeed affect the future production of the others. This new product is gas. Cow burps are the most recent in the list of accused contributors to global warming from the livestock sector. However, a simple measurement of methane production does not tell the whole story. A new report by the Soil Association reevaluates greenhouse gas production in agriculture, taking into account the grazing system - not just the "end product." This controversy erupted in recent years as figures emerged about agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. As we discussed in our November 16, 2009 blog, "Beware of Bad Science," grassfed cattle actually produce fewer emissions than those finished in feedlots, simply because of the carbon sequestration in their pasture-based systems. The new Soil Association report confirms this and adds new data to support the position.
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Savvy shoppers Take Note: Place Your Bets on Grassfed Beef. You’ll Come Away a Winner.

Not that we like to gloat, but…. Grassfed beef from two Animal Welfare Approved farmers has gone head-to-head with conventional beef in separate taste tests. The results are in and, well, to be modest, SMACKDOWN! This past summer, AWA supporter Chef Bill Telepan issued a challenge to Mark and Dr. Patricia Whisnant of American Grass Fed Beef—bring him some grassfed beef that he deemed worthy of using in his famous burger and he would make the switch from the beef his customers had come to love. And so, on a muggy New York City afternoon, a small crowd gathered to see the gloves come off as 100% grassfed took on heavyweight conventional grain-fed. In a stunning upset, Chef Bill declared the upstart 100% grassfed beef the winner, bestowing the crown of onion rings and French fries that top the famous Telepan burger on the Whisnant’s American Grass Fed Beef.
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Tainted Beef: Is Organic Just as Dangerous as Feedlot?

Cattle grazing on pastureA recent study by Kansas State University concluded that in terms of presence of E. coli O157:H7, there was no difference between "organic," "naturally-raised" and conventionally raised beef. Feedlots provide all of the conventionally raised beef and the vast majority of organic and naturally-raised beef. Only a small percentage of organic beef is grassfed and finished on pasture. The study reported that feces from 14% of the organic and naturally-raised cattle contained the pathogenic strain of E. coli, and that this number was comparable to conventional systems. What the study did NOT include were samples from cattle that were pasture-finished or grassfed, surprisingly, not a requirement of either organic or naturally-raised systems. I imagine that there are many consumers who will be surprised to learn this.
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Animal Welfare Approved Lamb Wins 2009 “Best Dish in North Carolina”!

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Our State Magazine recently announced the winners of the 2009 "Best Dish in North Carolina" competition. The winning dish, chosen from over 60 other entries from the mountains to the coast, was lamb carpaccio prepared by Chef Shane Ingram of Four Square Restaurant in Durham. Ingram served grassfed, Animal Welfare Approved lamb from Captain John S. Pope Farm in Cedar Grove. Farmer Bob Pope said of the achievement, "We're beside ourselves we're so elated. It's very exciting." Cousins and farming partners Bob and Tommy Pope had pretty good odds during the final selection process - three out of the ten finalists featured their lamb!
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