I am a very urban person, and I have always related “going to the farm” with holidays and playtimes with our son. The “exciting” thing in Zug (I put the word in brackets because this is a genuine feeling, not second degree) is the constant proximity to local farms around the city. Fair enough, I do complain about the smell of natural fertilizers, or when the wind brings back the smell of cows near our windows.
But let me introduce to a little weekly pleasure that really blew my mind: the Milch Automat (or milk automatic machine).
Most of the farms around sell their products, either on market days, on site, or through 24/7 refrigerated vending machines and automatic dispensers. Our favourite one is located 15-20 minutes away which makes is a lovely family expedition whether it rains or not.
The principle is quite obvious: decide what you want to buy, put the money in, open the door you picked, collect, close, et voilà! The choice is also very large: many options of dairy products (yoghurts, cream, cheese, quark…), seasonal vegetables and fruits, eggs, freshly baked bread, and other specialized products (liquors, dry fruits, …). Our pick from the heart: freshly pressed apple juice.
The second part is maybe the most fun one: the milk machine. Place your bottles under the dispenser, put the right change in (1,20 CHF per litre, which is cheaper by 0,30 CHF compared to the supermarket price), and press “start”. The machine does not give change; so if your bottle is full before you got it all, feel free to drink some of it and make some extra space, or just leave it to the next person. And when all is done, clean the pipe and possible spills around.
You cannot do more simple than that, and it feels good. To make it convenient and sustainable we generally bring our reusable glass bottles that we clean and boil after use. The farm also provides some bags or empty egg boxes for examples, and the plastic bottles they use for the juice I believe can be recycled.
Swiss supermarkets are very good in supporting local economy, and you know as a consumer that what you buy in terms of dairy or meat products will generally come from the same canton, or at least the same country. Fair enough, you pay for it (i.e. a little more than if you were importing mass-produced items), but you can be assured of the quality and the ethics of your consumption choices.
So buying straight from the farm is another very pleasant thing: not only do you support local production; you also break the chain of mass production and hypermarkets, you reduce the products’ ecological footprint (in terms of transportation, packaging etc…) and you eat fresh organic products. Everybody wins, and we are very happy and proud to share this with our son (nb : it is a fact that many “city kids” have no idea where their food comes from, how it is produced and what it entails to eat locally and healthy).
I am not 100% sure that the dairy products are pasteurized, but I would be surprised that the local regulations allow the sale of super fresh milk without any conditions. But one thing is sure: it tastes good.
No need to say that another pleasant thing is local honesty. Many places sell their products without any supervision: you leave the money on an unattended bowl or plate, and you take what you bought, only. As much as it should sound normal (and taken for granted here) I can assure you this would not be the case everywhere, for instance in France. And as much as I hate generalizing, I sincerely appreciate this feeling of freedom and mutual trust.