Episode 3.2: Can we eat our way to sustainability? A deep dive into sustainable protein

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To consume or not consume meat? That is the question plaguing many an environmentally conscious person as we grapple with our personal responsibilities in the face of a warming climate. However, as our guests Paige Stanley, PhD Candidate at the University of California, Berkeley and Tara Garnett, Director of TABLE, a platform for informed discussion about food systems at University of Oxford point out, the answer isn't so black and white. In today's episode, we dive into the nuances of protein production, exploring both the macro and micro ways that farmers, scientists, and everyday people are tackling sustainable food systems. Ultimately, we strive to answer the question: Can we truly eat our way to sustainability?

Host

Peter Andrée
Professor, Department of Political Science, Carleton University

Host

Ryan M. Katz-Rosene
Assistant Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa

Guest

Paige Stanley
PhD Candidate, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management

Guest Bios

Guest

Tara Garnett
TABLE, University of Oxford

Guest Bios

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Guest Bio

Paige Stanley

I am an interdisciplinary scientist working to understand how grazing management can sequester C in soils to help mitigate climate change and build more resilient rangeland ecosystems. With a B.S. in Biology and Economics (Georgia College), M.S. in Animal Science (Michigan State University), and soon-to-be PhD in Environmental Science (University of California, Berkeley), I draw on a wide range of disciplines including soil biogeochemistry, grazing ecology, agroecology, rancher sociology, climate science, and political ecology to approach research questions holistically. 

My previous work has primarily focused on greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation in livestock grazing systems using life cycle analysis. I am particularly interested in the use of “regenerative grazing” (or adaptive multi-paddock grazing) by ranchers to sequester soil C, improve soil function, and reduce fossil fuel-derived GHGs. I’m currently studying the impacts of regenerative grazing on California rangelands, including soil C sequestration and persistence, water infiltration/retention, and vegetative cover and biodiversity. Core to this work is centering ranchers throughout the research process, ensuring that my research contributes to solving their on-the-ground challenges. To this end, I also incorporate social science methods to understand rancher realities, including drivers and barriers of adoption for regenerative grazing. I’ve also worked to optimize methods of measurement and monitoring for soil C to reduce uncertainties in our understanding of its climate change mitigation potential.

I strongly believe in policy as a theory of change, and my ultimate goal is to help create science informed policy for working lands. Over the past several years, I’ve worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists during the 2018 Farm Bill creating a cost-benefit analysis for the Conservation Stewardship Program, the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) to report California working lands’ climate change mitigation potential, and have met with several members of the Senate Agriculture Committee on relevant C market bills.

Tara Garnett

Tara is the Director of TABLE , a new global platform for knowledge synthesis, for reflective, critical thinking and for inclusive stakeholder dialogue on priority concerns and contestations around the future of food. TABLE seeks to facilitate informed discussions about how the food system can become sustainable, resilient, just, and ultimately “good”.

Tara’s work centres on the interactions among food, climate, health and broader sustainability issues; she has a particular interest in livestock as a sector where many of these converge. She is also interested in how knowledge is communicated to and interpreted by policy makers, civil society organisations and industry, and in the values that these different stakeholders bring to food problems and possible solutions.

Tara is based at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. She has a degree in English Literature (University of Oxford), a Masters in Development Studies (School of Oriental and African Studies) and a PhD in food systems analysis (University of Surrey).