Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Can Grass-Fed Beef Save the World?

This post is long overdue, since Allan Savory's TED video came out in March and I just now realized I'd like to share it. It's a really eye-opening presentation about the desertification (turning to deserts, not desserts, fatty) of our soil, and how we can reverse the problem using grazing cattle... the very same animals that we previously thought caused desertification in the first place. This desertification has been going on for thousands of years around the world, perhaps the most glaring example being the Middle East. The land that fostered the earliest civilizations 6000 years ago is, today, largely infertile.

So back to the man, Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean farmer and biologist who is best known for developing the holistic management system for grazing animals. In a nutshell, holistic management aims to replicate the natural prey/predator relationship... in nature, as a defense against predators, cattle would group together in large herds, and they would keep moving, never staying in the same place for too long... it was under these conditions in which the land was kept arable, and the constant movement prevented overgrazing of any one area. Holistic management is based on replicating this natural system by rotating cattle. Joel Salatin for example, who you may know from the documentary Food Inc., uses this method to produce grass-fed beef.

Mr. Savory has used holistic management to reverse desertification in several places in Africa and around the world, making their land fertile and green again. He's using smart, inexpensive technology to work with nature and revitalize the world. Okay I'll stop blabbering... just watch the video.

My favorite quote (19:45):

“People who understand far more about carbon than I do calculate that, for illustrative purposes, if we do what I am showing you here, we can take enough carbon out of the atmosphere and safely store it in the grassland soils for thousands of years. And if we just do that on about half of the world’s grasslands that I’ve shown you, we can take us back to pre-industrial levels, while feeding people.  I can think of almost nothing that offers more hope for our planet, for your children, and their children, and all of humanity.”


  1. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service has a current initiative for Soil Health. They also have been encouraging, fencing, a technique used to prevent cattle/caws from overgrazing land. The Soil Health Initiative takes a "holistic" approach to the land and treats it as a living system. They are encouraing the use of cover crops, which will reduce nutrient run-off, and prevent lands from being bare. They also encourage the rotation of crops on ones land. They also stop farmers form tilling their soil keeping needed bacteria and nutrients in the soil. A farmer from Ohio has been using this technique for 40 years and during the recent horrific drought he curned our record bushels of crops. Conservation is extremely important and key to the success of our food supply int he future, we need this holistic approach and stop using pesticides and fertilizers and prevent nutrients from running off. Check out the initiative:


    1. That's incredible. So good to know things are moving in the right direction. Thanks for the info!

  2. I really love the video. Thanks for sharing this very incredible blog of yours.