Organic hero: Moo Man mania...
Lynda Brown - 06 February 2014
Ever since I saw the Moo Man film at our Soil Symposium last October, Moo Man has been on my list on must-do blogs. The recent news that the FSA is to continue to allow the sale of unpasteurised milk direct and via the internet is the excuse I've been waiting for.
Moo Man is one of the most remarkable films I have ever seen - to see what I mean, treat yourself to this You Tube trailer.
At one level, it's a simple unscripted fly-on-the-wall documentary about the daily life of maverick dairy farmer Steve Hook and his relationship with his cows, his cherished land and small family farm (the farm achieved Soil Association organic certification in 2000). At another, it is both profound and profoundly moving - made all the more so because of how it came about.
For Steve Hooks, like his father, Phil, is no ordinary dairy farmer: he's one of the few remaining small scale dairy farmers who, despite every effort by consecutive governments and draconian measures put in place by Environmental Health Officers to close them down, doggedly battle on. They know unpasteurised milk is the finest milk we can all drink, and devote their lives to ensure we still have that choice.
Two of his customers, Heike Bachelier and Andy Heathcote, happened to be independent film makers, who believed in what he was doing so much, decided to make a film about him. Unable to get funding, the film was made on a shoe string, with them living hand to mouth and took three years to film. By chance they decided to enter it into the Sundance Film Awards - the fee of £75 meant no petrol for a week. A rank outsider, it went down a storm, and hasn't stopped receiving critical acclaim since. The Spectator's film critic, for example, describing it as not a campaigning film but 'more like a poem; with not much happening on the surface but with the power to evoke, and I was evoked'.
Steve and his father (who has farmed their land for over 50 years) have now become Moo Man celebs, and devote a lot of their time talking about the film, the importance of small family farms, and the benefits of their milk – which, along with their other products, including ghee, you can buy on line from their website.
And so famous is the film, it now has its own Wikipedia entry, and its own website, where you can buy the DVD and learn a lot more about milk matters. Either buy the DVD, or if you get a chance go and see it - and take family, friends and as many children as you can. Why? Apart from the fact it will leave you misty eyed with wonder, Moo Man is one shining example that will and determination in what you believe in is worth it. As American Anthropologist, Margaret Meads, once said (the quote is currently on trend again) 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has'.
Lynda is an award-winning food writer and broadcaster, keen advocate for organic living and Soil Association trustee. She is author of several food books over the last twenty years including Planet Organic: Organic Living, The Cook's Garden, and The Modern Cook's Handbook, as well as writing The Preserving Book that was published in 2010 in association with the Soil Association. Lynda is an expert on food and nutrition and a seasoned broadcaster, regularly speaking on food and farming both on the radio and television.