THE LOCAL FOOD
What Is the Local Food Controversy?
As Romania exited the Soviet bloc in 1989 and began integrat-
ing with western Europe, it returned the land comprising its
collective farms to its owners prior to collectivization (or their
heirs). As the country transitioned towards a market economy,
the region of Transylvania did the unexpected regarding milk.
Instead of relying on inexpensive milk produced by modern
and distant farms, they developed a market for local milk and
a special reverence for traditional farming methods. Local
milk was valued more not simply because it was thought to
be of higher quality, but because it represented a traditional
culture Transylvania did not want to see wither in the wake of
globalization. This culture has a long tradition of rearing live-
stock, and some people suspect (due to their high rates of lac-
tose tolerance in adulthood) the Transylvanians were among
the first to consume sheep milk.
Instead of adopting modern machinery to cut and bale hay
from large tracts of land quickly, farmers grasped their hand-
held rakes and made hay as their ancestors did hundreds of
years ago, hay they would then transport with a horse and cart
to a barn attic. A farm of only eight acres and a few milking
cows is typical, and though the system is inefficient by modern
standards, it provides about 60 percent of the country's milk.