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Ranching to Produce Tacos Sin Carbon: The Low Carbon Foodprint of Grass-fed Beef and Sheep Production in the Semi-Arid West

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Duncan Blair, and Dennis Moroney
Published: February, 2010

Should the issues of fossil fuel use, carbon emissions generated from the food system and their contribution to global warming influence how ranchers manage their operations and how they sell their livestock for beef? Perhaps ranchers who are consistently good land stewards are doing enough already, so that asking them take on the issue of what happens to their livestock once it leaves the ranch may be asking too much. To paraphrase one wise sage, “Ranching can be one of the most elegant, simple means of providing food to the world that exists. The trouble is keeping it simple.”

While ranchers in the American West once faced criticism for how they managed public and private rangelands, they are generally getting more praise than ever before for their innovative land stewardship practices. But what has replaced the so-called ‘Range Wars’ is public anxiety over something else: the effects of ‘industrial meat production’ on global warming, and the effects of meat consumption on human health. Consumers and environmentalists appear to be preoccupied today with issues such as how far cattle travel to feedlots, and what they eat once they leave the range.

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