Friday, October 22, 2010

Consumer, cow, milkman, roses, tulsi: one ecosystem

When I was little, we got our milk delivered straight from the buffalo sheds a few miles away (this was still Bombay, not somewhere in the countryside). The milkman had a bunch of buffaloes (or tended someone else's), and brought milk in large aluminum buckets, like the one on the left, and measured out as much as my mom wanted, into a large saucepan from the kitchen.

There was no packaging at all, no waste, and the milk had to be 100% fresh or else you'd know at once (it's warm here so fresh milk doesn't keep long unless you pasteurize by boiling). Sometimes the milkman would bring me a rose from the bush that grew by the shed. And when we wanted fertilizer for our house plants, he'd bring a dung cake (dry, not stinky). We'd pound it into a very coarse powder and scatter it in the tulsi pots. One cowpat is quite a lot of fertilizer!

It was such a wonderful, simple and environment-friendly system, and the producers (buffalo and milkman) were a more direct part of the lives of us consumers, not separate. The milk man died, the sheds got moved out, and we now get our milk and fertilizer in plastic packets, and the roses come from commercial farms with a massive carbon footprint (refrigerated trucks or planes). We have no idea who feeds the buffaloes or tends the flowers, what their names are (our milkman was Udit Narayan), whether they look healthy and are paid well, and how fresh or pure the milk truly is.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Glad someone uploaded this song :)

Never got to hear much of Emmylou Harris growing up in India. Heard a bit in the US, and this is one of my favorite songs: