All the Cow News Fit to Print

Merkel cow - A. Heimken, picture-alliance.jpg

Forget about Helsinki. The truly cosmic political dramas of our time are playing out in the barnyards of the Western world.

Consider, for example, the link between animal flatulence (read: methane) and global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human transportation is responsible for generating 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but livestock produce a whopping 14.5 percent—mainly from burping. So it comes as a great relief to know, courtesy of our national broadcaster, that "scientists are on a mission to fight global warming by making cows, goats and other animals less gassy."

In the pages of Maclean's, meanwhile, we are treated to an op-ed claiming that Canada's supply-management system for dairy producers—i.e. the program that President Trump has singled out in his tough talk on NAFTA—is not merely a redoubtable national identity-marker but "one of the smartest policies to have been born out of post-war governance in Canada." That would put it on par with E.I., or the C.P.P., or the Canada Health Act. Notwithstanding the launch this week of a new national campaign to end food waste—Canadians throw away 1.2 million apples, 750,000 loaves of bread, 450,000 eggs and one million cups of milk annually—the Maclean's piece re-imagines the defence of dairy quotas as a matter of national security. "Between a new trade war looming, rural stagnation and worries over food security increasing," it concludes, "it’s time for fresh thinking about food as a public resource."

Gassy though they may yet be, cows have emerged as unlikely but eminently wholesome symbols of resistance—to Donald Trump, to lab-grown meat, to climate change, to the destruction of the family farm and the tyranny of globalization, to the protein wars, and so much more. Little wonder our politicians seldom miss an opportunity to be photographed with our bovine friends.