Old Cows and New Ideas

Lewis Just
January 13th 2017

It is a well-known fact that cows are not very environmentally friendly. In fact they have one of the largest carbon footprints of anything we consume on a day-to-day basis, using 28 times more land and 11 times more water than eating chicken or pork. With new food technologies just around the corner such as in vitro meat, will cows still have a place in our fields? One native Dutch cow named Dieuwertje thinks she does.

Dieuwertje is a Brandrood cow who has been grazing on the land of Roggebotstaete Estate. She has been doing so for many years as an integral way of sustaining the land and creating a rich biodiversity. Unlike modern varieties of cattle, Brandrood cows are fussy grazers and will eat intrusive reeds and grasses before eating native herbs and flower species. This helps create a balanced and rich ecological system on the estate.

Although Dieuwertje lives in a small scale farm, she is an example of why we might keep our bovines friends around in the future. But here comes the sustainable foodies dilemma: what to do when a cow like this comes to the end of its natural life? Waste the potential food or honor the beast with a celebration fit for a king cow?

Guustronomie has partnered with the Scandinavian Embassy to deliver a dinner on the 29th of January at De School, where Dieuwertje will be served over the course of the day, utilising every available bit. Top chefs from around Amsterdam will use new and innovative techniques to make sure that no meat scraps go to waste. It's easy to imagine that in an in vitro meat future this type of ceremony will be seen as a luxury (a rare delicacy to eat an animal that has lived), but it will also help us to remember the importance of a balanced ecological system.

Tickets for The Estate on a Plate dinner can be found here.

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