Thursday, 28 August 2014

White Gold #1

Dairy farming is the primary industry here in Golden Bay, there are dairy herds and cowsheds at every bend in the road and “cow crossing” signs with a flashing light on nearly every straight. I don’t think Transit NZ have enforced the stock underpass rule on this side of the “hill” so it’s a new novelty; stopping to let a herd cross the road. Some of the road crossings have a mat laid down for the cows (this is to protect the road not the hooves) & I saw one that had a hose set up to wash down the road after they had passed.

There’s a good sized Fonterra Dairy Factory on the outskirts of Takaka and we pass the milk tankers regularly while out exploring the countryside. I had imagined Golden Bay, the area, to be a wide plain but in fact it’s a rather narrow coastal strip backed by mountains and ranges with smaller farm sizes that would suit dairying. Dairying & tourism look to be the main earners here although tourism has taken a back seat (and that’s in a people mover) over winter.

As we drove out to Pohara & our campground on the day we arrived in Golden Bay I spotted Village Milk. I knew all about Village Milk although I was surprised to see it on our road. Just a few days before I had listened to Country Life on Radio NZ and the main feature was on Village Milk.

Village Milk sells “raw” milk through a vending machine set up in their yard on the farm. The milk comes from a small pampered herd of just 22 cows.

This is the modern day version of taking the milk billy to the cowshed and filling it up from the vat (like we used to do on our dairy farm). Here you buy a glass bottle ($4) out of the dispenser (or bring your own), load it in the small cabinet where it gets a quick burst of steam to clean the milk nozzle which then fills the bottle. At $2.50 a litre it wasn’t much more than my usual milk costs, if not the same as some of the places I’ve been purchasing it.

Because it’s not pasteurised raw milk is not widely available, but the current Food Act allows people to buy up to 5 litres of raw milk at the farm gate for personal or family consumption. Village Milk has been franchised into a few other areas too.

It isn’t pasteurised, homogenized, processed, over-handled, heated, extracted, spun, or had anything added to it. Village Milk is real milk. It's unmodified. It comes out of the cow and goes into the tank. In the real product you've got all the enzymes, the vitamins and the access to minerals that the milk provides and there's a huge amount of benefit there. With processed milk a lot of the vitamins and all the enzymes are gone and in terms of homogenising, the access to the minerals is largely gone as well.

Pasteurisation served a very valuable purpose back in the 1920's when tuberculosis was spreading through meat and milk. Pasteurisation enabled all the harmful bacteria to be killed. We don't need to apply this process to our milk now. All our animals are TB-free and have been for decades.

But I wasn’t interested in the sell job, I just wanted to see how it tasted, see if it reminded me of the milk from my childhood. I don’t know why though, as I don’t like cream and I knew raw milk would taste very creamy. I’ve never liked cream, even as a child (although whipped cream is fine). But I do LOVE milk, ice cold milk, skimmed to within a millimetre of it’s life and drunk straight out of the bottle. In the middle of the night is best!

So I knew this would be creamy but I wanted to taste it anyway. And of course it tasted different but I’m not so sure it was because all the goodness was left in it or the fact that I forgot to shake the bottle so I poured myself a good sized glass of cream! Yuk. I know we both didn’t like our cup of tea the next morning, it was far too creamy.

So now I have a bottle that I can transfer my bought milk into. A heavy bottle according to David, yeah that’s sure to break the camel’s back. Not. And drinking milk out of glass in the middle of the night is a much better experience too.


  1. What an interesting set up. Good for the local cheese makers, I imagine. I hadn't realised pasteurisation was all to do with tuberculosis. I'd like to try the milk but I'd probably find it too creamy too. Are you going to look at the spotted shags at sunrise at Tata Beach?

    1. You know about the shags Olwen! You are the first person I have come across that knows, others look at me sideways when I mention them! So it's not just me that stores away snippets of information for future reference. Except my storing method let me down, I failed to pull the info for the Tasman area out of my info 'folder' on my computer before we left Pohara :( But I'm hoping to stop back there on our way out of Golden Bay, there's a POP at the boat club which is just down the road from Tata Beach. Watch this space!

  2. Riverside Community in Lower Moutere has a similar machine, not open 24/7, but daylight hours & only $2 per litre.

    1. Interesting that it is cheaper Jimu, hopefully they'll be able to keep it up. I saw that another VM franchise down south had gone bankrupt & I know that one of them also had trouble with supplying 'good' milk. This one had people in there buying milk everytime we passed.

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