Thursday, May 10, 2012

Drinking milk

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%.

3 comments:

Bev Sykes said...

I'm with you on the taste of fruit (though having grown up in the city, I don't know from the from-the-cow milk). We are fortunate to have a wonderful farmer's market here in Davis (it was just named the 2nd best in the country) and getting fruit that tastes like fruit is easy (you just can't get fresh strawberries in the wintertime, of course!)

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Got Milk? A recent ad campaign slogan -- remember? Milk is not really milk anymore. I know the real milk, like you, and it is completely different than today's so-called milk. Unfortunately the milk industry lobbies not to let us enjoy that sweet rich taste -- so folks like you and I don't drink it anymore. Got Milk? Nope!

zippiknits said...

The best milk came from my grandmother's five little Guernseys.

My parents bought milk from a farmer when we lived even further out into the country than where my mother's small farm was. That milk tasted good and smelled wonderful. We also bought goat's milk from a neighbor when we lived on our own farm.

I hope that our farmers don't lose the battle raging here in Cali.

And cities here want us to drink re-filtered sewer water? They can't get everything back out of it! They are crazy.