Spinach, Cows, and Corn

October 3rd, 2006

*Cheese People*
There was an excellent opinion piece by Nina Planck in the NY Times last week about the e. coli 0157 outbreak caused by contaminated spinach. What does this have to do with cheese? It is related to cheese in that Ms. Planck makes a connection between the spinach problem and the current commercial dairy and feedlot situation. I thought the piece did a fantastic job at outlining some of the serious issues happening in agriculture and the importance of understanding the root cause of an outbreak like this.

I do feel like a little extra information would arm consumers with a more complete picture about the use of grain on dairy farms. Every dairy except one that we visited this summer feeds their herds some percentage of their diet in grain. Because I wanted to have my facts straight before I started blabbing on the blog, I emailed one of the herdsmen I interviewed this summer with my questions about cows and grain and he sent back a response that I found incredibly useful. Below is a link to the NY Times piece and also the information I received from Andy Kehler at Jasper Hill Farm where they milk 35-40 cows.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/21/opinion/21planck.html?th&emc=th

Andy Kehler’s email to me:

“While Nina’s piece about ecoli and its connection to the dairy and beef industry was informative, I believe that there is crucial distinction that needs to be made. As a dairy farmer that does feed grain, I was disturbed that I am being lumped into a category of farming where I don’t feel that I belong. There was no distinction made between herds that are fed grain as a supplement to balance a ration and herds where the majority of their diet is grain based. Nina says turn your attention to the dairy and beef industry,but I believe the culprit is actually corn. It wasn’t until farms started feeding large ammounts of corn that 0157 started becoming a problem. It is cheap and easy to grow and the government will pay you to grow it. You have to feed enough corn to create ruminal acidosis in the animal- the ph in the rumen drops creating an environment where 0157 can can exist- this also leads to laminitis (where layers of the hoof start separating) and other metabolic problems in dairy cows.

Dairy cows have been bred over the last 100 years to produce more and more milk. They have gotten farther and farther away from their “natural state” where they could calve in the wild and forage. Most dairy cows can’t consume enough grass to meet the energy demands that their bodies require after they calve. This is when they are under the most stress- recouperating from calving, growing if it is their first or second calf and producing the milk that they are genetically predisposed to make. As a dairy farmer I feel that it is my responsibility to formulate a healthy ration for my herd and I believe that grain is a very important part of a healthy diet. As a farm we are lucky that we have been able to get away from pressures that fluid milk producers have, and can put the health of my cows and the quality of my milk at the forefront of what we do. I also have a herd where I can treat each cow as an individual and adjust each cows diet on a daily basis. This is impossible do on a large dairy.

The real problem here is that as a society we have made the choice that cheap food is more important than food safety. If we look where agricultural subsidies go, most of them go to the production of corn. In order to take advantage of these a farm must be of a certain size, for handling corn takes a lot more equipment. It is hard to justify the investment in equipment if you are milking less than 80 to 100 cows. Nina is asking us to look at the culprits- dairy and beef farmers. Comercial dairies need to squeeze as much milk out of each cow as possible in order to remain competitive. What ends up happening is they are trying to get as close to ruminal acidosis as possible- feed them as many calories as possible, without crossing that line where the rumen becomes too acidic. The industry creates a scenario in which a farmer has to push their cows as much as possible to produce more milk per animal.

There are around 3000 large farms in the U.S. There are tens of thousands of small family farms that are really struggling right now to stay alive because as a society we have chosen to ecourage and subsidize cheap milk and cheap beef. This is why this distinction is so important. I applaud Nina for shedding light on this issue, for I do feel that there is a serious threat to food safety here. I do, however, think the issue is more complex than she alludes and that the last thing that our small family farms need is to be blamed for making people sick.”

Entry Filed under: Animals, Sustainability

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. jacqueline church  |  October 5th, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    Michaeal: A great piece. I also tried to get more info out sooner, (perhaps you saw “Requiem for Popeye”). I always say “if your farmer doesn’t have a face, you should be scared.”

    More and more good reasons to shop local farmer’s markets and artisanal producers.

    I have an unrelated question. As one of my fromagiers superbe…can you tell me about a delicious cheese I picked up on Toronto. Lost the label I was saving for research, I think it’s called borchette tartufo? It’s a semi-soft cheese laced with black truffle bits. It’s just wonderful. Never saw it before. Every bite is creamy and perfumed with the truffle.

    Anyone making that here? Have you been to Boston’s very own Formaggio’s Kitchen? I’ll check there too…

    Cheers,
    Jacqueline
    http://gourmetfood.suite101.com
    http://leatherdistrictgourmet.blogspot.com

    ps is there a preferable place to submit random cheese questions?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Calendar

February 2016
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
29  

Most Recent Posts


  • virtuelle maschine windows xp
  • oab provas anteriores download
  • gameshark rom gba
  • fallout 3 the pitt german
  • download ios 5.1.1 ipad2 3g wifi
  • bum bholenath bob marley
  • download data in excel in asp.net
  • ipin dan upin download
  • overkill the electronic age
  • download mp5 nes games
  • chord overstreet beautiful girl
  • ransom the movie
  • girl next door 2004 free
  • sound effects dj download free
  • bhimraj ki beti song download
  • love angels airwaves movie
  • epsxe cdr plugin
  • download tedashii blacklight album zip
  • download instagram buat bb
  • my favorite martian tv download
  • kahani kismat ki mp3 song
  • mirai e song
  • invasA?o da terra
  • can i ffvii to my psp
  • mp3 saiyyan chodoge to roti
  • norah jones free album
  • tiffany last one
  • 4400 season 1 free
  • shaolin vs ninja download
  • power rangers tempestade ninja completo
  • download car spawner gta iv 1.3
  • download o poderoso chefA?o parte 2 legendado
  • the goonies 'r' good enough mp3
  • feel good time pink
  • download alvin e os esquilos 2 rmvb
  • download daylight savings time patch
  • download normas regulamentadoras 2011
  • mela hindi film song
  • download bao hanh tre em
  • lego strategie download pc
  • song teri umeed
  • say ok vanessa hudgens mp3
  • lockerz hack 2010
  • download naats of ramadan
  • diwali e card free download
  • valerie mp3 amy winehouse
  • download solo una vez solido
  • alpha blondy sebe allah free
  • download vmware orchestrator appliance
  • dia sanggup mp3
  • download leader movie song
  • download cd papas da lingua pingos de amor
  • intimo e pessoal download gratis
  • download game sieu nhan gao ps1
  • download pictures of ships
  • skype 5.0 english
  • download shreya ghoshal collection mp3
  • download coleAžA?o de objetos the sims 2
  • guitar pro tracks
  • m audio torq
  • download ventrilo free windows 7
  • download american heritage dictionary free
  • free holly movies in hindi
  • free of uncle shom part 1
  • kpl theme song free
  • address book outlook
  • the sims medieval download youtube
  • house of fears 2008
  • love lockdown video
  • ghost 5.0 iphone
  • video game cover art
  • delphi 7 for free
  • patterns of enterprise application architecture maka
  • jawani ne mastani ne download
  • download checkpoint client windows 7
  • kina karde aa pyar mp3
  • download fluid itunes for mac
  • zombie plague 4.3 cso
  • working class man jimmy barnes
  • download stil din mizil album
  • download winner tamil mp3 songs
  • jane by design legendado 1x05
  • iscsi target for windows server 2008 r2
  • download idm 611 full version
  • nokia 5130c 2 download
  • wwe entrance ringtone download
  • download primeira temporada 24 horas dublado
  • mr & ms doare fileshare
  • vec sample pack download
  • download clonedvd latest version
  • tworzymy historie jwp mp3
  • gackt ghost mp3
  • download jedi mind tricks blogspot
  • killswitch engage no end in sight
  • zuma deluxe games
  • mobile recharge application
  • driver d link dsl 200 per windows 7
  • download lagu ill divo
  • paiya songs free 123musiq com
  • mascara super nintendo
  • pale ale mp3
  • smallville 10o temporada
  • hobby farm game
  • download musica semisonic closing time
  • download terjemahan alquran 30 juz
  • corel draw 6.0
  • miracle man ozzy osbourne mp3
  • zipper for mac
  • wario ware inc gba
  • pirates 4 subtitles
  • sims 3 download schuhe
  • css wallhack german
  • wizard101 full version
  • download am multe femei
  • truyen conan tap 51
  • tv shows psp
  • dota download patch 1.24e
  • diced pineapples rick ross hulk
  • making of transformers 3
  • krazzy 4 movie download
  • download azgard defence full
  • download aankhon mein teri ajab si
  • gta iv pc youtube
  • hdx 1000 firmware 2011 download
  • voiture gta sa
  • ogre command line tools
  • download free empire earth lll
  • highlander avi legendado
  • lotro europe client
  • zingme cho android
  • desenho animado infantil
  • download redsn0w 0.9.6 b4 for windows from here
  • e a vida continua portugues
  • pec cheat database editor
  • volvo penta 280 manual
  • download can knockdown ipad
  • opnet student version
  • one piece japan
  • cA?ch tA i lia╗çu a╗Y ebook.edu.vn
  • fuzzy logic toolbox matlab free
  • download running man ep 104 hd
  • download tai chi for beginners
  • step by step tv
  • aimp terbaru 2012
  • auto mu fpt ss6
  • un pedagog de scoala noua
  • download replay video capture full version free
  • farsi and arabic 2.1 .rar
  • punjabi songs from apunkabollywood
  • bcmwl5 driver xp
  • internet exp 8
  • download yoyo honey singh brown rang
  • java se v1.4.2 03
  • symbian emulator for android
  • limewire 4.12 for mac
  • golden al wafi
  • beetel tv tuner software download
  • download grindr to blackberry
  • avg 2012 32 bit
  • allshare cast pc
  • download iwak peyek koplo
  • free omnipage for win7
  • download hiren boot latest version
  • lucy palmer wellsex
  • spongebob squarepants movie pc game
  • download xcode os x lion
  • rom okamiden ita
  • ndrive iphone 4
  • ralvero my bedroom mp3
  • hitman 2 rar
  • the cursed crusade xbox360
  • download video upin n ipin
  • tekkit download mac os x
  • jack johnson it's all understood
  • oil tycoon 2 cracked
  • obsessiva avi dublado
  • punnagai desam songs download