Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.
Dairy is one of our most important food groups and also one of our most versatile. It participates in so many recipes disguised as cheese, milk, cream and butter bringing life to our tables three (or more) times a day. It’s good for us and tastes fantastic regardless of what form it takes.
Unfortunately dairy is getting some bad press from the vegetarian and vegan movement due to some environmental impacts like CO2 emissions and intensive farming. As part of a balanced, sustainable, mixed farm, and balanced diet, dairy is really important. Especially if the male calves are reared as beef stock (instead of killed at birth like intensive dairies) and the milk can be sold locally for a better price (See below).
Here are some fun dairy facts:
1. Cows produce 90 per cent of the world’s milk needs.
2. According to legend, the Milky Way was created by drops of milk from the breast of Hera, the wife of Zeus, as she breast-fed Hercules.
3. Nero’s second wife, Poppaea, kept 500 asses to provide milk for her bath.
4. The current UK annual milk production stands at 13.7 billion litres (3.01 billion gallons).
5. Louis Pasteur developed pasteurisation for beer more than 20 years before he did it for milk.
6. In 1984, Swedish scientists reported improved milk yield from cows fitted with plastic discs with insecticide to keep their heads fly-free.
7. Buffalo milk has 25 per cent more protein than cow’s milk.
8. The world’s first commercial dromedary dairy opened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1986, selling camel milk at £1.20 a litre.
9. Cow’s milk was first drunk by humans 10,000 years ago in what is now Afghanistan and Iran.
10. “The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.”
So how is it that the ‘food industry’ has commoditised a product and allowed middle men and retailers to take the lion’s share of the retail price. How else could milk be cheaper than water in some shops?
Unfortunately the milk industry is failing farmers, and consumers. Failing to give farmers a fair price and failing to give consumers a quality product and the story behind that product. Some kids don’t know that milk comes from cows.
Milk is safe, consistent, has a long shelf life, nicely packaged and available everywhere. But shocking that the number of UK dairy farmers has shrunk from 22,000 in 1990 to around 9,600, that all the milk from all the herds is mixed together, whether Jersey, free range, or intensive, and that nearly all milk is fast-pasteurised and homogenised ruining its natural qualities.
This could happen! Some farmers have already taken this bold step, despite heavy government regulations against selling their own, or even, raw milk. What we need is many more farmers following suit, government help and, we the consumer, buying local milk when it becomes available.
We consumers can and should change the food industry by simply, and quickly, changing our shopping habits when a better local food or milk option comes along.
Now we have Brexit we have a chance to subsidise our food industry to suit UK food and farming, not the blanket EEC handout to suit the average European farmer. For more on this please click here.
Exciting times, we must try and make it happen.