Food “Waste” Reaches A New Low

Hot on the heels of NPR’s interesting the discussion about food waste from Science Friday comes a story that could almost be pulled out of the Onion:

Sweet times for cows as gummy worms replace costly corn feed
Mike Yoder’s herd of dairy cattle are living the sweet life. With corn feed scarcer and costlier than ever, Yoder increasingly is looking for cheaper alternatives — and this summer he found a good deal on ice cream sprinkles. […]

In the mix are cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries. Cattlemen are feeding virtually anything they can get their hands on that will replace the starchy sugar content traditionally delivered to the animals through corn.

The article goes on to say that in addition to the junk food – truly a “waste” of food – that the cattle are being fed, they’ll get other by-products of ethanol production, cottonseed hulls, rice and potato by-products, and more. We’re already subsidizing the meat, dairy, and grain industries in this country: is the candy industry next?

Cows are natural grass-eaters – a fact that can get you in trouble, and they like to graze, eating grass, flax, shrubs: stuff that fills them up and gives them plenty of fiber (John Robbins has a good discussion of this, though I don’t agree with eating grass-fed beef). The whole idea of feeding them corn, soy, and other grain mixtures is that it fattens them up, or allows their caloric needs to be met very cheaply, compared to the enormous cost of allowing them to graze and roam freely. Especially with dairy, since they need to be corralled up to be raped¹, milked, and later “processed” (into low-grade meat, or veal if they are the unlucky male calves) it makes sense to keep them in a feedlot or stalls rather than roaming around.

The whole thing is just ridiculous. Producing corn to make junk food, which stores well, now being fed to cows, to produce milk, which we stupidly think is a health food, then eaten by the masses because it’s cheap and subsidized…ah! It’s enough to make you believe in government conspiracies. Stop the madness, quit breeding cows for milk and cheese, and go vegan.

Thanks to Ashley A. for the heads-up on this corn-based insanity.

Photo: Smudge 9000

1. For more on why I use this word, see this short video on “female exploitation” in the dairy industry. Rape is rape, regardless of the species.