The simplest things in life can evoke wonder and the joy of exploration. That’s if you are a child, or an adult like me, who allows herself to be led on by a group of 5-8 year olds. This time around our wonderings began with the daily glass of milk.
The children, who come from affluent, urban backgrounds, live and study in a private, residential school located in a rural community, about 20 km from the nearest town. I periodically engage with this group as part of their Environmental Studies (EVS) class. During one such session I asked them, “Where does the milk that we drink come from?” We know that milk comes from cows, but how exactly does the milk from the cow get to our homes? Our school community buys milk from a nearby village co-operative run by a group of small and marginal farmers. Clearly, that was the place to find out!
We reached the cooperative in the early morning as planned, when farmers from the surrounding villages came to deposit milk from their cows. The milk collection point is in the centre of the village. Here, three members of the cooperative check the water content in the milk using a lactometer, weigh the milk, and record the information in a logbook. This information is used to make payments to the farmers. The curious children walked around and between the farmers, peering into milk containers that they were holding. Their excitement was palpable with shouts of, “Fresh milk is so white and frothy! I feel like drinking it straight from the bucket!” “Can we drink it straight from the bucket?” “Why does milk look different when we drink it at home?”