Commentary: Give Feisty the cow a fighting chance

Re. "Feisty the cow visits Kaiser Elementary," Sept. 21:

School children were reportedly given the opportunity to see "where their milk comes from, where all their food comes from."

But the representatives of the Dairy Council who brought Feisty to meet the kids neglected to tell the real story. They purposely hid the truth from the children, because if those kids truly knew where their food comes from, they likely wouldn't want to eat it. The Dairy Council spends many millions of dollars to mislead the public, portraying "happy cows" gladly offering their secretions for human consumption.

But in today's world of factory farming, the vast majority of dairy products consumers purchase come from animals subjected to horrific conditions, then die a violent, painful death. The animals do not offer up their lives willingly for humans' pleasure.

I'm sure the representative from the Mobile Dairy Classroom did not tell the children that dairy cows spend their lives being kept forcibly pregnant in order to keep their milk production constant, a practice which leads to a number of health maladies, including extremely painful mastitis, among others.

Nor did he tell them that when the mother cows give birth, their babies are wrenched away from them soon after, deprived of their own mother's milk and affection. The separation is agonizing for both, and the crying and bellowing that ensues, often lasting for days, is heartbreaking.

One of the school children remarked about cows, "I think they're really cool." Children do tend to relate to and have a natural affinity for animals. They'll tell you that they love animals and are fascinated by them.

But there is an enormous disconnect when it comes to meal time. The same animal they think is "really cool," is now a slaughtered corpse, which they'll eat with gusto. Every day, children eat the tortured remains of intelligent, sentient creatures they consider to be their friends. This is because the truth about where their food comes from, and what it really is, is strategically hidden from them in order to sustain the interests of Big Agribusiness.

If given the opportunity to learn without prejudice, and employ their own critical thinking, most children would certainly choose to not harm others unnecessarily. And it is unnecessary, in the developed world, to eat animals.

I'm glad to see that organizations such as the Institute For Humane Education are also making trips to schools, presenting children with factual information about the lives of animals, and giving kids the chance to draw their own conclusions about how they want to treat their fellow earthlings, human and otherwise.

Humane education programs, in fact, are now a required part of California's curriculum.

Parents who pride themselves on providing a well-rounded education for their children would be wise to be candid about the reality of food production, rather than employ deception every time their kids eat. Otherwise, they're doing a disservice to their children, and sending mixed messages about being kind and compassionate citizens.

ALICIA KOBERSTEIN lives in Newport Coast.

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