Monday, May 26, 2008

Thoughts On Small-Scale and Humane Farming...

As you know, I live in New England - a beautiful and bucolic area of the country where the rolling countryside is dotted with family-owned farms seasonally producing berries, corn, maple syrup and - year round - milk, of course.

Driving to work every day, I see the cows in the fields ambling around grazing, rubbing along the fences, laying down to soak in the sun. And, knowing some of the people involved, I also know how hard their 'owners' work to look after them, to keep them safe and well.

And I am conflicted.

I have always been a believer in supporting small producers over agribusiness - the Davids over the Goliaths.

So surely it is better to buy cows' milk from the little guys than soy milk from WhiteWave Foods Co???

But then there is the 'bigger picture' - when the lens is widened to take in the full scope of the industry. When you view the panoramic shot, you see how the dairy industry - for that is what it is despite the pretty picture of the old-fashioned family farm - feeds the veal industry, that most intolerable and unconscionable of capitalist profiteering. The industry which imprisons babies from their first day until their slaughter at 4 months old. Which orphans them, confines them, renders them sickly anaemic and then transports them, to the knife.

You see how the 'spent' dairy cows end their days in the very same slaughterhouse hell as those free roaming steer, raised for beef. How their lives of enforced pregnancy and constant bereavement are artificially-foreshortened when they are deemed no longer economically viable as units of production.

And when you bear this in mind, you realize once again that despite the touchy-feely hype this system is not humane. Far from it. That organic, free-range, hormone-free milk for which you are paying top dollar comes at such a price - such a terrible cost to the animals - that it cannot be considered a humane, sane or sustainable alternative. The only sane option is the vegan option; the only 'humane' farming is arable farming.

There is no alternative.

Stay Vegan, Friends!

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