Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where Do Dead Cows Belong?

A few weeks ago, some friends of mine went to visit Bobolink Dairy, a farm renowned for its cheese, bread and meats. Izzy and I were supposed to join them but had to stay home because he wasn't feeling well.

Too bad since I couldn't wait to introduce Izzy to some cows. Not only that but I was also intrigued by the matzoh-making class they were holding that day and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a hunk of their Cave-aged Cheddar and Rosemary Epi bread. Alas, it wasn't meant to be for Izzy and me, but my friends went along without us.

Of course I was eager to hear how their day went and knew I could count on my friend L. to describe it all in minute detail. As she tells it, the matzoh-making went fairly well. They watched the farmers grind spelt and her daughters were able to roll out several matzos. It was so enjoyable that her daughters plan to return next year (maybe even with us).

As she recounted her tale, I could hear in her voice that not all was rosy. Then she told they saw dead cows rotting in a nearby pasture. They both found this to be quite disturbing. Her husband was disgusted and they didn't know quite what to make of it. Her husband forbade her from buying any of their beef (which is a complete shame since it is quite delectable) although they did bring home a fair bit of cheese and bread.

My immediate reaction was to assume that there was a reasonable explanation for the rotting cows, somehow relating to organic farming practices. Since I wasn't there to bear witness, I emailed the farm to find out about the cows.

I received a detailed reply from the farmer, some of which I will excerpt here:
Anyhow, the way we dispose of the remains is an old but sensible method:
we put them in the pig pasture and let nature run its course. Pigs are
forest floor scavengers, true omnivores.
Between the pigs and the insect larvae, the cows are
recycled to just bones in a few months.

It all sounded perfectly sensible to me and besides, I doubt that the sight of a few dead cows in a pasture, even remotely comes close to the horror one would find inside an industrial farming facility. Yet my friends are not convinced, continuing to the think that the meat from the supermarket is better. How can we help them see the light?

p.s. Imagine their horror when I told them that the brisket I had served them on Passover came from that very farm..


Brooke said...

I don't have any problem with their method of disposal, but I would have asked why there were so many dead cows at one time. Did they die of natural causes? Seems odd that suddenly there were so many dead cows. Also, I am surprised that they wouldn't have explained that to visitors. Naturally when one sees any dead animal, it raises questions, so if they have several, and they are inivting visitors to their farm, one would think it would be part of the 'tour' explanation about their farming techniques.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing you can do to help them "see the light". Stop trying to control everyone!

Amy said...

"Imagine their horror when I told them that the brisket I had served them on Passover came from that very farm.."

LOL - that gave me a chuckle...

Izzy's Mama said...

Brooke: There weren't that many and I did ask..Part of their reply was that they had died of natural causes and one had been killed by a deranged person in the area.

Anonymous: Hardly control, merely hoping that people eat more humanely raised animals...healthier for our bodies and the planet. Not everyone may be as set in their ways as you. Surprising how we might change our minds and learn from each other. L'espoir fait vivre.

Amy: I still chuckle when I think about it. My friend already knew and told me to keep it a secret. I certainly wouldn't want to traumatize her daughters. When her husband asked me at the dinner table I had to lie and then only confessed later.

Anonymous said...

"Set in their ways." I have never encountered a human, whether online or in real life, who is as set in her ways as you! My point was, leave everyone alone and stop trying to "encourage" people. You remind me of a prosleytizing Christian. Only YOU know the truth and if only everyone else could know it...

Anonymous said...

How are you concerned more with the disposal of the dead cows rather than the existence of dead cows in the first place?

There's no humane way to kill an animal.

Smashley said...

My great grandparents had a huge, non-commercial farm and a large herd of cows. When a cow dies, you don't bury them like people. They are taken somewhere out of the way and left for nature.

It would be kind of silly to cremate a farm cow.

Also, since they didn't raise cows for profit, they often got old on the farm, and breeding stock often get old on the farm and die.

It is what it is. Unless the cow was diseased (which would have been obvious before it died), it isn't a problem and probably no worse than whatever commercial cows and pigs end up eating.