Canada it’s udderly absurd is a title that hides a major nutritional concern under a cloak of fun and ridicule. Fun and ridicule are also important elements in this story because they bring what could be considered a mundane topic to the forefront of our attention. The topic is the adulteration of milk by farmers seeking higher volumes from their cows.

     The report I read stated that a pastry chef in Calgary, Canada, noticed, sometime last year, that the room-temperature butter in her kitchen was not as soft as it should be. One can imagine all sorts of reasons for this, ranging from refrigerator issues to short-term memory malfunctions. Julie van Rosendaal decided that she needed to track this issue over time to make sure she was not imagining the problem, or going crazy.

     A year later, she realized she was not crazy. The consistency of the Canadian butter she was using had changed significantly in texture. It had become much harder.

     Further investigation led her to believe that Canadian farmers are feeding more palm-oil products to their cows. She found out that palmitic acid, which is found in palm-oil products, can help cows produce more milk, and it can also make the butter made from this milk much harder. She decided to go public through social media.

     As an aside, I have to say that this is one instance where social media actually served a useful purpose for society….but I digress!

     The Dairy Farmers of Canadian initially dismissed the social media storm Ms. van Rosendaal created, but eventually, under pressure, they ordered an investigation. The investigation not only found that Ms. Van Rosendaal was correct, they also uncovered the fact that the British Columbia Milk Marketing Board had received many complaints from coffee shops that the milk they were using did not “foam” properly.

     In part, the Covid 19 pandemic is to blame. Canadians, trapped at home were baking more, and the demand for butter had risen significantly. Canada has severe restrictions on imported dairy products, including butter, so the farmers had to produce more milk. Buying more cows was not a financially-attractive option, so they “doctored” their existing herds to produce greater volumes. The result was harder butter and, heaven-forbid, non-frothy coffee. Time to call in the marines!

     The U.S. has equally severe restrictions on the import of dairy products, all designed to protect the domestic dairy industry. I have always wondered at one particular anomaly in this system, which is that British Stilton Blue cheese is the only cheese in the world that does not have a quota restriction on imports into the U.S. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on why this is the case, but, again I digress, a little.

     Perhaps, we should all start paying more attention to the froth on top of our coffees, and the hardness of our butter, and to using social media in a way that actually benefits society.

Canada it’s udderly absurd the way the farmers are treating us.

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