When I first got to the USA I wondered why the butter was such a pale, almost white colour, not yellow. I also couldn’t work out why “American cheese” was that disgusting bright orange colour. Why did they colour it anyway? And what with? Sorry, that’s a different story…
My Grandad and his sister had a dairy farm in Turramurra North, which is now a posh suburb of the North Shore of Sydney. The painting here is of the road that ran by their dairy, by Grace Cossington Smith around 1926. As a teenager I wished that her family had not been able to pay their milk delivery bills in the 1940s and had given my family a painting or two instead. Luckily she was eventually recognised as as significant painter and many of her works of art are at the National Gallery of Australia so I can visit them there. I got this image from an online teachers guide to her retrospective in 2005.
My Grandad’s nephew has run a very large dairy farm down in Bega for maybe 50 years. I must ask cousin Ron how much of the feed-lotting is happening in Australia these days. Even in the drought, Bega has quite alot of grass, thank goodness, and the dairy co-ops down there are huge commercial enterprises that sell all over the state and country, so hopefully the example in this article is not typical. Also I wonder what the difference in the appearance of the butter made from silage is… My Dad tells me that over the decades farmers have experimented with all kinds of supplementary feed for cattle, they used alot of leftover grains from beer production and linseed oil (flax hulls) which at least were food (for cows) rather than food like substances. I have heard of cows being fed plastic pellets or newspaper. Yuk.
Here is an article and a video from Australia about the difference between grass fed and grain fed cows and butter. It seems the grain fed thing is spreading. You can see what she is talking about with your own eyes. Click for the whole article and video:
Grass-fed dairy is far superior to grain-fed dairy. Here’s a list of why I think you should always go for grass-fed dairy:
It tastes better It’s so much better for health You will be supporting real farmers, ones interested in the health and sustainability of their land, just like we saw in the video link above.
You will be discouraging feed lots, inhumane practices and mass production You will be paying more for milk. That sounds like a bad thing, but milk should never cost $1.
Real food costs real money and if you buy from farmers markets, more money will be going to the producer.
Cows and other herbivores are fantastic at transforming solar energy into food. The cycle is simple: sun > grass > milk. Grain feeding changes this cycle: Fossil fuels > chemical fertilisers> grains > milk and arid land.
The importance of grass-feeding is paramount to future sustainability and supply of food.
Grass-fed cows are healthier than grain-fed cows. Cows can not digest grains well and it makes them sick. Sick, grain-fed cows require much more medication and antibiotics which make their way to the milk and meat.