Aren’t you glad you live in Clover country? This TV jingle is one SF Bay Area residents will immediately recognize from childhood, along with the marketed picture we were sold of happy Clo the Cow, enthroned in endless green pastures, endlessly producing milk for human children rather than her own calves. Clo the Cow appeared at pumpkin patches and county fairs, giving away free ice cream to kids, and no local child could fail to recognize the benevolent face of Clo smiling down at them from the sides of milk trucks and billboards across the region. Having your slogan, containing words like Clo or Moo, used by Clover Stornetta Inc. has been seen as a mark of cleverness and decades of these catchy phrases have featured everything from Clo as historic figure to nursery rhyme character. But the latest billboard on view in the North Bay, billing Clo as Eclo-friendly, has gone too far.
In implying that dairy farming is eco-friendly, Clover Stornetta is depending upon public ignorance to smile on this completely misleading depiction, much the same way that the California Milk Advisory Board attempted to foist the unfounded claim that the state’s milk comes from Happy Cows. The CMAB probably did not expect such a fact-filled backlash to their Happy Cow campaign and I have to assume that Clover Stornetta Inc. is similarly insulated in its hopes and wishes that Northern Californian residents drink milk while being totally unobservant of the environmental damage from dairy farming that is so obvious in this part of the country and across the nation.
Rather than simply accept the insult to my intelligence inherent in a marketing campaign that equates the dairy industry with environmental health, I’d like to let Clover Stornetta Inc. know 6 facts I’ve learned about dairy farming.
We’d better hope that Clo doesn’t feel the call of nature while crossing the stream in the billboard image. California officials cite cows as a major source of nitrate pollution in more than 100,000 square miles of polluted groundwater. Drink from a stream anywhere in the Bay Area and you’re likely to wind up in the hospital or dead.
Humans can catch more than 40 different diseases from manure. Cow’s manure includes toxic and fatal pathogens including Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and fecal coliform.
Manure from dairy cows is cited as the cause of the Cryptosporidium contamination of Milwaukee’s drinking water in 1993, which sickened 400,000 people and killed more than 100 of them.
Manure causes algal blooms, depleting the oxygen in water. This phenomenon contributes to the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico where the water is completely devoid of life in an area that has expanded to as much as 7,700 square miles in some years.
Ranching destroys the Earth’s top soil, is one of the major causes of global deforestation and is repeatedly cited as a major threat to endangered species due to the habitat destruction inherent in turning formerly wild lands into cattle pasture.
Farm animals, particularly cattle, produce more than 100 million tons of methane a year. Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together.
Not So Glad To Live In Clover Country
Clover Stornetta Inc. does business in a part of the country known for its highly educated and generally aware populace. Anyone who encounters this company’s current claims of ‘Eclo’ friendliness has a right to feel insulted by such a baldly misleading ad campaign. Far from being friendly to the environment, the practices of dairy farmers are repeatedly cited by independent journals and books as being key causes of environmental destruction and global warming.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, just ask the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network about the absolute lows they are recording in endangered coho salmon hatching due to water pollution and global warming. Call your local water commissioner and ask him why California scientists are saying that 65% of California‚Äôs population is threatened by pollution in drinking water just from dairy cow manure. Or, just take your eyes and nose on a drive through dairy farming country in the region. Apart from the unbelievable stench, you are likely to see what I have:
- Dairy cows with uterine prolapse (the womb of the animal hanging outside of its body) while the cow stands ankle deep in her own manure and urine.
- Large numbers of dairy cows confined to small, grassless enclosures, staring through metal bars at passing traffic.
- Dairy cows with some type of skin condition that results in all of their hair rubbing off parts of their hides, revealing raw skin caked with manure.
- The calves of dairy cows taken from their mothers and confined to rows and rows of tiny plastic igloos set atop bleak fields of mud and manure.
The observable facts about the lives of dairy cows are not what Clover Stornetta Inc. will promote, preferring to sell an eerily sanitized picture of a spotlessly clean, grinning Clo, taking a nature hike through pristine wilderness. In recent times, Clover Stornetta Inc. has begun contracting with several organic dairies in order to deliver organic milk to consumers who feel they are making a more environmentally-friendly choice with such purchases. While organic milk production may do something to reduce the growing threat of antibiotic resistance approaching all of mankind with untold scourges of disease, thanks to the massive use of these drugs by conventional meat and dairy operations, organic dairy farming does nothing to reduce the pollution of water and soil, habitat destruction or global warming rooted in the raising of cattle.
It’s time to take off the rosy glasses and face the realities of life in the place Clover Stornetta Inc. has dubbed ‘Clover Country’. Local clean water, land and air was once the life support system of the Ohlone, Pomo and Miwok Peoples who called what we now term the SF Bay Area ‘home’ for thousands of years. But now, the combination of milk and alcohol production has turned ‘home’ into a place where you can’t drink the water, can’t breathe healthy air and are facing a planet that can become a dead zone if it heats up but a few more degrees.
This year, Yale Universtiy researchers released a study demonstrating the harms of marketing products to children via the use of cartoon characters. Studies like this have reached the same conclusions for decades, and I have to believe that the marketers employed by Clover Stornetta Inc. are well aware of such findings. If you see something wrong with an industry that persuades kids to cuddle up to Clo while polluting the children’s most basic need – clean drinking water – then I hope you will tell your youngsters why this depiction of an eco-friendly dairy cow is not telling the truth. Teaching young people to tell the truth and to discern when they may be being exploited are vital duties for any parent who wants to raise thinking human beings rather than compliant consumers.
In the spirit of telling the truth, I’d like to offer my own suggested ‘Clo’ slogan for Clover Stornetta Inc. and while I very much doubt they’ll be plastering it over a billboard near you, that’s what independent blogs are for. I say boo to the fantasy of dairy cows being eco-friendly, and yes to telling the truth: