Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

When you hear the word milk what do you imagine? A cold
glass of white, opaque liquid waiting for you to drink; maybe dip a cookie
in.  The milk you probably picture comes
from a cow, but milk can come from many different animals OR be plant-based.
Milk doesn’t always equal dairy. 

Milk technically is classified as an emulsified colloid.
That is just a fancy way of saying that fat and protein globules are suspended
in water.  Milk is opaque because the
solution is balanced, which means the globules are floating evenly throughout
without sticking together in one place!  

All mammals secrete milk from their mammary glands for their
babies, which means that everything from cows to blue whales produces milk!
Milk production for their young is one of the main features of mammals. Do we
drink whale milk? No, but humans consume milk from a variety of animals.  You probably have had cow’s milk, but what
about goat or camel? There are parts of the world where both of those are also

Something that has gained popularity in the past few years
is plant-based milk, which could include almond, coconut, cashew, soy or oat
milks. Remember how I explained that milk is essentially globules of floating
protein? Well these plant seeds can be transformed into milk by simply putting
them into solution.  For instance, to
make almond milk all you have to do is soak almonds, blend them with water, and
strain.  You could also pick some up at
the store!

We all drank our mother’s milk (or formula) for at least the
first year of our lives, but what is the benefit of consuming milk when we’re
older? Milk is a great source of fat and protein for a growing child, but can
also be a great source of calcium for strong bones.  Dairy milk for a long time seemed to be the
main go-to for consumers, but trends are leaning more towards these plant-based
milks.  Plant-based milks are suitable
for vegans, more environmentally friendly, more climate friendly, and great for
anyone who is lactose-intolerant. They also can be a great source of calcium
and other nutrients without the sugar you find in milk.

Lactose is a type of sugar (a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose) and is the primary carbohydrate in the milk of mammals. All mammal milk has it but it can vary from animal to animal.  Cows’ milk, for example, has 12g/cup and goats’ milk has 9g/cup of lactose. Lactase, an enzyme produced in our intestines, is what helps our bodies break lactose down into digestible sugars. If someone lacks lactase, they won’t be able to digest the lactose, which may lead to digestive trouble. Lactose intolerance can develop at any point in your life and some cultures have a high rate of lactose intolerance since a lot of their cuisine doesn’t include dairy.  

Will you follow the trend and switch to plant milk? Or stick with traditional dairy? 

Make Way For The New Energy Moo-vement!

When it comes to finding cleaner greener sources of electrical power, people across the globe are starting to think outside of the box in order to reduce carbon emissions and increase efficiency. Coal, solar, wind and hydro may be the most common sources to power your home, but there is a new energy moo-vement catching on that could be a win-win for everybody.  A dairy farm produces milk, of course, but new technology has allowed farmers to begin producing their own electricity – using that least-desirable by-product of cows: manure.  Dairy farms full of livestock are being transformed into modern day power plants. 

Cows produce a lot of manure. One cow can create an incredible 30 gallons of manure each day. Now imagine the output of the US’ 100 million cattle. That’s one big pile of cow pies.

When farmers clean their barns, they put the manure in a big heap, and spread most of it on their fields for fertilizer. But now, farmers have a new way to handle their cow manure. They use it to make electricity. Manure can be converted on site to a form of fuel called biogas. Biogas can be burned for heat, cooking, generate electricity, or it can be sold to power utility companies elsewhere.

Here’s how it works: A big pooper scooper that looks like a giant squeegee moves back and forth cleaning the barn floor. The scooper pushes the manure into a big 600-gallon concrete tank, similar to a swimming pool. The tank is called a digester because what happens there is just like what happens inside a cow: bacteria called anaerobic digesters get to work and continue to break down the manure. 

Methane gas in the atmosphere is known as a “greenhouse” gas because it traps heat just like a greenhouse does, causing our planet to warm up. That’s an environmental concern. But the digester process has a positive outcome and provides an environmental benefit. The methane gas is captured and used as a fuel to power electric generators. Capturing the methane to use for electricity prevents it from entering the atmosphere.  The product that is left after the digester is finished is a byproduct that is a nutrient rich, odor-free fertilizer that can be used for compost or even cow bedding.
Many believe this cow green energy moo-vement is the global future of fuel. Many parts of the world have started to move away from the other types of biofuels like corn ethanol and even biodiesel. Both of these fuels use a food source as a main component which has created a growing controversy, particularly with the growing food shortages that have been on the rise.

The amazing power of poo is a renewable resource that is capable of saving over 200 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year in theUSalone! Scientists have estimated that converting manure from the 100 million cows in theUnited States, would produce renewable energy equal to 8 billion gallons of gasoline, or 1% of the total energy consumption in the nation. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing what cows can do! Converting cow manure into a renewable source of fuel is one of those rare situations in which everybody and everything wins – especially the environment!   

 Learn More About Cow Power by visiting Central Vermont Public Service