The Untold Story of Dairy Production.

 

 

For the past fifteen years, my work as an animal photojournalist has taken me through the world of dairy production, far beyond the marketing campaigns, and taught me an entirely different story about milk.

 

https://weanimalsmedia.org/2019/06/20/an-untold-story-of-dairy-production/

When I was a kid in the ‘80s, cow’s milk was ubiquitous in school life. Parents paid a token amount so that their child could have a personalized carton of milk every day at lunch. We needed cow’s milk so that our bones would have a fighting chance at growing strong, and preventing later-life diseases such as osteoporosis. Since 1942, Canada’s Food Guide promoted milk and dairy products as a standalone food group that we should consume, ‘as available.’

The Globe and Mail – Canada’s Food Guide Through The Years

However, in early 2019 sweeping changes to the Canada Food Guide provided an evolved understanding of our nutrition needs; gone are the pictures of milk and dairy products floating across the food guide rainbow, and they are no longer included in the long list of healthy options for school snacks. Milk and milk products are now lumped into the ‘protein’ food group and surrounded by disclaimers: “Among protein foods, consume plant-based more often”, and “Make water your drink of choice.”

Today, Dairy is still the largest sector of agriculture in Ontario, where I live, and according to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, the elementary school milk program serves 70% of Ontario schools.

Slick marketing campaigns still target in-school education programs that tell parents and kids that cows are happy, and their milk is a necessary building block for any child’s development.

For the past fifteen years, my work as an animal photojournalist has taken me through the world of dairy production, far beyond the marketing campaigns, and taught me an entirely different story about milk.

In my twenties I took a deep dive into understanding animal use and food production, but even then, dairy was not on my radar. I understood dairy to be healthy all around; that no one was hurt in the making of it and certainly no one died. I had absorbed pictures of dairy cows living in pastures from the side of milk cartons and on TV, and had fond memories of meeting cows on a visit to The Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. I was an animal lover from a young age, and my family is particularly fond of this photo of me, aged three, admiring the Jersey cows.

I had been a vegetarian for a few years before I decided to do a one-month internship at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. The Farm was the first of its kind: a sanctuary for animals who had been rescued from all areas of factory farming.

Interns at Farm Sanctuary are asked to participate in a vegan lifestyle out of respect for the animals. I felt that this was extreme, but I’d do it, and resume vegetarianism upon my return to Toronto.

It was there where I learned that animals do get killed in the dairy industry. Cows are killed when their bodies are broken down, or “spent”, from the constant cycle of pregnancies, and then typically slaughtered for cheap hamburger before the age of six. I learned that a healthy cow can live twenty and even thirty years, but that their health, and therefore milk productivity, declines with each pregnancy until they are replaced by younger cows.  Cows are also incredible mothers. When given the chance to stay together, they share an unbreakable bond for life.

And about that pregnancy. I believed that dairy cows just produced milk. I didn’t consider the baby involved.

 

 

 

Continue reading the article at

https://weanimalsmedia.org/2019/06/20/an-untold-story-of-dairy-production/

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: