Sunday, July 14, 2024
Chris Judd


Want to start an argument? Just mention politics or religion. Last night we went to listen to a blues singer and, although many people love blues, it wasn’t on the top of my list of favourite music. In fact, this was the first time in the 76 years of my life that I attended a blues concert. Even though Guy Davis had been nominated twice for a grammy award and performed in countless countries all over the world, I was amazed that not just me, but everyone in the room sat speechless throughout entire night because of the sound quality and voice of this artist. This reinforced my belief that it’s not the type of music, but how the performer delivers it that touches my heart.
Then, just before we left to go home, Scott pulled a carton of A2 milk from the fridge and proceeded to explain what it is. We have all noticed the milk cartons, “skim”, 1 per cent, 2 per cent, 3.25 per cent, lactose free (with the sugar removed), pure filtered (which is filtered differently so it doesn’t have to be homogenized to keep the cream from rising to the top), and in some states you can buy non-pasteurized (which makes most health experts nervous, but which most dairy farmers have been drinking for generations). Pasteurization does kill some enzymes in the milk which some people need to digest dairy products!
So, what is this A2 milk? It is only produced by cows that have certain genes. Through the past century, the A2 gene has been bred out of most milk cows, not because farmers wanted to get rid of it, they just didn’t even know it was there. It was probably linked to some other trait like hair colour, colour of the hoof or some other trait that we still don’t know. A2 milk is easier to digest and some pregnant women and others cannot digest regular milk but have no problem digesting A2 milk. Recently, scientists can single out cattle that only have the A2 gene while most dairy cows have both A2 and A1 genes. Now dairy farmers can DNA-test each cow to find out if they have only the A2 gene and keep the milk from those cows separate from the rest. This means a separate bulk tank and transport to the dairy, as well as a separate line to process at the milk plant. Dairy farmers can also buy semen from A2-positive bulls, so in the future there will be more A2 milk available for consumers. Not every grocery store carries A2 milk now, but you can find it even in small towns like Shawville.
On Sunday, Feb.25, we received a light fall of snow which most people viewed as just another expensive inconvenience. To farmers, this light blanket of snow has a much different value. Bare ground without snow-cover will thaw and refreeze many times before spring, and this thawing and freezing will kill that fall wheat that was planted last fall and high protein legume hay (alfalfa, clovers, birds-foot trefoil). Those crops killed or thinned out by freezing-thawing will drive up the costs on the farms which will soon drive-up food costs to the consumers.
Different people have different demands for certain foods. Gluten free is now common in many diets. Over the past century, many new wheat varieties have been developed. Most have been selected for their high gluten trait. It is this high gluten that makes Canadian wheat so desirable because it makes the best pasta. It also makes the most desirable bread because it is softer. Gluten-free bread has more of a saw-dusty texture (some of the people that read this will have a softer way of describing the difference).
Some foods are a strict no-no if you are a member of certain religions. Many of my friends will never eat liver, heart, tongue, blood pudding, or some other parts of an animal. I hate to bust your bubble but, although hamburg never contains ham, that is where the large meat plants put most of the trim and meats that don’t sell too well in a meat counter. My uncle had a saying, “the only part of a pig not used is the squeal.”
Although many populations in the world eat horse, dog, eel, cricket, or worms, those meats will never knowingly be part of my diet. I have many vegan friends who refuse to eat any animal products, milk, or eggs and I have a list as long as your arm of what, although they pass the Canada food guide, I will not knowingly eat because I know which plants that they probably came from and the chemicals that those plants were probably sprayed with, and which manufactured foods were made from those plants. I’m lucky that I get a warning (my stomach turns) if I consume even a small quantity of those foods. Some people have been known to die at a later date from regular consumption of some of those foods.
The latest statistics tell us that there are more than 4,000 religions in this world. Most of us have strong reasons why we chose the one that we have.
How we smell is something that we worry about just before we shower. Most animals distinguish which offspring is theirs by smelling it, any cattle producer will tell you that. We seldom think that the main reason why our parents chose each other was because of their smell and they may not even think of that themselves, some of them use perfume to cover that up. When a beef cow’s calf dies, the farmer often either ties the calf skin from the dead calf to a foster calf so the mother will accept it, or uses a strong smell to camouflage the smell of the new calf.
If your job or political party has a close tie to the oil industry, financial or other, you may be strongly in favour of hanging onto fossil fuels. If you have children or grandchildren to inherit the world as we leave it, you may be more concerned about the effects of climate change and quicker to grasp onto some replacement to fossil fuel.
We are all different in many, many ways, and that’s what makes this world such an exciting place to live. Let’s leave it in good shape for our great-grandchildren.

Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.


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