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Grass to Milk

By David Macilwain    David is a member of WATCH (Wodonga & Albury Towards Climate Health)

We are often told that eating meat is bad for us and bad for the planet, and if this means beef produced on huge feedlots using grain that could be eaten by the hungry world, it is hard to argue otherwise. We grow fat while they go hungry.

Although this gives ‘red meat’ a bad name, and makes being vegetarian part of ‘being green’, feedlot beef is a small part of the global meat picture. And fortunately – though one of the Fat nations – Australia’s meat is also relatively ‘green’. Green as the grass it is mostly grown on.

And this is the order of things where I live. Here the ‘house cow’ is the central element in our little ecosystem. She is the essential go-between, the link between the earth and our stomachs. In HER stomachs a great fermentation goes on as grass is decomposed into usable stuff like sugars and amino acids. And then, at her leisure and convenience she turns it into milk.

At this point, the milk point, we place ourselves in the grass – cow – manure cycle, in the place of the calf of course, (but he can soon eat grass instead, and later – well that’s another story, for non-vegetarians).

Now we have the milk, and from it we can make cheese, and yoghurt, and butter, and ice-cream, and anything latte we might want. Sometimes we make ‘chook cheese’ which is a great hit with all the poultry.  From cheese too there comes whey, which a pig would like when there is one, and the pasture likes, when there isn’t.

And the beauty of it all comes at the end – whichever way it goes to complete the cycle. Grass – Cow – Manure – Soil, with us in between.

Now just think how we would cope without the house cow — think how we might grow, on all those millions of acres of land where only grass grows willingly – a crop of soybeans?  No cheating with fertiliser, no pesticides, or herbicides to kill the now uneaten and rampant grasses. And think of the work! All that digging and weeding; all that swearing at the birds and rabbits, fires and floods. And the harvesting and storing, the grinding and the cooking and the eating and digesting.

Milk is so simple. Now where has that dear Buttercup gone?