While ordering a drink at Starbucks recently I asked for soy milk instead of regular milk. Not being allergic or a vegan, my mom asked me why I got soy and I told her it was because I didn’t want to drink milk from unhappy cows.
My mom knows what this means because we agree on food choices (although she has this weird hate for everything soy due to the overuse of GMO soy in processed foods). The barista however, wasn’t sure what I meant.
“Why aren’t the cows happy?” he asked. So I explained that factory farms mistreat dairy cows by keeping them confined and feeding them grain (cows are meant to eat grass only). He looked at the milk carton, trying to figure out where the Kroger brand milk actually comes from. All he could figure out about it was that it wasn’t from cows treated with rBGH. That really doesn’t mean much when it comes to the lives of dairy cows.
Now, when I talk about Happy Milk I don’t mean non-dairy milk. It’s possible to sell milk from cows who are living lives as cows. When you imagine a cow farm you probably think of cows grazing in a pasture with lots of space. That picture unfortunately is the minority.
I think the treatment of dairy cows and egg laying hens are things that often get overlooked by people. Most people probably have never thought about what really goes on in those operations. But when you really think about it, how do you think all of that milk is produced for such a cheap price? Especially when seeing cow farms is quite rare these days.
Besides the treatment of these cows as machines (due to the fact the animal cruelty is illegal in all 50 states I think we can all agree that animals can suffer) you don’t get as many health benefits from milk from these cows. The health benefits from milk come from being grass fed. With this factory system the cows are fed grain, which cows were not meant to eat.
So what is it about grass-fed milk that make it so much better? According to a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health“…experiments have shown that cows on a diet of fresh grass produce milk with five times as much of an unsaturated fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than do cows fed processed grains. Studies in animals have suggested that CLAs can protect the heart, and help in weight loss.”
Can you buy milk from happy cows? Yes you can. In the Ohio and Indiana area there are two creameries that I particularly like. Snowville Creamery in the Southeast Ohio area, can be found in select places throughout Ohio and Traders Point Creamery from Zionsville, Indiana. I’ve visited both of these creameries and the cows at both had freedom of movement and enjoyed real pastures.
Local grass-fed milk is a great option for everyone-the cows get to live lives as cows rather than machines, and people get to have better tasting and healthier milk while supporting local and sustainable businesses.