Posts Tagged ‘Animal Welfare Approved

Drink It Black

» May 5th, 2014

Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), an organization that provides a humane label for meat and dairy products, hit my inbox today with a downright giddy press release celebrating a Seattle-based barista for “her award-winning cappuccinos [with milk] from cows raised in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards.”  That would be, of course, AWA cows.

I quickly found myself percolating over a single question. Should I really get excited that AWA is glowing with press-release pride because  five varieties of milk made by a Washington dairy have consumers frothing with culinary excitement? Something about the celebration of a supposedly delicious animal product—milk!— by an organization that cares for animals smelled rotten to me.

The triumphant barista’s emphasis on dairy quality over animal welfare only intensified my skepticism. She explained, ”Milk is a big part of my score. It just didn’t make sense for me to invest a lot of time in the right espresso, and not the right milk.” Indeed, bring in some happy udders! With a sort of sinister pride, AWA explained that the barista “tasted over 10 different milks while she was getting ready for the competition, but noted ‘Pure Eire Dairy just stood out.’”

AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther, for his part, was  thrilled. After all, yet another gentle exploiter of animals had “achieved success through their [AWA's] product.” He added, ”It’s no coincidence. High-welfare, sustainable farming equals great food. Knowing that Laila sources her milk from an AWA farm underpins that assumption.” Maybe the farmers will now get as rich as their cream. It’d be no coincidence.

Consider the logic here. By treating cows relatively well, you get better tasting milk and win awards. When you get better tasting milk and win  awards, you encourage consumers to drink more milk, or at least not give it up. If you encourage milk consumption, specifically from cows raised according to specific welfare standards, you ensure that your label will last at least as long as a brand seared into a cow’s ass.

Forgive me if I’m not frothing with excitement over AWA’s dubious accomplishment. Adding insult to injury, milk isn’t even necessary for coffee. Purists eschew, if not abhor, it. So not only is AWA helping to make milk taste better, it’s encouraging an expansion of the product’s application. Good for the labeling business, I guess.

In any case, I can do AWA one better and insist on the simplest and most humane solution: drink it black.