The True Cost of American Food
Dairy farmer Albert Straus cares about cow farts so you don't have to. Seriously. Straus is obsessed with the impact that bovine belches have on the environment.
Who knew that cow flatulence was such a big deal in dairy farming?
There's no covering the stink: While carbon dioxide gets most of the bad press, cow poo and wind play a significant role in global warming, too. Studies link enteric fermentation (that's a geeky name for methane emissions-including cow gas) to climate change.
Consider this: Agriculture contributes 8% to total California greenhouse gas emissions, according to the state's Air Resources Board. Digging deeper: Methane from microbial fermentation represents 30% and manure management 26% of total methane emissions in the Golden State, according to 2016 board data.
Straus has long been an industry leader in trying to lower these emissions and their negative effect on the environment. For more than a dozen years, his Marshall-based organic dairy Straus Family Farm, has made power from poop, courtesy of a methane digester that turns methane gas from milk-making animals into electricity. His farm creates enough renewable energy to power the dairy, heat water, charge his little blue electric car (a Nissan Leaf, for those who care) and other farm vehicles and feed some electricity back into the grid. Sounds good, right?