delicious discourse

what i wish for you – real milk

Posted in whim by delicious:discourse on March 13, 2009

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Nina Planck’s Real Food was recommended to me by a woman I know with the introduction of, “She will make you feel great about drinking whole milk.” Of course, I was intrigued. I knew the importance of eating milk products and meat from grassfed cows having already read Omnivore’s Dilemma and was well-versed in the concept and philosophy of eating locally as well as organically. But I did not know the benefits of drinking whole milk (and whole milk products), which in a nutshell, is milk as nature intends it to be.

Humans have consumed the milk of animals for over 11,000 years, which was when sheep and goats were domesticated in the Near East. It is believed that animals were first domesticated for their milk, not for their meat. Animal husbandry started with sheep and goats because they were small, easy to handle, and rugged – they could handle rough terrain. Think salty, crumbling feta from sheep’s milk in Greece and creamy chevre from goat’s milk in Provence – both cheese have been around since ancient times. Even then the French and the Greek new how to eat well. People began to milk the larger, more productive cow about 8,500 years ago in Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq. Even though cows are more delicate than sheep and goats, they are the creme de la creme (no pun intended) when it comes to milk.

Interestingly enough, and it makes sense, historically milk was never a luxury. It was seen as an important source of essential nutrients and could enrich the poorest diet. “For peasants, the cow kept the grocery bill down and the doctor away,” says Planck. No matter how poor you were, if you had a cow and some grass, you would always be rich in milk that could be used to make cream, butter, cheese, and yogurt. Milk is a very important source of protein, fat, calcium, and vitamin B. The irony of milk today, is it is a luxury to drink milk from grassfed cows, and even more of a luxury to find raw milk. And by luxury I mean extremely hard to find and most likely more expensive, gallon for gallon, than what you will pay for industrial milk.

Critics of milk and dairy say that it has powerful growth hormones, cholesterol, lots of fat, allergenic bovine proteins, insecticides, antibiotics, viruses, and bacteria. What the critics fail to say is that almost all their grievances against dairy are found only in industrial, milk, not real milk that is raw and from cows that feed on grass not treated with chemicals. Real milk is from happy cows that are not given growth hormones to increase their milk production or from cows that are fed corn that makes them sick (because they are ruminants and are meant to eat grass) and have to be given antibiotics.

As for cholesterol in milk, what you want to avoid is oxidized or damaged cholesterol (oxidized low-density lipoprotein), which causes heart disease. Industrial powdered milk is created by spray-drying, a process that creates oxidized and damaged cholesterol. Powdered milk is commonly found in processed foods and nonfat dried milk is added to industrial skim and low-fat milk. The better dairies will not use powdered milk to make lowfat milk, they will simply take whole fresh milk and skim the cream off the top, but your best bet is just to drink whole milk, it tastes better too.

As for the fats that are in milk, the fats are good fats. Our bodies need fats. Our brains are mostly fats, and fat adds flavor. The butterfat in milk helps the body digest the protein in milk and saturated fats are necessary for bones to absorb the calcium in milk. The cream in milk contains the essential vitamin A and D that are fat-soluble (are absorbed by the intestinal tract with the aid of fats). Only 10% of the valuable calcium in milk can be absorbed without vitamin D. That being said, it is required by law that synthetic vitamin A and D be added to skim and low-fat milk. And if that wasn’t enough, you will want the glycosphingolipids, fats that protect from gastrointestinal infection, that are in whole milk.

Traditional, real milk is better for the you and for the cows it comes from and it tastes infinitely better. Happy, healthy cows, means a happier, healthier, more satisfied you. It is a direct example of good karma. And I don’t know about you, but there is so much bad energy in the world, I am going to take the good and cherish it wherever it may be found.

Organic milk is better than industrial milk. It means the cows have not been fed synthetic growth hormones and that they have been fed organic grain, corn, and soybeans. Organic milk is still pasteurized (Heating raw milk to a certain temperature in order to kill bacteria, but it also makes the milk more travel-friendly and extends its shelf life 2 to 3 weeks. However, pasteurization does not kill all bacteria and it kills good bacteria too.) and most of it is homogenized (A process that uniformly blends the cream throughout the milk, which would normally rise to the top. Homogenization has made milk more travel-friendly as well because the cream and milk do not separate intransit. It also evenly spread the sludge of dead white blood cells and bacteria that form after pasteurization that would otherwise form at the botton of the bottle.), but it is definitely a better option than cows fed corn, grain, and soybeans grown with chemicals and that have been pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. However, the best option is traditional, real milk from grassfed cows that is nonhomogenized. Raw milk (unpasteurized) is ideal, but there are strict rules when it comes to farmers selling raw milk.

However, if you live in Texas, you are in luck because we have Remember When Dairy. Located in Yantis, Texas, Remember When’s cows are grassfed and given grain just when they are being milked. They offer skim, low-fat, and whole milk that are only lightly pasteurized. Both their low-fat and whole milk are nonhomogenized, meaning the cream is on top and the bottle needs good shake before you pour yourself a glass or take a swig. In Austin, their milk and butter can be found at Central Market and the Whole Foods on South Lamar. They are also have a booth at the Downtown Austin Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a selection of yogurt, ice cream, buttermilk, butter (which has the most unbelievable smell), cream, and milk. Last week they had chocolate milk. Recently after sending an email inquiry to the owners, who responded by the end of the day, I found out that you can buy raw milk directly from the farm. In my 24 years, I have never had raw milk and I can’t wait to try it. My only wish is that it wasn’t such a luxury and more people could enjoy it. I know it will be wonderful, tasty, and nourishing.

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