Friday, June 26, 2009

Bovine Intervention

Sometimes I hate being a woman.

I hate that my sanity is so closely tied to my hormones, and if I’m estrogen deficient (having my period), I have a tendency to snap at people or burst into tears at the drop of a dime. Having sufficient estrogen for six months (skipping my period since January), its arrival this week was both traumatic physically (always a nightmare) and psychologically. Not only had I forgotten how bad it gets, I had forgotten how bad I get, and life becomes one gigantic minefield, with my own self-detonating device between my legs. Never a good time.

Often I can keep the emotions in check, but twice this week at work I cried, and today I had the most unfortunate incident at the grocery store.

Allow me to digress a moment.

Being someone concerned both for the environment and for my own health, I have been moving toward a greener existence, and every day more chemicals are crossed out on my list of things I will allow near my body. The list is long. I tend to scare the crap out of people when I rattle off the statistics on plastics, chlorine in water, Teflon on pans, nitrates, sulfates, petroleum, and anything anti-bacterial, so I’ll spare you the Al-Gore-esque soapbox. But know that you are lucky, because my friends get bombarded with my scary information, and I have near breakdowns frequently when I learn something new I have to avoid, lest I die a horrible death or contribute to making our drinking water toxic and cause a horrible death for something else.

More and more, I’m buying organic products, and as they are becoming more affordable and more readily available, I’m expanding to almost an entirely organic existence. It started with meats and produce, then cleaning products, and now almost all my dairy is organic, including yogurt, eggs, ice cream and milk. I’m holding out for organic butter to drop in price, and use Smart Balance with olive oil in the meantime, mostly because it’s nummy like butter, but lowers my cholesterol, which isn’t high anyway, so bonus!

Most of the time, I try to eat eggs and meat from animals that are grass-fed (if grass is what they should eat) as well as organic, and have not only noticed a taste difference (much better!), but I swear I notice a difference in my overall health, which could be psychosomatic.

Boyfriend Extraordinaire and I have had many conversations about my need to buy only organic, grass-fed chicken meat, and eggs from grass-fed hens. We talked about free-range chickens with a woman from Munising, Michigan when we were up there last fall, and she was raising them. She said they were a pain in the ass because they’re wandering around all the time, and they lay their daily egg wherever they happen to be on the property, so the humans weren’t getting many eggs from these hens at all because they weren’t willing to follow the hens around all day and hope to get a fresh egg. Whether this is a true problem or not, I’m still more content knowing the hens get to roam. When B.E. and I were alone, he mentioned how even the animals they slaughter for food probably live better lives, and maybe, just maybe, the farmers actually grow to love them individually. They probably even have names!

B.E.: Would you feel better if you were eating chicken and you knew it came from a good home, people loved it, and maybe they even named it?

Me: Um. [Pause.] It’s hard to answer. I don’t want to eat someone’s pet, or an animal they loved. But is it better to treat them like property? No! I guess yes, but I don’t want to eat someone’s family member.

B.E.: Well, what about eggs? Eggs aren’t really animals, just byproducts, so would you feel better if each egg was stamped with the name of the hen who laid it?

Me: Awwwww, yeah!

Then the conversation degraded, my voice went up three octaves, and I started rambling in an almost incoherent, ultra girly way about how I wanted to meet the hens who laid my eggs, and thank them for the breakfasts they give me each day.

Well, that conversation was a precursor to what happened today.

I was standing in the dairy department of my grocery store, as I mentioned, looking for the cheapest, localest organic milk, and I came across the Sassy Cow Creamery milk.

Each gallon of milk had a tag around the top. This is what I saw.

After gasping, feeling my progesterone swell up inside me like a big, rogue wave, bursting into tears, and reading all the tags around all the milk gallons, I was faced with choosing whose milk to buy. Not an easy choice, let me tell you! When you can see their big cow eyes and white cow whiskers, you want to honor the sacrifices of all of them. Somehow, I managed to choose, and I proceeded to load two expensive gallons of milk into my cart, and I sniffled with pride for the rest of my shopping experience.

When I brought the milk home, my brother helped me with the groceries, and I got teary-eyed again when I showed him the milk tags.

Me: Look. This milk came from Sheila. She’s almost all white with a couple of black dots on her neck and a black ear and eye patch. She was born from humble beginnings, but insists on being treated like a queen. *sniffle*

Bro: Awwwww.

Me: And this one came from Reily, who would never clean her pen if it was up to her. *blinking back tears*

Bro: HAHA, and you, too, can collect them all!

Me: I LOVE this milk! I LOVE these cows! I wonder if they’re close. I want to visit them!

Thanks to the fact that I still have one working ovary that occasionally chooses to hold back the estrogen and bombard me with progesterone, I have become a cow stalker.

Look out, Madison, Wisconsin. And Sassy Cow Creamery. I’m looking for Sheila and Reily. And they should be warned that I kiss animals I love. On the mouth.


Debbie said...

One of my coworkers got hens for eggs, and I love being able to buy them from her, because I know how well she takes care of them. They're less than 24 hours when I get them and taste incredible. Now, I need to convince her to get a cow. :)

Anonymous said...

Ummm, I hate to break this to you, but even on organic dairy farms, all the milk goes into one big tank to be homoginized. So at least SOME of the milk may have come from one cow, there's no way it could be affordably priced if they had a seperate tank for each cow.

Happy Villain said...

It's a good thing I don't have much property, or I'd have chickens too. But as soon as I convince myself that chickens are doable, the cow would be next. :)

I know that -- I'm not an idiot. But the marketing ploy is convincing in that it personalizes your milk-drinking experience. People who drink organic milk from grass-fed, roaming cows will buy into an organic milk with the names of cows on tags, and even if I know it's not all Sheila's milk, Sheila is now a cow I can say contributed to my milk. If you look at the pictures, they're numbered with identifying tags. I'm sure the farmers don't walk around talking to the cows by first name, or at least, this one likely doesn't since they have so many. But consumers don't feel connected to their food sources (a subject I've read up on entirely too much), even milk, which we all know exactly where it comes from and how we get it. People need to be more aware of what they're putting into their bodies, from the chemical preservatives to the pesticides on the grass the meat they eat feeds on, and what better way than giving you a connection to the cow whose milk you drink? It's brilliant!

Anonymous said...

I didn't in any way mean to imply you were an idiot. I grew up on a farm and it amazes me how much people don't know about how their food get's to the table. That's all.
R U Kidding...I wait for every new update with baited breath. Love your stuff....

Anonymous said...

Become a vegetarian. You'll feel even better.

Happy Villain said...

Oh, I wasn't insulted. I just felt silly for writing a post that came across as uninformed. I read the Michael Pollan books, which changed my life, and have actually considered going to school to be a nutritionist, particularly after digging so deep and deciding to do the Omega-3 diet. On top of that, my dad grew up on a farm, and I probably knew more about the animals we eat when I was a kid than most kids do. It's a fascinating, disturbing and personally challenging subject to me, particularly with my utter fear of getting cancer, and I've gotten to a point where if I can't make it myself (soap, cleaning products, etc.), then I want to be connected to whatever it is I use/eat. I appreciate your second comment and I'd love, love, love to hear about your farm life if you ever feel like sharing.

I can't be a vegetarian because I feel as connected to plants as I do animals. I believe it's natural to kill and eat and I don't think animals or plants are more deserving. Everything alive has a right to live, including me.

Anonymous said...

It's not the killing, its the cruelty,

Happy Villain said...

You're right about the cruelty. I try to make purchases based on what's best for myself and the animals, but giving up meat isn't an option for me. B.E. is a vegetarian, and I've tried to live his lifestyle, but I cannot get what I need out of it. I'd prefer to promote good companies, and buy free-range, grass-fed, organic things whenever I can, and if these farms invite people to visit and see how the animals live (which most that I use do), then yes, I will buy their meat and eat it.

Kate P said...

I couldn't blame you about the kissing thing--I mean, look at Reily. She's got the perfect shnootz for kissing. :)

Megan said...

I would love to buy the Sassy Cow products! Those look awesome, and I'll have to look for them the next time I go grocery shopping.

Happy Villain said...

I KNOW! I wonder if cows like snuggling.

If you go to their website, it lists the stores where you can buy their products. I think in IL the only stores that sell their milk are Sunset Foods. (Bluck.) I go north.

Kate P said...

I think the cows from the "Click Clack Moo" book would totally snuggle. They asked Farmer Brown for electric blankets in their demand letter.