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Dandavats! All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Why not store bought milk

Thursday, 03 June 2010 / Published in Blog thoughts / 3,339 views

Mathura dasa: If we’re going to offer milk to Krsna it benefits the cow. Well on some level, maybe, If you are lucky. Lets say I enslave you, I take your children and your hard earned money by force, treat you inhumanly and then slit your throat, but don’t worry I’ll offer your $ to my home deities before I spend it… Is that actually benefiting the cow? .Krsna’s cows are benefited by serving and being served, Krsna actually serves the cows himself with love and care!!!!

The proper thing is to get a cow or help someone else get one and pay them the price it takes to protect the cow then you will be benefiting the cows.

The direct experience of our animal protection project is that the cows actually protect our family by giving us milk that can be transformed into so many things even the all mighty $…

The cow should be protected, milk should be drawn from the cows, and this milk should be prepared in various ways. One should take ample milk, and thus one can prolong one’s life, develop his brain, execute devotional service, and ultimately attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As it is essential to get food grains and water by digging the earth, it is also essential to give protection to the cows and take nectarean milk from their milk bags.

Sb 8.16.12

From our experienced calculations we have figured that to have an average of 2.75 gallons of milk per day (4gal in beginning and 1.5gal @ 2nd year end) you will need to care for approx 10 cows, breeding one cow every other year. That would take 10 acres average, depending on location. Average yearly hay for all is approx 900$ per year(depending on location) and for alfalfa for the milker is approx 900$ per year, 1200$ per year fence maintenance, herb wormer, molasses, salt, supplements and extra hay. 2.75 gal x 10$ x 365 days=10,000$ – 3000$ expenses=7000$, that’s $19.17 per day= approx. 7$ per hour of work. Making yogurt for 4$ per qt, as well as other products, will help increase your hourly wage.

We will appreciate any help or positive feedback in these matters but criticism will help none of us so please be helpful! I’m sure this will create a lot of emotion in people, but I am only trying to get you to think about these matters and act rather than justify your actions. To learn more about our project contact us at

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8 Responses to “Why not store bought milk”

  1. rasarajdas says :

    Good Calculations. However the $10 per Gallon is not sustainable. Also it will work if I have to deliver this, which again has to be added to the cost.

    We have farm communities with several acres of land. The ones I have seen dont seem to have 10% of the cows milking at any given time (more like 2-3% if fortunate). Also I presume that some cows will stop breeding eventually and will have to be taken care of.

    Also we need oxen.

    I think the calculations should include, and more importantly than milk, fuel from Dung as well as vegetables etc that can be grown by proper utilization of the 10 acres of land. So I guess the calculation should be, how many devotee families can survive on 10 acres of land without having to work in an urban area (to protect the cows!).

    Also what needs can be fulfilled in such an agrarian community and questions similar to those arise. I am not sure that we can just look at the milk from cows as the returns for taking care of her.

  2. Pandu das says :

    Hare Krishna.

    I agree that everyone should actively engage in cow protection, but the claim that devotees are somehow wrong for buying milk from the store is not supported. I have never seen such a restriction given by Srila Prabhupada. The idea that cows raised by nondev0tee farmers are benefited by offering their milk to Krishna not imagined; it is given by Srila Prabhupada’s statement in Krishna Book:

    “The system of worshiping Krsna by offering flowers from a tree is also beneficial for the living entity who is confined to the bodily existence of that tree. When flowers and fruits are offered to Krsna, the tree that bore them also receives much benefit, indirectly. The arcana process, or worshiping procedure, is therefore beneficial for everyone.”

    On the other hand, the idea that refusing store milk somehow benefits cows is speculative. Who can point to a single cow that has been saved from suffering or slaughter by devotees avoiding store-bought milk? At least in the West, devotees are not in sufficient numbers to impact the milk market. However, by buying milk those cows are at least getting an opportunity to serve Krishna.

    I worked for many years to bring my family to a point where we could directly practice cow protection, and we now have one cow along with a few sheep and goats for fiber. However, the cow has not yet been able to give birth and I suspect may never be able. We tried to breed her a few years ago, but it was not fruitful and now it’s been almost 3 years since she has gone into heat. At least for us, cow protection and milk production are related but separate issues.

    Mathura Prabhu kindly describes some of the financial costs and benefits of cow protection, but leaves out some. For example, buying the cow. They’re not cheap! Also the most expensive factor is land. In my rural county, farmland can easily exceed $10,000 per acre. Moreover, none of the land neighboring my home is for sale. I have less than five acres, of which about 3 are pasture. Certainly that is not enough to sustain a herd.

    I’ve never heard of anyone paying $10/gallon of milk. Most people are accustomed to paying half that. (I normally pay $6.75/gallon for raw, organic milk, and the devotees I’ve bought milk from asked for much less.) Still, if we take the $10/gal, forget land costs and property taxes, etc., who can maintain a family in the USA on $7,000 a year? One still needs a “real job” to support it.

  3. mathura says :

    Some valid points,BUT!
    The Lord is the protector of cows and the brahminical culture. A society devoid of cow protection and brahminical culture is not under the direct protection of the Lord,
    Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.14.34

    All i can say is this is how we make our living now and for 8 years,from selling milk and veggies. I did work and save enough $ before we got animals to pay for them.Our land and house was paid for by my work outside of the farm as well as the farm.We sell our goat milk for 12$ and our cow milk for 8-10$ gal. and more for yogurt etc. We have a waiting list for people wanting our products. You say “one still needs a real job”.It can be done and is, come visit us and you can see what a real job is and how it works…Sorry But justifying it doesnt mean there isnt a better way.Srilla Prabhupada wanted it a different way.

    Lord Krsna as Govinda is more inclined to the brähmanas and the cows, indicating thereby that human prosperity depends more on these two items, namely brahminical culture and cow protection. Lord Krsna is never satisfied where these are lacking. Ref. VedaBase SB 1.8.21

    You do have a choice, rather than accepting milk from stores and paying the people to kill the cows, Try and get a cow or encourage others by paying the price it takes to protect cows and have milk that Krsna and Srila Prabhupada will be happy with.

    Therefore I am asking so much here and..”Farm, farm, farm, farm…” That is not my program–Krsna’s program. Annad bhavanti bhutani. Produce greenness everywhere, everywhere. Vrndavana. It is not this motorcar civilization. If it has taken in his brain, then it is to be understood that he can do this plan. May, 27, 1977, Vrindavan India.
    We should be satisfied locally by our food, by our cloth, by our milk. That’s all. Let the whole world go to hell.We don’t care. If you want to save yourself also, you do this. Here is an example. If you want artificial life, city life, and hellish life, you do.But we shall live like this. This is the ideal life.
    [Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation, January 21, 1977, Bhubaneswar]

  4. anantaramdas says :

    We can look at mini zebus as an alternative for small farms (or even for larger ones). The Utah Krishnas have at least three. I’d like to read how they or other devotees with mini zebus are doing.

  5. Pandu das says :

    I’m pleased to hear of your success, Mathura. I wanted to set up a farm sanctuary since college, but it took me 8 years after getting my degree (Environmental Studies, B.S.) before I could even afford to buy a house, and the best I could do was not quite five acres, almost 12 miles from the local temple farm. I’ve been a part of two ISKCON “farm communities”, but neither was set up for communal farming it became an individual family endeavor instead.

    I don’t see how I can get from where I am now to maintaining a sustainable herd of cows. Right now, to pay for the mortgage, electric, heat, cars & fuel, clothes, etc., I have to spend 40 hours a week in a cubicle 50 miles from home. I love gardening, wildcrafting herbs, tending the animals, etc., but so far these activities bring in very little income. If I quit my job to work the land full time, I would lose my house along with the land before I could get established. With five kids and a wife all supported by my paycheck, I can’t afford to take big risks. We do have our small farm sanctuary and are protecting one cow along with a wide variety of other animals, but so far making a living of this remains a dream.

    Does our protecting one cow, along with persistent preaching of Krishna consciousness and promoting vegetarian diets, give us the right to offer milk to Krishna and take the prasad with a clear conscience? I’ve given it plenty of thought, and I think it does. We’re doing our best, and the struggle for existence in the material energy is hard. I wish that more devotees would get more involved in farming and cow protection; but it’s not just the labor, it’s perplexing. How does a man of modest means and a family to support get to be a farmer working according to the principles of Krishna consciousness?

  6. Krsna Caitanya dasa says :

    I think that rather than “Why not store bought milk?” one might ask “Why not store bought anything?”. Almost anything we buy from the store is tied to some sort of bad karma, especially foodstuffs. Even if you buy no milk products at all, almost all organic grains and vegetables are grown with blood meal and bone meal, while conventional farming uses techniques that are bad for the earth and the environment. So, there are many good reasons that we should produce all of our necessities ourselves from the land, if possible.

    I definitely support the increase of cow protection and agriculture, but I think it is a little too much to use selected quotes from Srila Prabhupada in order to give the devotees a hard time for buying milk from the store. Some devotees are working very hard engaging in other services that are also very pleasing to Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. I think there are too many people throwing selected quotes at others, while at the same time themselves neglecting other important instructions from the acaryas. I’m not sure what foodstuffs that most devotees can buy that won’t be tied to slaughter and destruction.

    Nonetheless, this is an important subject matter and it is good that Mathura has started a discussion on these topics. As Pandu has said, many devotees find the idea of farming to be very perplexing. I think this is the main reason that devotees do not take it up. I don’t think any devotee wants to support cow slaughter. We have heard so much, over and over again, how the ISKCON farms have failed and how difficult it is to take care of cows, that hardly anyone believes it can be done. I think Mathura is just trying to say that it is not as hard as everyone thinks.

    A big part of being able to pay for the land would be to live in a place that land is not so expensive. If you can get 5 acres of land in one place for $50,000, but in another place 5 acres is $15,000, that would mean that you could have $35,000 more to work with. That is definitely something to think about when starting a farm. Another idea is to utilize the land of family, neighbors and/or friends. For a small price or, possibly, no price at all, one can get extra pasture to utilize. Even if one cannot get access to enough land, hay is usually not that expensive. I am saying all of this from personal experience.

    But one of the major keys to success in agriculture is making sure that the cows and/or oxen produce something and that we utilize what they produce.

  7. Krsna Caitanya dasa says :

    Just to continue a tiny bit from my previous post, I would like to point out some of the specific details in regards to what we can get from cows and oxen. A couple of milk cows can produce a lot of milk. Our family lives in an expensive area, but still, a couple of milk cows allow us to cover a little over half of our personal expenses. If someone is more ambitious, he could grow organic vegetables using oxen. Some estimates, in our area, indicate that one could make around $20,000 an acre growing and selling organic produce. So, if you combined milk with vegetables, you could make a decent living, in addition to providing you and your family with most of your home-grown foodstuffs. Or, one could do a little bit, and in that way have a hobby that doubles as a supplemental income. Either way, we also get fertilizer from the cows and can also pull in firewood with the oxen.

    It is possible to work a full-time job, while very slowly building one’s agricultural activities to the point that you can quit your full-time job. I did that once when I lived in a less expensive area. Anyway, we can all do what we can, or what we will, and just try to build on that.

    Hare Krishna

  8. Madhavagosh says :

    Less expensive land is less expensive because it has poorer quality soils or is a greater distance from markets.

    While buying milk from stores is not ideal, we have advocated that those who have no choice can offset it by donating to cow protection programs. If someone is buying cheap milk from the store that is subsidized to be cheap by the income from the slaughter of the cow when “nonproductive” and the excess calves, and makes no attempt to support cow protection, that is unacceptable. IMHO. Cow protection first, then take milk:

    “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His instructions of Bhagavad-gita, advises go-raksya, which means cow protection. The cow should be protected, milk should be drawn from the cows, and this milk should be prepared in various ways. One should take ample milk, and thus one can prolong one’s life, develop his brain, execute devotional service, and ultimately attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As it is essential to get food grains and water by digging the earth, it is also essential to give protection to the cows and take nectarean milk from their milk bags.”

    SB 8.6.12

    Protecting cows needs to be subsidized. Varna ashram is about a team mentality, not individual effort. For farm communities to be successful there will have to be relationships between them and the city devotees.

    We seen over and over again that by the time individual devotees can afford to buy land and get out on it, they are no longer young and have family responsibilities so the great difficulty of earning a living from the land is too much.

    Another problem I have had is growing vegetables for temple devotees and then they want to pay me wholesale prices, so I am having to compete with crops grown with chemical fertilizers, grown with illegal immigrant labor and shipped in from everyplace in the world that can squeeze the price a little lower.

    “Prabhupada: Yes. Anyway, just inquire. These are our garden flowers.
    Jayatirtha: Oh, very nice.
    Prabhupada: This is also?
    Bhagavan: Yes.
    Prabhupada: Yes. Anything grown in the garden, that is hundred times
    valuable than it is purchased from the market.”

    Room Conversation With French Commander — August 3,
    1976, New Mayapur (French farm)

    So consumer devotees should be willing to pay producing devotees a bit of a premium.