The co-evolutionary relationship between cows and grass is one of nature’s underappreciated wonders; it also happens to be the key to understanding just about everything about modern meat. For the grasses, which have evolved to withstand the grazing of ruminants, the cow maintains and expands their habitat by preventing trees and shrubs from gaining a foothold and hogging the sunlight; the animal also spreads grass seeds, plants it with his hooves, and then fertilizes it with his manure. In exchange for these services, the grasses offer ruminants a plentiful and exclusive supply of lunch. For cows (like sheep, bison, and other ruminants) have evolved the special ability to convert grass— which single-stomached creatures like us can’t digest—into high-quality protein. They can do this because they possess what is surely the most highly evolved digestive organ in nature: the rumen. About the size of a medicine ball, the organ is essentially a forty-five-gallon fermentation tank in which a resident population of bacteria dines on grass. Living their unseen lives at the far end of the food chain that culminates in a hamburger, these bacteria have, just like the grasses, coevolved with the cow, whom they feed. Truly this is an excellent system for all concerned: for the grasses, for the bacteria, for the animals, and for us, the animal eaters.
Whereas the fundamental essence of relationship between cows and grass emphasizes of significance of bacteria, the corresponding impacts of cows such as spreading of grass seeds and conversion of grass are acknowledged, and fermentation could be inferred evidently from population of bacteria, which the potential implications of hamburger as well as food are presumed.
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