What does it profit a man....

….to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

Profiting at the Expense of the Environment and Human Health

Stonyfield Farm, local to New Hampshire, 80% owned by the French yogurt giant Groupe Danone, sells more than yogurt.

It’s selling the personal philosophy of its founder and CEO, Gary Hirschberg who testifies that
“..the health of future generations is good enough reasons for businesses to take care of the planet. But even a businessperson who doesn’t share this perspective can embrace green business practices simply because they’re more profitable. I believe most of us want to do the right thing.”

Stonyfield has been preaching from the environmental pulpit of earth worship for over 20 years, instructing its consumers how to better protect Mother Earth.

Recycle! Ride your bike to work! Drive a fuel-efficient car!

Vanity, vanity, Solomon cried out. Hirschberg’s worldview of doing “the right thing”, “saving” planet Earth, providing “health” via his food products to humans, sounds good on the surface, but looking a little deeper, all I see is yet another little man playing god.

Hirschberg is promoting his new book, Stirring It Up; How to Make Money and Save the World. What I’d love to see between its covers is a disclosure, a confession, that the real secret to his success is no different than indulgences of the 12th century Catholic church – planting and watering the seed of human guilt harvests big money.

Save The World messages flash on the screen, at Stonyfield’s website only adding fuel to my hell-fire and brimstone message to Hirschberg. Repent.

Yep, maybe it’s a “sour grape” thing with me. Stonyfield drew a line in the sand, half a dozen years ago, saturating airwaves against “evil” SUV drivers.

And, yep. I drive one, although seldom more than 3,000 miles per year, so I’m not as concerned about burning up a few tanks of fossil fuel. I’d love to drive a smaller, energy-efficient car, but until New Englanders care less about recklessly driving 20 to 30 miles over the speed limit, weaving between lanes inches from the bumpers of other vehicles, I have no desire to exchange my big, heavy, tank-like LandCruiser SUV.

My distaste for Stonyfield goes beyond their SUV madness, though. When I became fluent in micronutrients, I realized that grain-fed dairy, the foundation of Stonyfield’s products (as well as most other yogurt processors), are as unhealthy for our environment as they are for us.

Milk from grain-fed cows is a resource-intensive practice known to cause environmental damage. Grain-fed ruminants contribution to so-called global warming goes above and beyond methane (cow flatulence) silliness.

Sustainable Agriculture explains:

Overcrowding of animals produces excessive amounts of manure that cannot be recycled on site. Runoff from this manure creates an excess of nitrogen in watersheds. The large-scale industrial production of grain to feed the animals includes high usage of pesticides and herbicides and the widespread use of genetically engineered seed.”

These are provable, observable, and measurable dangers to our environment NOT generated by grass-fed sustainable farming practices of small family farms. The problem for Stonyfield, along with other food processors, is that high-volume, grain-fed, factory-farming methods is the only way for food-processors to survive.

Quite honestly, grass-fed pastured dairy animals will NEVER produce milk at the same huge volume and production levels as grain-fed animals.

Stonyfield can’t afford to acknowledge the truth. But we can’t afford, to NOT know the truth, to borrow a phrase from Hirschberg, “for the health of future generations.”

Romans 8 “Animals Suffer Under the Curse*

While picking up our supply of grass-fed Jersey milk from one of our farmers, we were introduced to Snowflake, a charming, 19-year-old geriatric, retired cow. Snowflake was on her way out to spend a day in the sunshine, and we were invited to walk alongside. In talking with my daughter, the farmer named every single calf – all 10 – including month and year, that Snowflake had birthed.

The farmer described himself as “owing” Snowflake a huge depth of gratitude because she had “always done right by him” and that in return, he owed her everything. I thought of Proverbs 12:10 as he gave her a gentle pat before she headed over to her favorite patch of grass – “…a righteous man has regard for the life of their beast”.

Just down the road, there were plenty of other farmers, not cut of the same fabric as our farmer. Their animals knew the life spoken of in the remainder of Prov 12:10, “…wicked who are cruel even in their tender mercies.”

Factory-farm, grain-feed, feed-lot animals seldom live beyond 6 or 7 years of age. Contrast that with Snowflake, and I am of the firm belief that no consumer of dairy products can continue, in good conscience, to support the cruel practice of grain-fed factory-farming.

Some of the health problems of grain-fed animals include

  1. ACIDOSIS: persistent form of acid indigestion.
  2. RUMENITIS: inflammation of the rumen wall, result of acidosis; may become
  3. LIVER ABSCESSES*: ulcerated rumen wall allows bacteria through the walls, entering bloodstream, causing liver absecces
  4. BLOAT: grain-fed ruminants do not belch as easily as grass-fed; grain-fed ruminants have gas trapped by a dense mat of foam
  5. ASPHYXIATION: if bloat isn’t caught in time, rumen distends, animal can’t breath and dies
  1. FEEDLOT POLIO: grain-feeding causes abnormal acidic conditions in the rumen producing an enzyme which destroys thiamin or vitamin B; Lack of vitamin B-1 starves the brain of energy, creating paralysis. Cattle with feedlot polio are referred to as “brainers.”

Remove the Log from the Eye

Stonyfield’s yogurt containers, most of which are #5 -polypropylene, are not accepted at many town recycling centers. Stonyfield, always quick to spin the truth, created an alliance in 2004, nearly 20 years into their earth campaign, with an “environment-friendly consumer products” company, turning used #5 containers into toothbrush, tongue cleaners and razor handles. All that it requires is that consumers SHIP EMPTY CONTAINERS to Stonyfield.

Does this even make sense? “Save the earth”, “conserve energy”, “bike to work”, is Stonyfield’s message, but people are naive enough to think they are contributing to saving the earth by SHIPPING EMPTY CONTAINERS back to Stonyfield? This is less about saving Planet Earth than it is about saving Stonyfield’s image.

Ethical Corporation, (which has a tag-line: “Not an oxymoron”) took a jab at Stonyfield Farm Yogurt as having

“issued customers a call to arms to battle climate change with its latest range of organic dairy products,l four flavors hit UK shelves last month. Each pot features the words of a character to inspire green fans to action. “Vanilla the Hunt”, often threatens to “genetically modify the CEOs of certain multinational companies” – Ethical Corporation adroitly notes: “His targets presumably do not include Stonyfield’s owner, Danone.”

Looks like Ethical Corporation is a good site to watch!

Sources and references:

CUESA: Pasture-Based Cattle, http://www.cuesa.org/sustainable_ag/issues/cattle.php

Organic Consumer: A Closer Look at the 38 New Non-Organic Ingredients Proposed for Organic Processed Foods

Reuters: “Dannon Sued Over Probiotic Health Claims“:“http://www.reuters.com”:http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN237176420080124?sp=true

EatWild.com: “Superhealthy Milk“ by Jo Robinson http://eatwild.com/articles/superhealthy.html

Kefir: “Dom – King of Kefir”, http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html#kefir-microbes

Indulgences: Fascinating article, http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GLOSSARY/INDULGE.HTM

  1. Not only is the milk grain fed, but Stonyfield cannot purchase a sufficient supply of organic milk in the United States to manufacture their product. So they ship in powdered organic milk from overseas. Were you aware that their product is made from powdered milk? Very unhealthy.

    Jen    Feb 2, 07:50 PM    #
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