Things That Make Me Go “Huh?”


Do you ever really notice the pictures on the milk jugs?  I’m talking about those cute drawings of dairy cows on perfect green pastures, with– of course– the stereotypical red barn.

Take a quick glance at any dairy container and you’ll find idyllic pastoral pictures.  I opened the fridge at work and found 3 different brands, complete with delightful farm depictions:  Darigold, Hormel Health Labs, and Lucerne.

What the dairy industry would have you believe is that cow’s milk products actually come from cows living wonderful lives.  But does the average dairy cow eat grass?  No.

What do dairy cows eat?  Let’s consult the Dairy Production page of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to find out what’s in their Total Mixed Ration (TMR):

  • Corn silage    
  • Alfalfa/grass silage
  • Alfalfa hay
  • Corn
  • Soybean meal
  • Fuzzy whole cottonseed
  • Commodity feeds (corn gluten, distillers grains, soybean hulls, citrus pulp, candy bars, etc.)

No, the cows aren’t eating grass.

Do you notice something else?  The Lucerne label says “Calcium Fortified.”  Why would that be?  Aren’t dairy products supposed to be naturally high in calcium?  Why must they fortify?

Think about it for a minute…    

Calcium is a chemical element (Ca) and an alkaline Earth metal.  The calcium ion (Ca2+) is essential for human physiology, notably for nerve conduction, neurotransmitter release, and muscle contraction.  Calcium is stored in the bones and teeth.

Minerals such as calcium come from the ground.  Dark, leafy plants are rich in calcium.

While there is abundant calcium in milk from cows eating grass, dairy cows don’t typically eat grass.  Are dairy products calcium-fortified because the cows themselves aren’t getting enough calcium?

Would the dairy industry– i.e. The National Dairy Council– make claims that “TMR-fed” cow’s milk is an “excellent” source of calcium if they didn’t fortify the milk?


If you have more than a few cows, it’s not practical to “let” them all eat grass, over acres of pasture land.  Why?  Because milking occurs twice a day, without interruption.  It would be costly and labor intensive to let the cows out, bring them in for milking, let them out, bring them in…

Dairying is a business, and profitability in any business depends on it running efficiently, with minimal costs.  (The cows you see on pasture are likely steers being raised for beef, not dairy cows.)

Here are some realistic images of dairy farms:

I took pictures of this dairy in Idaho over 28 sec while traveling (as passenger) at 75 mph:

Idaho Dairy #1 – 2/11/12 – 11:17:20 AM

Idaho Dairy #1 – 2/11/12 – 11:17:25 AM

Idaho Dairy #1 – 2/11/12 – 11:17:28 AM

Idaho Dairy #1 – 2/11/12 – 11:17:32 AM

Idaho Dairy #1 – 2/11/12 – 11:17:41 AM

Idaho Dairy #1 – 2/11/12 – 11:17:48 AM

Only 5 minutes later I saw another dairy:

Idaho Dairy #2 – 2/11/12 – 11:22:43 AM

Idaho Dairy #2 – 2/11/12 – 11:22:46 AM

Idaho Dairy #2 – 2/11/12 – 11:22:56 AM

Idaho Dairy #2 – 2/11/12 – 11:22:59 AM

Idaho Dairy #2 – 2/11/12 – 11:23:02

Finally, dairy cows in the American Southwest:

Dairy #3 – 3/12/12

Final Thoughts…

  1. Let the cows eat grass.
  2. Let the cows nurture their babies with their own milk.
  3. Humans have no dietary requirement for dairy products.
  4. Get your calcium from plant sources.
  5. GO VEGAN.