As I've mentioned, I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which is having a serious impact on me and how I think about food, and more specifically, where food comes from. Since starting on the book, I've double thought everything that has gone into my system.
This extra thinking about food, made this snippet of KJ's experience in Nigeria resonate even more. She writes:
'You'd think the supposedly most populated country in Africa (roughly 146 million) would have a booming milk production, but nooooooooooooo. Market forces prevailed in the 70s so that it was cheaper to get milk powder from donor countries (now the EU) rather than to produce fresh milk from Nigeria - there hasn't been fresh milk production for the grand population here since. This is really annoying to me, considering the amount of cows walking around, along with the nutritional value of fresh milk instead of powdered, and the ability to make better cheese using fresh milk over my hot plate when I'm desperate (a little bit of vinegar or lime with a dash of salt in boiling milk and I'm usually set). Coming from Kenya where milky, sugary tea is king in nearly every household, I can't tell you how disappointed I am (there is no warm, fuzzy feeling when one put spoonfuls of powdered milk in one's tea). I visited a local dairy farm last week and even THEY don't sell fresh milk, since it's too expensive to store and ship (stable electricity and bad roads being a huge problem in Nigeria). I did manage to finagle the dairy manager into selling me ten liters of milk from his personal cows, but the milk soured the next day. I don't actually like milk on its own and usually don't drink it at all in the States, but there is some association for me between fresh milk and African cows. Now I have to modify that association to Kenyan cows.'
Isn't this just shocking - that it's cheaper to get fake milk than the real deal is just unbelievable. Yet the same thing happens in the U.S. as well. Most of your small farmers in America can't legally sell milk to their community members because of such strict government regulations set forth really only to benefit big industrial producers. Anyway, I'm not going to go off on a tangent, but it's just interesting to for me to now realize how the inability to procure fresh milk in Nigeria raises my annoyance just as much as the the difficulties surrounding purchasing local food in the States. For example, today in the supermarket, it was SHOCKED to find that goats cheese from SPAIN was significantly cheaper than goats cheese from right here in Maryland! And this was at your 'go local/organic' Whole Foods!!