This topic is hard for me to deal with. I was brought up like many of us on milk, cheese, cream all that. And it tastes really good!

In principle I don’t actually think it is that bad if it was managed correctly. If you had your own cows/goats and the whole milking thing could be done nicely and respectfully, without talking a calf away and letting the cow be in a suitable and humane environment, I don’t really think there is anything wrong with that….there is a wee bit of me that feels a little weirded out by drinking the milk from another beast but that’s not the point in this ramble. The trouble is that dairy farms (or actually most farms whether it is beef, eggs, game) are not nice places.

The farm that I live on changed hands recently from a quiet organic farm with one old bumbling farmer upon his decrepid tractor, to a busy industrial beef farm. People come to visit us and say ”what a beautiful spot” but they haven’t witnessed all of the electric fences going up, the Rooks being shot whilst I’m trying to get the kids to sleep, the dead moles that now hang on the barbed fence next to our house, the pheasant pens and shoots, the trees that have been cut down because they encroach on a wall or fence. And worst of all was, in the spring, witnessing the cows in the barn next to our house waist deep in their own filth and were expected to calve (and several did) in that environment. The SSPCA came round eventually. I feel like I am living in a fishbowl surrounded by a world of destruction…… I was diverging from my point of milk just then but its good to have it out. I know another family who do live on a dairy farm and they use tasers to herd their cattle.

Cattle are thought to be one of the first animals to be domesticated about 10,000 years ago. So consuming dairy (and meat) is ingrained in our society. Since then dairy cows have been selectively bred to produce more and more milk per cow. In order to produce milk the cow needs to have a calf which is then typically separated within the first week of being born and then the mother’s milk can be used for human consumption. Sometimes the calf is separated immediately and the colostrum is milked from the mother and given to the calf through a bottle. This separation is distressing for the calf and mother. The calf is then fed from either a bucket or nipple feeder which is a cheaper and easier alternative to its mothers milk…. The whole milking process always reminds me of that scene in Mad Max, do I need to go any further or is it ingrained in your memory as much as mine?

Then there is the housing and treatment of cows. Farms are different and some a lot worse than others but if I buy milk from Tescos whether organic or not, I still do not have a clue where that milk actually comes from, probably multiple farms with all different kinds of treatment to their animals. Even if I wrote to every store that I bought any dairy products from and asked them about their sources, I’m certain they would reply with a generic letter stating that all their products abide by EU standards, blablabla. And then you could go and visit every farm and see what it is like, but you would probably need to seek permission to do this and then everyone would obviously be on their best behaviour. The only true way to learn about farming practices is to live in the sticks and witness what is going on around you… It is brutal.

SO. To the point….. I stupidly gave my eldest daughter cows milk when weaning her at 2years old. Half milk, half hot water and a tiny bit of honey. It became habit for us all. With my second daughter I was determined not to let this happen again (we are still in the weaning process at 25mnths). After trying Almond milk, Soya, Oat, Hemp (I love hemp milk but no one else in the family seems to), nothing seemed to fill the absence of cows milk for my family until….. Oatly brought out a new oat milk, the Barista Edition in a grey package. It is aimed at Baristas to make amazing lattés BUT it is soooo creamy and my whole family loves it! HOORAY! no more cows milk in horrible plastic containers with the wee film bit on top which you are never sure is actually recyclable or not.

Oatly Barista is not organic though and so I have to question one what am I putting into my families bodies and two the impact of growing the oats to make this product has on the environment. All those insects and bees being sprayed with pesticides and the chemical shit getting into the water and rivers…. I should definitely email Oatly and ask them to sort this out….

And now on to trying to find suitable cheese alternatives. Any suggestions?


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