Farm Inc NZ, exploration of an ethical dilemma

Calling all infantrymen, the time has come for you to bear arms for New Zealand is being unremorsefully routed by the international forces who are having a field day at our brands impeccable expense. Never has wearing the broach of nationhood been such a weighty burden as it has been at present.

As manure hits the fan while we work tirelessly to wipe the bovine faecal splatter from taking the shimmery shine off our normally dazzling sparkling silver fern. We have become accustomed over time with hearing all the good news that we have developed a kind of narcissistic superiority complex towards what we see when we see ourselves in the mirror. Now that the reality check has landed, we must embrace ourselves for an awakening to the cow-tastrophy which has put a rather nasty ding into our whopping big ego. A whiplash of a blow which nobody longed for but one which was assuredly on the horizon given the recent journalistic warning signs pertain to our haute cow-ture. Like a naughty driver speeding, the ticket for being ruthlessly wreckless was not a question of if but when.

Indeed, we had ridden on a wave of good fortune for some time however les bontemps were not meant to be eternal. Mooing away at the injustice and incredulity of it all like temperamentally obstinate lactose lacking bobby calves about to be stunned then err slaughtered. What us? Making martyrs out of little ol’ lilly white EnZed, are they mad? What about the Japanese whaling mission? The Aussie deportation system? Those nutters in the Middle East? How dare anyone critique us!

The moo-sic of late has not been in our favour given formula scares in China, a scientific jury putting us on the stand in Sri Lanka and those malicious little Europeans trying to erode away at our incoming lion share of the milk moo-ket. There is no question that this a competitive market and the rivalries are gladiatorial.

Given the unprecedented economic ascension of several notably populous states and the shift in their dietary desires dairy has almost become a mugs game.  If you’re in it you’re bound to win from it. To a large extent there is a hint of plausibility in this remark. The global mass is growing is rapidly racing forward and nations that once lagged behind the West demand assertively for what we well established wealthy states have taken for granted for decades. And bovine goods just happen to appear on this Eastern wish list. From curd to cream, to lard to leather to milk to meat even for material such as leather the cow is certainly a versatile piece of protein. Yet, while it may be a sacred symbol of our financial fortune it has become an unsightly stain on our national image. From Arcadia we are more commonly being associated as the abattoir of Australasia. An unflattering insult but one which is not entire inaccurate supposedly speaking. Taking greed at mass production to such a towering extent that we have sunk into the deepening abyss of heifer droppings.

Obviously, our political scientists forgot that cows and conservation don’t merrily tango well together. Lamentably, an e-cow-nomy pro paleo, milk, meat and animal consumables is not the most eco-friendly revenue source for a nation still attempting to play the environmental bluff game so to say. It is a resource sapping and soiling business which takes a mile to advance a step.

While we blame the chimneys of the industrial giants for the spoiling of our planet and its assets, we should really stop moo-cking ourselves. For animal husbandry and cattle herding at overdrive is well recognised as a fundamental contributor to our sooty skies. We may not be the only sinful outlaws of these emission statistics but we are certainly one of the biggest bandits on the world’s most wanted list. More people, more cows and more moo-la (money) as far as Kiwis are concerned is not serving to rectify the problem.

However, instead of fending off all accusations and defending ourselves from the tyranny of local and offshore greenies who savour a bit of Kiwi bashing we should reconsider our status from a reversed perspective.

What I’m insinuating is that far from feeling ashamed of finding themselves at the centre stage of the international spotlight NZ should embrace the limelight in order to innovatively develop solutions to be a leader in sustainable farming.

There is no doubt that we are a world leader in dairy. Clearly the problems attached to dairy are not new ones. They have existed for a long time but only recently have had the media might to make them more universally recognised. The informed have multiplied and the means to part their philosophies have diversified exponentially. Even those who try to remain on the picket line of ignorance is bliss cannot help but inherit a rudimental comprehension towards even the obscurest of affairs.

In the case of milk and NZ, there can be no retreat. You are forced to feel and deal with it as if it were a rugby test match. Avoidance is nay impossible for try as we might a kind of Jimney Cricket reminds us that it’s part of our identical moral fibre to deliberate about it. And as of late what a socio-politically charged topic has simmered to the surface. Journalistic field days have facilitated buoyant banter on a melange of dairy related dissections from specieism and the wrongful consumption of cow milk to the broad coverage of the cruelty within the industry.

This need not only refer to the beasts themselves but also the human element. Farmer suicides, unhealthy working conditions and the exploitation of Asian migrant workers. I thought that we’d left this behind us in the 70s along with disco. Then there have been reports of depression and mental breakdowns of the ‘farmer’s wives’. Is it any wonder why finding country girls is becoming rarer than hen’s teeth?

As civilised as we confess we are there is this an innocent naivety of idealism which reigns the average Kiwi mind-set. Like the marvellous court scene in A Few Good Men it seems sometimes as if we really use every trick in the book to avoid “handling the truth”. I’m all for the frivolity of some fictions but even I know when a spade should be called a spade.

The reality is that we all collectively have a right to know about what we are consuming and how it was produced. If human rights are being violated and whether cruelty is being inflicted both upon man and beast. With my readings as a gender studies theorist, it is understandable how feminists have drawn the conclusion that the rape of nature and female cattle reinforces the prolific patriarchal manner of farming. In a vocation dominated by older menfolk, there is a visible absence of a feminine intervention within this bloodlust industry.

Indeed a polarity has arisen between the sexes as a kind of us versus them de nouvelle. To choose to be a vegan or date a vegan while being a male comes with a nasty social backlash. Friends in this camp have often been the butt of sexually offensive humour which is aimed to render them lesser men. To be a vegan is to be effete, to be a bit of a poof or to be castrated by living under the thumb of a femiNazi. Oh dear how low we have sunk into the quicksand of cow pats.

The stigma attached to avoiding a “national institution” part of makes us a true blue NZder warrants social cynicism. Oh you’re one of those, our milk not good enough for you Boy or even the concern of being diseased. To not drink milk is to almost confess to not being normal. It seems to be that unless you’re not ploughing your way through cow carcasses and don’t have your milk bottles by the letterbox box each day you really must be a funny bugger from another planet.

From the onset of our lives we have been instilled to believe that when you say milk you could only possibly be referring to one type of mammalian origin. I find this to be absolute preposterous. And yet we stand jaws dropped when we hear the mere suggestion of hybrid dairy sheep and other ruminant milk plants let alone the idea of a female farmer running a station. It appears that even in the visionary social laboratory of World Farm NZ we still like to see our landholders as big bellied burly blokes.

Intriguingly enough we aren’t completely stone heads living in Bedrock. To our noble credit we are animatedly active against factory farming especially poultry and porcine sectors. The down side is that we continue to fail to associate dairy farming as a factory (it is the biggest of factories and the most resource greedy) and therefore our activism against it is minimal to say the least. A resource romping industry that not only environmentally bleeds us dry but then sets itself up to monopolise the “milk and dairy” sector.

You don’t need to have a livestock credential to realise that many other mammals produce “milk”. Cow’s milk is not the only type of milk but stores promote it as if it were. To me it would be like saying that Toyotas are the only car everyone should buy even though a Ford, Hyundai or Kia would also suffice.

It’s almost a bona fide stellar example of the NZ desire to say you drink what I drink so you’re a bloody good sort. On the other hand the dark side of our nature reveals our obligation to mow down those who dare to be different. C’mon cut back thay ‘Tall Poppy’ snob, that Pom, that fag, that woman, that trendy lefty bastard, that person with a brain. Why? What hat is so wrong with soy, almond or goat milk or cheeses not made with moo moo milk?

And many trembling patriots are running to the cow masters rescue. The debate about milk, meat and infant and child development has mastered up its own gallant little troopers. I am no scientist by any means but I do personally feel that certain nutrients are critical to rearing kids with “healthy” bodies and minds. However, that does not mean that cow’s milk or meat need be the source of these building blocks. My obvious parental objective would be towards raising intelligent free thinking beings who would then be able to determine what’s best for both themselves and also for society and the environment.

It’s evident now that had many past smokers known about the dangers associated with this pursuit they probably would have taken efforts to have avoided it in the first place. Still, there are those dairy zealots out to convert those without even giving the slightest thought towards the other alternatives. To busy engrossed in their in-cow-sition to flagellate any naughty deviant who even mulls the idea of straying from the righteous Kiwi herd?

These moralists who tread the holy path who validate their ethical superiority by vilifying the “Other” through a campaign of de-moo-nization. The absurdist of arguments were put forward by the dairy devotees that inverted the security of the pacifist greeny vegan. What about their cruelty towards plant cultivation? The vegan monster whose deadly diet was built upon the carnage of pesticides, insecticides and other chemical toxins whose merits are eco debatable. They kill mice, deter birds probably give grandmama allergies etc. Furthermore, tsayhe carnivores say that these people are thin skinned know nots who cry over killing pests eating bugs and those who are profiting from their flesh or pelts being sold. Have these individuals forgot what country they’re living within and the number of people employed in animal farming industries? Or would these folks much prefer more unemployment or perhaps even a recession or a financial crash? Clearly these “traitors” are a menace to NZ Bloodbath Inc.

There is no doubt that this tense debate is having an unprecedented divisive impact upon the social fibres that generally bind the nation. Vegan vs carnivore, male against female, assaults against ethic positions and religious groups (creating some atrocious racism about Eastern treatment of women and why we should be sending more troops to the Middle East, all this anger because of some spilt milk wowie!!!) political loggerheads between those whose parties lay down the law while those powerless others have to suffer the price of the “national will”.

There is even a nasty disagreement developing between Millennials, echo boomers and some Gen Xers towards those self-serving pension grubbing fortunate Baby Boomers who always seem to get their way. Never have those in their Golden Years and the might that is Grey Power been under such a fierce attack from the new wave of young and savvy but a tad cheeky little Whipper Snappers. Where did their manners go?

Such combative and conflictive social pandemonium hasn’t been seen since NZs only true sort of Civil War of 81 when South Africa came to town. There was obviously still enough love getting around for I came into existence that same turbulent year. That asides, the rise of the colliding classes has made many of the lower masses infuriated over those cashed up toffee noses telling them to fork out for the more morally superior option. What I call the Middle Class picnic of cuddling a tree before returning back to the castle in their big flash Jeep Cherokee.

For what it truly comes down to is that old classic philosophical problem/question of what animals should have rights? Should we be morally concerned about cows and if we say no what does this say about our own claims to being morally just agents? As much as I don’t like killing even I confess that this is a conflictive topic. How can one fill one’s belly while being ethically sound in the fashion that they are doing so? In short, can anyone find this dairy lover a moral loophole? And what about those goody two shoes in the vegan camp? Those dairy avoiding Captain Muricans masticating on leaves like koala bears, wearing faux suede booties and attempting to feed their pets chicken flavoured tofu pet food. Dear Lord please if I am to be reincarnate do not put me in one of these hell holes. Is this right? Is this reasonable or are they just stark raving mad Wombles? Surely the cost of making things out of synthetic fibres is no less of an environmental violation than skinning a cow. But it does not involve killing I do concede. It all comes down to an individual insight, is a pair of cow suedes more eco-friendly to make than a pair of (oil) slick sneaker? Well, please, you tell me.

The question of what is less destructive a product is a contentious one which even I’m too afraid to answer. Perhaps this is because it is also complicated by the human element of the equation. All those people who need warm clothes, those who need an income and those poor peasants with little choice but to see farming and sweatshops as a steady source of financial revenue. My humanitarian leanings tending to place me more firmly in the anthropocentric camp than in the more virtuous holistic or ecocentric one.

And what about that moral position of scorning the Indian and Chinese nouvea riche for their recently acquired beef fix while we have indulged in it for centuries. Additionally, would we honestly like the idea of importing in foreign beef because we choose to be cow free? Do we wish to put faith in others under an ignorance is bliss shrug of the soldiers position? What would we do here Down Under if we didn’t have cattle to attend to?

No Farm Inc NZ is unlikely to die off without a fight and I certainly am not one of those baying for the Dairy Boards blood, but I would like to see some positive changes to the Auld male vanguard steering the ship. One obvious one would be to see more women influencing the operation of the industry. I certainly feel as if a woman’s touch could bring about a wonderful revolution within the dairy old boys club.

The next endeavour involves redefining the industry to create an ethical buyer culture which is presently not that accessible or socially acceptable in NZ as we speak. Dairy should be derived from farms not over saturated with cattle and state subsidies should be afforded to pastoral operators who reduce effluent and greenhouse gas output along with water aqueduct extraction.

There are some good things though that we as new Zealanders can take heart from. The continuum of ethical consumption is one which is beginning to gradually claw its way into the Kiwi thought chamber. As a nation, we are increasingly devoting ourselves to compassion and non-violence towards other living creatures.  Opposition to factory farming, we now need to make is now almost unanimous. This is excellent news in itself.

The next step entails taking the full leap by acknowledging that we are not clean nor green and disassociating from the romantic machismo image associated with the cow cocky male maverick charmer farmer. If we accept these last stumbling blocks we can take a great leap forward into problem solving the three way juggling act between balancing tourism, mining and milk.

I still am adamant that we can have our cake err milk and drink it too but I believe we could take it one revolutionary step further by selling “moral milk” just like exclusive tourist packages to cut down on environmental degradation. It could be a major coo for both small and large players in this enormous supply chain. And against the Empire the David is taking his sling shot towards Goliath.

Ma and Pa organic cruel free farms are selling Justice Juice while women have struck back at the macho male image of the industry by declaring war under the banner of “no sex with carnivores”. Under their assessment you are what you eat and drink and the idea of intimacy with someone made up of dead animals and their fluids sickens them. This band of largely women Vegansexuals are out to send their men a lesson when it comes to the defiling or any feminine form.

Yet, the girls are not alone. Numerous men have joined the bandwagon of dairy cruelty opposition displaying their abhorrence towards dairying as passive hunting while critiquing the idea of the NZ Made of Meat man. In addition, men at gyms can be found sporting shirts which say things such as “yes I’m a veganman but don’t have beef dude” or “I’m a REAL clean green Kiwi. NO BULL!

Commendably, there are now also a number of vegan support clubs and sites to help deal with the growing concerns of isolation despair and social burn out for those who choose to do without dairy. We can be quite a cruel bunch sometimes. Groups that say that eating animal goods is not a prereq to being a real Kiwi.

As for me, I do hope a compromising truce can be reached. Deep down I genuine do feel that we need to take the next communal healing step and mooove on with the times.

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