A sign saying “Sorry this item is temporarily out of stock” would normally bring a groan as we scout the supermarket aisles for a must-have ingredient. I’m sure you know the feeling!

But the past month has brought a different reaction entirely - and I’m sure you feel exactly the same way - when we’ve come to the dairy cabinet and found our favourite local milk brands missing from the shelves.

The response from shoppers all over the country to the desperate plight of dairy farmers whose income has been slashed overnight by major processors Murray- Goulburn and Fonterra has been dramatic and heartwarming. Just yesterday my favourite brand (non- homogenised to make it even more special) and by some measure the costliest on the shelves was down to the last two or three bottles - so the response is still holding after a month.

It helps that TV personalities and social media campaigns have taken up the cause but what really matters is that we as mindful consumers stay true to it as time goes by.

In all the media noise, the message that’s stayed with me was a Victorian dairy farmer’s comment that the support from consumers was sending a message to supermarkets that it was worthwhile putting a sustainable price on milk. The supermarkets have argued that as people are buying “the $1 milk” they’re happy to continue supplying it. And therein lies the rub. The farmer, Marian McDonald, said she didn’t blame consumers “looking for a bargain” but cheap milk would end the industry. And unlike cigarettes, it didn’t come with any warning that if we continued to buy cheap milk one day there just wouldn’t be any fresh milk left.

We only need to remind ourselves what Chinese consumers are prepared to pay for fresh, safe, untainted milk for their children to realise just how valuable and crucial this industry is for our country - and our families! We can’t just lay all the blame with supermarkets although they’ve certainly played their part. Really, the choice is ours.

With food quality so much in focus these days, we have more original research to put your way this month. Peter Dingle PhD continues his exploration of the role low level inflammation is playing in the epidemic of chronic illness facing our society in “Live Longer and Happier”; Jenni Madison debunks the myth that coconut oil is bad for you because it is a saturated fat in “Coconut - a Healthy Fat”, plus some delectable recipes to get your teeth into; naturopath Lyn Craven shows how to boost the health of the nervous system; yoga teacher Jen Kaz offers some down to earth advice about how to go about achieving a happier, more fulfilling life; acupuncturist Olivier LeJus shares insights from a recent trip to Japan and David Arenson offers us a lovely piece on the transformative power of the breath. Just the title “Aloha Breathing” seems to convey that sense of peace we’re all seeking.

So let’s make June a month for mindful choices to show our support for all the great food local producers put on our tables.

Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.

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