WRITES FROM THE FRASER­BURG DIS­TRICT IN THE NORTH­ERN CAPE: Due to the postal strike we are a bit be­hind with our read­ing, hence I have only just got to the Finweek of 15-21 May.

On page 14 is an ar­ti­cle about the al­leged cost of meat. As a farmer, I take is­sue, not only with the fig­ures (6 800 litres of wa­ter to pro­duce half a kilo­gram – in­clud­ing per­haps the fam­ily wash­ing up af­ter­wards?) but with the as­ser­tion that eat­ing meat harms the planet and af­fects the poor.

An­i­mal pro­tein is a nec­es­sary part of a healthy diet. I am sure that, if we all stopped eat­ing meat, within five gen­er­a­tions the hu­man race would be walk­ing about on all fours graz­ing and prob­a­bly bleat­ing.

I can only think that this ar­ti­cle was com­piled by a bunch of con­trol-freak, veg­e­tar­ian greenies who live a shel­tered life and are able to avoid re­al­ity – un­like us farm­ers.

The prob­lems men­tioned are caused not by healthy eat­ing but by the ex­ces­sive num­ber of hu­mans. Cut the re­pro­duc­tion rate of this in­va­sive species and all the neg­a­tive ef­fects on our planet, whether of global warm­ing, wa­ter short­ages, forced migration and star­va­tion can be solved. The in­fo­graphic was com­piled by devel­op­ment con­sul­tancy Dal­berg and is based on a re­search re­port com­mis­sioned by The Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion. The full re­port has un­for­tu­nately not been made public.

How­ever, other re­search has also shown the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of red meat pro­duc­tion com­pared with other food­stuffs and other forms of live­stock. A sci­en­tific study pub­lished in De­cem­ber 2013, for ex­am­ple, found that live­stock pro­duc­tion uses one-third of the world’s fresh wa­ter.

Of course, the en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print of live­stock pro­duc­tion will not be equal ev­ery­where in the world. The same study, pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences, found beef cat­tle in im­pov­er­ished re­gions like Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa may need 10 times more feed to pro­duce a kilo­gram of pro­tein, due to the poor qual­ity of the feed, than cows raised in richer ar­eas.

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