Brown Milk Cows


When flying into Brussels, one gets a view of myriad small farms organized in a patchwork buttoned down by almost regularly spaced villages and hamlets. The impression of pastoral bliss is confirmed on any train that leaves the city. No amber tsunamis of grain wash over the meadows and pastures. Instead, cows nibble the grasses haphazardly, pretending not to notice the speeding commuters who stir the bovine farts like a brisk swizzle though coffee, which leads me to my observation with an unexpectedly repulsive simile.

The morning coffee at our hotel’s breakfast buffet is not white or even cream colored (though I now question what that can mean), but instead it is a rich tan I’d proudly wear to boast a vacation south of the Pyrenees. It led me to wonder whether this less processed looking product is the result of the feeding, the post udder handling, or something unspeakably dark in between.

There’s a fear in the EU that free trade with US farmers is going paradoxically to reduce the cost of calories despite lengthening their distance traveled the way that Honda moved cars into Ohio cheaper than Michigan could transport them on local highways. But metal cars have more resistance to time and jostling than do tomatoes, corn and more corn. This could be a race to the bottom in ways that are doubly “figurative.”

† How often does one get the chance to quote a word for its literal use?


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