Thanksgiving's Future: Kangaroo Instead of Turkey?

Written by Dennis Avery


dennisavery.jpgNovember 26, 2008
by Dennis Avery
Incoming President Obama will undoubtedly call for a renewed crusade against greenhouse gas emissions. Will Thanksgiving dinners in the future feature kangaroo instead of turkey?  Don't get me wrong. Turkeys emit lots less greenhouse gas than beef cattle. Cattle today are fed lots of grain, and growing it requires nitrogen fertilizer (made with natural gas), and much diesel fuel for the tractors and combines. In addition, cows naturally emit vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times as dangerous to the environment as CO2.

Turkeys (and also chickens) make twice as much meat per pound of grain as cattle, and their stomachs don't create methane. That means far less than half as much greenhouse gas emitted per pound of turkey as from beef production. But Britain just passed a law to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by the year 2050. If the U.S. is to match that sort of emission cuts, even turkey won't be "green" enough.

Kangaroos emit hardly any greenhouse gas. The Australian Wildlife Services tell us the kangaroo's unique digestive microbes emit just seven pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas per year, compared with more than 4,000 pounds per year of CO2 equivalents from each cow! 

Equally important, kangaroos eat grass. Millions more kangaroos could substitute for today's millions of cattle on the world's natural grasslands. If that grass isn't grazed, lightning strikes would set off the sort of massive prairie fires that used to strike terror in the hearts of the early Great Plains settlers. The gas emitted from a prairie fire-need I remind you-is CO2.

The northern parts of the United States may be too cold for happy kangaroos. But the southern rangelands should be able to feed millions of them. Fences will obviously be a problem, however, since they can jump up to ten feet off the ground.

What's it like eating kangaroo? We're told it's a gamy, low-fat meat similar to elk or venison. Due to the ultra-low fat content, it needs to be cooked rare or it turns leathery. Experts suggest steaks be cooked just 2-3 minutes on a side. Australia already sells kangaroo meat in some supermarkets and exports it to game-lovers in Germany and France.

But hold on! 

The Obama team would still like you to try the kangaroo fillet with caramelized pear and red current sauce, or perhaps the grilled loin of ‘roo' with fig and onion.

DENNIS T. AVERY is an environmental economist and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers can email him at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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