Llaeth Crai – my own revolution

Democracy is a great thing – we all get to vote periodically and select the people who will lead our country. And then we get to moan about them, see them hand power to unelected organisations, and basically do a bunch of things that make us unhappy.

How would you feel, however, about getting to cast a vote everyday? How would you like to make choices that would have a direct effect on the country, the economy, your community? Does this appeal to you? What if I told you that you were already doing it? Well, you are – every time you spend money, you are casting a vote. You are choosing the sort of world you want and you are choosing the businesses that you want to thrive. Most of us don’t have unlimited money and so we have to prioritise where we spend it. Unless you are living in poverty you have a multitude of choices and  encourage you to think about their implications.

Always buying the very latest Smartphone means you are supporting a multinational company that exploits its workers and plunders the earth for raw materials, adversely affecting lives and the natural world. And this is your choice – no one is forcing you to make it. Alternatively, you could keep the phone you have and use the money that you would have spent on the new one to do some good, to support ethical companies, local producers or crafts people. But  what about everyday purchases? Lets think about food…

The people who feed us are getting shafted by the supermarkets and we need to make sure that this doesn’t happen Without our farmers, most of us would not have anything to eat and even those of us who produce some of our own food would be in dire straights. Dairy farming is a case in point – in the supermarket whole milk costs 45-80p per litre, but farmers currently only get paid about 22p. This means that dairy farming is right on the cusp of being viable, and many small farms are only able to make it pay because the family effectively works for next to nothing. And this matters – it matters because these people are often at the heart of our rural communities, because these people are the guardians of our land and because they are almost certainly being forced to work within an economic model that makes no sense to them.

Milk is produced across the UK, so why is it transported hundreds of miles around the country to be sold, packaged, resold and processed? Surely in these days when we need to minimise our use of fossil fuels, the best place for milk to be processed and consumed would be close to where it was produced?

So, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Several local farms in our area have started selling their milk direct, and so the other day I arranged to go to the closest one, Penlan y Môr, to make my first purchase. They sell raw (i.e. unpasteurised) whole milk in glass bottles:

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Returnable glass bottles with screw caps

They will also put it in containers that you take yourself. There is no throw-away packaging and no unnecessary transport. As well as trying out the milk for general use, I wanted some for cheese-making. Apparently I am the first customer to turn up with my own churn…

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My churn being filled

The cheese-making is currently underway – a hard cheddar-type and a soft curd cheese. It will be a few months before I can report on how the former turns out, but the curd cheese will be ready to taste tomorrow and I’ll be taking a sample back to the farm so that the family can taste what their milk can become.

Now that’s the type of thing I want to do to support my community and make the world the sort of place I want to live in. How about you?

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My milk – positively shining in the sun!

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19 Comments

  1. Brilliant! I wish there was somewhere near me selling milk direct from the farm. I can buy veg direct very locally and there are produce markets but a drive away. Sadly 2 local firms I have used for non food purchases – a builders merchant and an electrical spares shop have proved to have terrible customer care so I will not be using them again. Meanwhile the gift economy is thriving and growing. So a mixed bag but I keep aiming to support local traders and my community.

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  2. Your cheeses are going to be so much tastier and more nutritious. And I think it’s a great idea. I used to occasionally have access to raw milk through the ‘country network’ when I lived in the mountains, but it’s illegal still to sell it here, and we have no local dairy farms, the country round here will support drought-tolerant beef cattle, but not dairy.

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    • Wales is so well suited to raising both dairy and beef cattle (not to mention sheep) that it seems appropriate to make use of them. Up until now I have had to buy my raw milk mail-order from Herefordshire, but that meant that it arrived in plastic containers that simply had to be recycled. Now I’m avoiding all that and, as the French think is so important, I should have the taste of our local ‘terroir’.

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  3. Fantastic!

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  4. Carwyn Jones

     /  October 9, 2016

    Yes, you certainly were the first person to turn up to buy our milk with your own churn! We can’t wait to try some of the cheese you make. What a great feeling to be able to go from grass to cow, to milk to cheese all within a few miles of the field where the journey all began. You’ve added an interesting dimension to our aim of supplying good natural milk locally. Hope to see you soon! Penlan y Mor Farm

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    • There’s curd cheese draining right now… I’ll bring some round in the next day or two. The hard cheese is now in the press, but it won’t be mature for quite a few months.

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  5. Is this Llanarth or New Quay, Hun?

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  6. Interesting point you make. I believe some of what you’re describing re purchasing goods is starting to happen evidenced by slumping sales. Food is another story though, due to the fact that in the U.S., the food industry has made healthy/fresh foods more expensive than their processed and packaged counterparts. Most can’t afford “fresh” anymore, however there are bright spots of optimism on the horizon that I hope in a few years can change this trend. It’s fantastic that you can make you’re own food with the raw goods available to you locally.

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  7. This is great! It would be amazing if we could go back to sourcing things that can be readily produced locally in this way, and cut out all the packaging, processing and road miles that come with mass production. Well done, Penlan y Mor farm… And I hope your newest batches of cheese are a success!

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    • The curd cheese was good… and has all been eaten now. It will be a few months before I can report on the hard stuff!
      I love that local farms are starting to sell direct. I guess one of their problems, though, is marketing. Several local people who I’ve talked to did not know that they could go and buy milk direct. I am really trying to spread the word because this seems like such a brilliant way to avoid all those issues you mention.

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      • Fingers crossed for a good hard cheese haul! And I’ll have to see if anyone around my parents’ area is selling direct from the farm… Obviously local farmers are in short supply here in central Dublin 😆

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  8. nice post

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  1. But is it organic? | The Snail of Happiness

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