Wednesday 23 October 2019

Fiona Ness: 'Cows get the hump over climate change'

Our cows are producing up to three times more emissions than any other farming sector, with no means of reducing their environmental impact on the horizon. (PA)
Our cows are producing up to three times more emissions than any other farming sector, with no means of reducing their environmental impact on the horizon. (PA)
Fiona Ness

Fiona Ness

Long, long ago, in a time before food trends, I was in a vegan restaurant in Biarritz eating chocolate cake.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous. At the time, veganism was a black art; the worst form of food fundamentalism. Could I become radicalised by a chocolate cake? It was extremely delicious...

As we diners doodled idly on the brown paper table cloths (pencils supplied) the question upon our lips was, how could such a sumptuous creation exist without animal input?

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"Almond milk" came the beaming proprietor's reply. Another bottle of Burgundy arrived as we debated long into the night just how one milked an almond. Oh, how we laughed.

Fast forward 15 years and a zero-tolerance approach to dairy has gone mainstream, with current consumption levels being deemed unsustainable for the planet. This week, Teagasc laid our climate change woes at the feet of Ireland's dairy farmers. Our cows are producing up to three times more emissions than any other farming sector, with no means of reducing their environmental impact on the horizon.

Unless (Teagasc take note), we swap our cows for camels. Long a diet staple in arid lands, camel milk is gaining fans - from gourmands in the US to farmers hedging against climate change in sub-Saharan Africa. No matter that it's an acquired taste, being thicker, odorous, slightly salty and sour.

Here in Ireland, we already farm animals other than cows for their milk, so swapping the dairy herd for camels mightn't be that much of a stretch. And for the preternaturally hard-pressed Irish farmer, what's not to like?

Camels can survive up to seven months without drinking water and produce milk for up to three weeks without decent fodder. And no need to worry about below-cost selling; camel milk sells for $13 a litre.

The only question is - how do you milk a camel? Very carefully, I presume.

Mum's the (bad) word in these sensitive times

With camels championing our dairy output, how we say 'I love you' to our mums on Mother's Day could take a whole new twist. Marks & Spencer, for example, would have a job enticing us to gift our mums its Mother's Day sweet chilli 'Camelmbert', along with a sourdough loaf hand-dusted with the word 'mum' on top.

Should I have announced a trigger warning before mentioning the 'm' word? In the run-up to Mothering Sunday, many are expressing their unhappiness about the lack of recognition of the negative emotions it produces for many (not least my own mum, who never gets a card).

Should we abolish Mother's Day as part of a global push to be more mindful that one person's happiness can be another's sorrow? And if so, why stop at Mother's Day? Let's just put one big trigger warning on life, and be done with it.

€59 for a room with a heavily filtered view

Our drive to filter out real life continues apace, with a new property app that allows potential house buyers to upload pictures of the skanky old house of their dreams, and see what it might be like after Dermot Bannon has got his hands on it.

For just €59, Perfect Properties' 'Perfect Room slider' lets you "see the room transform right before your eyes".

I can't help thinking that it would be a whole lot more useful, and cheaper, to create the 'room slider' as a pair of virtual reality glasses.

You could pop them on around the house to block out the Artex and the Paisley patterned carpet; it would be a whole lot cheaper than a refurb. As Socrates said, the unfiltered life is not worth living.

Irish Independent

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