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About organic milk. March 29, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. As a lifelong organic gardener and devotee, I try to buy organic whenever I can. And milk is one of those products that falls into the “not only should but better buy it” categories. After reading for years that conventionally produced milk is laden with antibiotics and estrogen-rich Bovine Growth Hormone in addition to the usual pesticides, herbicides, bacteriacides, and fungicides, I have anted up the extra bucks every time we buy milk.

But what a pain. And I’m not talking about a pain in the wallet here, but about the fact that nobody seems to sell organic milk products in less than half-gallon sizes. If you’re like us and use milk principally in coffee and tea, it would be nice to be able to buy quarts of it so it didn’t hog so much refrigerator space. At least it doesn’t go bad, no matter how long it takes to use up one of those half-gallons, because it’s ultra-pasteurized.

Now, imagine my dismay the other day when I was doing a little background research for a book I’m currently editing on healthy foods for pregnancy and saw that ultra-pasteurization destroys pretty much any health benefits in food. Well, great. The authors recommended raw milk, which is full of healthy digestion-boosting bacteria, vitamins, and other nutrients. And living in Pennsylvania as we do, we’re lucky enough to have farms that sell raw milk within easy driving distance. I have bought it a number of times, and yes, it’s delicious. But.

But what? But, it’s only sold in gallons where I live. Now, it takes me and our friend Ben a long time to work our way through a half-gallon, and a bit of effort to make room for it in our always-packed fridge. Imagine trying to make room for a gallon of natural, unpasteurized milk, then using it all before it sours? For the two of us, that’s not terribly practical, to say the least. Fortunately, we have chickens and outdoor cats who are very happy to drink sour milk, but still. I suppose the ideal solution would be to find other people who’d be willing to split a (ridiculously inexpensive) gallon of farm-fresh raw milk with us every week. I’d be happy to drive over and pick it up. But we don’t know any people like this. So what’s the best answer?

Frankly, I don’t know. I’d welcome reader input on this! And yes, yes, of course I could make yogurt and yogurt cheese with the extra milk. Assuming I had time to do that every week. Assuming we could eat all that yogurt and cheese every week. Assuming… sigh. So please, give me your best thoughts on this. I love the idea of supporting local farms. I’d love to be able to find quarts of organic milk. I wonder about the real detriments of ultra-pasteurization. And I hate wasting good milk!

         ‘Til next time,