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The Milk System

A documentary by Andreas Pichler



The equation associating milk, health and nutrition is becoming increasingly controversial. The Milk System is a provocative and surprising journey that dismantles our ideas and reveals the uncomfortable truths behind the dairy industry.

There’s one thing milk stands for — health. It’s seen as natural and nutrient-rich. This is exactly what makes it so very attractive for the market. But is it really that healthy? We set out to take a critical look at the milk system. Along the way we’ll meet farmers, dairy owners, politicians, lobbyists, NGOs and scientists. Each has their own views on the value and consequences of an industry with world-wide impact. Whether in Europe, Asia or Africa, milk is the allegorical model of streamlined-for-growth global food production and its consequences. The film uncovers surprising truths behind the milk system. Who profits at whose cost? Does the system have a future and are there alternatives? A cinematic journey across many continents that deals with preconceptions and brings solutions to light.

Director’s note – Andreas Pichler

As I tended cows with the farmers in the mountains as I child, I never asked myself why cows give milk. It was entirely natural like apples hanging from trees and water flowing in the mountain river.

Today, though, milk, like no other food product, symbolises the insanity of our «modern» methods of food production. What was once a much-romanticised and mythically pure natural product has now mostly degenerated into an industry product brutally traded and sold worldwide. The relationship between people, animals and milk has changed radically. With this film, I want to know how this development in milk production affects the animals, the environment, politics, and, not least, us. Is there really no alternative to ever-larger and ever more global? I meet farmers who either run their farms small-scale and organically-orientated, like Alexander in South Tirol, or conventional farmers like Peder in Denmark, for whom everything is simply «business». In Baden-Württemberg, a family farm struggles for survival whilst lobbyists in Brussels only represent the few large-scale farmers. European cattle breeders proudly tell me about their turbo-cows that produce up to 70 litres of milk a day, whilst as a farmer in Senegal you can be happy to sell 2-3 litres in one go. But there’s an argument to make for industry, too. It’s grown out of the system and is indispensable as an interface between breeder and consumer. It would be a great achievement to make the industry rethink. It’s an important issue, because current milk production methods are unsustainable in the long term.

Massive investments of public money support a system which inflicts grave and unforeseeable damage upon the environment, animals and people—a system which will affect us and our descendants for a long time to come. A system that produces a raw product whose nutritional value is put into question by the industrial methods used in its production. A system whose production methods protect neither the farmer nor our countryside, but only the industry itself.


The Milk System, Andreas Pichler, 2017, 93 min, Germany, Italy, Spanish subtitles (trailer)

Presentation of the cycle by Gustavo Duch (Soberanía Alimentaria), projection and colloquium with Jeromo Aguado (rancher and farmer).

Andreas Pichler was born in Bolzano (Italy) in 1967. After gaining a degree at the TV and Film School ZeLIG in Bolzano, he studied Film and Culture at the University of Bologna and Philosophy at the Open University in Berlin. Professionally Andreas Pichler has chosen the field of TV and cinema documentaries. Many of his works, where he acted as author, director and/or producer, have been co-produced by different European TV-channels such as ZDF, ARTE, ARD, RAI, ORF, YLE and were presented internationally. Today Andreas Pichler works as a director and producer in Italy, Germany and Austria.




This activity is part of Alimentum

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