My household uses a lot of milk. I drink a lot of tea as do all the folk who help me here on the farm. My dogs love milk and I claim to make the most delicious milk tart in Devon – a richly satisfying teatime treat considered a South African national treasure.
But increasingly I have found myself hugely uncomfortable with the process of having to put large plastic milk containers into the weekly recycling. Last week I decided: enough. So I signed up for the local dairy to deliver twice weekly – in bottles that I will wash out and return to Bob the milkman.
This morning was the first delivery and I was filled with childlike joy as I opened the back door to find the bottles waiting for me. It took me back to the way I grew up in Johannesburg but with a difference. In a pique of utter indulgence, I asked Bob to deliver unhomogenised full cream Jersey milk. And he did. As I write this, the bottles are squatting, as yet unopened, in the door of my fridge; the 3 inches of thick yellow cream at the top of the bottle temptingly visible. Am I going to shake the bottles before opening? Not a chance!
I am going to carefully extract the cream and ladle it onto a rhubarb crumble which I intend to make later this afternoon. Not all of it mind you – a couple of tablespoons or so will go to Jenga, the little grey cat who really appreciates the good things in life. Don’t all cats?
But what about the other things we buy all of which are packed in plastic? On the day our cottage guests check in, I prepare for them a plate of freshly cut fruit, something they hugely welcome on their arrival. But with the exception of the melons, oranges and pineapples, absolutely everything is packed in plastic. Why can’t I buy my blueberries, strawberries, grapes and nectarines in brown paper bags? What do we consumers need to do to convince supermarkets that we want change? Some of my friends say they have stopped buying fruit packed in plastic. But does that message get to the supermarket decision makers? I fear not.
There has to be a way but in the meanwhile I need to go into the garden to pick some rhubarb….