Happy Cows: Milk from the Azores Islands

sao-miguel-acoresLiving in the rhythm of nature, the cows on the island of Sao Miguel live the life every cow dreams of. The fresh meadows, natural springs, and endless green pastures make it an ideal location to produce some of the best dairy in the country. The island of Sao Miguel is known as the green island and with only 5% of the total land used for commercial and residential use, it leaves a lot of space for agriculture purposes. The region has always been recognized for its high-quality dairy products, cheeses and of course the wide variety of cows that exists here. There is a saying that there are more cows than people in the Azores, playing a key role in the economic viability of the region. The price of dairy is something that not only affects farmers but the regional economy as well since farmers cant expand or hire more employees if the price continuously falls.Leite-de-PastagemOne of the ways the Azores has been able to hedge the effects of a low price dairy market is by producing an even higher quality milk line. The Terra Nostra brand which was founded in the 1950’s on the island of Sao Miguel is the pioneer of this new milk program. The term “Terra Nostra” has always played an important role in Azorean history with some of the first books on Azorean culture and lifestyle over 4 centuries ago referring to this term, which means “Our Land”. Originating as a cheese company producing a high-quality export from the region, the brand has expanded into various products which now are a staple in Portuguese homes. The happy cow’s milk program which began in the last decade on the island of Sao Miguel follows some of the highest standards while ensuring that the cows that are part of the program are allowed to graze freely 365 days a year.dreamstime_m_84078The happiness and well-being of the cows are of utmost importance to the farmers in the program, and they ensure that the cows have access to the fresh ocean air and surrounding green pastures every day at their leisure. The benefit of this to the product have seemed to resonate well the local population. The brand has experienced a jolt of growth since launching its high-quality dairy products and many tourists make a point of stopping off at the local market just to pick some up. It is a rich, but light tasting milk that comes in various percentages.Beautiful view over green hills, meadows and mountains of Sao Miguel Island in Azores, Portugal The farm to table approach is very popular in the region and it not uncommon to visit one of the homes of the gentleman farmers and to be asked what type of milk you would like to drink? Whether it was a Jersey cow, Guernsey cow or from one of the many other dairy cattle that exist in the region.shutterstock_724560337.jpgWhile driving in the countryside of almost any of the 9 islands in the Azores it is hard to miss the cattle grazing on the healthy green grass. It is often said that the only traffic jams in the Azores are when the cows are moving from field to field. This is a timeless process where one of the farmers will herd the collection of cows from one field to another, as they march in single file as if they have the route memorized. This is a great sight to admire and is one of the many experiences of old the world European living in a modern island setting.  vacasaomiguel

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