I first took notice of it in the Netherlands.
Before heading to work, my brother, his girlfriend and I were breaking our fast in the usual fashion; with bread, spread, coffee, tea, juice and whatnot. When it was time to put some miffy in the tiffy (gotta love the Brits for this one) my brother noticed something interesting. Unusual things written on one side of the milks packaging.
Besides the standard information on which company produces the product and what its nutrient properties are, there also happened to be some facts about the farm from which the milk came. The short paragraph almost poetically depicted how their cows enjoy the open meadows on a daily basis and how, even in lock-down, they get their share of sunshine and starlight as there are windows on the barn’s roof. Fresh air and grass year-round. Cow heaven.
That was not all. This work of art ended with an invitation:
Come, visit our farm. See how we milk our cows...
Wow. Great. Never saw that before (meaning: the invitation) on packaging. We were quite enthusiastic after reading all this and even considered visiting the farm. In the end, though, it didn’t happen. But hey, no use in crying over spilled milk, right?
It happened again, a week or two ago. My usual 10 minute visit of a nearby store was prolonged by the first thing you stumble upon in the fruit department. Tropical fruit. A sticker. An invitation. Virtual visit. I normally avoid buying stuff from other continents, but this made me go for it without hesitation.
I sat down the next day, scrolled across the farm to see how they do this and that, listening to producers how everything about their production is A-OK. Fine by me. Surely they wouldn’t put themselves on the spot just to gain some extra bucks…am I being naive or trustful?
Trustful…Trust. That’s what it’s all about! And it’s a two way street. I have to trust them to play by the book, the same as they have to trust me to buy their products instead of a cheaper alternative coming from far far away. Of course relationships cannot only be based on trust, but trust is a good place to start.
Personalised invitations on food packaging might seem like a new thing. Consumers have, however, been invited to farms before through different initiatives, led by farmers, companies or even governments. All with the purpose of showing the common folk where their food comes from and in some cases, to encourage consumers to buy their food straight from farmers. And that is why such initiatives are good. If you see, then you know, and you trust…more…I guess. 
If there’s a farm close by, pay them a visit. Smell the dung. Feel the breeze as barn swallows pass over your head. Watch how cows patiently chew the cud. Listen to the rustling leaves of the nearby orchard. Squeeze the damp soil between your fingers. The milk tastes so much better after all that.
Written by: Aljaž Malek