The Cow You Know

I’ve had absolutely no requests for my recent Cownote Speech to the Wisconsin Farmers Union (Go FU!) but I would like to get it off my hard drive, and so,

The Cow You Know

Pleasure to be here–

I’d like to begin by telling you everything I know about farming. The Holsteins are not Jewish. And if you cross a Golden Guernsey with a Holstein, you don’t get a Goldstein. In school I did belong to FFA–Future Feldmans of America–but we had a small lot and only kept a few.

Having got that out of the way, I’d like to say Farmers Union! Go FU! The most sought after stickers and gear in farming. Can’t keep the items in stock.

And it is a union, so I say strike!
You have nothing to lose but your stanchions!

Like to see more milk go down the capitol steps like in the old days.
One guy with a can of the raw was going to do it but it was worth too much to dump. Raw milk is neck and neck with bull semen. Price-wise I mean.

Gotta be more like the French farmers–always burning their produce on the high speed rail-tracks. Beats harvesting it I guess. But I guess we’re not getting the high speed trains, anyway. Governor Scotty Walker don’t like fast trains nor fast- – – well we don’t know that. But he don’t like fast trains.

Now he says we don’t get health care here in WI–what? Are we not men? Prick us do we not bleed? Are we chopped liver? Have we not paid the premiums? Can we at least vote on which laws no don’t apply to WI? Gravity, for example. I’m tired of it. Holding me down.

Governor’s anti-switch grass, too. That was going to be a bonanza, don’t kid yourself. Had to dump all my switch grass futures. Just weeds until you call it bio-mass. Then it’s money. Better than ethanol because you don’t have to grow corn or anything. Weeds grow themselves. Like manna from heaven.

Farming issues, farming issues, farming issues. There I said it and I’m glad. You know we all have issues. You should meet my wife, and then you’d be glad only to have farming issues. That with two strong arms and nine remaining fingers you can still make a life if not a living off the land, before the land makes a living off of you. That last Roundup. Little Roundup goes a long way. You know, since I started using Roundup on my lawn I don’t have neighbor dogs any more.

My only connection to anything remotely farmy is that I have inadvertently come to be synonymous with raw milk due to an article I dashed off for the New York Times, where they occasionally like to reaffirm their belief about the nation’s midsection being, in fact, a midsection.

So I thought I capitalize on this raw milk thing, even though I would never drink it because then I would have to be tuberculin tested and I’ve seen the size of the syringes they use. Then it’s swallow magnets and face the same direction as everybody else, and we can’t have that in a democracy.

Having said that,—you know I always wanted to begin a sentence that way, although its almost as annoying as some saying “I want to say . . . ” when you ask them something. If you want to, then say it, if not, don’t.

Having said that, the Founding Fathers were for it. Took it right from the spigot when the spirit moved them. Jefferson was always in the cow barn. It’s a wonder there wasn’t a 3rd amendment, the right to bare teat. Wasn’t even called raw milk in those days, it was called milk. Pasteur wasn’t for another hundred years yet, and meant it for the wine.

As fate would have it, thanks to my little article, that’s me you see in all the “Got Raw?” ads, and giving a face to the “Hands off Our Teats” handbills, although I had nothing, nothing, to do with that topless protest. BTW, I have friends who grew up on farms, and I know you don’t call them “teats” but we city folk have yet to make that leap of faith.

Inadvertently, and through no fault of my own, I am now the nucleus of the “The Cow You Know” movement, which maintains that as long as you know the cow, you can do pretty much whatever you want with it, or something like that. Whose going to see you up there in Brule, anyway. You’ve heard the jingles ad nauseam by now, I’m sure, “If you can’t milk the one you love, honey, milk the one you’re with.” Its gained a lot of traction, and not a little friction. It’s every bit as good as a pay-to-pick-my-produce-for-me operation in which stockbrokers from Lincolnwood fork it over for the right to milk your cows for you. Its a win-win for the cow and the commodities broker, who gets some hands-on experience with what he’s trading all day in the pit.

There are civil rights, and there are dairy rights. If you have a cow that has naturally occurring milk, you should be able to sell it to someone who drives up in their Volvo from Lincolnwood for as high a price as he will bear, exorbitant, even, because that’s what a free market is all about. If it does them some good, and if it doesn’t do them some bad, so much the better. I’m not sure where Scotty stands on the hands off our teats movement, perhaps off to the side where the tail won’t swat him, but since he is against everything else, we may have to take this fight to the milking parlor.

I will tell you, because of this whole thing, it’s the rare day goes by where some guy doesn’t come up to me and say
[ do gesture and voice]
“I grew up on raw milk, and it never did me no harm!”

I’d like to say something about artisan cheeses. First of all I don’t get it, I mean exactly what that means. Does it assume there’s no art in Kraft Slices, because there’s a lot it–Food Science could just as well be called Food Art, depending upon who’s doing it. I guess they mean artisan like the Rembrandt of cheese, or a nice nutty buttery Gauguin round. Artisan starts off like artificial, for one thing, and it implies cheese made by an non-person, not the message you want to send the consumer.

Artisan–maybe its Japanese, like Michael-san, as I am known in Osaka, or was it Ozaukee, one of the two. Could be made by my brother Art, who’s fully capable of, if uninterested in, making a cheese.

I do think we need to think outside the produce box. I believe Michael Dukakis got a bum rap for saying you ought to grow Belgian Endive, and the other ornamental veggies. Kale should be criminalized, though. Its too unattractive to be a garnish, and inedible to boot. Kudzu before kale, I say, and it would do something about the kudzu problem as well.

They love Belgian Endive in Belgium. Is it the answer to the farm crisis, no, but as a part of the greens revolution it makes sense. In these days of locally grown, we need to encourage consumption of the abundant but underrated urban vegetable, Creeping Charlie, which can be used much like water cress while the yard’s still under water.

I think what Michael Dukakis was saying was that, he sure would, come to the aid of his wife, and he was wrong to wear a tank soldier’s cap especially while riding in a tank, but about growing artisan veggies he was right. Brussels sprouts, by the way, neither grow in Brussels nor are they sprouts, same with the misnomers of the field, Jerusalem artichokes. Asians never outgrow their need for soy, and we’re selling a ton of ginseng to the Chinese, but I see the future and it’s all bear gall bladders, from donor bears on their demise from natural causes, like highways and bad garbage. Bear gall bladder harvesting is a renewable resource and eco-friendly.

I’m just throwing ideas out here–that’s what you do in a keynote speech. So feel free to throw them back.

Thank you for having me —-here’s to the Family Farmer–and Go FU!

Michael Feldman

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4 Comments on “The Cow You Know”

  1. Mike Says:

    Were you joking about the Founding Fathers? Food historians tell us that fluid milk was not popular until the period around 1900. Ironically for the raw milkers, it was considered “White Death” when it began to be consumed en masse. Before then, it was unlikely that any large group (including the Founding Fathers) regularly consumed milk that was not clabbered. The railroad, refrigeration, and (importantly) pasteurization spurred the commonality of milk consumption we know today.

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  2. Mike Says:

    From the wet-nurse?

    I was under the impression Jefferson subsisted on a diet that was dominated by vegetables. He would have had to consume the milk immediately. In the hot South, it would not have lasted long. Maybe you’re thinking of clabber. Whatever the case, the life expectancy back then was not as kind. They also did not have the same types of pathogens.

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