The most recent announcement from The Beef with Beef and Epicurious

Go over the brisket and catch the July 4th burger on the other side. Forget about mopping up your Saint Paddy’s Day corned beef beer and while you’re at it, let’s leave that classic Whovillian Christmas Roast Beast behind. Does the idea make you Grinchy? That is exactly what Epicurious announced last month – or rather, what it had done.

“People don’t really notice or miss beef when they are offered other great foods. And minimizing beef has a huge impact on the environment, but very little culinary impact. “

When Senior Editor Maggie Hoffman and former Digital Director David Tamarkin released the announcement that Epicurious would no longer publish beef recipes, they undermined any whining by finding that beef had essentially been removed from their new beef recipe offering as early as the fall of 2019 Since then, recipes have only been used a “small handful of times”.

“There wasn’t much shouting until they announced it, even though they’d been quietly backing down on beef for a year,” said Jennifer Molidor, Ph.D., senior food campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity.

“That tells me that beef is controversial for cultural or personal reasons, but not particularly edible, dietetic or nutritional. In other words, people don’t really notice or miss beef when presented with other great foods. And minimizing beef has a big impact on the environment, but only a very small culinary impact. “

In other words, the beef is nowhere.

Their announcement of “not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate sinners” called cutting off beef “a worthwhile first step” towards better sustainability and aptly reflected the results that Oxford researchers achieved in 2018: a vegetable one Diet is the “Single Best Way” to reduce your climate impact. Of course, these researchers spoke of a vegan diet; At the moment, Epicurious is only cutting beef. (As opposed to Eleven Madison Park, the Michelin-starred restaurant that actually removes all animal products, including buttered lobster, and only serves milk and honey with coffee and tea).

But if you focus on one climate culprit in your diet, beef beats pretty much any other change you could make. Livestock production accounts for about 16 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and beef is the largest contributor, according to the United Nations. According to a data sheet compiled by Take Extinction Off Your Plate, beef produces 337 billion pounds of carbon equivalent annually, and research from IDTechEx describes our current meat production as “unsustainable.” Since 77 percent of the world’s agricultural land is used for cattle breeding, which provides only 33 percent of the world’s protein intake, mathematics supports this attitude – and a shift towards plant-based and, in particular, away from beef.

A 2020 paper by the University of Michigan and Tulane University estimates that if Americans cut their beef consumption to four pounds a year, this country’s diet-related greenhouse gas emissions would decrease 51 percent between 2016 and 2030.

Well, that’s all well and good, but statistics like this barely move people. (If they did, we’d all be vegan, as researchers have been telling us since at least 2016 that the only way to feed the growing world population by 2050 is for everyone to cut off not just beef, but all meat, dairy products and all Eggs.) Instead, Epicurious is leading by example, showing that this is not just a doable but a delicious way forward.

“People will always have the option to cook beef when they want, and recipes will always be available,” says Molidor. “But now is a great time for leading food bloggers, recipe websites, foodies, and others in the food industry to prioritize plant-based dishes that are delicious, viable options.

Yes of course. But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) …

“When I hear that Epicurious has decided not to publish beef recipes, I honestly feel like it will have absolutely no impact on anything,” said Camas Davis, butcher, memoir writer and founder of the nonprofit Good Meat Project. “It’s like a tiny, little thing torn out of a much more complex equation.”

For some experts, the Epicurious stance isn’t that straightforward. Specifically, researchers recently pointed out that the numbers we keep touting are only part of the picture: American climate strategies are far more sustainable than anywhere else, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 3.3 percent of U.S. emissions are accounted for Beef. Sasha Gennet, Ph.D., Director, North America Sustainable Grazing Lands Strategy, North America Agriculture Program writes that a sustainable beef system can be achieved by focusing on pasture management and soil health, and she has worked with Walmart, Sam’s Club and, McDonald’s, to identify “opportunities for climate protection”. For these and other experts, moving towards more sustainable beef is far more important than trying to get rid of it entirely.

“When I hear that Epicurious has decided not to publish beef recipes, I honestly feel like it will have absolutely no impact on anything,” said Camas Davis, butcher, memoir writer and founder of the nonprofit Good Meat Project. “It’s like a tiny, little thing torn out of a much more complex equation.”

While Davis agrees that conventional American beef production is indeed “harmful to the country and our environment,” she adds that “by spurning beef or all of the meat, we are really missing out on an opportunity to redefine what is ours agricultural systems will look like in the future ”. Future.”

For Davis, replacing beef with highly processed plant-based alternatives like Beyond and Impossible Meats is not a sustainable path to a “viable, responsible farming system,” nor is it really feasible.

“It is not possible to simply take cattle off the land,” she says, “and it does not create a system that thinks and thinks holistically about how to deal with the effects of cattle on the land.”

“If we can combine good land management and land management with viable business models, that would be great,” Davis continues. “But these things must also be connected with a sustainable life for the people who own the land, but also for people who work the land for the landowners. So it’s a complicated picture that feels difficult in the current economic system in which we operate. “

Doniga Markegard is a rancher at Markegard Family Grass-Fed. She is committed to sustainable beef production on her regenerative family farm and says she is “concerned on many different levels” about the Epicurious announcement.

“People will look for a source of protein and just wipe out beef, then the consumer will look for other protein options, like chicken or pork or soy,” she says. “And all of these options are frankly far more damaging to the health of our environment than sustainably raised, grass-fed beef.”

She endorses Davis’ claims that conventional beef is far from ideal, noting that “unfortunately the way we have been doing things for perhaps the last 100 years has been directed toward resource depletion and emission of Greenhouse gases tends ”. into the atmosphere. “

But we all have to do our own research to find better options – and with this Belcampo scandal, we all have to double up. Sourcing direct from a trusted farmer or rancher is the best option, but American Grassfed is a trusted label that consumers can rely on. The Cornucopia Institute recently released its own organic beef scorecard, which accompanies an in-depth report on organic meat production in this country, and Davis’ nonprofit has also built a resource called The Good Meat Breakdown to help consumers Finding meat that matches their values.

“To be honest, it’s a pretty weird place,” says Davis. “So we developed this resource to really guide people and help them feel a little more confident in their search, while realizing that there isn’t one right way to go.”

In addition to these resources, some experts are also hoping for future climate labeling on packaging, an option suggested by Josh Voorhees, a political correspondent for Modern Farmer and an MPH student majoring in food systems and climate change at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Healthcare . It’s a solution tested by a team from Denmark and Sweden who published a peer-reviewed paper showing that people chose foods with a smaller carbon footprint over alternative alternatives when the information on the packaging was easy for them were available, even people for whom it was not a priority. This could be a way to get people to choose eco-friendly beef.

If such a thing exists.

Some experts deny claims that grass-fed agriculture is actually better for carbon sequestration, and Molidor notes that while grass-fed beef “offers a slightly better short life for the cow,” it actually increases methane emissions, not with it its environmental requirements for the protection of wild animals.

“There is currently no such thing as sustainable beef,” she says. “If we are ever to achieve something like a ‘sustainable beef’ system, Americans would first have to significantly reduce overall beef production.”

All the information on this is enough to turn your head; we get it.

Our souvenir? Saving beef is good; It’s better to replace the smaller amount of beef you eat with more sustainable, grass-fed sources. Replacing the beef you’ve eaten with conventional chicken or fish is a sideways step.

Bottom line? Eat real food, get it from real people, and don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

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