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How to Green the World’s Deserts: Reversing Desertification with Grass-fed Cows

How to Reverse Desertification and Green The World's Deserts -- Video of Allan Savory on Grass-fed Cows Did you know that on nearly one third of the planet’s surface, deserts are threatening to gobble up grasslands? It’s called desertification. It’s blamed on many things, with everything from mono-culture commodity agriculture to global warming named as culprits. While it’s true that the slow transformation of the world’s dry lands into arid lands has a long history (desertification is blamed for the end of both the Grecian and Roman empires), it’s also true that it’s rapidly increasing at a rate that’s threatening at least a billion people world wide. Last year one of my heroes, Allan Savory, gave an amazing talk at a TED conference about a radical solution to re-green the world’s deserts and reverse desertification: holistic management of grazing cattle. That’s right! Grass-fed cows can save the planet.

Desertification: A Real Threat

It’s not just about the environment. Desertification creates a downward economic spiral. As the land becomes more arid, it’s no longer able to support the same number of people that it did in the past. As a result, massive numbers of rural people migrate into urban areas. Unfortunately, the influx of “unskilled” workers results higher unemployment rates and the growth of slums. And, lest you think desertification only threatens third-world countries, you can see how the United States is affected, too: Desertification Vulnerability: How to Green the World's Deserts

Grass-fed cows can reverse desertification?

It almost seems counter intuitive. One of the primary causes of desertification is over-grazing, so how could holistic grazing reverse it? That’s where Allan Savory’s talk comes in. Allan is the president and co-founder of the Savory Institute, an organization whose mission is to heal the land through large-scale restoration of grasslands. Their goal is to empower others by teaching them about holistic management and helping them implement on the ground changes within their community to reverse desertification. The talk is so powerful, I wanted to share it with you all.

Watch the video!

(top photo by nebarnix; bottom photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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12 Responses to How to Green the World’s Deserts: Reversing Desertification with Grass-fed Cows
  1. Terry
    April 9, 2014 | 9:51 am

    Recent news reports that the Executive Branch is emphasizing an association of cow flatulence’s (CF) with “global warming.” I have to wonder the correlation between CF and unnatural diets.

  2. Pearls Page via Facebook
    April 9, 2014 | 11:24 am

    We just heard him at the Permaculture convergence, awesome, gentle, wise man. We the Growing Home also spoke at Permaculture Voices Conference on suburban food forests. In large scale or in small scale the more we live closer to nature, the more we flourish! Wildlife, Open Wild spaces are essential to our wellbeing! We hope people understand climate change is not a fictional story and start to convert their lawns to sanctuaries, where man and wildlife can co-exist.

  3. Misty Dawn Scheller via Facebook
    April 9, 2014 | 11:30 am

    Awesome!

  4. Carolyn's Other Page via Facebook
    April 9, 2014 | 11:56 am

    Interesting

  5. The Growing Home via Facebook
    April 9, 2014 | 12:12 pm

    what we practice :)

  6. Rae
    April 10, 2014 | 11:52 am

    This was very inspiring. I was hopeful until I was reminded that the government isn’t exactly on board with supporting independent farmers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpnFG4mfWo4

  7. Nicole
    April 10, 2014 | 4:12 pm

    Not to be a troll, but I just came across this article: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/04/allan_savory_s_ted_talk_is_wrong_and_the_benefits_of_holistic_grazing_have.2.html

    What are your thoughts on this response, Renegade community? (I am truly interested).

    • Chris
      April 15, 2014 | 1:51 am

      “Slate‚Äôs coverage of food systems is made possible in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.”

      Tells me everything I need to know. Every read the Talmud?

  8. Beth
    April 10, 2014 | 4:41 pm

    It’s too bad Mr. Savory is not included in the upcoming Food Revolution Summit, to add balanced wisdom to a lineup which seems heavily tipped toward the vegan and (soundly debunked) China Study point of view.

    The health of the food supply and all of Earth’s inhabitants is at stake, and the promise of healing by ruminant animals is such an important message. They have the capacity to sequester carbon (reducing greenhouse gasses) and create a complete ecosystem that heals the land, water and air.

  9. Daniel Dessinger
    April 23, 2014 | 11:17 pm

    I am studying Savoy and others at the moment, doing my best to implement intensive grazing management on a small scale.

    Great article!

  10. Kim Anderson via Facebook
    August 18, 2014 | 7:53 pm

    I’ve loved this for a long time! Been trying to get people on board. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Tabitha
    October 21, 2014 | 9:13 am

    Great information. I’ve been studying the research on grass fed, intensive management holistic grazing for 4 years. My husband’s and my dream is to become grass fed cattle farmers. With proper management practices it can actually use fewer resources (if you don’t supplement with grain) to intensively manage cattle on grass and legumes only. I enjoyed Greg Judy’s book “No Risk Ranching” and it got me started towards the direction of learning about holistic management.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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