While I was in Kyiv this spring, Olga Trusova (who spent her childhood in Ukraine but now lives in California) and I had a conversation about not just sustainable food in terms of growing, but also in terms of how food gets to the final consumer--and how that's changing. She then sent me these great photos she took of a milk truck last summer in Odessa. The truck would come to your neighborhood and residents would line up, with enameled tin containers in hand, to fill up with milk. As we talked, it reminded me of the milkmen of my own childhood, and the milk box on the back porch, which we filled with glass bottles to be returned and refilled and the early morning clank as the milkman replaced empty bottles with full ones.
Compare this milk truck with the way most of us buy milk here: the milk goes from the farm to a bottling plant and then from a bottling plant to the grocery store. We drive from our houses to the grocery store, drive home, drink the milk and then recycle the plastic container it came in. That's alot of steps--and alot of fossil fuel, to put milk on our cereal. But of course, a milk truck isn't always convenient and it's regular appearance presents challenges for many, given the demands of work and family. So we make compromises.
I was struck however, by the change that's implicit in these images. Look closely--there's not a single young person lined up to buy milk this way and it seems milk trucks in Ukraine may be headed the way of the milk box on my family's back porch, replaced by plastic jugs in plastic bags.