Monday, October 30, 2006

Hilmar Cheese Factory

If you had told me on Friday that on Saturday I would find myself at the Hilmar Cheese Factory just outside Turlock, CA, watching an industrial video on how wonderful gigantic dairies are for animals and the environment and our health, I would have been amused by you. However, it happened. Through the miracle of CGI, the real live cows in the video stopped eating hay, raised their heads (as much as they could between the bars) and smiled to say they were happy. Indeed, the host of the video, a fully animated cow, asked them several times if they were happy and they assured us they were. Also we learned how clean and environmentally friendly the whole process is. They use waste water from the cheesemaking process to hose down the factory floor. We then went upstairs to view a corner of the actual factory. On the wall next to the window there were two sets of hard hats that children--I guess--could wear while viewing: the white one said "I work in the cheese factory" and the green one said "I work in maintenance." We only saw white hats on the floor. The process did seem very clean and efficient, with gigantic blocks of cheese dropping out of "towers" and the white-hatted workers skimming the excess off with a shovel.

However, up near the ceiling where we were standing, we saw something that looked like bird crap.

I could be a vegan.

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