Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Milk for Life

As Archers listeners will know, the supposed future for the dairy industry is battery cows. Huge unnatural American breeds such as the Holstein (super Fresians) confined in their thousands in battery pens in vast rural warehouses, fed on factory-produced food that comes in sacks and is sometaimes made from fish. Never seeing the light of day, and fooled by industrial lighting that kids them that it is forever May, never feeling a meadow under their hooves or laying in the shade of a friendly Elm. 

Their high-volume low-fat milk is then further skimmed to remove cream and then homogenised by being squirted through diesel injectors at incredibly high pressure; this breaks down the remaining fat globules to particles so small that we humans can't taste it when the fat has turned rancid and is decaying. Which means we can still be pouring it in our tea a month after the cow was milked. 'Cravendale' is nothing but rancid poison with a good marketing campaign. 

What I want on my pint of milk is a breed, herd and farm identifier, an assurance that the cows are not factory cows, and a milking date. With no cream removed and the milk only lightly pasteurised. And for this I will happily pay £1 a pint. 

Am I the only one?


Elby the Beserk said...

Nope. Anybody who lives in the country has access to real milk, and if they are very lucky, raw milk, which bears no resemblance to the supermarket product.

Giovanni Botulismo said...

It'll be interesting to see whether people are prepared to pay more for milk at Morrison's; if I understood the news coverage correctly they will sell milk at two prices - the "keep bunging money to poor farmers" price and the "this is the market price" price.

Why farmers should feel entitled to get more money for their produce just because they're farmers isn't entirely clear to me. The big dairy farms aren't having any particular trouble in profitable milk production - it's the small inefficient ones. The small, inefficient but clever ones have indulged in a little vertical integration and opened profitable value-added milk parlours, ice cream parlours and farm shops - and bloody good luck to them.

No doubt there'll be another bung along soon.

DeeDee99 said...

I'd happily pay £1 a pint to a small farmer, using traditional methods.

I don't want to pay that to an agri-baron, who is basically a "milk manufacturer" and is receiving substantial payouts in the form of EU subsidies.

right_writes said...

Raedwald... This has long been an obsession with me... Recently though as I move into my later years, I am using less milk than before....

If you want the real thing then there is this farm that has an online shop, they also have a stall at various markets... Brockley, on a Saturday morning, being one of them.

The only supermarket one that used to be quite good (but I think has recently been "re-marketed") is the Duchy Prince Charles approved milk from Ayrshire cows, that is not homo, it is pasteurised though.

Recently, I have been wondering whether the dairy business, is not deliberately designed to shorten our span on this earth, since it is geared to quantity, rather than quality, and it contains all sorts of crap.... As you point out, the homo process breaks down the fat globules so that they are suspended within the rest of the milk, we do not notice that it has gone rancid so quickly, which improves shelf-life, but it has another effect, which is that this saturated fat can now very easily pass into our blood stream, and line the walls of our various vessels to detrimental effect.

john cheshire said...

I too would buy that milk. For a while I've been surprised at how long milk now stays'fresh'. I've drunk month old milk from supermarkets whereas not too long ago a week was a long time.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"Am I the only one?"

Possibly; revealed preferences tend to suggest that very few people would actually pay more for a premium product - far fewer than those who loudly say they would.

Unfortunately, although it looks like an available marketing niche, nobody is marketing a premium product such as you suggest. Which tends to confirm that in fact so few really would buy it that it's not worth anybody's while, or at least not on a nationally-noticeable scale.

Meanwhile dairy farmers, like the rest of us in manufacturing industry, need to understand that the world does not owe them a living: if you can't produce at the market price, either reduce your costs, or exit the business and do something else. End of.

Robert said...

I saw a BBC programme about the American mega farms a few years ago where they flew out to Chicargo a British dairy farmer who had had to give up his dairy herd because he was being priced out of the market.

In typical BBC fashion they showed the farm and the cows and gave the usual spiel that cows belong in fields not under cover and then sent the farmer on a tour of the facilities. They interviewed him afterwards.

He looked shocked and was in tears at what he had seen. He said he had not expected the cows to be so happy. A man who spent his whole life in dairy farming had seen what the viewers couldn't. The cows were happy.

Cuffleyburgers said...

As w/y says or implies, it is depressing how many people will happily complain about industrial farming methods, and circulate with shocked comments you tube videos of the inevitable consequences in terms of poor animal welfare, but continue to seek out the very cheapest products that can only supplied by using those methods.

Much the same about illegal immigrant fruit pickers and packers...

Revealed preferences.

However it does look to me like a viable marketing strategy - flood the internet with images of mistreated cows and pigs and point out that paying a few p more per pint (or per sausage) you can put the bad guys out of business.

By the way I suspect that most of the cheap milk that is giving such grief to British farmers comes from Europe and is produced by these methods and the govt can't or won't try to stop it because of EU rules.

ANother of the "benefits" of not having control over our own food chain.

Span Ows said...

Regarding paying more, look at 'organic': thousands said they'd pay more...pah! Not on about the good or bad for you aspects, just niche milk at premium prices, 20-30% say they'll pay; 2 to 5% will pay. Giovanni is right that many have gone into their own business of in-house value added.

Many of you are well behind the times: "factory" farms are here and have been for decades: the number of British dairy farms has halved in the last 15 years and the number of dairy cows has fallen by about 30% (slight rise last year ironically) but the milk produced has risen. This is down to genetics, nutrition etc.

All year housed (sometimes zero grazing) has been a perfectly acceptable management of dairy herds for years, most big units are housed all year and as Robert say (re USA) the cows are happy, they are looked after, they are mollycoddled!

Ed P said...

Buy organic - it's worth paying more to avoid the worst of the processing & additives. I use approx 2 pints per week, just for tea & coffee.

But anyway, in my opinion western adults should not consume too much (raw) dairy produce as it's quite indigestible and causes many allergic reactions, skin & gut problems. (Some if not most Asians cannot digest dairy at all.)

Cows' milk is intended to nurture a large dull-witted vegetarian creature, not a human. Try goats' milk for a more human-friendly but less palatable milk (or just grow up and stop consuming baby food).

Bucko The Moose said...

In all honesty I'm not really bothered. I buy a months worth of UHT at the beginning of the month for 50p a pint and then forget about it.

Anonymous said...

Organic at least means that the cows have eaten grass.

I don't doubt that cows are happy in a factory, but they sure as hell aren't happy when first parted from their calves.

As for how long it takes, I had a summer job once delivering milk, and by the time the bottles had been carted round central Portsmouth, then left on a doorstep in the sun for 6 hours, no wonder the stuff had a short subsequent life. If you buy it in a supermarket, and put it in the fridge when you get home, it probably hasn't warmed up significantly.

TrT said...

"Possibly; revealed preferences tend to suggest that very few people would actually pay more for a premium product - far fewer than those who loudly say they would."

Well it depends who exactly is saying it,
Your average "shy tory" or loud mouthed lefty, gives the "right answer", I tend to trust Raedwald
I certainly say it rarely, I have my own chickens for "free range" eggs, which are far freer than the supermarket variety, especially the days they remember they can jump the fence and trash next doors flower beds.

Myself, I dont get milk, but then my memories of it are mostly being forced to drink it at primary school, when it had been sat in the full blazing sun for 4 hours.
Ending that cruelty converted me to a life long Thatcherite.

Billy Marlene said...

I have all sympathy for the farmers.

When I see one on a bicycle I will give him a quid.

Raedwald said...

Agree with all the comments about subsidy and market price for milk - I wouldn't give the farmers any more for the low quality product they produce. If they can't afford the factory feed and power costs for the industrial sheds, let them disperse their herds.

Meanwhile those that out-pasture breeds such as the red poll (like the lady in the pic) and murray grey, breeds that can spend 10.5 months a year outside and convert grass to milk most effectively but have lower yields than the gigantic Holsteins (but with much higher butterfat) will find their farming methods becoming economic again.

Remove all the subsidies and the milk factories will disappear.

lilith said...

My ex had South Devons which were outside all year round. Their babies tasted fantastic and put me off eating any supermarket meat for life. I enjoyed eating them even though I knew their names.

Having attempted to buy a pint of milk in a USA supermarket and been utterly baffled by what was on offer I'd hate to go that route. You can choose between strained, fortified, flavoured, boiled to buggery, or milk-free (lactose) to give a fraction of the options.

mikebravo said...

I never touch the filthy muck. Why anybody would want to desecrate their tea or coffee with decomposing bovine body fluids is beyond me.

Bucko The Moose said...

A brew is bland and tasteless without some decomposing bovine body fluids. It's not just for brews either, it's also great on breakfast cereal, although I prefer a soft boiled chicken foetus with toast.

G. Tingey said...

And ... when all our (cows) milk is imported & then the supply sttuters or fails?
Agree re. many posters here, that it is largely the people's fault - they ONLY look at the total price & not at the long-term costs.
However, I must admit that I've been drinking goat's milk for several years now.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

@Robert: " The cows were happy"


Friends of mine, hugely experienced agricultural experts who place a very high value on animal welfare, have also visited high-intensity dairy units and say the same thing: the animals are contented and in excellent health.

Raedwald said...

yes, agree that battery cows are unstressed and in excellent health as far as disease, parasites etc goes.

No stimulation, no herd hierarchy, no threats (eg dogs), no hunger drive, no environmental stress are factors that selectively-bred domestic cattle respond to predictably; normal metabolic rates through movement are minimised, they are adrenaline-free and a high %age as possible of the mechanical feed imput goes to milk production. Keeping the animals clean and healthy minimises production risk and loss of capital investment.

Just a shame really that the rumen system and udder have to come with an animal attached; margins would be much improved if the brain and head, skeleto-musculature, sense organs, reproductive and respiratory systems could be bred-out. Still, I'm sure they're working on it.

Miss Muffet said...

My revealed preferences are for less and better quality. - I actually drive to a local supplier and yes I am within 10 miles of Central London.

Also imho if you can go raw: higher standards of cleanliness and welfare required not, as unable rely on permanent antibiotics. Interesting to see smell and taste "off" raw vs pasterised - one goes as nature and a certain nursury rhynme intended, the other rots.

Agree at the comments on low quality of supermarket ersatz milk

TrT said...

" as unable rely on permanent antibiotics"

Is this actually a thing?
I struggle to reconcile poor farmers who somehow receive truck loads of antibiotics daily.