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Third Essay Assignment: Dairies
Write 1500-2000 words on one of the following topics:
Due by email Monday, June 6 at 5:00 p.m.
The De Marke experiment in the eastern Netherlands was prompted by concerns over the environmental effects of dairy farming, particularly the nitrogen surplus generated over the nitrogen inputs, and the problems that surplus potentially caused for water, air, and soil quality. The experiment determined that a dairy could be just as profitable with a much lower nitrogen input than had conventionally been used in that area. Can you do a comparable (if by necessity much less detailed) analysis for any two of the farms we visit in Whatcom County? Is there room for any of those farms to decrease their nitrogen surplus and still remain profitable in today's economy?
B. Is animal welfare in dairying (grazing where possible, smaller herds, less crowding, less frequent milking to reduce stress) compatible with profitability? Or do the cruel realities of the market dictate that cows need to be treated in as Tayloristic (see the Oenema article on management, page 159; nothing to do with the shellfish company) a manner as possible in order to insure business sustainability? Or, as a third alternative, is less intensive dairying possible only for small niche markets such as those served by Jackie's Jersey or by Twin Brook? What does the answer to this question say about the possibility of long-term agricultural sustainability in general?
C. Given that Smil and others have asserted that dairy products are the most efficient way of producing necessary animal protein for human diets (again, veganism is possible but difficult and thus probably not feasible as a mass strategy rather than an individual choice), to what extent should governments or environmental activists try to promote greater consumption of dairy products? Can they do so and still solve the nitrogen-disposal problem? If so, how; if not, why not? How much of our protein needs could actually be met by dairy products? And given that Popkin and others have blamed increased dairy consumption for emerging obesity and NR-NCDs in India, is there a potential contradiction between the ecological efficiency of dairy products and their health effects?
D. Get anthropological. Do an interpretive content analysis of the appeals made by Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy, Jackie's Jersey Milk, and Twin Brook Creamery, in light of the analysis of the appeals for Organic milk made in Melanie DuPuis's article, Not in My Body. How and to what extent to the appeals made by these dairies fit or not fit with DuPuis's analysis of how organic milk producers appeal to the public? Do they include any appeals that DuPuis leaves out? If so, what are they, how do they work, and whom are they supposed to work on? Do you think that these three local websites or the Organic Valley Website reflect any factors in the market or appeal for milk that have changed substantially since DuPuis wrote her article over ten years ago? If so, what are these factors?
Essays should be between 1500 and 2000 words in length, not counting bibliographic references. You may use any style (footnotes, endnotes, or embedded author and date) for references, as long as it is clear where you have gotten your information. Quotations should always be referenced, as should any information that is taken explicitly from a given source.