Raw milk is a nostalgic subject for me. I grew up on a small dairy farm in rural Cork, where we drank our own milk. One of my jobs as a child was to take a bucket and jug, walk down to the milking shed and fill up the bucket with the creamy, rich milk, straight from the bulk tank.
The bulk tank appeared as a fearsome device to the young me. It was a massive, enclosed, stainless steel tank whose cleanliness sat in stark contrast to dirt that comes naturally on a farm. It had two agitators which ran on a regular cycle to keep the milk from sitting still too long. My naturally jumpy disposition meant that I would leap a foot in the air if they started while I was in the vicinty. To get the milk, I would lift off one of the small circular lids and peer in. My nightmare scenario was finding the milk level to be low, meaning that I would have to drag over a milk crate so that I could reach in I feared falling into the tank, despite the fact that the aperture was really only about a foot across.
Back at the kitchen table, you quickly learned to shake the milk bottle, or give the jug a stir, before using the milk. Otherwise, the rich creamy top would pour out, causing disaster central when you were making a cup of tea. I drank this milk from infanthood through to my teenage years. I never thought anything about it until I departed for university and started to drink cartons of pasteurised milk Then I realised that there was something missing. The pasteurised milk tasted flat and thin. Don't even get me started on how low-fat and skim milk tastes.
|Tiernan's Raw Milk available at Sheridan's Cheesemongers, Carnaross|
I realise that I was a product of my environment. My parents drank raw milk and thus my siblings and I drank raw milk. Nothing more fancy than that. I realise that there are health concerns associated with drinking raw milk, just as there are health risks associated with eating or drinking any uncooked, or unclean foodstuff. (Trust me, grow up on a farm and you are used to dirt and sh*t, it's a natural part of life). I simply fail to see why there should be a complete ban on the sale of raw milk. Surely this is a simple matter of choice for the consumer?
Currently, the Irish government is proposing to ban the sale of raw milk before the end of 2011. This proposal is stirring up a debate on the internet and in the newspapers. Sheridan's Cheesemongers are supporting the pro-raw milk side, and have been involved in the creation of the Campaign for Raw Milk - an organisation of farmers, food sellers, food organisations and consumers who are opposing the proposed ban on the sale of raw milk.
|Campaign for Raw Milk|
In order to educate and inform, a debate has been organised for September 6th at the Sugar Club, Leeson Street, Dublin. Doors will open at 19.00 with the debate commencing at 19.30. The event will consist of a panelist debate with arguments for and against, with lots of audience participation and Q&A. The evening will be chaired by journalist Aoife Carrigy, one of the organisers of the For Food’s Sake series of debates. Panelists will include broadcaster and journalist Ella McSweeney, farmer and raw milk producer David Tiernan and retailer of raw milk Kevin Sheridan. Other panel members will include scientists and food and farming industry representatives (more details to follow, check the Raw Milk Ireland website).