Though I am not tired, it could be said that I am weary this morning. I feel the encumbrance of responsibility on my shoulders. But, having become some kind of self-styled champion on food issues, I suppose I have only myself to blame when wielding the sword of justice becomes something of a burden.
So what is it this time? Well, I’m afraid it’s milk again and, no, I can’t say that I blame you for wanting to skip the next few paragraphs. However, I appeal to my dedicated band of stalwarts to bear with me. This won’t take long.
Earlier this week, a couple who had been staying with us left us with the unexpired portion of a carton of Cravendale milk, thinking we might make use of it. The sales pitch for this particular brand of milk is that it is better for you because it has been filtered. In the interests of research, I tried it. For me, the taste, though quite creamy, is far too reminiscent of those nasty little UHT pots you get in the hotel trade. I find that quite alarming, but not as alarming as the fact that, at the time of writing, this milk has been sitting around unrefrigerated in a plastic container for the best part of a week, and it shows no signs of deteriorating. The makers, Arla Foods, would no doubt explain that this is because the process that this milk has undergone has filtered out all the bacteria that make milk sour. I would say that it has filtered out all bacteria full stop. It is not going sour, because it is completely sterile. No wonder it reminds me of UHT milk.
I looked at the Cravendale consumer website, but I found it maddeningly frustrating. It contains scant information, dubious claims and a deeply irritating voice that interrupts your browsing by shouting, “Milk! Milk!” every few seconds. Absolute puerile nonsense. So I thought I’d try the Arla Foods corporate website instead. According to this, their mission is to ‘offer consumers milk-based products that create inspiration, confidence and wellbeing.’ Well, sorry Team, but, in my case, you’ve failed in your mission on all three counts. Moving on, we get to the company’s vision. This is ‘to be the leading dairy company in Europe through considerable value creation and active market leadership.’ Ah, now we are getting to it. This is more like it – the sort of thing we expect from a company of 7000 employees, turning over £1.4 billion a year and processing 2.3 billion litres of milk annually.
Their marketing strategy is ultimately to see all countries as one market – ‘a common range and common marketing’ is so much more efficient. And talking of efficiency, UK production will be centralised, which of course involves the closure of smaller dairies. All part of the grand scheme to ‘constantly strive for adding value to milk by optimising and developing new products, concepts and dairy processes.’ Well, that explains why the stuff tastes like UHT then.
To show how much they are on our side, the company comes up with phrases like, “At Cravendale, we don’t just pasteurise our milk.” – as if they are doing us some kind of favour. A huge favour, it turns out – it’s pasteurised, standardised, homogenised and filtered. Is it any wonder that it doesn’t taste like real milk? Still, not to worry, no one is going to know that it doesn’t taste like real milk, because real milk is practically illegal. It certainly would be if the government had its way. And what about the user-friendly phrase ‘at Cravendale’? There’s no such place as Cravendale. It’s just part of an Arla Foods trade mark. The logo has a nice sky-blue background to it and a little daisy at the top, all designed to make the consumer visualise nice grassy meadows, possibly in Yorkshire, being grazed by happy cows. The truth is a long way from this idyllic picture, but that’s corporate spin for you.
Now of course we are stuck with a litre of sterile milk that refuses to go off, and I’m not sure what to do with it. I don’t even want it in our septic tank. Perhaps I could send it back to Arla Foods and say, “Thanks but no thanks.”