Should You Have Some Beef with Your Beef?

 

Where’s the beef?

It’s not down on the farm these days, alas. The healthy, natural beef of years gone by is almost extinct. It has been driven out by cheap beef, raised on gigantic feedlots, fattened on corn. The problem is: corn isn’t healthy for cows, and raising beef this way ultimately isn’t healthy for us either. Here are some things to watch out for and ways to be more healthy when it comes to your beef-related choices.

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The Tyranny of King Corn (part 1)

We’ve all heard by now that corn-based ethanol has turned out to be a bad idea.

  • Corn is energy intensive to grow, gobbling up fossil-fuels at every stage of production, from transporting seeds to fertilizing the fields (with petrochemical fertilizers) to final harvest.
  • Corn is also a spectacularly water-intensive crop.
  • The ethanol production stage consumes more fossil fuels and water.
  • Once it finally reaches your gas tank, ethanol burns around 30% less efficiently than gasoline (meaning your per-mile cost is actually 30% more than you think it is).
  • Estimates of how much actual energy we get out of the process range from barely breaking even to around 20 percent more than the input energy.
  • And of course, every step of the process spews CO2 into the atmosphere.

It’s been almost a year since The New York Times editorialized on the subject:

The economics of corn ethanol have never made much sense. Rather than importing cheap Brazilian ethanol made from sugar cane, the United States slaps a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on ethanol from Brazil. Then the government provides a tax break of 51 cents a gallon to American ethanol producers — on top of the generous subsidies that corn growers already receive under the farm program.

And unlike our inefficient corn-based ethanol, that Brazilian product actually yields 370% of the energy put into it.

So, why are we doing this? What possible calculus could convince us to even consider corn ethanol?

Corn is big business – and big agribusiness hires the best lobbyists.

Here, the return on investment is spectacular: plant a few tens of millions of dollars in seed money in the form of campaign contributions to senators and members of Congress, and reap billions of dollars in federal farm subsidies.

And for agribusiness, corn is king.

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Drill, Nancy, Drill?

Oil RigOffshore Oil Platform Under Construction --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

You may well be wondering – why the heck is Nancy Pelosi pushing through a bill that allows for offshore drilling? Isn’t that against everything we’re supposed to stand for? Is this another example of business-as-usual betraying core Democratic principles?

Alas, sometimes green areas fall in grey areas. Here’s the scoop:

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OneHundredMonths – 100 Months for Climate Change

Earth in a puddle

The 100 month countdown

Without positive, permanent action taken RIGHT NOW, the latest estimates say we have 8 years and 4 months before climate change has reached an unstoppable point of build-up. And while the first thought of many is undoubtedly that the naysayers are on their soapboxes again, let’s point out that the report released today in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, says these numbers are based on the conservative outlook.

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