In 1993, the FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), otherwise known as bovine somatotropin (rbST), in cows. Farmers inject this synthetic hormone into their animals to increase their milk production. This practice has been banned in Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
I’m not going to get into the details of the good and bad of rbST – but the Wikipedia article refers to European Union and Canadian government reports that the use of rBST substantially increases health problems in the cattle. The effect on human health is less clear, it seems, but causing suffering to the animals that produce our food is something I want to avoid.
I also find that organic milk tastes better, and organic dairy farmers seem to pay more attention to the animals’ welfare (if only to get certification and keep their customers happy – that’s how capitalism works, after all). Considering all this, I do now have a strong preference for organic milk, and will go without milk rather than use milk from system that abuses its animals in this way. We’ll see how strong my willpower is. And yes, I already knew they abused the animals, but this brought it home.
There’s a bigger picture here: that’s the question of how we attain abundance. Consumerism might be rejected by us green folks, but having plenty of tasty food to eat is something people around the world aspire to, especially those who don’t have enough.
So, let’s admit we want it – that simple living is fine up to a point, but most of us don’t want to live on a meager diet, or pay through the nose for our staple foods. Let’s ask: can we attain abundance and at the same time protect the world that supports us, and without compromising on issues like humane treatment of animals?
This is not just the better way, it’s the only way. Selling “being hungry and paying through the nose” just doesn’t look promising. Selling thrivability means building and showing a path to change – it’s hard work, but an achievable outcome, and one that we’re continuing to strive for.
How do we achieve this? How we advance towards “thrivability” rather than just sustainability? This is something that we explore together on the wiki, and something that we’ll look at in coming blog posts. Stay tuned!