I went to an organic cheese making workshop the other day. I went because I thought that a cheese making workshop in the Netherlands is like a pasta making workshop in Italy or a wine tasting in France. Gotta do it. Plus, it would be good material for the other blog I write, the personal one about our family's adventures in living abroad.
As part of the workshop, we toured the organic farm that actually makes and sells cheese. It is a working, for profit farm that is located in the middle of a huge park in the middle of the city. Strange, but it somehow works.
As we toured the small farm, I got to thinking about the books I've read about sustainable farming, whole foods, and corporate organic. I was reminded that there are people in the world who still feed their cows grass, not corn. I was reminded that there are still farmers who allow their chickens to roam in and out of the henhouses at their leisure, and that these chickens produce more and higher quality eggs in exchange for their "freedom". Grass feed cows are the standard here in the Netherlands, and yes, the meat tastes different than we are used to. It tastes how beef should taste, because cows were meant to eat grass. And if they eat grass, then they don't get sick and have to take antibiotics. And if they don't have to take antibiotics, then there is nothing to debate about what those antibiotics do to the cows and to us when we eat that meat.
And the milk. I'm not much of a milk drinker, but the milk here tastes unlike anything I've ever had. Fresh. My family can't get enough of it. I don't know for sure, but I am guessing it has to do with the happy grass fed cows, and the fact that they don't process their milk as much here. Doesn't last as long, but that has not been an issue for this family.
And then I started thinking about how we want our kids to know where food comes from. To know that food is grown or raised, not just packaged in a grocery store. To know that we can grow or raise food too. And I made up my mind right then to visit this farm with them, and to return often.
In short, ever since I started reading these kinds of books, and making an effort to eat less meat, more whole foods, etc, food is tasting like food. Not like manufactured, engineered food product, but like food. And it is delicious.
I've talked about Michael Pollan's Food Rules, but may I also suggest The Omnivore's Dilemma. It is a good starting point to learn about how far we have come from growing and cooking real food. There are other books too, but this is one of the most well known.
I'm not yet to the point of making my own organic cheese at home, but for until then I know where I can get it.