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Eat Your Kangaroo Steak, Sport! Eat Your Kangaroo Steak!

Gmail - [stirling] Kangaroo meat: healthy but controversial - brad.delong@gmail.com

Jeroen van Bergeijk in Adelaide

?A nondescript building on the edge of Adelaide houses the largest processor of kangaroo meat in Australia: Macromeats. There is no sign on the door. The trucks loading and unloading kangaroos don't advertise what they carry. On the outside, nothing reveals that 3,000 kangaroos are turned into steaks, sausages and minced meat here every day. "I used to be compared to the folks who club baby seals," Macromeats owner Ray Borda said about the industry's image problem. Kangaroos are generally seen as cuddly animals and the mere thought of putting a 'Skippy' on the barbecue appals many Australians. But the attitude they have towards the consumption of their national symbol is changing. "The government used to scorn me," Borda said. "But this year, I was asked to host a kangaroo barbecue in the parliament building." This turnaround is credited to the environmental and health benefits of kangaroo meat compared to sheep and cattle. A recent report by Ross Garnaut, the principal environmental advisor to prime minister Kevin Rudd, stated that traditional farming is responsible for a substantial share of the emission of greenhouse gasses in Australia. The government now encourages eating kangaroos instead. "If you look at the impact on the environment, you find that kangaroo is a better choice than beef or lamb," said Euan Ritchie, a biologist affiliated with the James Cook University in Queensland state. "Kangaroos have a different digestive system from cattle or sheep. They produce less methane, a strong greenhouse gas. In short: cows fart and kangaroos don't." This limited contribution to greenhouse emissions is not the only environmental benefit the kangaroo has. "Cows and sheep need huge amounts of water and their heavy hooves erode the fragile Australian soil,” said Richie...