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The Green Life: Don't Pardon Their Gas, It's Creating Electricity!

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February 04, 2009

Don't Pardon Their Gas, It's Creating Electricity!

Dairy CowThree percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions are byproducts of dairy operations. But don't expect any apologies from the Strauses. On Tomales Bay (60 miles north of San Francisco), Straus Family Creamery is generating up to 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year using a methane digester.

One cow produces about 120 pounds of waste daily, more than 43,000 pounds per year. But unlike most dairies, the Strauses are putting that waste to good use. Solid waste from their cows becomes fertilizer on their fields while liquid waste is directed into a pond with a floating plastic cover, where bacteria digest the liquid and release methane gas. This gas is captured and piped into a generator which produces electricty that powers the entire operation.

The family's commitment to sustainable agriculture extends even further: Straus Family Creamery was the first certified organic dairy west of the Mississippi River. It uses no herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. Straus milk is sold in glass bottles, each of which has a deposit that is refunded when the bottle is returned; the company has an impressive 95% return rate. They've also taken a strong stance against genetically modifed organisms (GMOs) and are one of the first U.S. food producers to test for GMO contamination.

--Melissa Weiss

Tell us about what farmers in your area are doing to promote sustainable agriculture.

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