Happy Cow Appreciation Day!
When I was growing up, I spent every summer driving many hours through farm country to visit my grandparents in Vermont. I would stick my nose in a book when we pulled out of the driveway and leave it there until we finally arrived in East Nowhere, VT. Along the way, my mother made attempts at drawing me out of my book..."Look, honey, COWS!". 10 minutes later..."Look, honey MORE cows!". In Vermont, I am pretty sure there are more cows than actual people. After you have seen one cow, they all pretty much look the same.
Cow Appreciation Day is one of those humorous, unofficial holidays that no one really knows the origin of. The actual date seems to vary anywhere from July 8th to July 15 depending on where you look. The biggest celebration that goes on in honor of this momentous occasion is sponsored by Chick-fil-A. If you show up at your local Chick-fil-A restaurant on the appointed day with a cow costume on, they will give you a free combo meal. I guess they figure the best way to honor a cow is to eat a chicken instead!
Without the beloved cow, we would have no Queso dip, no Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and no chocolate milk. There would also be significantly fewer things to grill on the 4th of July. Our American diet has come to rely heavily on this amazing animal but maybe we need to consider the consequences of this addiction!
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has all sorts of statistics on how many cows live in each country and the socioeconomic impact these billions of cattle have on society and the environment. Concerns range from deforestation and erosion control and greenhouse gas emissions to groundwater pollution and loss of biodiversity in breeding lines. Don't even get me started on the ethical issues surrounding factory farming.
I am a big fan of cheeseburgers so I am not going to suggest you head out and invest in 15 different vegan cookbooks and stock up on tofu unless you REALLY like tofu! Have you ever heard the term "Think Globally, Act Locally"? This is a sort of grass roots effort that urges people to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in their own communities. In this case, consider the far reaching consequences of that ground beef you are picking up at the supermarket. What are some actions YOU can take? Buy organic or find a local farmer who raises his cattle in an actual field full of sunshine and fresh grass. Also, keep in mind that restaurant sized portions like that 16 ounce Tbone steak are really not necessary. Scale back your meat consumption and whip up a few meatless meals every week and you will not only go a long way in helping our planet but you may also whittle your waistline at the same time.
So, in honor of Cow Appreciation Day, look for a few new recipes and make friends with your local farmer.