You may know that California is experiencing a drought of historic proportions, part of a larger trend of increasing global water scarcity and climate change. So it may shock you to learn how we're using what's left of the American West's ancient aquifers and iconic rivers.
In August, the public learned 11 million pounds of US dairy cheese were sitting in "surplus." Now we learn more than 43 million gallons of US dairy milk has been "dumped" or "lost" so far this year (in a "normal" year, it's apparently somewhere between 20 and 30 million). Wall Street Journal says that's 66 Olympic swimming pools.
WSJ fails to mention that since it requires 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of dairy milk per the Water Footprint Network, that's 66 THOUSAND Olympic-sized swimming pools of freshwater (43 billion gallons).
Let's think about this.
Drought-stricken California, whose residents are told to report one another for letting sprinklers hit concrete, is the #1 dairy state, producing 1/5 of US dairy. It could therefore be reasonably assumed that a proportionate percentage of this dumped milk originated from California. That would be an estimated 13,200 Olympic-sized pools of California water.
Again, this is in addition to the millions of pounds of surplus dairy cheese, which requires ten times the milk to produce, produced in California.
How much California water is used to produce dairy? More water than any other crop (or even any other activity in general) in the state, mostly in the form of growing field after field of alfalfa feed for thousands of cows, as shown by data from Pacific Institute and the Dept. of Air, Land and Water Resources at University of California, Davis.
Using data from the milk industry's "Real California Milk Facts," the overall amount of gallons of precious lactation dumped represent the life's (forced) work of 1,814 (childless) mother cows. Since each dairy cow has 4-7 babies forced into her, who are almost all promptly removed after a 9-month pregnancy along with her manipulated and repurposed milk supply before she is finally slaughtered for hamburgers, the dumped milk represents the lives of 7,256 to 12,698 calves. Approximately half of these were killed as babies or adolescents for veal or beef due to being male, while the other half are killed after being reproductively exploited to a breaking point due to being female. These cows are raised on large and small farms, including "family-run" "local" and "organic."
According to the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, during the passing of the last farm bill, "the dairy fight largely centered on a provision that sought to limit milk production when the supply was too high." The $956 billion farm bill provides "generous crop subsidies" to grow feed for dairy cows.
So apparently, rather than limiting supply when the demand is not there, which it's logically not since a myriad of better options exist and people are starting to understand they don't have the nutritional requirements of baby cows (and neither do our babies), farmers keep producing it but then just dump it into manure lagoons (massive pools of feces resulting from breeding so many animals that are also eventually dumped, pumped, or leaked into waterways or sprayed over fields wafting into communities – this is just one form of the potent air and water pollution caused by dairying and other forms of animal agriculture).
So the product itself joins the pools of destructive waste resulting from its own production, representing freshwater and animals transformed into nothing but waste upon more waste – all for absolutely nothing.
The senselessness is hard to fathom.
Meanwhile, the media is eager to uncritically demonize almonds despite the fact that they actually use far less water than dairy for astronomically higher yields and greater nutritional value – and almonds are not sitting in a massive unwanted surplus or being dumped into manure lagoons to our knowledge. Yet journalists remain oblivious, perhaps willfully so due to their own socially conditioned pro-meat/dairy bias, to the ongoing mind-boggling waste of dairy. They falsely see dairy as a necessity and almonds as a luxury. Yet dairy is the most extravagantly wasteful substance ever devised by humanity, while nuts are meant to be human food and typically eaten sparingly.
Even store-bought almond milk doesn't actually contain that many almonds, averaging just 2% of almonds per carton. Homemade will contain more, but will still only represent at most 50 gallons of water for that many almonds vs. 1,000 gallons. But if that still bothers you, almond milk is not the only plant milk on the market by any means.
It cannot be understated what an absurd, obscene, and absolutely shameful squandering of water, money and lives dairy is. The mother's milk of another species is not a logical thing to consume and is not remotely a nutritional requirement.
If you have a conscience, there is simply no supporting this. Imagine telling your grandkids that this is how we used up ancient aquifers – because that is exactly what is happening on our watch. Beef uses even more water than dairy. Raising all animals including chickens and turkeys is extremely water- and resource-intensive. We need to wean ourselves of dairy and all animal use immediately, and support the transition of farmers to 100% plant-based vegan systems.
Thankfully, massive change is upon us to make it easier, and millennials are driving the shift. Tyson is investing in vegan meat companies. A group of 40 investors managing $1.25 trillion in assets are urging foods companies to diversify to plant-based protein sources. A trade group lobbying for plant-based foods has taken a seat in Washington.
Animal use is totally antiquated, inefficient, unnecessary and cruel, and we can each opt out today. Spread the word!
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