We routinely receive requests from people looking to get our milk or ice cream. They ask to get info about their closest retailer or whether we ship directly. We try to nicely tell them that we do not feed Texas, Colorado, California, etc. Recently, we got an email from a woman in Illinois wanting to get our milk. In case you weren’t sure, there are over 100,000 dairy cows in Illinois. (Plus over 1.2 million beef cattle, but that’s another topic). You’d think someone would have raw milk for sale -which is legal in Illinois as long as it’s sold from the farm.
I’ll admit that all these people wanting to get our products is good for the ego, but occasionally the request falls into the surreal. This past week a woman wanted us to deliver milk to West Sussex. “Is this possible?” she asked. Sadly, I had to inform her that we’re in the US not the UK. Then a few days later we received another inquiry asking if shipping to Belize is possible and which credit cards do we accept?
It’s kind of funny, but how does this stuff happen? Let’s face it: we’re just a very small farm tucked in the hillsides of Vermont. Although we are now milking 13 cows (OMG!) we're not quite ready to go international. And nor do we want to.
I send them what I hope is a cheery reply thanking them for their interest but explaining that we’re focused on feeding our local community. However, if they’re ever in Vermont please stop by and say hi!
Today, I was thinking about something that happened at the Norwich Farmers’ Market a couple years ago.
A woman was holding one of our freshly processed chickens. I could see the struggle on her face as she stood there. Finally, she put the chicken back in the cooler.
I asked her if perhaps a different size bird would be better, but she shook her head. I mentioned that we had non-GMO chickens available as well as the organic one she had been looking at, thinking that it was the price that was causing her hesitation. (Non-GMO chickens are cheaper to raise since the cost of grain is 40% less, and therefore we can sell them for less.)
But no. It wasn’t the price. The problem was that it was a whole chicken. She didn’t know how to cook a whole chicken.
Then last week, I was talking with Danielle, one of the owners of Root 5 Farm, an organic vegetable farm up in Fairlee. They included our pasteurized milk in their summer CSA, and in turn, we sourced some of our vegetables from them for our CSA customers.
I asked her what feedback she had gotten about the milk from her CSA members. She mentioned that a few people had expressed concern that the milk was curdling when they received it. She had to explain to them that the “strange gunk” at the top of the jug was not a sign that the milk was bad. It was, in fact, the cream.
It’s so easy to shake our heads at stories like this, to wonder with dismay how someone could not know how to cook a chicken or that cream rises to the top of the milk. But people today simply do not have the experience of fresh food.
Chicken comes in Styrofoam, ready to toss in the skillet. The meat doesn’t even look like something that once was alive because that might offend people’s sensibilities. And store-bought milk is homogenized to break up the fat globules so they cannot rise.
So many of us are completely disconnected from our food. We have no idea where it comes from, how it was grown, how it was processed. We have no idea how far it traveled to get to our plate (on average 1800 miles, by the way). We simply have no experience with what real food looks or tastes like.
But if you do want to learn about real food, I recommend a bite of one of Danielle’s late summer tomatoes or a tall glass of our whole milk. You will instantly understand what real food is, and why people like us work so hard to produce it. (Just don't forget to shake the milk jug first!)
Randy Robar, co-owner of Kiss the Cow Farm