Monday, 28 September 2009

Milk Politics

Do you remember the Milk Rounds or the School Milk (in all honesty yours truly was not born when this was around)? Well this is another one of those areas where the country has gone completely bonkers.

Consider what we now get our milk in: awful environmentally hazardous plastic cartridges that have to be thrown out once they have been used. This of course is counter productive as the damned things are made of plastic i.e. oil and have to be burned and thus releasing all those nasty gases the Green lobby keeps banging on about.

Well they have not done anything about it at all to be quite honest. But before we get to the Milk rounds lets have a look at what some food chains are in fact offering. Tesco have nothing but the plastic gear which is utterly useless particularly if you throw out the damned thing with the lid screwed tight. Some councils now employ people-this is not a joke-whose soul purpose is to pop the cartons so as to free some space in the bins. The same story is true for most of the big stores except Sainsbury's and Waitrose. They have in their larger supermarkets started using bags of milk (see picture). Even the bags themselves are recyclable which is always good. But obviously the main benefit comes from not having a physical carton which you have to smash with your bare knuckles in order for the damned thing to become somewhat 'flat'. Other benefits include saving plastic and spending that oil on say better gear for soldiers.

Sainsbury's claim that the only way to open the bag, without ending up covered in milk, is to place the bag inside the jug and shut the lid. A spike then pierces the bag releasing the milk. Your humble narrator can comfort the dear reader that this is all complete bollocks. You do not need a special jug. You need a jug but not a special Sainsbury's jug, and a pair of scissors. Cut of a corner and pour the bloody milk into the jug. It is not rocket science.

It is a bit odd that it only arrived in the UK about a year ago; you can only buy milk in bags in Canada. They do not sell it in any other form (well supposedly 60% is sold in bag form but I never saw anything but bag milk). Which begs the question; why are they intent on destroying the country side when they might as well just outlaw any packaging which does not necessarily have to be made from the most inconvenient of materials? Do you really need cereal in a carton, is not the bag enough? And so on. Not wishing to be a mouth piece for the Green lobby, for I truly despise the lot of them for their inconsistent and deceitful ways, but we do need to reconsider the way we pack things at least to save material.

But now the more pressing of questions: Why the fuck have they let the Milk Rounds fall into despair when it was probably the most environmentally friendly way of delivering fresh, cheap, locally produced, milk? Bear in mind that companies like Lidl insist on their milk being sent from bloody Germany to all its stores in Europe. I.e. the milk you buy from Lidl is not even by any stretch of the imagination 'local'. The Milk Rounds used and use glass bottles (as you will know by now that glass is 100% recyclable) and the vehicles they spin around in are driven by electricity.

This is not to say that the industry is dead - far from it. From the website we have it that (my emphasis)
"The UK’s 9,500 milkmen and women deliver to around 5 million homes every day. Whilst fresh liquid milk in environmentally friendly returnable glass milk bottles remains the cornerstone of this service, your milkman can also offer a large range of other goods. They will be more than happy to discuss the range of products that can be delivered regularly to your doorstep."
Now a normal person in the UK consumes roughly 2 litres or 3.5 pints of milk each week. This is a fair amount of milk. But one must wonder why are only 5 million homes in the UK getting their milk from this service which ought to be the Emperors of the milk trade (and media and government policy) in the UK, yet are not. A decade ago, more than 2.5 billion litres of milk were being delivered to the doorstep each year, which by 2004 had fallen to 637 million. Only 13% of the milk now consumed at home comes from delivery rounds (2006).

We can get pretty nostalgic about our doorstep milk deliveries. After all, there can’t be many countries that have had a record at number one in the singles chart about a milkman. Comedian Benny Hill’s record Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West) topped the charts in 1971 for five solid weeks. Before the milk float, milk was delivered on wheeled carts – either horse-drawn or simply pushed. The milk was in a churn before the advent of the milk bottle and the milkman poured it into the jugs his customers left on their doorsteps. A cloth cover over the jug protected the milk from flies.

The early morning chink-chink of the milkman or woman and the hum of the electric float is declining in 21st-century England though – despite efforts to extend the range of products on offer to include eggs, bread, juice and more. Despite rumours to the contrary, there is no threat to UK milk deliveries from the European Union - yet. However as we move further into this century it appears that the trend is being reversed because people are starting to realise what this article has been arguing that there is simply no way in which supermarket-milk beats Milkman-milk. As such it is becoming more popular again and it is only a question of time before an MP of one ilk or another seizes upon this issue to include it in their portfolio of "green policies".

Instead of building expensive fucking "eco-towns" perhaps we ought to retrace our steps to a time when people were far more sensible (and greener) than they are now.


Anonymous said...

The milk in Lidl does not come from Germany. It comes from the local major dairy the same as any other major supermarket's milk. Xenophobic crap.

13th Spitfire said...

Really because in Sweden, when I visited, that was certainly the case in all the three Lidl stores I went to.

13th Spitfire said...

Before you chanting xenophobic crap I suggest you check your facts.

In Sweden Lidl buys milk from Finland, repackage it in Germany and then send it to Sweden. Swedish farmers refuse to sell their milk to Lidl for fear of loosing their reputation.

The Swedish Consumer ombudsman has started an investigation into Lidl to see if their milk is even pasturised. Turns out when they tried to figure out if the milk was checked or not they could not for there were no processes in place.

Again before you start accusing me for being xenophobic (how is that possible with milk?) checking your fucking facts first you ignorant cunt.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you take a few minutes to nip down to your local Lidl where you will find that the milk does indeed come from the local major dairy. In my local store it comes from Dairy Crest.

Anonymous said...

What the fuck has Sweden got to do with this? The post is about the demise of the UK doorstep delivery and then you rant on about Lidl shipping milk from Germany. In the UK all Lidl milk is sourced from the UK from local major dairy, as the poster above says, in most cases Dariy Crest. Incidentally why would anyone want to buy overpriced milk that is left of the doorstep all day. Nostalgic xenophobic crap. Cunt indeed....

13th Spitfire said...

Right you are clearly a cunt so I am going to stick with my initial examination.

Why this matters is that Lidl ships milk from Germany (and yeah I did check you fucking fool it is from Germany where I live) and creating all sorts of environmental hazards of the way not to mention the fuel wasted.

Overpriced? Who said it was overpriced? Mine is not and more so people buy it because it is fresh and the whole package is recyclable compared to the Plastic bottles which (if people throw them away) have to be melted and the made into fucking new bottles.

Now you ignorant cunt lets define 'xenophobic' it is "having abnormal fear or hatred of the strange or foreign." Where the fuck did I express any of those views in my post? I said that I was bad that they send the milk from Germany but nothing about the quality of the fucking milk itself. Jump of the New Labour wagon my friend, everyone else has.

Ohh and also people make points by drawing parallels that is why I "rant on about Lidl" when talking about milkmen in the UK. Shame upon poor little me.

Tell you what you should do: Start a blog yourself a blast away at the goodness of Lidl - I for one will read it certainly.

Hugo said...

I remember drinking milk every morning at school in Wales. I've not seen those new milk bags yet, I'll have to look next time I'm in the UK.

Lidl in Finland sells milk produced by the largest Finnish dairy, Valio, and sell it for about 20 cents cheaper than Valio branded milk in other stores. This is because Valio has the dominant market position, and Finnish competition laws means they must provide a quote it requested.

However, Swedish dairies originally refused to supply Lidl when they first opened in Sweden, so they resorted to shipping cheaper milk in. As 13th Spitfire says, this isn't very good for the enviroment.

By the way, milk only comes in cartons in Finland, which can be recycled; they're collected by the council from our flat. But sometimes when I'm out I miss being able to buy a pint of milk with a screw cap instead of a bottle of water or a can or bottle of fizzy pop; it's a bit harder to carry an opened carton of half drunk milk around!