I grew up on a small family farm in Southern Indiana. We had the usual mix of animals and crops: cows, pigs, chickens (and horses until Dad could afford a tractor in the early '40s), wheat, corn, hay and sometimes soybeans, plus Mom's vegetable garden, and a grape arbor. We all drank milk, most milk was sold to a local dairy that send a truck around to pick up the cans that were kept cool in a tiny building called the "spring house" which was, in fact built over a natural spring. When I was about ten the U.S. government issued a law that all milk sold commercially must be pasteurized. The local newspaper an article about it explaining that raw milk was associated with tuberculosis and that cows producing milk must be tested at certain intervals.
My parents tried to be "modern" in their farming. They belonged to the Farm Bureau and they read pamphlets issued by the state Agricultural Agency. My mother decided to take no chances with our milk even if the cows were tested. She began buying pasteurized milk for us to drink and for cooking. I remember hating the taste of the pasteurized milk and I have not had a glass of milk since. I do not even like milk or cream in my coffee. It tasted wrong and I wanted to assert my taste.
Yesterday I read an article in the current New Yorker Magazine about the fight mainly, in California, for the right to produce and sell raw milk. Apparently there is a strong raw foods movement that includes meat, vegetables and fruit but which centers on milk. Those who consume and produce raw milk declare it tastes far better than any processed milk. Some have been willing to pay up to $40 a gallon on what is amounts to a black market. The FDA seems to be waging a war to shut down the few producers and distributors of raw milk -- and other raw foods as well. Many see this is more Big Brother-ism and I'm inclined to agree.
So much of our food is bland, tasteless, and fruits are especially disappointing because it's nearly impossible to find truly ripe fruit anywhere. I have a serious sweet tooth and clearly remember the joy of strawberries from the patch, ripe peaches and plums and even grapefruit (when I visited in Florida) that were sweet. I'm not going to seek out raw milk to see if it's much better because it's been so long since I've had any kind of milk except in cooked dishes that I have forgotten the taste. But I'm always on the side of individual rights. Milk is not subversive, milk is our first and most basic food. I think we should have a choice between whole, skim, 2% and 4%.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!