Monday, October 27, 2008

Norco Unhomogenised Perfect Organic milk

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This isn't exactly a permaculture blog post, but it's related. When I was a kid, in the 1960s, milk tasted almost like milk from the farm, and each bottle came with a head of cream so thick that often, especially in cold weather, you had to break through the cream with a spoon to get to the liquid. The cream was as delicious as the milk. Norco (North Coast Co-operative), which supplied much of the milk in my state of New South Wales, had a nice logo, too. It gave rise to the slang word 'norks', meaning a woman's boobs. The term spread past NSW -- I first heard it used by a Melbournian. But I digress.

Then, sometime in the 1960s, all the milk producers, at the same time, if I recall correctly, stopped selling milk that tastes like milk, and suddenly it was labelled 'homogenised'. There was no more cream in the milk. Everyone -- and in those days my 'everyone' was my friends and their siblings and parents, and Letters to the Editor -- everyone said the new product tasted terrible and not like milk at all, and the general opinion was that no one would drink it or use it in beverages. What everyone said was that it "tastes like cardboard".

But, of course, that was the 1960s, and consumerism was barely in its infancy. Without demur we all did what governments and corporations told us to do. So after a while everyone shut up and drank the cardboardy milk and after a while tended to forget what milk actually tastes like - a textbook case of the Boiling Frog effect. (The same as happened with fruit and vegetables.) Forty years later, two generations of people in New South Wales (and all of Australia, for all I know) have grown up not knowing what milk tastes like. Which is very sad. And Norco ditched its nice familiar logo for a crappy techno-modern one, after about 70 years of being like an old friend.

Then, a month ago, right out of the blue, my friend told me that Norco has a 'new' product out on the market. It is called 'Norco Unhomogenised Perfect Organic milk' and, wonder of wonders, it's almost as good as pre-1960s milk. Now, pre-1960s milk didn't taste as good as real milk from a cow, as you'll understand if you've ever had real milk from a cow, but it was pretty good. Norco's new unhomogenised milk doesn't measure up to its pre-1960s standards, and it's weird that it costs more than 'milk' that is more processed, but now I won't buy the cardboardy rubbish if I can avoid it. The new product is good to drink on its own, and makes tea and coffee 100% nicer. I'm skeptical that it's really organic, and dubious that it comes from organic farms that don't use superphosphate and other chemicals that are even worse. Still, it's a superior product to that which I've endured for four decades.

I see that there's a thread on this forum on the same subject. Maybe some day all milk will taste like milk. Let's hope so. And maybe tomatoes won't be flavourless and bananas won't be floury. Maybe in supermarkets the prices of real, organic vegetables, fruit, eggs and poultry will fall to approximate the prices of their agribiz equivalents. And maybe the third generation since the mass destruction of real food will taste nice things again. Norco gives me hope. Fingers crossed.

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