The Myth Of Sustainable Meat, New York Times (sorry, I know there's a 10-free-stories-a-month limit), 12 April 2012
He says that what some consider sustainable alternatives to factory farmed meat aren't so sustainable:
"Grass-grazing cows emit considerably more methane than grain-fed cows.Aren't so "natural":
Pastured organic chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming.
If we raised all the cows in the United States on grass (all 100 million of them), cattle would require (using the figure of 10 acres per cow) almost half the country’s land (and this figure excludes space needed for pastured chicken and pigs)."
"Many farmers who raise chickens on pasture use industrial breeds that have been bred to do one thing well: fatten quickly in confinement. As a result, they can suffer painful leg injuries after several weeks of living a “natural” life pecking around a large pasture.Aren't so economical:
Free-range pigs are routinely affixed with nose rings to prevent them from rooting, which is one of their most basic instincts."
"[Small, decentralized, free-range operations] would gradually seek a larger market share, cutting corners, increasing stocking density and aiming to fatten animals faster than competitors could. ... It wouldn’t take long for production systems to scale back up to where they started."Don't fully engage in "nutrient cycling":
"Consider Joel Salatin [of Polyface Farm, pictured], the guru of nutrient cycling, who employs chickens to enrich his cows’ grazing lands with nutrients. His plan appears to be impressively eco-correct, until we learn that he feeds his chickens with tens of thousands of pounds a year of imported corn and soy feed."