Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Kind Dairies

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Dairy | 4 comments

“I’m only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do” – Helen Keller

Moving on from the sad truth behind the conventional dairy farm onto some posts about what you CAN do to make some kinder choices when it comes to dairy products.

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I am working through all the dilemmas which come with making kinder food choices and have reached the point where I am still consuming a small amount of dairy (predominantly feta cheese and Greek yogurt) but it is only at home and only from one producer – “Baramah Organics” (and the yogurt containers are good for food storage, hence nutty container collection in photo !).

I plan to gradually eliminate dairy from my diet – due to the similarities to the “humane meat” oxymoron….despite the fact that these cows appear to lead good lives (and I am referring to the lucky few who live on the “kind” dairies) and that their farmers should be supported for the care they give to their land and animals, I personally do not feel comfortable with any animal being forced to go through the ordeal of becoming pregnant and giving birth every year just so her milk, meant for her baby, can be consumed by humans. And, after she can no longer give us any milk, she still ends up facing an undignified and premature end at the abattoir which does not seem fair. No other adult animal does this (steals milk from another species) and it is undeniably exploitative of us greedy humans to force an animal to produce milk year after year just because it tastes nice and we can.

Additionally, the health claims associated with dairy food are some what dubious….after all, the Japanese, one of the lowest consumers of dairy in the world, consistently achieve the greatest longevity. More and more people are becoming lactose intolerant and I have learnt that calcium can be easily gleaned from plant based sources and the delicious recipes using dairy alternatives are endless – I am  learning to cook without cheese, cream etc and am loving it (as is my waist line – let’s face it, cheese makes you fat !).

In the meantime, however, I have a partner who has no desire to say farewell to dairy so….we’ll do the best we can in our little household to keep us all happy.

The run down on the kind dairies that have caught my eye in Australia is as follows  (I have fixated on the bobby calf issue as this is the aspect of dairy farming which I find the most confronting). These farms are all superior to conventional dairies (ie the industrialised ones which produce the cheap milk and cheese found everywhere) in respect of how they look after their animals and land and their cheeses contain non animal rennet (regular cheese contains rennet which is sourced from the stomach of calves). The milk, cheese and yogurts from these dairies are significantly more expensive than your standard supermarket milk / cheese but, at least by spending a bit more, you are less likely to over consume and contribute to the world’s insatiable demand for cheap dairy products. Plus, you can be satisfied that the farmers who are going out of their way to do the right thing are being paid for their efforts (as opposed to the ridiculously cheap milk being sold by Woolies and Coles – what better way to bankrupt Australian farmers and create sad, unhealthy animals hey ?). Plus, they taste so much better than your average milk and cheese.

Barambah Organics

This dairy is located in Queensland. To quote from their website “At Barambah Organics all the calves that are born on our property stay within our care. Our calves are not considered by us to be waste products.

At the age of 6 months we take the females to another one of our properties which is 20kms from the dairy farm. There they have 1,300 acres to roam, and we take the males to our 1,000 acre property at Murgon. No Barambah calves are sent to the abattoir.”

They produce unbelievably delicious yogurt, milk, labna and cheeses and they are getting easier to find at the shops , Australia wide.

Elgaar Farm

Another dairy which obviously cares deeply for it’s animals. I find their products a bit harder to source in Sydney (although their products – milk, cheeses, yogurts, cream and butter – are sold at Dr Earth, Newtown). Like Barambah, the calves are not separated from their mothers until they are much older and the cows are retired on the property when they have outlived their milking days rather than being sold to the abattoir. They offer a cash incentive to return the containers. Read more about this kind Tasmanian dairy here.

B-d Farm Paris Creek

This dairy is in South Australia and it’s products are readily found in health food shops and some smaller supermarkets. Their calves spend a few days with their mother before being placed in a group of calves and their mother still feeds them before she is sent for milking. The dairy tries to sell the male calves to local farms but sends to nearby abattoir after several months if there are too many. They have a good range of yogurt and cheeses including Bries and Camemberts.

Mungalli Creek Dairy

Another Queensland dairy doing the right thing. I wrote an email to them and received a very comprehensive reply detailing the care they take in respect of their land and animals. The calves are kept with their mothers until old enough to be removed into a group of calves. The male calves are usually given to neighbouring farms and if there is a surplus, they are humanely euthanased and buried on the property. (Still sad but so preferable than what happens on the conventional dairy farm).

The Mindful Foodie, one of my favourite blogs, has written a similar article about the dairy dilemma and has also included information on 2 kind sounding goat dairies (which face the same issues as cow dairies in terms of the unwanted male offspring) – Hindmarsh Valley and Holy Goat in Victoria. Goat cheese from Nimbin Valley in NSW appears worthy of note too, from an animal welfare perspective.

Best practice is to have an inquiring mind and ask questions – particularly at Farmers Markets where cheeses etc from smaller dairies are often sold. Or, send an email to the company – from my experience, most appear pretty obliging and are happy to answer questions.

Keep an open mind about trying some dairy substitutes which will be my next dairy related blog topic………..whilst on the topic, I am off to whip up a vegetarian lasagna with cashew cream “cheese” for tonight’s dinner…if it is presentable to the public eye  (some of my creations are far from it) I will even share it with you ! X

4 Comments

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  1. Skip

    The lasagna was delicious, however it looked like it was topped with dried frog poo. Tasty frog poo admittedly.

    • Treadkindly

      Regrettfully, I have to concede that my lasagna, whilst scrumptious, needs some fine tuning before being fit for public scrutiny. The basil, cashew “cheese” made it appear like a dried swamp and I don’t think I would get many takers if I presented it to my readers….fear not, I have plan B up my sleeve !

  2. Andy Rod

    We shop at Pyrmont IGA.. so we’ll be on the lookout. So cool that you’re providing
    alternatives at least and where to get them. Helps the lazy bones like me. And who’s this partner who refuses to give up dairy ?!! LOL.. Ax

    • admin

      You’re a good fella A ! (And you’re missus isn’t half bad either !). Just did a check and you are in luck, your IGA should stock Barambah – if not, tell them that you want it ! It is the best, you will never go back !

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