Author Topic: Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective  (Read 2965 times)

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Offline Eric

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Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective
« on: March 23, 2014, 11:30:58 am »
I've mentioned on a couple occasions that I do energy audits of farms as a profession, among other things, and recently incorporated data from a number of small farms into a piece on the energy intensity of pasture-based meat farms versus vegetable farms. If folks are interested in this topic, feel free to give the article a read:

Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective

Comments and criticisms welcome!
Eric Garza
Check out my podcast, YouTube channel , and website

Offline Iguana

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Re: Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2014, 03:44:31 pm »
It reads very well, clear and concise article. Good work!

To me, this is the core of the problem:
Quote
Modern food systems turn industrial fuels into food. As I pointed out in my essay on the energy basis of food security, high and volatile energy prices inspire many to wonder how much longer we can afford to depend on this industrial model, and perhaps a time is coming when economic forces will favor a different one.
Cause and effect are distant in time and space in complex systems, while at the same time there’s a tendency to look for causes near the events sought to be explained. Time delays in feedback in systems result in the condition where the long-run response of a system to an action is often different from its short-run response. — Ronald J. Ziegler

Offline Alive

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Re: Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2014, 03:25:53 am »
Eric, do you have the figures for grass fed beef and lamb?

Offline Eric

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Re: Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2014, 04:48:16 am »
The second graph shows figures for a grass-based lamb farm, but unfortunately I don't have any data for grass fed beef.
Eric Garza
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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2014, 11:53:21 am »
I wonder what the energy input/output figures would be for some other energy-output-rich ancestral foods - honey, insect larvae, and tiger nuts. Tiger nuts can be mass-produced, so they would be the most relevant to your topic.

"Modern food systems turn industrial fuels into food."

Yup, the Green Revolution was basically the conversion of petroleum into food for humans.

On an even broader perspective, civilizations generally convert natural resources into trash and toxic wastes. "Progress" typically involves an acceleration of this process, though there are some green counter-trends (mostly in Europe, it seems).
« Last Edit: July 29, 2014, 11:58:33 am by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2014, 02:15:31 pm »
Thanks, it#s good to see more  serious input re figures concerning healthy and unhealthy diets.
"What is the point of growing up If you can't be childish sometimes..." - Tom Baker as Dr Who.

Offline Eric

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Re: Meat vs Veg: An Energy Perspective
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2014, 06:58:32 am »
Quote
I wonder what the energy input/output figures would be for some other energy-output-rich ancestral foods - honey, insect larvae, and tiger nuts.

That's a good question Phil. I think the answer would depend a lot on the scale of the operations used to produce the foods. At very small scales, the producer could use just human labor, which makes the energy input/output figure small and often leads to the production of an energy surplus where the food energy output is larger than the labor energy input. This is the ideal situation. In the absence of fossil fuels to subsidize food production, people's diets would have to deliver more food energy than labor invested otherwise people would starve.

As scale increases, and certainly as food becomes a commercial product and producers seek to turn a profit, human labor is increasingly replaced by machines, which require industrial fuels to power them. As this happens, it takes far more inputs to deliver a given amount of food. All of the farms listed in the blog post were commercial, hence the tendency to require lots more energy inputs than they could deliver in food energy.
Eric Garza
Check out my podcast, YouTube channel , and website

 

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