We all know there’s a link between poverty and obesity. After all, high-fat, sugary, processed foods are cheaper to buy and make people feel fuller than healthy, whole foods. Yet while people like Michelle Obama work hard to challenge families across the country not to eat such empty calories, cash-strapped farmers are feeding their cattle candy, because it’s much cheaper to feed cows sprinkles than it is to give them corn.
According to CNN, farmers in Kentucky are serving their cows “chocolate bars, gummy worms, ice cream sprinkles, marshmallows, bits of hard candy and even powdered hot chocolate mix.” Livestock nutritionist Ki Fanning says the practice is common, has been going on for decades and produces less expensive food for consumers. CNN says, “While corn goes for about $315 a ton, ice-cream sprinkles can be had for as little as $160 a ton,” adding that “the sugar in ice cream sprinkles seems to increase milk production by three pounds per cow per day.” So not only are milk cows eating for less, they’re producing more. But does their sweet diet affect their milk? According to nutritionists, as long as a cow’s diet is capped at 3% candy, they’re fine. The candy and other sugary bits cows are fed are mixed with traditional feed, like hay.
But, CNN notes, “as the demand for candy-feed goes up, so does the price.” So even though sprinkles have been sold at $160 per ton, they go for as much as $240 a ton. That’s still cheaper than a ton of corn, but is it really such a sweet deal? As noted in the video below, these cows are eating candy that isn’t fit for store shelves, mixed with an ethanol by-product. Yuck. Take a look:
How do you feel about the idea of cows eating candy? Does this make you consider going organic or vegetarian?
Photo credit: iStock