Monday, 15 October 2007

Milk mayham

Another day another report about brilliant ideas to save the world. Just in case you are wondering I'm being sarcastic.

Today I am greeted with a news report that the Government want us all to start drinking UHT milk as it will cut down on green house gasses as there will be less refrigeration from all the fridges in the shops.

Here are two version of the story. The one from the Beeb and one from the Times.

I haven't been able to find a copy of the report all this is based on and as it is described as a leaked report it probably hasn't been formally published yet so I always take such articles with a pinch of salt until I can read the actual document.. The government is saying it's just a discussion document but we all know how discussion documents suddenly morph into law.

Now if a French person is reading this they are probably thinking, what's the problem with UHT milk, because nearly all the milk they use is UHT but our diets are very different and while the French normally have great taste in this I feel they fail somewhat. In this country we drink and use a huge amount of milk, we drink Tea with milk, have cereal for breakfast again with milk, we drink milk on it's own, as milk shakes, make lots of dishes based on white sauces and other milk based ideas and that's before you get onto cream which while it isn't mentioned would surely come under the same umbrella?.

UHT milk tastes crap and some nutrients like folic acid are damaged in the process. Actually I'd happily drink un-pasteurised if I had anywhere to get it. I did for most of my childhood and was spoilt by having a jersey cow of our own.

I'm not saying that they arn't right about the amount of energy used by the fridges and the report only looks at the supply chain for milk so they haven't looked at the fact many shops have much bigger fridges full of fizzy drinks which could be easily got rid of without those drinks being damaged.. though of course cold coke is far more important than fresh milk! Then there is all the per-prepared meals and the amount of excessive cold air spilling from all those fridges into the shops.

As I said I haven't seen the report so don't know if they have suggested any other options but the obvious one seems to have the milk delivered straight from the farms to the consumer, fresher, less refrigeration needed (as we arn't going to stop having home fridges even UHT still needs one once you open it).. I get my milk that way already, well it's from Dairy Crest so not straight from the farm but it's the best i can find here. However it is in glass bottles and even though it is still pasteurised I like it better. The full fat has cream that settles out at the top something supermarket milk never does. Milkmen used to be the normal way to get milk but they are much less common now and we have only recently started using one again.. if fact it is the first time I have had one since I was a kid.

Another thing mentioned is the suggestion the dairy industry should cut it's methane output by 60% in the next few years. The only obvious way to do this is have less cows so perhaps the idea is make us drink UHT which most of us hate so we drink less milk so don't needs so many cows.. alternatively we could keep fresh milk and use the methane constructively as a fuel to run the refrigeration in the vans to deliver the milk direct.

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