You’ve likely seen Environment Canada’s Tweet celebrating #WorldFoodDay and thanking farmers…well, some farmers. If not, here it is:
— Environment Canada (@environmentca) October 16, 2016
Seems nice enough, yeah? Well, then you follow the link. It doesn’t lead to an Environment Canada page, though. It doesn’t lead to a Canadian page at all, actually. Instead it links to this page from the FAO entitled: Climate is Changing. Food and Agriculture Must Too.
The page lists plenty of helpful, wise, wonderful things to help curb humans’ impact on our natural resources, such as saving water and decreasing food waste, but where the list has irked many is in two points: reducing meat intake and going organic.
While many are irritated just by those statements, what gets me is the reasons given for doing so, namely: beef production happens on slashed rainforests and organic production is better for the soil.
Your choice to choose meatless for a few meals a week will certainly help your pocket book, and goodness knows I enjoy a good chickpea dish, but to tell Canadians that their beef consumption is tied to rainforests being slashed and burned? That’s a little rich, Environment Canada. The truth, easily accessibly and handy online, through social media and more, is that a large portion of Canadian beef production happens largely on grasslands (many of them native rangeland), and on marginal land unsuited to crop production.
What’s more, the beef industry just released an extensive, transparent, and very honest sustainability benchmark report that does a great job of explaining the social, economic, and environmental beef production footprint. Environment Canada could have linked to it like we did here.
Then there’s the other point many are upset about — buying organic. I know there are many in farming who simply cringe at the thought that organic agriculture should be celebrated for its improvement or protection of soil, but that’s somewhat disingenuous. The actual fact is that there are amazing soil conservationists in conventional farming, just as there are über tillers in organic systems. The opposite is also true.
Bottom line: soil conservation and health promotion is not unique to any one production system, and beef production in Canada most certainly does not come at the expense of rainforest growth. Finally, consumers deserve better from their government departments than a quick link to a listsicle that’s not Canadian-centric.
If you think the same, you can follow cattle rancher Adrienne Ivey’s lead and write to Environment Canada with your concerns. It would seem that’s been helpful as the account has since Tweeted this:
— Environment Canada (@environmentca) October 18, 2016