Some of our cat and dog food contains organic beef from Uruguay. It seems strange sourcing meat from so far afield (Uruguay is down near the bottom of South America). Yet we can justify doing so.
Too little organic beef
There are too few organic cows in the Netherlands to fill our alu dishes and tins of animal food. This is also the case in other European countries, such as Germany and Italy, where there are too few organic cows per country. This is due to the fact that demand for good meat is on the rise, but supply is not following suit. However, plenty of ‘ordinary’ farmers are genuinely keen to make the switch to organic livestock farming, but they don’t have the money to do so. Consider the extra land that such a farmer would need to buy for the purpose. After all, an organic cow requires a lot of space, at least one hectare. And land is expensive in areas where there is not much of it available.
Hence if we want to restrict ourselves to buying European meat, we’d have to source this from various countries. That’s a lot of lorries having to drive a lot of miles to deliver enough meat to us. Getting one big container over from Uruguay saves a considerable amount of fuel.
The organic cows in Uruguay are grass-fed. What this means is that the animals’ diets don’t have to be supplemented with soya or cereals. Organic cows in Europe do have to have stuff added to their diets. From the perspective of sustainability, then, it’s better to source the meat from Uruguay. Another advantage is that the meat from grass-fed cows is richer in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than the meat from cows that have stuff added to their diets.
Once the cows have been able to enjoy an outdoor life for three years, they are slaughtered. The best cuts of meat are intended for human consumption and end up in the shops as steak or tenderloin. We subsequently buy those parts that are not (or not commonly) eaten by people. Consider in this regard the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. These leftovers used to be disposed of, but now they’re given a better destination. There are animal food producers who will boast of the fact that they use meat intended for human consumption. We object to animals being killed to feed other animals.