The Beef Cycle
We picked beef as our life cycle project, because we want to show how beef is produced and we also want raise awareness (Bewusstsein) about human beef consumption habits.
We have become accustomed (gewohnt) to buying beef at supermarkets,which is mostly mass produced beef, are there alternatives? how does this affect our planet?
Through different methods such as interviews, surveys and personal experiences on a Zurich-based farm, we want to educate our peers (unsere Kollegen/Mitmenschen) on beef production.
We are going to:
– Visit a regional farm to ask some questions and take some photos
– Look at the process of beef production
– Show how the beef production affects our planet
– Have an interview with a vegetarian
Insight into the world of organic beef farming
When we first came up with our life cycle project topic, we wanted to show the world the horrible and inhumane world of beef production. To our surprise, we had to change the direction of our project after visiting a local organic beef farm.
We visited Ruedi on his farm on a Thursday afternoon (17.11.2016), it was a very nice experience. Ruedi was very welcoming and gave us answers to all of our questions, sometimes even without asking. Ruedi surprised us with his knowledge and we had some very nice discussions with him after our interview (below). We are very thankful for this opportunity. He opened our eyes and gave us a different perspective on beef production. We learned that there are different ways how beef can be produced and what an environmental difference it makes to farm organically!
We discovered that there are two worlds when it comes to Beef Farming. Per usual, we only get fed the negative and awful sides of it by the media – we only see/hear about the American mass production of beef and how it is killing our planet. We got our own on-site experience at Ruedi’s farm, we got an inside look at the world of organic farming.
Interview with Ruedi Kaspar (Local Eco-Farmer)
– What type of Cows do you have on your farm?
We keep the “Hinterwälder” type on our farm. They are much lighter than other cow-types, so they need less food than others and don’t do a lot of damage to the meadows (Wiesenflächen). Another positive aspect is, that they have no problems with the climate here in Switzerland
– Where do you sell the Beef?
I sell my beef only to customers that I know. When I bring them their order, I sit down and we chat/discuss different topics, of course we talk a lot about the overconsumption of the humans.
– Do you kill the cows by yourself and how?
I transport my cows (only one at a time) to a slaughter house in Fischenthal. They kill them fast and efficiently. First they shoot a metal bolt into their brains, so that they are anesthetized (betäubt). After that, they cut off the throat and let them bleed out. This process includes practically no pain for the cows and goes really fast.
– What do you give them for food?
I feed them weed and hay. The only thing I have to buy is some salt, because this ingredient is essential for them. We dont fertilize (düngen) the land, because it is hard to get there with our machines.
– How long do they live on your farm?
My Cows are on my farm for about 20 years, they give birth to a lot of calfs (Kälber) while they are with us.
– What do you do with cows who get sick?
It is very rare that one of our cows get sick. If it happens, we first use at some homeopathic remedies and most of the time that’s it for the healing process. If it is very serious, the doctor comes by and has a look at them.
– Is it true that the production of 1 kilo beef cost us 15’000 liters of water?
It definitely depends. On our farm, we only use water that comes from a natural spring or the creek (Bach), so we never end up wasting water.
– What has to change that people become more aware of overconsumtion and how it harms our environment?
There has to be a change in their consciousness about our environment and how overconsumption affects everything that we need to live a healthy life. When they are aware of all these things, people will automatically change their habits. Me and my family for example, we eat meat 3 times (max.) a week and even this would be too much if we wouldn’t have so much of it.
– What is the most important thing for you when it comes to your cows?
The most important thing for me is, that they are happy and live a long life without getting sick.
– What about the meat processing?
After the process of killing our cows, they get transported to Bäretswil and a local butcher does the rest of the work. Steg (where they live), Fischenthal (where they get killed) and Bäretswil (butcher) are close together, so the whole process doesn’t need a lot of energy for the Transport.
Thanks a lot for this opportunity and your authentic way of answering our questions!
Here are some major differences between organic farming versus mass farming:
|Organic Beef Production||Mass Beef Production|
|Ruedi owns 10 cows||Mass producing Beef farms have over 100 cows|
|Ruedi collects water from a local stream||Cows are fed antibiotics|
|They own two fields: one is for when cows graze freely in the summer and the other one is to collect food for the cows in the winter.||Factory farmed cows get fed low quality and cheap Food and it makes them sick|
|They do not import any products to maintain (pflegen) their farm.||Grain imports from developing countries.|
|His cows hardly ever get sick and when they do he treats them with natural medicine.||These cows are under major amounts of stress, which in the end makes low quality Beef.|
|He has a local butcher to minimize emissions||Beef gets transported around the world and causes a lot of greenhouse gases.|
|His Beef Feeds local customers||Leading cause of mass extinction|
Interview with a vegetarian
We conducted an interview with Daves 19 year old sister, who is a vegeterian to show a contrast to our project.
– Since when are you a vegetarian?
I decided to be a vegetarian when I was twelve years old.
The main reason is that I love animals and I do not want to eat what I love.
The second reason is that the production of meat harms our environment. I found out about this when I was 15 and it reinforced (verstärkte) my decision to be a vegeterian.
– What are the difficulties?
A lot of restaurants do not have a big choice of vegetarian menus. Sometimes I have to order a salad as a main course, because it is the only thing without meat in it.
– Did it cause any health problems?
At the beginning yes. I had problems with my iron levels and it caused inbalances in my body. My mom helped my with the nutritions and then it was not a problem anymore.
– What were the positive reactions of your body?
I am less stressed and my stomach does not have a lot of problems since I’ve stopped eating meat. I strongly believe that this is the result of my vegetarian lifestyle.
– Do you sometimes have a desire to eat meat?
Yes, I like the taste of it. Liking the taste of meat isn’t a strong enough reason for me to abandon (verlassen) my vegetarian lifestyle.
– Do you judge people who eat meat?
No, only the ones who do it excessively.
– Do you try to “convert” people into vegetarians?
No, of course not. But I really like to discuss the meat consumption of our planet and that it is important to get your meat from regional farmers. I had a lot of success with that and some people changed their behavior.
Global Meat Consumption
Here is a short comparison between three countries and their per capita (yearly) meat consumption.
America 124kg/per person – Switzerland 52kg/per person – Rawanda( Africa) 4kg/per person
World Average: 41kg/per person
What About Your Meat Consumption? (Survey)
We conducted a Survey at our school on Findmind.ch. This survey showed us the meat consumption habits of over 80 participants, here are the results:
Throughout the journey of our project we have come to the conclusion that there are different ways to produce beef, some better, some worse. The main reason for the production of bad beef is the current over-consumtion habit of humans, this habit forces farmers/companies to lower the cost of production, thus neglecting (vernachlässigen) the quality of the production and product. An additional reason is the current economy, everyone needs to save money. Organic beef is more expensive than mass produced meat, this furthers bad mass production of beef.
we used a collection of our own pictures. The insight into the world of organic farming is from our afternoon at Ruedi Kaspars farm.