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The Solar-Powered Cow
The Solar-Powered CowHere's something I read recently that seems counterintuitive at first, but kind of makes sense once you think about it: many people who own Priuses also own SUVs. Not exactly what you'd expect, but the fact is that many Americans like the idea of doing good—but aren't crazy about giving up the luxuries they've come to love. Like a nice, juicy burger.

That was certainly the logic that got me interested in grass-fed beef. I still wanted to be able to offer people a great brgr, and I figured there had to be a middle ground: something between veganism and a carbon footprint bigger than Texas. I looked at other beef options, but everything I read about grass-fed kept resonating with me.

In past posts, I've emphasized the health benefits of grass-fed, but one of the other really appealing things to me about grass-fed is its environmental impact. Compared to feedlot, grain and corn-raised cattle, the techniques for raising grass-fed animals have a significantly lower carbon footprint. At the core, grass-fed's sustainable farming techniques work on a really basic principle: they're converting solar energy into protein energy, and cutting out a lot of those wasteful, polluting practices that are the byproduct of big agribusiness farming.

A few reasons why grass-fed beef is better the environment:
  • Sustainable. brgr's grass-fed farmers rest their land between grazings to increase the density of existing plants in their pastures and allow for the re-introduction of new native plants. As a result, their grassland is deeply rooted, and this better root structure and thicker sod enables the landscape to catch and hold nearly all of the rain that hits it, resulting in virtually no soil erosion or flooding. This sustainable eco-system is a natural carbon recycler: the carbon our animals produce is reused by our plant life for further growth. Furthermore, brgr's farmers have maintained organic principles since 2000, though they have not sought official organic certification in their home state of Missouri. (This is a question we get a lot, and the short answer is: yes in practice; no in certification.
  • No pollution. Holistic land practices ensure that grass-fed animals fertilize their own food. A healthy cycle of land management means no manure run-off or toxic lakes of waste. Nope, it all goes right back into the earth to create the rich soil that helps grass and other pasture-land plants grow lush and healthy. Basically, think of it this way, the sun is the energy source behind every grass-fed cow.
  • Limited petroleum-product use. brgr gets its grass-fed beef directly from a Missouri farm cooperative that raises all of its animals on lush local grasses that grow with seasons. There's no need for petroleum-based fertilizers—the farms just work with the natural environment. Contrast that with most cattle operations that rely on corn and soy products to feed their animals: corn and soy are produced on industrial farms that rely heavily on petroleum-based fertilizers to producer their crops. Plus, brgr buys directly from farmers, thus avoiding excess shipping and packaging. In truth, the vegetables you buy at the grocery store often use more energy than one of our grass-fed beef brgrs.
  • Healthier animals. You know how fresh air and nature is often the best medicine for people? Well, the same is true for animals. When animals can wander freely and get exercise throughout the day (rather than being cooped up on a feedlot), they're just healthier. And since they're not weak or sick, grass-fed cows don't need those harmful additives and antibiotics that affect quality of life and the environment for all of us.

I really do like to think of our brgrs as having been created by solar-powered cows. Yes, like most solar technologies, they require a little help from more traditional energy sources, but you don't have to look hard to see that grass-fed practices are vastly more environmentally sustainable than their mainstream counterparts.

And that makes me want a brgr!
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