Thursday, May 18, 2006

A lunchtime conversation

May 4, 2006

The other day at lunch, two of my colleagues got into a discussion over spoiled milk.

“When my milk starts to go bad, I pour it in the bathtub,” said Natalya, from Russia. “It makes the skin feel like silk and it’s really good for the hair.”

“But it’s really hard to get out of your hair,” said Janna, an ethnic Russian from Bishkek. “Whenever articles write about putting milk in your hair, they also include instructions on how to get it out. There is too much fat and it stays there.”

Janna told us how her grandmother lives near a dairy factory in Kant, a town outside Bishkek. After skimming off the fat for cream, they give away the remainder for free. Neighbors can come by and pick it up, which they use to feed their pigs.

Sometimes her grandmother will collect a jug or two of it and give it to her for use in her hair.

I told them that in the U.S., skimmed milk sells for more than milk with fat in it.

“Then we can start a business!” Natalya joked. “We’ll collect the free skimmed milk from the dairy factory and somehow export it to America!”

I found it interesting how one product can have such different values, uses and perceptions in two different places.

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