Raw – the farmer’s extra cash cow

In summer more cyclists appear in the country roads. They want to enjoy the weather, go see the sites, get a breath of fresh air, and escape the hectic city. This didn’t go unnoticed by farms situated alongside popular bicycle routes; they seized the opportunity to earn a few bob from these tourists. When summer starts strawberries and cherries are there to be handpicked, and at the end of summer bags full of potatoes, apples, pears, unions and pumpkins are waiting at the side of the yard, ready for the taking for just a few euros. The egg-machine is available all year round, as are the flower arrangements and umpteenth-hand cars. And the milk tap can more frequently be found at the edge of the drive.

Milk bought in a supermarket tastes the same all year round. That’s because all the milk is gathered and mixed in large tanks. But milk of one farm does not necessarily taste the same as that of another. Just like the taste of a piece of meat is being influenced by the animal’s diet, the taste of cow milk depends on the feed of the cow, the season, and the cow itself. Because just as with people, no two cows are alike, nor is their milk. In principle milk is just as versatile and varying as wine, beer and cheese.

The milk in the milk tap is fresh from that day and is kept cool in the machine. Most farmers fill the machine with raw milk; several websites with address lists guide you to the raw milk tap. Because with trends like “local”, “raw”, “pure” and “unprocessed” the demand for raw cow milk rises. Lovers jubilate about the fuller, creamier taste of raw milk, and of all recipes it’s used in. Due to the milk not being heated nor mixed, a lot more taste is preserved.

Opponents of raw milk point at the possible dangers: diseases caused by bacteria in the milk, the risk that is normally prevented by pasteurization or sterilization. The suppliers of the milk tap take this into account by stating on the tap that raw milk should be heated before consumption. Enthusiasts notice that hygienic circumstances of farmer and cow answer to such strict regulations, that the risk of raw is a lot smaller than a couple of decades ago.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics most dairy farmers in The Netherlands have between 50 and 100 cows, each with a yearly production of about 8000 liters of milk. So, per day one cow could deliver 20 liters of milk. Wouldn’t it be great if there would be one machine per cow, making it possible to have a liter of raw “Klara 71” from the tap, and organizing “family days” where fans of Bella 392 can gather to celebrate their favorite milk supplier? To be able to compare dairy farms with vineyards, for them to be able to distinguish themselves – and compete – in taste and texture? Technically this is possible, but it needs an organization brave and capable enough to respond to the challenge. Such companies are scarce, but, farmers, don’t worry: We got this!

So, dairy farmers: unplug yourself from the mega milk collectors and start your own milkyard! Don’t limit yourself to ready-to-go-drink, but also promote raw milk as ingredient for pancakes, cheese, butter, and coffee creamer. Onwards to the raw milk revolution!

Bertine Smit