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I recently interviewed my sister for an oral history project. She evoked images of the place we grew up next to our German grandparents. She proclaimed, “Those two small houses side by side, they were so close to the street!”
The houses (one purchased from the Sears and Roebuck catalog) were close to the street for a reason – it afforded us a large backyard of fertile soil – once a flood plain of the Cedar River.
I remember fondly snuggling up to David Attenborough’s Natural History series documenting the marvels of life on our planet. The wrinkles of subterranean rodents, the curious twists of a narwals tooth, from the great barrier reef to simple tide pools, he filled me with wonder and hope.
Then on February 23, 2021, Sir David Attenborough spoke to the United Nations Security Council and said to the 15 members, “There is no going back. No matter what we do now, it’s too late to avoid climate change, and the poorest, the most vulnerable, those with the least security are now certain to suffer.”
Then and there, I decided to write a strongly worded letter to myself and ask, what is the world doing to mitigate this impending disaster?
I have taken on a project interviewing neighbors for an oral history of our wooded stretch of heaven. The elders remember when throaty tree frogs were plentiful, and the summers were so dripped with fog that farmers didn’t have to irrigate. The winter rains came plentifully, and mushrooms carpeted the ground. They never worried about wildfires, sudden oak death, or sweltering summers.
Our wanton exploitation of the planet is showing up in our backyards. So, we must begin at home. Here are few things you can do right now to help heal the planet.
If you’re like many others who are becoming more mindful of the fact that organic food products are much better for you and the environment, then you might go as far as having your own livestock.
Whether you have a lilliputian back yard or a large fertile field, it can be done with a bit of expertise using organic methods.
Raising livestock can bring your family together, encouraging confidence and responsibility. Children always need opportunities to prove their skills — not just for their parents and peers, but to themselves. Raising animals gives kids a chance to interact with another living being, care for it and nurture its growth.
The daily chores to properly care for animals, encourages discipline and compassion. Having responsibility for another being gives a respect for the cycles of life. An understanding of where our food comes. Perhaps it can prepare them for parenting or even managing a business?
Before the Agricultural Revolution, some 10,000 years ago, hardly anybody drank milk—unless it was from their own mother. As our ancestors domesticated grains and animals, all began to change. By the 5th century in western Europe, milk from both cows and sheep became quite popular.
But it wasn’t until the 20th century that we embraced milk like a stampede of heifers. My father drank a glass of milk with every meal, my grandmother churned butter, and we enjoyed a brimming bowl of ice cream every night.
It was a paradigm shift in thinking—drinking milk became a symbol of nutrition and safety, thanks to Louis Pasteur’s revolutionary pasteurization process.
Today we drink far less milk than we did in the middle of the last century—in fact, the dairy industry is in udder ruins. Small dairies are closing because of changing consumer trends, trade tensions, and, most importantly, a century-long industry consolidation.
Organic milk offers a drop of hope for dairy farmers and consumers alike.