Wait, what. There are no factories?
Nothing about her visit to an Aussie beef farm ‘Woko Station’ was what content creator Meissa Mason expected.
She didn’t know much about the red meat industry. Hadn’t really thought about it before.
She had a vague idea it was harmful to the environment. Or not great for the animals? Maybe that’s where the negative connotations around eating red meat came from?
Taking an open mind to the wide open land, the expectation of factory farming was the first misconception Meissa smashed.
Yarning to farm workers with 20 and 30 years of experience working in the industry, she smashed the second as she heard about the changes that have made the industry more sustainable.
Changes that mean 68% less water is needed to produce 1kg of beef now than in 1985.
And what about animal welfare?
Cattle are social creatures, who thrive on companionship. So the farmers nurture their emotional needs as much as their physical. At 'Woko Station’ they have a ‘Mates for Life’ program where they are kept in the same group (herd) for life and not separated from their mates.
After all...cattle that graze together, stay together.
Meissa left satisfied, knowing the animals are well looked after.
“I do feel better, knowing that the cows are having a good life, and they’re really taken care of.”
But where did that leave those perceptions about eating red meat?
The answer might be found on Meissa’s social media, where she can be seen whipping up meals - including beef dishes - alongside her beauty and activism content.
Content creator Meissa Masson had high school flashbacks when she visited ‘Woko Station’ beef farm in NSW to find out how the farmers are helping make the Australian red meat industry more sustainable.
She was enjoying her day until farmer Robert ‘Macka’ Mackenzie said the words, ‘methane cycle’. Ugh. There’s not a quiz at the end of the tour is there?
Meissa thought she had learnt about it at school. But really, she couldn’t remember a thing. On the farm, she got it. Go, school of life!
Turns out that whilst there are small amounts of methane coming from the back end, most of it comes from burping or simply exhaling as cattle chew and digest their food.
But it’s not called the natural (biogenic) methane ‘cycle’ for nothing.
Turns out that after about 12 years, the methane from the cows breaks down into carbon dioxide (and water). It gets absorbed back into plants and grasses (photosynthesis, anyone?) and turned into carbohydrates. More food for the cows!
Then the whole natural, or cycle starts again. This cycle revolves around carbon that is already in the atmosphere.
But it’s not like burning fossil fuels that release new greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that have been stored underground for millions of years. With no mechanism (like grazing cattle) to cycle the carbon back into the plants and soil these gases can stay in the atmosphere for, oh, about 1,000 years.
It’s upcycling and recycling. Like donating and buying at op shops. Reusing what already exists.
And Meissa learnt that’s important. Planting more vegetation to store more carbon in plants and soil is one way Aussie beef farmers are helping the industry move closer to its goal to be carbon neutral by 2030. It’s already more than halved emissions since 2005.
“The meat industry isn’t even one of the biggest contributors to the climate crisis, but even then they’re still trying to do their part to lower it,” she said.
Now, where’s that quiz Macka?