"Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark."

~ Saying of the Gladdagh Gypsies of Galway

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Whole Foods: Milk

I grew up on 2% milk. I think there was a brief moment in time, during my college years, where if I did buy milk, it was skim milk - because I thought that was best for the waistline. Truth be told though, skim milk always seemed gross to me; it looks like water with a milky tint - ewww.

Over the past few years, I just started buying whole milk. I started this because a.) a lot of recipes I cooked with called for it and b.) my husband consumes enough milk to warrant us having our own milk cow and he likes whole milk to best. When I was prego, whole milk was also the only thing that gave me a brief moment of relief from the heartburn too. I am not a huge 'pour a glass of milk and drink it' kinda gal, but when I had that prego heartburn, I would literally stop at gas stations just to buy a little jug of milk and then chug it like it was going out of style!

So anyways, as I started to embark on the Whole/Real food journey, I was particularly struck by what I read about dairy in Nina Planck's book, real food. I always knew skim milk just wasn't right. This was a real eye opener for me. Milk is one of the most misleading products in the food market that gives people the perception they are ingesting something healthy. Unfortunately, just because you are drinking 'milk', doesn't mean it is healthy.

Our milk was usually Smith's brand, which is fairly local and sold at the local corner store down the street from us. But, once I discovered Hartzler's I made the switch. What I like about Hartzler's that is different from Smith's is their milk is non-homogenized and goes through Low-Temp Vat Pasteurization. And, there is cream on the top :) (Awesome side note: This totally grossed out my husband the first time he poured a glass and something plopped into his cup!) Since raw milk cannot be sold 'legally' in my state (which would be the #1 choice), Hartzler's Whole Milk is the second best option for us. Truth be told, I have never tired raw milk, but I'd be willing to if I had the chance.

Hartzler's is not 'organic' milk, and that is ok. Actually, it is better than organic milk. Whaaa? Yes, that is correct, it is better! People get too hung up on the term 'organic', and unfortunately, in today's age, you have to read beyond the marketing. Hartzler's milk comes from their cows that are pasture grazed as long as possible during the seasons. Once winter hits and pastures are not ample, they are moved over to a hay/silage diet. Silage isn't always the preferred diet but Hartzler's does note that they are completely Non-GMO! They do not inject any of their cows with growth hormones and there are no chemical pesticides or herbicides used on their farms. I recommend you check out their website; even if you don't live close enough to purchase Hartzler's for yourself, they have lots of educational information available.

So can you see that, while not 'certified organic', I'd take this any day versus an organic milk, that more than likely comes from a cow not living as happy a life* as a Hartzler cow? Organic milk is usually not from a grass-fed cow and is ultra pasteurized to maximize shelf life - which in turns, allows for it to travel across country. *Note, I didn't say all cows producing for organic companies have shitty lives, but I didn't say they all live in happy green fields with unlimited acess to lush green grass, either!
Things you want to look for when choosing your milk is a brand that doesn't allow growth hormones (rBGH / rBST) -- this link speaks for brands without rBGH -- allows their cows to be pasture grazed, doesn't feed GMO's and is closest to it's natural state [raw milk] as possible. As I already mentioned above, whole milk is the closest to natural state in terms of choosing between Whole/2%/1%/Skim. Hartzler's, offering non-homogenized, low-temp pasteurization makes their milk even one step closer to the milks natural state! Do your research to find out of you have a milk supplied in your area that offers this! This website may help.

Bonuses for me, with Hartzler's, is that they are a local farm so I am supporting local business/farmers. They supply their milk in glass bottles, and, among many other reasons, this is earth friendly and allows us to recycle. Sometimes I hold onto the bottles for other uses, sometimes I return them to their Ice Cream Shoppe for a credit, which I in turn use to purchase more :)

This is truly just the tip of the iceberg on Milk - sadly. But for those interested, I hope it has provoked enough interest for you to take it one step further when making the decision on which milk to buy. And if you are brave enough, check out where the milk in your fridge right now is from! (Way back before my Real Food Journey, I tried this with a gallon in our fridge and it was from Washington State. Really? We have so many dairy farms right here near us! Why would I want milk from all the way across the country!?)

This post is linked up at Pennywise Platter, Monday Mania & Freaky Friday

All opinions on this blog post are 100% mine. I was not compensated by any companies mentioned, for review of their product.


Tami said...

I milked cows for awhile when I was younger. Turned me off of milk eventually but the farmer I worked for pulled a glass of fresh cold raw out of the tank once. I'd NEVER tasted anything so good!

suzanne said...

Hi Allison

So lovely to read your post. The trouble we are facing in South Africa at the moment is that GMO foods are a big thing. There are no major laws out so heaven knows what the farmers are producing for us. We have our little orchard as you know and I try really hard to eat from it. I only wish now that I could keep a cow. I would love one to get our milk from everymorning...Have to work on that one.

Have a great day

Susan said...

I only bake with whole milk, but my husband does like skim and I have to say, rice milk is my choice on my cereal. You are so knowledgeable and present such interesting arguments --I truly enjoy reading your posts. XOXO

Kim said...

Something to think about. Funny the whole organic thing ~ all our animals are raised like the were long ago but not organic. Feed is so expensive, I don't know how anyone affords to feed "organic feed" to their animals to get the organic label.

Melissa Naasko said...

When the whole world is yelling low-fat from the top of the mountains, buying whole milk can seem like you are buying rat poison. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

I need to find a better source of milk, I've just been buying big-name organic whole milk from the regular grocery store.

I've noticed recently that that store keeps selling out of organic whole milk while there's plenty left of the skim and 2% - I can't decide if more people are realizing that full-fat dairy is healthy, or if the store just stocks more low-fat because it's more popular.

Jen said...

Allison, This is great! I can never get enough of the milk posts. And you are absolutely correct . . . next to raw, your brand sounds like the best you can get. Raw is good, but most of what I use raw milk for gets slightly warmed anyway. So a non-homogenized low pasteurized milk is essentially what I use after it's been slightly heated. The big bad wolf is the homogenization from CAFO dairy eating grains all day that are loaded with hormones and antibiotics. Blech! Thanks for the great post.

Mary said...

We've been buying raw for almost a year now and it really is different! When we aren't able to get that, I buy organic whole milk, but it isn't even close to the same thing. I love that you have found such a great source close to home. It isn't always easy!

katiegirl said...

That's great you're able to find such great milk! I wish raw was legal. I've got a dairy goat (and my hubby strains his milk to break up the fat LOL) but during the off-season I wish we had a dairy like that around here.

Hartzler's Dairy said...

Hello, my name is Tiffany and I work at Hartzler's Dairy! I just wanted to say thank you for the article. I wanted to include this on our website and/or Facebook page. We think it is so important for people to be educated on their food choices and would love to share this!

Unknown said...

Hi Tiffany! I'd be happy for you to share this :) Thanks! Allison

Unknown said...

This is a great summary of all the issues surrounding choosing milk. I became interested in raw milk after we got our own cow (wrong way around, I know) and we've been drinking it for nearly a year. We can't buy/sell raw milk either, so I often wonder what we would drink if we didn't have Bella, now that I know what is wrong with supermarket milk, but I would be looking for something as close to what you described as possible.