The story of milk is one that is filled with horrors and sadness. A story that is largely kept hidden from consumers’ eyes because the dairy industry knows full well that if the truth got out it would affect sales. Sales of milk have been declining since the 1970s, so they cannot afford to lose more. So in order to hold on, they spend millions on advertising. The advertising’s goal is to convince people that milk is a necessary part of a healthy diet and that our bodies need it.
Director/writer Susan Rosenzweig’s film tries to illuminate people as to the truth of milk. What it actually means. What our drinking it means. Baby Hers starts off with a woman with a baby talking about her bond with her child. That she would do anything to protect that child. That she has decided to breastfeed and that it is a great bonding time with her child. The milk industry is entirely built upon not allowing that bonding between a cow and her calf.
Today, more than ever, our food system is repetitively shown to be problematic. The factory farms where much of our food is grown or produced uses methods that are breeding grounds for pandemics, including COVID-19. That along with the price paid by both animals and humans in factory farming will make you rethink your food choices.
The love of a mother towards her child is posited as universal in this documentary. If we accept that then how can we separate them? Like humans, cows only produce milk for their calves. So in order to produce milk for farmers, the cows are forcibly impregnated, and then as soon as they give birth their calves are taken away from them. This means that all-important bonding does not get to occur. Often mother cows cry for days over the loss of their calves.
Exposing what actually goes on in family farms is hard to watch, but sometimes it is necessary to go that far. Some of the images here are heartbreaking and horrifying. The unsanitary conditions and mistreatment of the cows in the dairy industry. It all is certainly eye-opening. Most of us are in the dark about the bond between the mother cow and her calf as well as what actually goes on in the large farms.
We hear from a doctor/epidemiologist and farmer about how bad things have become. How things have changed since the time of the family farm being where our food came from. How that option is once again available to us; that we just have to investigate where our food comes from. Interviews also happen with people who work on rescues for farm animals. How they see the bond between mother cows and calves when they are allowed to be together.
The film gives a voice to the voiceless. How we can no longer turn our backs on what happens every day. That there is a more humane way to get our food.
Baby Hers had its world premiere at the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival in Palm Springs.