Case in point: about 50 people gathered at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture to get an update on The Green Cheese Project, which according to its website, is a "a partial LCA of integrated dairy and bio-fuels production systems."
Yeah, I have no idea what that actually means, so I Googled it and found that for the past couple of years, a group of progressive dairy farmers, state agencies, and faculty at UW-Madison have been working together to quantify energy intensity, greenhouse gas emissions, and the overall environmental impact of dairy and bio-fuel production in Wisconsin. They're calling their work the Green Cheese Project.
And, while I spent most of yesterday's meeting trying to maintain consciousness and follow acronym-laden lingo, I did glean these facts, which I think are pretty neat:
- World dairy contributes 4 percent of all man-made greenhouse gases.
- The carbon footprint of a gallon of milk is 17.6 pounds.
- The carbon footprint of a pound of cheese is 10 times higher, because it takes 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese.
- Processing whey, the byproduct of making cheese, has a much larger footprint than just making cheese.
Furthermore, while I have only a vague idea what the above chart represents (there's a reason I have a Bachelor of Arts, vs a Bachelor of Science), I'm sure someone reading this blog will think it's awesome. According to Professor Douglas J. Reinemann, it shows the main processes within the life cycle of one kg of Cheddar cheese.
And, while I admit to not understanding nearly as much as I should have from yesterday's session, it did result in meeting some really cool people who provided more information about the sustainability of dairy. Sarah Gilbert, who works with the American Jersey Cattle Association, gave me a super cool handout on a study done on Jersey cow herd performance, taken from nearly 2 million dairy cows in more than 13,000 herds in 45 states.
The study concluded that per unit of cheese, the Jersey carbon footprint is 20 percent less than Holsteins, as Jersey cows weigh less and produce milk that is more nutrient-dense. Jersey cows also drink only 68 percent as much water as Holsteins, and because they are smaller, emit less methane (cow burps and farts), which unfortunately, contribute to greenhouse gases.
And then there was this study, handed to me by Dennis Presser at DATCP, which reports that c