UPDATE: Sadly, the shop, Cibus Ars, where the vending machine is located, is closing down and the milk vending machine has been removed.
7 August 2014.
Lunigiana’s first vending machine for raw organic milk has opened in Aulla. The milk from a herd of around 60 cows comes from the farm, Natura Latte, in the the hills of Monti, near Licciana Nardi. It is run by Gianpiero Cagni, previously a producer of Parmigiano-Reggiano in Reggio Emilia, who moved to Lunigiana a year ago, drawn by the lack of pollution and an environment ideal for the rearing of organic livestock. The farm also produces some interesting types of cheese and yoghurt.
The self-dispensing machine is located at Cibus Ars (2a Largo Samuri off Viale Resistenza), the food shop that sells not only fresh local fruit and vegetables, but also a variety of other products such as local bread, cheese, pasta and more. The dispenser is replenished daily and is open every day between 09:00 and 20:00. A litre of milk costs €1,20 and you need to bring your own container or to buy a reusable glass bottle costing 20 centesimi, which is available on site.
Photo courtesy of Coldiretti Toscana
At the inauguration of the dispensing machine, the interest in the raw milk was so great that over 200 litres were consumed in a couple of hours. Many of the younger generation had never tasted raw milk, while the older generation were encouraged to taste it by nostalgic memories of an age when raw milk was delivered weekly by a shepherd.
Raw milk is milk that has not been submitted to a heat treatment such as pasteurisation, which is aimed at killing off both good and bad micro organisms. The risk from the bad micro organisms is very limited, and concerns mainly susceptible groups such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and the immune compromised. Many traditional types of cheese such as parmesan have, of course, always been produced using raw milk.
The problem with heat treatments, designed to control the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis at the beginning of the last century, is that they also kill the milk’s flavour, resulting in all milk tasting the same. The taste of milk from different breeds of cattle is as varied as the breeds themselves. Flavour is also influenced by the pasture that the animals graze and the seasons. Besides tasting better, raw milk is said to be more nutritious – higher in vitamins, healthy enzymes and ‘good bacteria’ – than heat-treated milk.
Selling raw milk through vending machines has been legal in Italy since the beginning of 2007, and dispensers are widely available throughout the country. There is even a Milk Map to help you find the nearest vending machine although, at the time of writing, the Aulla dispenser was not yet listed. Strict safety controls are enforced to ensure no contamination takes place.