Island Dairy on the Hamakua coast of the Big Island, is giving their cows waterbeds! Apparently, cows who sleep on waterbeds give 10 – 20% more milk. And they also intend to play nice music to the cows while milking them, which will also result in more milk. Owner Bahman Sadeghi explains it this way: "Happy, healthy cows produce more milk."

So this is very nice, providing nice facilities for the cows is good. We are seeking to establish a relationship with this dairy to obtain fresher milk for our stores, and we are visiting their facility soon; I am very intrigued by waterbeds for cows!

Unfortunately, the reality of dairy production is not so nice; it definitely is not all waterbeds and music. Dairy cows are artificially inseminated, their children (calves) are taken away from them at a young age, their sons are generally turned into veal (veal calves are kept in dark spaces and fed a deficient diet to keep their meat, their flesh, “white”), and once the dairy cow is no longer economically viable, i.e. once she doesn’t meet her milk production quota, she is sold to the slaughterhouse and turned into hamburger or pet food. In effect, the cows are treated as “milk machines” to be disposed of once they are no longer useful, rather than to be respected and honored as a mother, as they freely provide milk to us, just as our own mother does.

So why does Down to Earth sell milk and other dairy products? Good question. We are a vegetarian company; we sell products that are obtained from animals without killing them. Nonetheless, we deplore these cruel and heartless dairy industry practices and we seek to establish relationships with dairies that actually protect cows, rather than exploit them. Unfortunately, we are unaware of any commercial dairy that actually does this. There are some small mainland farms that protect the cows and use the bulls to work the land and for other useful purposes. However, these are generally small religious communities that supply their own needs, temples and restaurants etc., and are unable to supply commercial retailers such as Down to Earth.

The unfortunate realities surrounding the milk and dairy products we consume are not well-known, yet publicizing the facts can hopefully make for a more educated and concerned consumer. Down to Earth would like to see a truly caring dairy in Hawaii.

Thanks for reading.

Mark Fergusson