Opinion: Focus On Addressing Industrial Farming, Not Turning Plants into Meat

Organic farmer Will Harris contradicts some of the plant-based meat industry's claims.

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Fourth-generation farmer Will Harris recently refuted the claims made by plant-based meat processors, stating that the trendy plant-based proteins are contributing to climate change while his grassfed cattle help reverse it. On 'The Future Of Meat' Vital Signs with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Harris pointed to the recent White Oak Pastures Life Cycle Assessmentwhich found his certified grassfed cattle are sequestering more carbon in the soil than they emit during their lifetimes.

Harris introduced the segment at his 6th-generation farm saying, "We seek to emulate nature. We call it biomimicry. The way we farm improves the land. It actually brings greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and sequesters them in the soil as organic matter." According to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, "He makes a clear distinction about how he runs his operation and the kind of mass meat production that's been found to damage the environment."

According to Harris, Impossible Foods' Life Cycle Assessment shows how industrial farming of GMO-soy or peas for their meat substitute releases at least 3.5 lbs of carbon dioxide equivalent for every pound of their "meat" that is consumed.2 "The irony is you'd have to eat almost exactly one pound of our grassfed beef to offset the carbon emitted from eating a pound of their stuff made from commodity crops," said Harris.

White Oak Pastures has partnered with EPIC Provisions and General Mills to prove that products made from regenerative, grassfed, and pasture-raised meats are economic at scale. As a Global Savory Hub participating in the Ecological Outcome Verified program, White Oak Pastures regularly publishes the positive environmental outcomes of their holistic land management, humane livestock production, and rotational grazing practices for the benefit of ecologists worldwide, curious consumers, and farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture.

"Domestic livestock, like those raised at White Oak Pastures, managed to mimic Nature, provide society with crucial benefits: wholesome, nutrient-dense food; restored vibrant landscapes and communities; and a hopeful solution to climate change," said Daniela Ibarra-Howell, Chief Executive Officer of Savory Institute. "This is something that industrially produced fake meats can never provide."

About White Oak Pastures

White Oak Pastures is a 3,200-acre farm located in Bluffton, Georgia. Committed to returning the farm to its ancestral roots in regenerative farming, fourth-generation farmer Will Harris transitioned his conventional farm operations in 1995 to a grassfed, pastured program. Today, White Oak Pastures is proud to be the largest Certified Organic farm in Georgia, raising 10 species of livestock: cattle, goats, sheep, hogs, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese and guinea fowl. Using prescribed grazing with livestock, White Oak Pastures takes great pride in providing customers with humane meat and poultry while regenerating dead soil into healthy, thriving grasslands.

As part of the farm's zero-waste philosophy, White Oak Pastures produces skincare products, soap, and candles from beef tallow, along with pet chews and leather items from cowhides. Recognized as a leader in regenerative farming, White Oak Pastures received the Governor's Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2011, The University of Georgia's Award of Excellence in 2008, named the Most Respected Business Leader in Georgia, received the Growing Green Award in 2014, and the Georgia Organics Land Steward Award in 2016.