AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the big topics at this year’s South-by-Southwest is the battle against climate change. While transportation and the energy sector play a huge role in global warming, another vital piece of our lives has a major role: meat and agriculture.
A recent report published in the scientific journal Nature found that around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions were produced by agriculture. According to the report, food consumption alone could cause the global temperature to raise by 1 degree Celsius by 2100.
“I think there’s an increasing understanding that food and agriculture has a big impact on climate,” said Marcus Lovell Smith, CEO of Neutral Foods. “With food and agriculture, you can you can make choices every single day in a grocery store.”
Finding a solution for this problem may be found in an unlikely place: Cows.
Cows and Climate Change
Neutral Foods produces carbon-neutral milk. “We work directly with dairy farmers all across the country. We work with the cows directly. We work with manure management, we work with feed management, all of these aspects of a farm have climate impacts,” Lovell Smith said.
Through special tannin-rich feed, Neutral is able to reduce the amount of methane their cows produce. They also use equipment to turn manure into an energy source.
“We never go on to a farm and tell them what to do. We ask them, they normally have a big list of projects, and we work with them to mitigate their impacts.”
While milk is one way they’re trying to go carbon neutral, another way is through meat. On March 10th, Neutral Foods is taking part in a SXSW panel looking at the future of carbon-neutral beef.
“We’re working with seaweed, which has had this ability to reduce the enteric, the exhalation, the enteric emissions from a cow’s stomach.” Lovell Smith said.
According to Lovell Smith, transitioning the food industry comes down to consumer choice.
“With food and agriculture, you can make choices every single day in a grocery store. We saw the fantastic beginnings of the organic movement in the 70s and 80s. And I think we will see aisles and aisles, eventually, not just us, not just Neutral, of carbon neutral foods.”