I went to Costco (motto: When 2 gallons isn’t enough) the other day. I hadn’t been in a while so the experience was sort of like watching broadcast television after eschewing it for a decade. I suppose it’s also like seeing a growing child occasionally, rather than constantly, “When did my nephew get so tall?”
But back to Costco. Apparently bowing to the whims of the day, yellow markers pointed out what was ORGANIC, in case shoppers couldn’t read the regular cards without highlighting. Everywhere I went, yellow highlighting to help you select the best possible ORGANIC choices. It made me laugh to think that shoppers needed that much help being totally politically and theoretically nutritionally correct.
And I got to thinking, because common sense is sometimes a really powerful tool, right? Have you heard about massive numbers of new organic farms, or traditional farmers converting their expansive fields and orchards to ORGANIC-ally certified farms? It’s a weighty process, involving many years of certification and inspection. Yeah, me neither. It hadn’t been front and center in the news.
What you can find on the Internet (reminding you that if you see it on the Internet, it must be true), is that a great deal of ORGANIC food is imported from China and while certified, is generally inspected as it enters the US at a rate of about 5%. We can totally trust Chinese food producers.
So back to Costco. If we haven’t heard about large new ORGANIC farms, and if all of a sudden Costco can produce large numbers of ORGANIC (for example) grapes in 5# plastic clam shells, and there are mountains of these clam shells in not only the Kirkland, WA Costco I was at, but at Costco’s around the US and for that matter the world, where, one wonders, are all these ORGANIC grapes (and other foods) coming from? As Arsenio Hall would say, “Things that make you go, ‘Hmmmmmmmmm.'”
Why organic isn’t always the right choice
My lovely friend Ava from R & A Paradise Ranch in Oregon has a passion for good food, raised right and treated humanely. She not only has animals which were born on her ranch, but will also save horses and cows that are in need of a caring touch to keep them from slaughter. She feeds, treats with medicines only as necessary, protects them from predators and gives them the best life and quickest, most humane death possible.
Most of my acquaintances who are passionately devoted to organic food share that belief system. The small farm which treats animals well, as opposed to massive-output animal factories are believed to be not only putting out a superior product, but also treating animals in a humane manner. Theirs is a belief of “be good/do good/eat good,” or more grammatically correct, well.
In addition to doing good for farm animals, Ava has allowed my daughter to live that life and learn what being a rancher is all about, in preparation for Veterinary School. Hope has stayed on the ranch, given inoculations, learned how to do an artificial insemination, helped raise babies abandoned by their mothers, fix fences, step in a lot of cow pies and generally be tired, because that’s what the life of a small rancher involves.
During her stays, she has accompanied Ava and Ross to the livestock auctions, searching for animals worthy of a second chance in life before they became globs of Fancy Feast®. One of the iterations of “get rid of this animal” is what is called a 3-teater cow, and those are increasingly common.
All four cylinders need to function
A milking machine has 4 suction devices to stick on an udder for milk extraction. When one teat has become useless, the cow is unable to be milked by machine because the suction is broken by the inoperable teat. The farmer has the option to milk the cow by hand, which is time consuming and not practical on a medium to large dairy farm or try and sell it. In selling, they may find someone who is either willing to milk by hand or alternately, or who wants less expensive meat on the hoof.
So why are 3-teater’s “increasingly common?” Because of ORGANIC certification. If a cow on an ORGANICALLY certified farm becomes ill and is treated with medication, the farm stands to lose certification. For farmers dependent on the ORGANIC trade, that could be a death knell. Without highlighted yellow ORGANIC on their product, they become simply a small farm, unable to compete with large farms having overall lower costs.
And for the cows? It means that if they develop an infection, they have to suffer through without any assistance, until part of their body dies. Those of you women who have nursed babies and developed a thrush infection know how painful that is. Yes, you can come through it without antibiotics, but if it becomes acute, that is always an option. ORGANIC cows have no option. For them, the certification means suffering and ultimately necrotic tissue which must be removed from their otherwise functional udders.
My friend treats her cows if they have an infection. Their well being is important to her. Once treated, their milk is thrown out till the antibiotics are no longer a component of the milk.
If your desire is to have naturally produced milk (or any food product), it is worth the effort to get to know the farmer or rancher who produced it. What you think might be best, because someone has a yellow highlighter, may in fact be contributing to the suffering of an animal.
Alternately, is there an enterprising rancher who wants to run SOOC (Save our organic certification) farms, where animals could be brought, treated and released back to the original farms when clean, for a fee? Just a thought.