Tag Archives: supermarket

Milk matters

19 Jul
milk matters/zskdorset

Bottoms up

The other weekend on the radio show I had an irate local dairy farmer on the phone. British supermarkets are refusing to pay a fair price for milk, he said, and if they carry on we will dump the milk we produce and there won’t be any on the shelves anymore.

“Is that a threat?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied.

Dorset’s dairy farmers, he said, are desperate. Milk costs 29p per litre to produce. The business of looking after 200+ hungry cattle is obviously not cheap.

The supermarkets however are only prepared to pay 27p. There are about 2.5 pints in a litre and a pint of milk in my local supermarket is about 70p. So the dairy farmers are, to say the very least, feeling pretty hard done by. If you want to even dip a toe in that pool of rage, try looking at the hashtag “sosdairy” on Twitter.

I am not renowned for my mathematical prowess but it certainly does seem that something isn’t quite adding up there.

Can you imagine a world without milk? I started writing this thinking I could probably live without it. Until I remembered my morning muesli, the 6 cups of tea I get through in a day, the coffee shop lattes and of course, the three bottles of milk my toddler hoovers up between meals. My house is full of milk. We have both skimmed and whole milk in the fridge and a box of infant formula also on the go. And – oh my God. I forgot about chocolate.

What if milk became a luxury item, sandwiched on the top shelves between the Moet and the Bollinger and with one of those infuriating security tabs over the lid? The VIP bars would serve semi-skimmed instead of Crystal on tap, and milk would be a Friday night treat after a long day in the office.

I’m not a medic but I imagine it wouldn’t be particularly great scenario for public health (although admittedly hangovers would become a thing of the past).

A thyroid specialist told me recently that there is already a problem with iodine deficiency here in the UK, caused by people not drinking enough milk. As an adult you can kind of cope with a low level but it is crucial to the development of babies’ brains – meaning mothers should keep drinking the white stuff. If we have that problem already how much worse would things be if milk was priced out of the weekly shop?

The number of dairy farmers in Dorset alone has already practically halved since 1999. It’s not an easy life – -the farmer on my show had been up since 4am tending to his herd, along with his son. He said farming was in their blood but he was no longer sure it was the best career path for his children. We all have to eat, after all.

Black coffee, anyone?


Don’t eat yellow snow

2 Dec

When I started writing this post yesterday I had intended it to be a wry look at people who feel the need to go to extremes in preparing for the worst.

I had returned from the local supermarket where my fellow shoppers were busy anticipating a spot of bad weather by frantically stockpiling tins and toilet roll.

While there I had got into a fight over the last four-pack of baked beans in the store, completely unnecessarily, I thought, as there had not been so much as half a snowflake to have fallen in the whole of Purbeck.

It was, I wrote, laughable, that some people genuinely believed that a) Siberia was coming to Swanage and b) a few cup-a-soups and a sheet of Aloe Vera infused Andrex would do the trick when it did.

That was before I woke up at 6.30am is morning to find that the world was white, the car was cemented into the driveway by a wall of snow and the wind almost froze off my nose when I peeked out through the letterbox to see how cold it was.

Today is the first day I have *ever* been unable to get into work because of the weather. For the last five years I have lived the life of a typical west Londoner – a comfortable walking distance from either the office or an embarrassment of public transport riches in the right direction.

This morning the one bus that runs out of Swanage was cancelled. The nearest network rail station is 10 miles away and according to the website there were no trains. The roads were freezing over again as fast as they were gritted and the car was happily taking a snow-filled duvet day of its own.

I was well and truly stuck.

So I did what any intrepid journalist would do in that situation. I made a few phone calls, had a cup of tea, and went back to bed.

A few hours later I ventured into town in my gorgeously inappropriate pale blue polka-dot festival wellies (what other kind is there?). Swanage was rammed – all the local schools were closed so the kids were out in force, some with real sledges, others improvising with surfboards, inflatable rings, anything vaguely flat and aerodynamic, essentially. The whole town had become an impromptu cresta run.

Later on the council sent round an email asking us journalists to remind residents that the lids of recycling boxes were not to be used for this purpose. Thus planting the idea for all who hadn’t thought of it already. Oops – have I just done it again? As I haven’t been able to make any meaningful journalistic contribution to the big freeze so far (Dorset was the last to get it), perhaps that could be it.

Anyway it doesn’t look like I’ll be going anywhere tomorrow either – those baked beans were worth fighting for after all.