The mussels in the Eastern Scheldt channel in the Dutch province of Zealand are endangered. Not (in this case) by birds or water pollution, but by one of their own distant relatives. Here's the story: during the severe Winter of 1963, almost all oysters in the waters of Zealand froze to death. The flat oyster, as the Zeeland variety is also known, takes three to six years to mature to a fully grown oyster. As the fishermen considered this too long to wait, someone had the bright idea of flying in a few shiploads of half-grown Japanese oysters to cover the transition period. The idea was that these oysters would die after a couple of years because they would not able to deal with the cold. By the time that the Japanese oyster had disappeared, the flat oysters would be back at full strength.
Nice idea, but the Japanese oyster was not at all bothered by the cold and it thrives in increasingly high numbers in the waters of Zealand. The Eastern Scheldt channel comprises a surface of 35.000 hectares. Of this area, the Japanese oysters have by now claimed 1,500 hectares, mainly concentrated around mussel beds. There, they deprive the mussels of oxygen and food and they eat their eggs. This will soon lead to extinction of the Zeeland mussel; they starve and have become increasingly unable to procreate. There is still no solution as how to temper the Japanese oyster. In retrospect, we should have just left the oysters where they belonged: as their name suggests, in Japan.
During the Eighties, a small upheaval occurred in dairy farming. Milk is white water in which fat and protein swim around. Dairy plants were particularly interested in the fat. At a certain stage, it became obvious that the modern person became too fat from it and that there were many more uses for the protein than cultivating a paunch. The dairy plant does not pay the farmer for the white water, but for the fat and protein content. The higher the level of protein, the higher the price paid to the farmer.
In the normal way, a cow gets her protein from grass, but even for a cow, that is a somewhat complicated and energetic process. So somebody in England devised a method by which the cow could become a carnivore. The cows were fed the powdered remains of skeletons of (mainly) sheep mixed through their fodder. This powder was full of protein, so that it could easily pass through the cow's stomach straight into the milk, with a minimum of energy on the cow's part. The experiment eventually led to the mad cow disease. This not alone caused a ban of more than twenty years on British beef, but led to the particularly nasty deaths of hundreds of people.
Again, in retrospect, we should have left the cows to be what they are: vegetarians.
Although most people are not yet aware of them, those who keep up to date with health issues are very enthusiastic about them: the Omega 3 fatty acids. These are unsaturated fatty acids, which are supposed to be extremely beneficial to the human heart and brain. There has never been any firm scientific evidence that they either prevent or repair damage, but in the amazing world of the food industry, that is of least importance.
There is a huge content of Omega 3 in oily fish. The Japanese eat 65 kilograms of fish per person per year and we in The Netherlands only consume 12 kilograms. At the same time, much fewer cardiovascular diseases occur in Japan than here. So we conclude that this is probably due to the Omega 3.
Per capita, the Japanese consume around 40 kilograms of dairy produce per year, the Dutch almost 130 kilograms per capita. So the cardiovascular diseases can just as well be attributed to the dairy intake. But this possibility has not yet been explored in The Netherlands.
Here, we prefer to put money into research into even more so-called advantages of the white engine. When the cow, completely contrary to her nature, has been turned into a carnivore, the poor animal is subsequently put on a diet in which fish has been processed. The initiator is a company called Nutreco, a manufacturer of animal fodder. This company has developed a patented procedure by which the cow can be fooled.
The unsaturated fatty acid in fish, which, in the normal way would be completely broken down in one of the cow's four stomachs, is given a protective coating by Nutreco. In this way, the Omega 3 survives the hellish journey through the cow's stomach and lands in the milk. The fishy taste remains in the cow.
To those with a little understanding of the difference between right and wrong, it will be totally obvious that the new Nutreco product stinks from here to Tokyo. After all, it has been apparent from the beginning that we should leave cows as they were meant to be: grass eaters, who produce milk first and foremost for their calves.