Coffee – our roving reporter reports

Mr Ethivore (AKA Booba) is always on the hunt for a coffee on his way to work. He aims to buy a non dairy milk alternative mocha-choco-chino (flat white). Today he reported ‘Wow, Starbucks had coconut, oat and almond milk alternatives!’

He also commented that Costa now have coconut as well as soya milk and that their coffee is better (in his view).

When buying your daily coffee look for organic milk or milk alternatives.

 

Support UK reared Rose veal

*Please read this carefully. The distinction is ROSE veal raised in the UK only.

‘Veal’ is a dirty work in the UK and so it should be if it were ‘white’ or ‘milk-fed’ veal. The 80’s campaigns against the cruel practice of keeping calves in tiny crates and feeding them low iron diets (causing them huge digestive issues) all for the purpose of keeping their meat pale were so successful that the UK as a nation doesn’t generally eat veal. Veal is defined as meat under 12 mths.

Why is that a problem? The diary industry creates a byproduct of unwanted bull (male) calves. The majority are either shot shortly after birth or exported to Europe and raised for white veal in intensive farmed system with very poor welfare standards. The rest of the EU seems quite happy to nosh into white veal. In fact it is very popular in the Netherlands, France, Italy, Poland etc.

UK reared Rose veal is however a totally different product, calves don’t travel long distances to EU destinations, they are fed a normal diet and kept on straw bed in small groups. In isolation rose veal might not be high on your listgvffdxsz of meat choices, but in comparison to the fate of the calf and if you are a consumer of dairy it is more ethical to eat UK reared rose veal than not. Sainsbury’s, M&S and I am sure others stock rose veal and it is supported by RSPCA and CIWF.

Note ** UK exports of calves to the Netherlands is currently on hold due to threats of TB. This could change in the near future and calves are still being exported via Northern Ireland.

Want to learn more see https://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/cows/veal-calves 

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Cows eat grass?

Yes they did, but not anymore! Cows are sadly now also part of the factory farming machine. Dairy cows and meat cows are increasingly being intensively farmed with little or no access to grazing. They don’t leave the shed, they stand on concrete, they sleep on sand and they have a grain fed diet.

Cows are ruminants, they are designed to eat grass. It is no brainer, we can’t eat grass, they can and they turn it into food = win/win.

It was until someone decided it would be ‘better’ to put them in sheds and feed them grain. Grain that humans could eat, grain that is grown miles away and imported, grain that might be GMO, grain that takes more water, energy and land to grow than grass and leaves cattle stood in dry mud or concrete pens for the whole of their lives. You don’t have to be an academic to work out that it makes no sense.

Plus the fact that meat and dairy from cows that eat grass is healthier and it tastes better:

  • Grass-fed beef is naturally leaner than grain-fed beef.
  • Omega 3s in beef that feed on grass is 7% of the total fat content, compared to 1% in grain-only fed beef.
  • Grass-fed beef is loaded with other natural minerals and vitamins, plus it’s a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) a fat that reduces the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders.
  • Grass-fed beef has the recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats (3:1.)
  • Cows on a diet of fresh grass produce milk with five times as much of an unsaturated fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than do cows fed processed grains. CLAs can protect the heart, and help in weight loss.
  • And it tastes better!

As an Ethical omnivore what can you do?

Meat: Some products are labelled ‘Grass fed’ but most aren’t. Buying organic beef is a guarantee (UK) that the cow has been pasture grazed. Avoid buying non labelled, cheap or foreign meat. Ask the retailers if the beef or dairy you are buying is grass fed. Best of all buy directly from the farm (we buy online organic beef and it the same price as supermarket beef!) or a reputable butcher and ask them the question. How is this meat raised. Found out more in posts about beef.

Milk and dairy: Currently labelling on milk doesn’t let you know if your dairy cow was on pasture or not. The only way to guarantee this is to buy organic dairy (UK). Under organic standards cows has to have access to grazing. Some retailers are also making a stance and deserve our support. See:

http://www.compassioninfoodbusiness.com/award-winners/search/?org=&sector=&country=&award=Good+Dairy+Award

Also be prepared to pay a bit more for your dairy, think value rather than cost. It is pennies in the grand scheme of things. With price pressures in the industry it is getting worse, USA style ‘mega’ dairies are spreading. See:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-controversial-mega-dairies-that-alarm-campaigners-and-divide-a-struggling-sector-of-british-a6744511.html

indoor-cows-1cows-grazingIndoor or outdoors? – you have a choice when you buy your meat or dairy.

The Ethical omnivore.

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Organic Dairy

I read this years ago, ‘if there is one organic product you should buy it is dairy’.

The health benefits of organic milk include having higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and CLA, more antioxidants, and more vitamins than regular milk. Plus not containing pesticides and herbicides ingested by cattle eating a non organic diets.

That fact still remains true. If you consume dairy (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt) choose Organic. This has become more relevant in the last decade where the mega industrial systems have been adopted, known as Mega dairies or zero grazing dairies. The cows never go out to pasture and are literally milked dry. Demands for higher and higher yields and painfully low costs of milk have set the industry into a potential tail spin.

Milk is cheap, in most cases too cheap due to super market wars, organic milk is also cheap and much better value given the quality of the product. Organic milk is around £0.97 per litre (£0.81 4 ltrs) v £0.70 per litre (based on buying 2 ltrs), whilst Coca-cola for example is £1.00 per litre (supermarket prices).

Labelling – Some producers will label their milk and dairy, grass promise, free range, pasture raised etc.. Look out for this. Same as the eggs if it doesn’t state it is most likely from a zero grazing dairy. Sadly for the farmers of grazing dairies that sell their milk into the general market we as the consumer have no way to know which is which.

Also remember dairy is in a lot of products so read the labels. As per the free range eggs some producers only use free range milk, e.g. Waitrose has a grass promise for all dairy and in their products.

It is also worth bearing in mind dairy products from other countries. for example Czech republic, Denmark, Italy, Greece and Spain have exceedingly high % of non grazing dairies (+80%) and Germany, Portugal (+50%). In fact is it easier to list the countries that have positive grazing dairy. The issue is global, EU and growing in the UK.

CIWF have a very good page about buying dairy – https://www.ciwf.org.uk/your-food/dairy

But that is not the end of the story…. As I researched further I questioned why we drink and consume dairy in the first place, how the industry work, health issues and dairy alternatives. All will be revealed in another post!

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