March 17, 2008

Food- Holistic Management

Holistic Management International (HMI) is an Albuquerque-based, international nonprofit organization that provides training, courses and consulting services to stewards of large landscapes, including ranchers, farmers, pastoral communities, government agencies, NGOs, environmental advocacy groups and other non-profits. Currently 30 million acres of land worldwide, benefit from Holistic management practices by:
-Improving soil health and biodiversity of rangelands and pastures.
-Increasing grazing and wildlife capacity.
-Increasing annual profits and enhancing livelihoods.- Optimally using rainfall and conserving water.
- Growing healthier crops and achieving higher yields.
-Reversing desertification in brittle environments.-Breaking the cycle of food and water insecurity.
-Enhancing family relationships.-Resisting and positively affecting global climate change.

Holistic Management in the U.S.
Active networks of Holistic Management practitioners and educators have developed across the U.S. in California and the West, the Northwest, the Southwest, the Midwest, and the Northeast.

Horizon Organic
HMI has a contract with Horizon Organic Dairy, the nation’s largest organic dairy. HMI provides the framework and tools for Holistic Management planning and decision making at Horizon Organic’s dairies in Idaho and Maryland.
Certified organic in 1994, Horizon’s dairy, in Paul, Idaho was the first large certified organic dairy in the country. The practices pioneered there proved the viability of organic dairying, and paved the way for hundreds of other dairies to convert to organic.Since its opening, the Idaho dairy has helped prompt the conversion of nearly 30,000 acres of organic land in the state of Idaho.More than 80 independent farms have converted to organic to supply Certified organic in 1994, Horizon’s Idaho dairy was the first large certified organic dairy in the country. The practices pioneered there proved the viability of organic dairying, and paved the way for hundreds of other dairies to convert to organic.
Because no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, like nitrates, are used on the ground, and no added growth hormones or antibiotics are given to the cows, the Idaho farm is dramatically more sustainable and earth-friendly than a conventional dairy farm of the same size. This is especially critical given the farm's location along the important Snake River aquifer.
With the help of Holistic Management, Horizon was able to create a leading-edge example of how to run large dairies with animals out on the land in such a manner that the health of the grazing land is also maintained and improved. Horizon Organic has a network of more than 540 dairy farmers; 340 are currently organic, and more than 200 are transitioning to organic.

The D. Joyce Coffey Resource Management and Demonstration Ranch was a privately owned 2,600-acre (1,053-hectare) ranch in Marietta, Oklahoma until 1981–a typical southern Oklahoma ranch with cropping in open land and continuous grazing in rough and wooded areas.
The degraded rangeland had a mixture of 60 percent low successional species (usually weedy annuals with low forage quality), 12 percent mid successional species, and 5 percent high successional species (highly desirable forage quality for wildlife and livestock).
In 1987 they began practicing Holistic Management the ranch. At that time the stocking rate had decreased from 300 to 67 animal units per year.
From 1987 to 1991 the stocking rate increased by 30 percent, from 110 animal units to 140 at the same time that biodiversity increased. Exposed soils with various degrees of erosion were covered with healthy plants, and white tailed deer increased 100 percent.
By 1994, high-successional species had risen to 25 percent and low-successional species were down to 25 percent. The stocking rate had now increased 100 percent from 1987 rising from the original 110 to 200 animal units.
Because of improved ground cover, there was less soil erosion. Ponds, which once had high turbidity (cloudiness due to silt), now had low turbidity, and two springs, which had dried up, now began running again. Moreover, the nutrient cycle had also improved so that manure now decomposed in 5 days, where it had taken 2 to 3 years before Holistic Management.

West Virginia
The Fichtner family moved to the 79-acre (32-hectare) Windy Slope Farm in Leon, West Virginia in 1981. At that time the farm was overrun with multiflora rose, and the soils were severely eroded. At one time this land had been fire-maintained savanna, and more recently it had been plowed for maize and then put into sod that supported a few horses and cattle.
In 1990 the Fichtners began Holistic Management planned grazing using a diversity of livestock (dairy goats, sheep, cattle, donkeys, hogs, chickens, geese, ducks, and turkeys) to improve farm management.
The hogs were used to break up and compost manure in the barn. The ducks controlled flies. The Scottish Highlander cattle were rugged browsers and cleared brush efficiently. The donkeys kept coyotes at bay. The cattle broke the parasite cycle by grazing after the sheep.
In 1990 they had eight pasture plant species and needed five acres (two hectares) to carry one animal unit. By 1995, they had 32 pasture plant species (including more perennials, a higher successional plant) and needed only one acre (0.4 hectare) to carry one animal unit.

What it is:
Ranching is the raising of livestock, generally for meat, dairy, or wool.

How it works:
Grain Fed (Feedlot)
Virtually all of the meat, eggs, and dairy products you find in the store come from animals raised in large, confined facilities called feeding operations or feedlots. Animals raised in factory farms are given unnatural diets designed to boost their productivity and lower costs. The main ingredients of their diets are grain and soy that are kept at artificially low prices by government subsidies.

Free Range
Recently, a growing number of ranchers have stopped sending their animals to the feedlots to be fattened on grain, soy and other supplements. Instead, they are keeping their animals home on the range where they forage on pasture, their native diet. This type of ranching and dairy is generally referred to as grass fed or free range.

Why ranching is important
Ranching has a potentially large impact on the environment, economy, animal welfare and human health. The tentacles of ranching branch out into many sectors, and can have super detrimental or immensely positive effects.


Free Range (Grass Fed)

Human Health
• Lower in Fat and Calories. There are a number of nutritional differences between the meat of pasture-raised and feedlot-raised animals. To begin with, meat from grass-fed cattle, sheep, and bison is lower in total fat. If the meat is very lean, it can have one third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal.

• High in Vitamins. Meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals. Studies suggest that diets rich in Omega-3s may reduce your risk of cancer. Meat from grass-fed animals is also higher in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant.

• Less Exposure to Disease. A virulent strain of E. coli comes from the GI tracts of cattle that have been fattened with grain (particularly corn) instead of grass or other silage. Grains and corn are not the natural foods of cattle, and when cattle are fed nothing but corn in an effort to fatten them, they develop highly acidic GI tracts. The E. coli O157:H7 is a strain that has evolved to live in this highly acidic environment. Consequently, this virulent E.Coli is immune to the acid in our own stomachs that is typically potent enough to knock out the harmless garden-variety E. coli we most often encounter.

• No Antibiotics. Animals are less likely to get sick when they are fed what they are naturally built for, meaning they do not need to be fed antibiotics, thus minimizing our exposure to antibiotics. This minimizes antibiotic resistance.

Animal Health
- Eat Natural Food, animal is built for.
- No Antibiotics
- Animal Cruelty is minimized: animals treated humanely, not concentrated in small spaces.


-Green Grazing. A growing number of grass farmers are practicing "green grazing" or "conservation grazing," a type of management that is specifically designed to restore grazing land to a more natural and sustainable condition.

-Utilizes Land otherwise unusable. 2/3 of the worlds land is untilable (meaning it can not be utilized for traditional farming) but a good portion of that land can be ranched.
Map of untillable land

-Increases Land productivity. It’s a closed, sustainable system When animals are finished on pasture, their manure is deposited naturally and evenly over a large area of grassland, allowing the nutrients to be put to immediate use. On pasture, grazing animals do their own fertilizing and harvesting. The ground is covered with greens all year round, so it does an excellent job of harvesting solar energy and holding onto moisture.

-Prevents Erosion. Year round greens also hold on to topsoil. Currently, the United States is losing three billion tons of nutrient-rich topsoil each year. Growing corn and soy for animal feed using conventional methods causes a significant amount of this soil loss. Compared with row crops, pasture reduces soil loss by as much as 93 percent.

-Turning over soil decreasing desertification. Desertification is when soils become dirt devoid of moisture and nutrients. Grazing converts grasses into manure, returning the nutrients to the soil much more rapidly than plants that die and dessicate.

- Animal grazing on grass do not require fossil fuel-based fertilizers

- decreases shipping feed from exterior places


- Localizes Economy. Utilizes Resources within closer proximity, decreasing shipping feed from exterior places.
- Smaller ranches are more likely to have their products consumed locally

Feed Lot (Grain Fed)

Human Health

- Fattier
- Lacks Vitamins
- Higher probability of Ecoly
- Antibiotics and Hormones

Animal Health
- Animals Grow Faster, have larger weights and are slaughtered younger
- Because animals are consuming grains instead of, they often get digestion Issues, lack vitamin nourishment and get sick. This means they are more prone to disease and are often on antibiotics.

- GMO’s. A high percentage of the grain fed to feedlot cattle and bison is from genetically modified (gm) crops. According to the New York Times, there is new evidence that gm corn is harmful to beneficial insects. Researchers gathered leaves from plants growing in and around gm cornfields and fed them to Monarch butterfly caterpillars. According to the Times, "Twenty percent of the caterpillars eating leaves bearing genetically engineered pollen died, while all caterpillars eating leaves with regular corn pollen survived."

-Congestion of cattle, means manure is concentrated (Toxic), gets into streams, ground water etc.

- Utilizing corn and soy from industrial agricultural sources depletes soil, creating dirt.

- Far more petroleum is used, meaning increased miles.

-The animals are crowded into sheds or kept outdoors on barren land and all their feed is shipped to them from distant fields. On those fields, the crops are treated with fossil fuel based fertilizers, sprayed with pesticides, and planted, tilled, and harvested with heavy equipment. Each of these operations requires non-renewable fuel. Then the feed is shipped to feed manufacturers where it is dried, flaked or polluted, and mixed with other ingredients and then, finally, shipped to the waiting animals, using yet more fossil fuel.

-Globalizes production, there are morelinks in the chain of production. Corn must be grown in one place, manufactured in another, before it makes it to the animals. This means shipping and more food miles in production of a grain fed animal.

-The corn and soy utilized in the in many feedlots is subsidized by the United States government.

-Animals grow faster, are heavier and can be slaughtered younger, this means it takes less time to grow an animal to mature weight saving money. It takes almost a year more per animal when doing free range ranching.


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