One of the unexpected novelties of life in Italy is the neighborhood milk machine. All over rural and semi-rural, and sometimes even urban, Italy, you can find refrigerated milk machines.
You bring your own bottle, or buy one there, pay 1 euro, yup, and you get nice, fresh, just-milked, unpasteurised milk. You will have information on the farm, when the milk was milked, and this will all be highly local. Perhaps the milk would have travelled a kilometre or so.
Yes, there is always a sign that says to boil the milk before drinking it. That is a basic obligation. But the fact is you can buy unpasteurised milk. You can also buy farm-fresh milk. Okay, if you live out in rural Vermont or some other idyllic place, you will have access to farm stands and can go up and buy fresh, pasteurised milk. But from a refrigerated vending machine?
In Italy, you can find these vending machines all over the country. It is truly wonderful.
You can also find vending machines for still water and fizzy water. Many town and city halls have these machines on the premises as a community service.
What a beautiful concept. First, the belief in eating local is so strong that the physical infrastructure exists to make it real. This is not including that every town will have at least once a week farmer’s markets from the local farms. Second, that milk should be something so much a part of the daily staples that the price is so low, yet still from healthy, organic, responsibly reared animals.
I have farms that I go to, or know where there vending machines are, because I know how their animals are reared. I will also go to the farm itself when I want a chicken, or a nice piece of meat, because I know that it is fresh, what the animal ate, where it all comes from. Most of these farms will also make all kinds of their own cheeses, fresh yoghurts, and so on. It is beautiful.
And knowing your own personal food chain is just about one of the best things you can do for your health, and for the environment. In most of the Western world we have lost our connection to the land, lost our connection to our food supply. The sin of industrial agriculture is perhaps the greatest we have committed against Mother Earth. Going to a supermarket, ignoring the conditions under which an animal was raised or a plant was grown, means being deaf to the suffering, blind to the scarification of the landscape, ignorant of the poisons that leach into our groundwater, our streams, our oceans and our lives.
It is no wonder that our bodies suffer chronic disease, lifestyle disease, that we are surely killing ourselves. When lifespans should be increasing from natural means, they are stagnating and filling up with the diseases of the wrong kind of living.
To live right is to respect where things come from, to understand the true cost of getting it to our plates. Perhaps you could start buying direct at a farrmer’s market, direct from a farm. Your body will love you for it, and so too will the planet.