I love dairy. Milk, ice cream, heavy cream, yoghurt, and especially, cheese. And frankly, I am tired of all the vilification cow’s milk and its products are receiving these days. Ok, let me clarify. The cow’s milk (and its resulting, yummy products) I am referring to and consuming is not the plastic jug you pick up from Speedway on the way home from work. That white product is a sad, indigestible mockery of what milk should be. I’m not referring to the paper cartons of frozen sugar and preservative-laden ice commonly accepted as ice cream in your grocer’s freezer. Nor am I talking about the iridescent, candy-filled, or the 90-calorie, dessert-mimicking substances laughingly called yoghurt lined up on dairy shelves. I will only address in passing that boxed gelatinous yellow rectangle that is meant to resemble cheese. I am referring to REAL milk. The kind in a heavy glass bottle, the cream an impenetrable seal on the top that I have to shake the dickens out of just to pour. The kind that has that sweet essence of pasture grasses, there, just barely there, at the end of a satisfying draught. The milk that leaves me satisfied and satiated.
My family buys and drinks Hartzler’s Dairy milk almost exclusively (Unless the store is out, and then we “settle” for Snowville, a great product, but packed in a carton). And we buy it whole. Unadulterated, minimally processed, all its fat and nutrients intact.
“Oh, the horrors! All the saturated fat! You let your daughter drink that? All those calories! My thighs! My arteries! Egad, I can feel my cholesterol sky-rocketing!” To all this I have to say, “Please. Educate yourself. Show a little food-snobbery and demand for yourself and those around you a better, satisfying product.”
Let me tell you, briefly, why we buy the milk we buy (and the ice cream, yoghurt, and cheese…). I will also provide a few extremely enlightening and useful links to aid you in your decision.
1. We try very hard to support local businesses. Hartzler’s Dairy is located in Wooster, OH, about 3 hours from here. While 3 hours may seem a bit far, Hartzler’s is the nearest dairy offering a steady supply of what we are willing to buy and consume.
2. We like to use products in as close to their naturally-created state as possible. Whole, minimally-processed, artificial ingredient and preservative-free.
Why? In the case of milk, I offer you the following:
1. These dairy cows are pasture-grass fed. The milk they produce is dense in nutrients and essential fatty acids. We buy it full fat and non-homogenized. Many of the nutrients in milk are fat soluble, meaning if you take away the fat, your body is unable to absorb these nutrients. Homogenizing milk breaks down its fat globules, which prevents the proteins in milk from being digested properly. When these proteins do not pass through proper digestion, they enter the bloodstream and cause allergic reactions and intolerance. By leaving that fat whole (and pasteurizing it at lower temperatures), your body can break down and utilize the proteins properly. Destroying the fat globules can also lead to the hardening of arteries.
2. No artificial hormones or antibiotics are given to these cows. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS, a nasty, hormone-related disease that has caused me a host of health problems and infertility. Although no one has been able to pinpoint the cause of this devastating condition, I have growing suspicions that there is a direct correlation to the amount of artificial hormones and antibiotics I ingested earlier in life. As the mother of a beautiful and healthy young girl, I refuse to fill her body with substances I feel will have a long-lasting negative impact on her health.
3. Real, whole milk (and other natural ,wholesome, full-fat foods) leaves the body satiated and satisfied for longer periods of time than their low-fat counterparts. Ingesting the fat helps to stabilize metabolism as it releases insulin more slowly and digests slowly. Low-fat foods release lactose (sugar) more quickly, causing spikes in insulin (an especially concerning issue for those of us suffering from PCOS).
4. Drinking milk from pastures cows is better for the environment. Spend any time near a factory farm and its shit ponds, and you will know exactly what I mean. Good stewardship is everything, the reason why we make the food decisions we do as a family. The cruel conditions factory-farmed dairy cows (or any factory farm livestock) are subjected to are unconscionable and unacceptable. We have the power and responsibility as consumers to demand the best from our purveyors.
5. It tastes really, really good. There is simply no comparison in flavor between Hartzler Dairy milk and the sad, watery liquid sold as milk by “other purveyors”. We don’t sit around drinking huge glasses of milk everyday (Though I am tempted to with Hartzler’s chocolate milk. It’s just that delicious!). Everything in moderation is truly a phrase to live by. But if I am going to add a splash to my coffee, drink a cold glass with my cookies, or make a batch of homemade ice cream, whole, natural milk is my choice, really my only choice. If I had no access to such a beautiful product, I would go without.
Sooooo...here we are...the first week of 2012, and I don't even know how or where to begin. I guess at the beginning. The past several months have been quite the whirlwind. So many changes have taken place, some good (I think, though it's still too early to tell), some really rough. I kinda feel like some one's pinning me to the wall and flinging Chinese Stars at me, with more than a few of them hitting the mark.
Well, as Sister Maria wisely said, "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." I am currently looking for said window, and preferably one that won't suddenly slam shut on my fingers. I also know that this window won't magically appear; I will have to find it.
For what, precisely, should I be looking? Where should I be looking? Will there be good tacos there? (I'm only partially kidding.)
Ok, so, game plan time. I have (sort of) hit on what could be (or not) an interesting starting point. We're gonna travel the world! Take in this sights and smells! Experience new cuisines! Well, probably nothing so extravagant (maybe someday, I hope), but we are hitting the road, nonetheless. My daughter and I are embarking on a series of food and culture adventures, with grand exploratory and gustatory goals. Then we'll write about it, and you'll read it, hopefully. Getting a child's perspective on a culinary experience should be entertaining, if nothing else.
First up: Cleveland, one of my favorite in-region cities. I'm in the planning stage right now, but will update when we've finalized our plan. "Cleveland?" "Really?" "It's rusty and the river's on fire!" Um, yes,and no. I hope to convince you otherwise. We are also looking at Indianapolis, Chicago, Charleston, Austin, Portland, Birmingham (yes, in AL), and NOLA. Don't know if we'll hit them all, but here's trying.
In between I'll be posting other food thoughts, ruminations, recipes, dishes, etc. Feel free to comment, but know that if you're mean to me, I'll shiv you. I totally will. Ha. Scared ya, didn't I? No really, critique away!