The MilkLine is one of the countless movements of the international food trade, in this case milk, produced by Latvian farmers, made into cheese by a local factory with the help of an Italian expert, transported to the Netherlands, stored in a charming Dutch cheese warehouse to ripen, sold at the Utrecht market and finally eaten by Dutch citizens.
This map follows the milk from the udder of the cow to the plate of the consumer, by means of the people involved. All those involved were given a GPS device for a day: one of the days that they were somehow occupied with the movements of this dairy. Let us introduce you to these participants:
A farmer in Vidrizi, Latvia, master of inventive stable-building. He came to this region when the factory in Riga where he worked as an engineer failed to survive after the change of political systems. Starting with a few cows, he managed to become one of the bigger farmers, and a newer member of the famous “Pienene” farmers’ cooperative.
2.Ilga Grinberga and Aina Rudzite
The two magic sisters of jocular farming. They even manage to make their twenty-four cows laugh! And it is scientifically proved that this increases the amount and quality of the milk. They follow in the footsteps of their parents and have a truly ecological approach, leaving, for example, the horns on their cows. The beautiful herd of brown, black and white, black, brown and white cows is called together twice a day by their masters’ voice.
3.Martins and Zaiga Treimani
Farmers in Pociems, Latvia. Their farm has more than fifty cows that in summertime live in cow heaven: a variety of pastures, trees to shelter them from sun and rain, nice places to drink and good company. Farming has been in the family for generations, so they run the farm with instinctive, personal care.
One of the two milk collectors for the farmers cooperative, “Pienene”. Every morning at 4:00, Andis starts his round of 136 km to collect milk at 36 stops. The milk destined to go to the EU, nicknamed E-milk, goes in the front of the truck, the milk destined for the local consumption in the back, or the other way around.
The cooperative was founded in 1996. “Pienene” not only helps its farmers get a fairer and better price for milk, but also gives access to information about everything a dairy farmer would ever want to know.
The most fateful participant of the project, always subjected to the passions of complicated human and international trade, arriving in Europe with different names, different prices and different destinations. Because of this, Rigamont cheese has its own tricky ways of finding its way out of Latvia, depending on what the players in the cheese game decide for its future. Andzelo Frosio is the gifted Italian cheese-maker who introduced the special method of Parmesan style cheese-making that fits so well with the milk of those beautifully Latvian brown cows, for which he has a special passion. Henk Vonk is the Dutch cheese trader with an innovative vision of international trade. Mr. Vonk initiated the contact between Mr. Frozio and Limbazi Piens. Viesturs Krilovs, director of Limbazi Piens, the local milk factory, is a lightening conductor for all possible problems.
6.Dirk and Piet Vonk
These brothers are Henk Vonk’s nephews, and cheese has been in their blood for generations. Through their family contacts, they manage to sell the special cheese in the Netherlands. Dirk and Piet own the Vonk Cheese Wholesale Company, with its storage space packed with all the cheese ripening to its ultimate tastiness.
Open-air market salesman. He knows the tastes of every one of his customers, and always has them taste a piece before buying, managing to seduce each customer into happily purchasing his cheese. Mr. Veldhuijzen recently took over the family wholesale cheese business from his father, who taught him the refined theories of cheese ethics.
8.Leeuw Beijdorff and Marloes Straus
This gastronomic couple come by their food supplies every week at the Utrecht open air market. Being not only gourmet connoisseurs, they also have delicate tastes in enjoying landscape, so they then plan a cleverly complex, leisurely tour, by car, bike and foot, not forgetting to include the place that sells the best possible salted herring.
As a fan of both Italian food and cheese, she is one of Mr. Veldhuijzen’s regular customers. Happy to discover the possibilities of Rigamont, she will share with us one of her favorite pasta recipes and her favourite childhood memories of milk farming and cheese-making in Netherlands.
The Global Positioning System, an initiative of the American Department of Defense, is a technology with which you can always find your location on the basis of the radiographic signals of at least 3 of the 24 satellites that circle the earth. A device no bigger than a mobile phone can do the job. With a triangular (timing) measurement, the receiver determines its position on the earth and produces the participant's location. This method results in coordinates with an accuracy to within five or seven meters. The device used by the MILK project is capable of memorizing 10,000 different points, read every five seconds. It receives and stores the information. Afterwards, these points can be downloaded into a computer and you can then decide if and how you want to share the recorded locations and time codes with the rest of the world.
Special GPS-visualization software developed for Milk project by Marcus The, in collaboration with Esther Polak and Ieva Auzina. The aim of the visualization was to share GPS-information by showing as clearly as possible how, when and at what speed the movements through the landscape had taken place. In the privacy of their own homes, we showed the paths to each of the participants, and are happy to be able to share them with you. Finally, we would now like to invite you to enter the website, to meet all the nice people who drew the line on the Map.