Two weekends ago I visited a local creamery with my siblings, friends and our significant others. There were six of us in total and after tasting multiple delicious cheeses and taking pictures of the cows behind the fence, we were lucky enough to visit the milking room. We stood in a line along the wall, not seven feet from three huge cows being milked by one of the family members who runs the farm. As we asked him questions about the cows, the taste of the milk and the creamery in general, we were in for a very “natural” surprise. As three cows transitioned out of the milking room, three new ones came in, and without time to react we were all splattered with the brownish green leftovers of the cow’s lunch…if you know what I mean. (Don’t worry, everything collecting milk was completely clean and sanitary!) At first I bolted out of the room, saving myself from more splatters (it had already hit my forehead), but then I laughed and thought about the reality of the milk I drink and the cheese I eat.

Cows are animals. They live and breathe and eat and, well, splatter the milking room.  I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that that day I had come a little closer with my food and drink. Everyday people all over the US and the world milk cows and goats for milk, cheese and other dairy products. Everyday they feed their animals and prepare to sell their nutritious foods at market. Everyday we play a role in consumption and conservation through our food choices.  Are we buying local, organic and/or fair trade? Are we aware of where our food comes from and how it is made?  I know that I now have a greater respect for my cheese and the farmers who see it through from grass, to cow, to cheese cave.

~Lana Lile