Google Earth is a fun little application. It’s also a great time-sucker especially now when there are user images attached with Panoramio. It’s possible to while away a whole morning virtually traveling the planet. The good news is that it’s less expensive and less carbon intensive than doing it in person. And it’s free.
So anyway, I spent some of my morning spying on cows. 🙂
So there’s Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy up in Whatcom County. You can even see the cows in the pasture!
I’ve mentioned that I’ve stopped buying Aurora organic butter (although I’m still working through my stash in the freezer) until they shape up. What’s the problem? A class action suit and their general lack of adherence to organic standards. Unsure that this isn’t just an activist kerfuffle? Have a look for yourself!
Because the dairy is so large, the satellite image is from a higher elevation, but you can see that the “pastures” that the cows have access to are small and consist of dirt (or more likely poo).
Now it might not be fair to compare a small 100 cow operation with a large 2,800 cow factory dairy, but since they’re both USDA-certified organic, one would assume they would look similar in concept if not in scale.
While I was at it, I flew over Greeley, Colorado where ConAgra’s and Monfort’s feedlots are located. This is not a dairy, this is where most cows end up to be fattened before being processed at the rate of several hundred per hour in a meat packing plant.
This one is zoomed out even farther so I included a little bit of measurement. This is a CAFO and it is 1.75 miles across. That’s a lot of cows!
I zoomed in a little bit. The square is about 1.5 acres in size and I can’t count how many cows there are. It’s cozy to say the least. Looks a bit like E. coli on a Petri dish, doesn’t it? Some time ago, I found a disturbing US government document online that described the allowable amounts of various types of garbage, chicken litter, blood, etc. that could be fed to feedlot cattle. Once I find it again, I will post a link, but meanwhile here’s a little blurb about some of the goings on and also from the UCS.
Hmm … I guess that wasn’t so much fun after all. Let’s be thankful that we have choices here in the Skagit Valley.