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The cow in us

Published: 
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Driving through Normandy some years ago, we saw a group of cows in a field and, as Trini cars are wont to do, slowing down going uphill or accelerating at a red light, the car stopped by itself. We jumped out to macco! Think Normandy, you think! Cows, creamy, white milk, soft cheese. Look! The real thing. We were enthralled. Camembert here we come. Lumpy Trini tourists looking for food we can’t digest.

When was the last time you saw a cow in a field? Those of us of a certain age grew up seeing cows everywhere. There used to be cows grazing in a field alongside the Eastern Main Road in St Joseph and a drive in the country was always peppered with the sight of cows or goats grazing.

Last week a cow found its way into the Crystal Stream Roman Catholic churchyard and scared the hell out of every housewife in the area. Did anyone take their children to see the cow? In the future, zoos will be filled with cows, goats and sad buffalypso that have either vanished from public areas or are locked up in animal jail from where we can persuade them to furnish us with their meat and milk, or we will finally have decided that too much milk and meat is unhealthy and retire them to exotic and remote valleys to spend the rest of their life in animal heaven.

The fourth best way to make your child healthy is to cut back on the amount of milk and meat you give them. The first three are: breastfeed for at least for a year; immunize them against the common, deadly diseases and read to them. And the fifth? Well, discipline, which is not what most think it is, ie licks. Discipline comes from within. It cannot be imposed.

Last Wednesday the T&T Guardian produced a remarkable article, almost as good as their Thursday satirical series, Rundown, and the World Cup pullouts they gave us over the weekend. It was written for World Environment Day by Stephanie Pulwarty and headlined Leave the Cows to Graze, Why Dairy Milk is a Major Problem for our Earth and contained sentences like, “Did you know that cow’s milk is destroying our planet?” combined with mind-boggling statistics.

A lovely 1,500-pound cow, all moos and swollen udders, uses up 20 gallons of water to produce 60 pounds of milk a day. Not good for water conservation in a thirsty world. The hysterical stat that a cow “releases up to 200 litres of methane gas a day” from farting and burping. Of interest, the average human, not politicians, mind you, produces a fraction of a litre. NASA estimates that the amount of methane emitted (a lovely word to describe flatulence) by a cow over a year “is equal to that produced by the family car over the same time”. The UN says that livestock are “responsible for about 15 per cent of all greenhouse gases and cows account for half of that.

It also turns out that cow manure, the beloved patty of country rhymes, the gobar of plastered floors and the fertilizer of naturopathic liberals, is pretty poisonous to the environment, causing toxic weed growth in waterways which makes water unsafe for drinking and destroys marine life.

So dairy cows aren’t very good for the environment and we haven’t looked at beef cattle yet and their effect on the environment. Don’t even talk about their defining role in the development of chronic lifestyle disease, obesity and heart attacks and the like.

It’s all due to the excessively high demand for dairy and meat. As the article says, don’t blame the cow, blame yourself…well, maybe advertisers too. It is hard to avoid meat and milk but, given the now well-known effects on our health and environment caused by cows and their products, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate our eating and drinking habits.

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