WRITTEN BY JOHN R. PLATT
August 2, 2016 // 09:00 AM EST
We’ve all heard of grass-fed beef, but here’s a new twist: beef that doesn’t trample the habitats or nests of grassland birds.
This innovative idea comes out of Brazil, where a network of conservation organizations have teamed up with the Carrefour supermarket chain to test-market all-natural beef that is raised in an extra-sustainable manner.
The bird-safe beef—bearing the logo of Alianza del Pastizal (“Grassland Alliance”)—is currently for sale in two grocery stores in the city of Porto Alegre. If consumers respond well to the initial three-month promotion, the beef will hopefully be rolled out to a larger number of stores, said Pedro Develey, director of SAVE Brasil, one of the four conservation organizations involved in the program.
So how is this beef better for birds? Well, the meat in question all comes from cattle ranches on what’s known as the Southern Cone grasslands, which range from Brazil down to Argentina. This million-square-kilometer network of prairies—home to 12 endangered bird species, including the saffron-cowled blackbird (Xanthopsar flavus), the marsh seedeater (Sporophila palustris), the chestnut seedeater (Sporophila cinnamomea) and the black-and-white monjita (Xolmis dominicanus)—faces ever-increasing pressures from industrial-scale agricultural companies, which are snapping up the land to raise cattle.
Not only does this involve converting much of the grassland into agricultural plant species, it also leaves the ground-dwelling birds and their nests susceptible to being trampled to death by herds of hungry cows.