I would like to preface this post by saying that in my 27 years, this is the first time I’ve actually given serious thought about a) the source of the foods we eat b) the conditions animals that produce these foods often are forced to live in and c) the consequences of eating such foods. It’s been very enlightening in a scary way. And to anyone who has given more than 4 days time to this thought this post will probably sound a little un-educated and ignorant. It’s meant to spark thought and educate a smidge, I guess 🙂 When I started this blog I had no idea it would take me down this road, but I’m glad I’ve made this journey. It all started this weekend when I read this article about milk production in Mother Earth News. The few things from the article that really hit home for me?
- In the 1940’s a good milk cow produced 4500 lbs of milk per year. Today’s cows produce over 20,000 lbs of milk per year. “Breeding by itself is only half of the story behind today’s super-high-producing cows. The other half is feeding, which has changed drastically.”
- ” You can stimulate dairy cows to higher yields by keeping them on high-energy rations with large amounts of grains, especially corn. But this practice changes the only slightly acid environment of the cow’s normal rumen to a lower (more acidic) pH. The unhappy animal often loses her appetite. She is constantly thirsty and tries to right matters by drinking more water, which means more — but thinner — milk. She may develop full-blown acidosis, which will release infectious bacteria that make her even sicker. In addition, lowered ruminal pH encourages the growth of E. coli bacteria that survive through the entire digestive tract and persist in her manure, which now often includes the virulent 0157:H7 E. coli strain that has caused so many serious outbreaks of foodborne illness.”
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/real-milk-zmrz11zalt.aspx?page=3#ixzz1hmXnlEhL
- As if that weren’t enough, some cows are injected with steriods to make them produce even MORE milk.
- Todays milk is processed so much that they have to add back in vitamin A and D, two vitamins that occur naturally in “real” milk.
- Even organic milk isn’t exactly what we think it is: ” The great preponderance of organic milk comes from a few very large producers, and the milk, which travels thousands of miles to reach retail shelves, has been produced through the same methods as conventional milk. This situation is improving thanks to the work of the folks at The Cornucopia Institute. Why should we support new-style versions of factory farming clad in airs of moral superiority?” Wow. You can’t say it any better than that. Or make me question that expensive organic milk I’ve been buying.
The only question I had after reading this article is Why would I want to put all this crap in my body? Actually I had a lot more questions than that, but that was the main one. The only thought I had was These poor cows! So I did a little research to find out exactly how good the milk I was drinking was…and how I could find better food sources in general, to make sure I’m supporting the farmers I want to be supporting. Thanks to the great folks at the Cornucopia Institute (http://www.cornucopia.org) I found some pretty interesting things. Check out the Organic Dairy Report to find how your organic milk stacks up. You might be surprised, I sure was. For instance, Horizon brand organic milk, which my parents used to buy, received an “ethically deficient” rating. Ethically deficient! They boast a 4000 cow “farm”. I doubt there are many happy cows there. There were NO brands in the top division (5 cows) that are sold near me. What’s a girl to do? I definitely wasn’t drinking this faux milk anymore! The best option for me seems to be Organic Valley, which has 4 cows. Then I started doing a little research to see if I could buy “real” un-homogenized milk from a smaller farm close to me. Enter Hartzler Family Dairy. They are the farm that my awesome butter came from and it turns out they sell milk too! Un-homogeonized, organic milk. Real milk, from a happy cow on a family farm. I’d much rather pay $5 for that than I would the same amount for some other “organic” milk from a farm that doesn’t give a lick about their cows.
Changing the World
I know, little old me changing what milk I buy will not stop horrible “farmers” from allowing things like this to happen:
But I do know that if I continue buying milk from companies that buy milk from farms like these I am only feeding the beast. I believe that if people who care about our animals, our environment, and the crap we put in our bodies because of current farming methods make the effort to support those people and companies who are trying to do the right things and make changes slowly we will see improvements.
Making Educated Decisions
If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that unfortunately, you have to do your homework if you’re serious about eating clean foods, because most of the foods in today’s world just aren’t. I find myself wondering about the many health problems that are becomingly increasingly more evident in youth today: childhood obesity, increased incidence of asthma, increased incidence of MRSA, increased incidence of ADD, the list goes on and on. Is it possible that some of these problems are because we stuff our animal products with antibiotics and hormones? I found this article about increased childhood cancer and a possible relation to eating non-organic pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables. Are you serious? I would say how could anyone put this stuff in their baby’s bodies but unfortunately I know that the real answer is money, and a bit of lack of knowledge as well. It’s enough to make a happy girl pretty depressed if she thinks about it long enough! Whew! SO long story short I’ll be putting just a little more investigation into my food sources as much as I can. And so I present you with one of those infamous blog-lists, with some interesting articles as well as some good resources for finding good clean food.
- Getting Real about the High Price of Cheap Food – NY Times Article
- http://www.sustainabletable.org – a one stop shop for education about clean eating and finding sustainable food sources.
- http://www.eatwellguide.org – from the sustainable table website, put in your zip code and find a bounty of places to get good food!
- http://cornucopia.org – great info on the quality of certain organic products – eggs, milk, cereal, baby food
- http://eatwild.com – “the #1 website for grass-fed food and facts”
- http://www.ecocentricblog.org – A blog about food, water, and the environment
Sorry to go all environmental and PETA-like on you guys, but I think it’s worth talking about!
I promise next time I’ll only talk about the dumb cooking mistakes I’ve made and the great run I’m going on tomorrow morning 🙂