This article originally appeared on VICE India
People try to sell all kinds of bullshit, especially in this age of the internet. But every once in a while, someone takes this shit to a whole new level. Case in point: Cow dung cakes are now a thing in the US, and people have been going apeshit over them ever since one Indian journalist posted about a store in New Jersey stocking them.
After the advent of ‘natural’ coconut shells on Amazon that cost a whopping Rs 1,400, cold-curing turmeric lattes that are just a fancy variation of the same ‘haldi doodh’ we detested to drink as kids and even herbal remedies made from the neem and tulsi plants that originate in India, cow dung is the newest entrant to this market of exoticised Indian goods.
Priced at $2.99 (Rs 215), the packaging specifically warns people that these are “not eatable” and are ‘for religious purposes’ only and not the kind of cakes you would want to stuff your face with or smear on someone’s face on their birthday (unless of course, they are one of those cow lovers who believe even the milk from cows contains gold).
Cows are considered sacred by Hindus and have thus always been a major point of contention in India, where some politicians even want to replace the country’s national animal (presently, the tiger) to the cow. And while many have monetised the gastral by-products of the ‘holy’ cow, including touting cow urine as the ultimate way to purify oneself from all their sins, cow dung cakes have started selling online extensively to be used as fuel, especially as a cheap, natural cooking gas and while performing religious ceremonies.
Except, this biogas generates some pretty harmful emissions and in many cases, may also lead to arsenic poisoning, prompting many advocates of the environment to urge people to stop lighting them up. But even then, startups that produce cow-related stuff could get up to 60 percent of their initial investment as part of a government initiative to support the cows. But as a’moo’sing as it is to see yet another commonplace Indian product pop up on American shelves, it’s probably best we don’t shit the bed by making these exotic best-selling items.
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