Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.

From 2015 onward, new posts will appear only here: http://www.sierraclub.org/greenlife


The Green Life: An Interview with Temple Grandin

« How to Make Your Oktoberfest Uber-Green | Main | Clean Sweets: 5 Eco-Friendly Sugar Alternatives »

October 16, 2013

An Interview with Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin with cowTemple Grandin was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. She struggled in school until she met Bill Carlock, a high school science teacher who revolutionized her thinking. As an adult, she, in turn, revolutionized the design of slaughterhouses to make sure animals are relaxed and treated well before they're killed. Grandin, now an animal science professor at Colorado State University and the author of many books, including Animals in Translation and The Autistic Brain, is also the subject of an eponymous Emmy-winning HBO movie. We spoke with Grandin to find out how she views the meat industry today.

Q: What environmental suggestions do you make to improve cattle ranches?

A: One of the most important things you can do is really work on your grazing management programs. Rotate the grazing right, and then you can actually stimulate grass growth for the ranch and sequester more carbon.

Q: Have you worked with organic cattle ranches?

A: Yes. [Organic farming] doesn't give all the answers. Big agriculture and organic agriculture can learn from each other. Sometimes you need a little artificial fertilizer. Then there are things like crop rotation that the big farms can learn from the organic ones.

Q: You eat meat. How do you reconcile that with your love for animals?

A: Most of these cattle wouldn't even be born if people didn't eat meat. I feel strongly that we give animals a life worth living. And when it's time, a quick painless death.

Q: You've said that being autistic helps you relate to animals. How?

A: I'm an extreme visual thinker, and animals are very sensory-based. They don't have language, so all their memories are pictures, touch-based, audio clips. When something bad happens, they associate their fear with something they're either hearing or seeing. As I learned more about how my thinking was different, this gave me insight into how the animal mind records and remembers things.

--interview by Ailsa Sachdev / photo by Rosalie Winard

User comments or postings reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Sierra Club accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

Up to Top