Transformation of a Farm Boy

I grew up on a small farm in northwest North Dakota.  As a boy, my passion was raising beef cattle.  As an eleven year old 4-H member, I had the grand champion steer at the Burke County Fair.  There was no doubt about it…I would be a beef rancher when I grew up.  I bought a wonderful young heifer which would be the keystone of my herd.  (paid $150, which is the equivalent of about $1,000 today.)

Tragedy struck!  My family decided to move to the west coast.  My dreams went up in smoke.  As I grew older, I heard of the negative effects of eating red meat, so gradually reduced the amount of rib-eye and hamburger I was consuming.

Beef Cattle and Global Warming, Who Knew?

Recently, I haven’t been eating much beef.  Then last  week, I watched a program on the National Geographic Channel called “Before the Flood”.  It is a good documentary on the problems associated with climate change.  One of the points the film made, was that cattle are a major contributor to global warming.  Not only are millions of acres of forest lands being clear-cut to create grazing lands, but it seems cows have a nasty habit of belching out methane, a green-house gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere.

People our age have a hard time dealing with change.  Nevertheless, I have decided to take one small step to slow down global warming by giving up beef and cow’s milk.  I will continue to enjoy chicken, turkey, fish and almond milk, although I’m sure they have some adverse effects on the environment as well.  Ice cream will stay for the present.

If you are like me and lather on catsup, mayo and relish on your burgers, you’ll find out turkey burgers or even vegi-burgers don’t taste that much different than beef burgers.  So, this isn’t any grand sacrifice.  Pretty much a drop in the bucket as far as meaningful action against climate change.  But I really believe that little things add-up.  Turning down the thermostat, walking instead of driving, car-pooling, taking public transportation, enjoying life here in Rossmoor instead of  going on that round the world cruise, considering  buying solar panels for your roof…there are lots of small decisions we can make that will add up to a better world for  our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

So, I’m not sorry that my parents sold the farm and moved west.  Raising beef cattle would have been so “20th century.”  Vegi-burger, anyone?

This article first appeared in the November 23, 2016 issue of the Rossmoor News, author Bob Hanson.

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