The new Canada Food Guide recommends vegetables, fruits, whole grains and should choose plant-based proteins. (Unsplash)

COLUMNS: Eat less red meat, you say?

Perhaps excesses of the past have driven less red meat in the diet of Canadians

Perhaps excesses of the past have driven the recent authors of the New Canada Food Guide to recommend less red meat in the diet of Canadians.

I feel compelled to respond because much of the potential and reality of protein production is associated with extensive areas of relatively poor soil type.

If only the researchers and policy makers would separate “extensive” and “intensive agriculture” when they do their research and make their policy recommendations, we would have more balanced advice for the citizens of the world.

I know the Canada Food Guide is looking at health of people, not the health if the land.

But the two go together.

We know that raging diabetes in modern and traditional cultures can be a result of not enough traditional foods in the diet.

READ MORE: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a ranch

We know that diabetes in West Coast First Nations can be addressed by a major return to the seafood diet (salmon and shell fish). Similarly, for Northern people used to eating game meat and local fish.

The Japanese, we know, have had better health outcomes than countries consuming the Western diet and this has been attributed to a large amount of seafood in their diet. This is changing as they have recently been consuming more red meat.

This hit on the red meat may be a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

One cannot grow soy beans or most of the plant- based protein foods on the grasslands and rangelands of the world.

Some of the top plant- based protein foods are: soy, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, quinoa, mycoprotein, spirulina (algae), chia, hemp, beans with rice, potatoes, protein rich vegetables, seitan(wheat gluten and spices), and Ezekiel bread (barley, wheat, lentils, millet and spelt).

You can see from this list that most of these take good crop growing lands and the sustainability challenge is equal if not greater than sustainable management of the unplowed, untilled rangelands of the world.

Converting natural rangelands to growing high protein cultivated crops such as those mentioned above may well result in degrading the already fragile soils suited to rather light grazing by meat producing animals.

Major environmental writers underline this finding.

READ MORE: Changes in the grasslands

But for everything, moderation may be the watchword. Moderate, well managed use of the range and development of our richer high producing soils should be the overall strategy.

Take “Management Intensive Grazing” as a real method of management. The emphasis is on management not intensive. It is the management that needs to be intensive and carefully done , so as not to overgraze, but rather to graze so as to enhance the resource.

There are enough hungry people in our country and the world that we have to find ways of getting local food, much of it grown by the people themselves, to adequately nourish the increasing population.

In this process, many have said that there is a real contribution to be made by red meat and many other foods. My caution is look around at the environmental sustainability of our food sources and guard the factors that allow and encourage the producers of this food to thrive.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

Just Posted

Oregon couple’s stolen truck located at Deep Creek, boat still missing

Jim and Kathy Jantz are thankful for the help they have received so far in Williams Lake

Portion of every A&W teen burger sale for MS Society of Canada Aug. 22

There will also be an instore bake sale at the Williams Lake store

Art Walk: Take a stroll through downtown with these artists

Over 40 artists have installed their art in 40 businesses throughout downtown Williams Lake

McLellan’s spirits lifted after return home to lakecity

“It was an amazing experience all around,” McLellan told the Tribune.

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

BREAKING: Province approves Surrey police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth green-lights city’s municipal police force

Police watchdog investigating two officers after Langley teen’s suspected overdose

According to IIO, two officers were deployed to help Carson Crimeni but did not locate him before he died

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

UPDATED: Kelly Ellard gets day parole extended for six more months, overnight leave

Kelly Ellard was convicted of killing 14-year-old Reena Virk in 1997

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. hockey player excited to join Humboldt Broncos

Defenceman Sebastien Archambault played last two seasons with Junior B Sicamous Eagles.

Huawei executive’s defence team alleges Canadians were ‘agents’ of the FBI

eng’s arrest at Vancouver’s airport has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China

Most Read