The milk of human kindness

A secure and safe food source is vital for me. I like to know my food has been cared for in the best possible way and is free from any commercial (or otherwise) nasties. I produce nearly all of my own food. I make my own dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt etc). I have my own fruit and vegetables and my own meat. If I don't grow it or shoot it, I don't eat it. My food may not be processed, packaged and stored under the strict specifications laid down by the NZ Food Safety Authority but it is guaranteed to be fresher than most people could ever get their hands on.

I have watched with interest several recent debates on pasteurised milk versus raw milk and I must admit I have my own theories. I'm pretty fussy when it comes to cleanliness and I trust the good condition and TB free status of my cows. I like the concept of keeping the good bugs alive in my milk because I know that they will, by far, outweigh any bad bugs that will inevitably be around. My milk has a very short and uncontaminated trip from the udder to the fridge and I have no problems drinking the stuff as soon as I can get it strained into a glass.

However, the thought of drinking milk from someone else's cow worries me because there is that unknown factor of 'someone else's' process and this process was put to the test a little while ago when I was visiting a small dairy farm. Everyone was helping out because we had all arrived back late from a dog trial. The Mum and Dad were doing the cow work, my friend and I had gone and fed the silage out and had shifted the fences, and the kids had got themselves ready for bed and were paddling around in the milking shed doing all those little extra jobs in their pyjamas and jandals. Milking was done in a flash and we all headed off to the house by torchlight. The youngest daughter had grabbed a large plastic soft drink bottle and had dipped in into the vat on the way past ... something that was obviously done every night ... and I felt a niggle of concern as I realised what was going to happen next – large steaming mugs of milk milo before we piled into bed.

But I reflected on the family. Although sterility was clearly not a priority, I had never seen a more robust, happier bunch of people. It was a perfectly good and natural food source with probably more antibodies than I could ever shake a stick at. It was the freshest you could ever get and it was being served up to me by a wee lass with the brightest and healthiest eyes I had ever seen. I added some extra sugar and tucked in.

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