Thursday, March 19, 2009

Milk - It Does A Body Good

I grew up on a tobacco and beef cattle farm so we did not milk. We had several family members that did milk and it is a highly overrated activity involving getting up way too early and having an aching back all the time. We rarely drank fresh milk or made our own butter. My brother and I grew up in thrall with margerine which starting taking over butter when I was a little kid. Then, according to changing customs and tv marketing campaigns, the prevailing wisdom was that only poor uneducated people made their own butter. Just like only poor uneducated people breastfed. My, how things have changed.

For a couple of years now we have been drinking only non rBGH enhanced milk at the Basilica. rBgh is Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, a Monsanto invention given to cows to increase milk production. Monsanto is the company that practically owns the rights to seeds the world over and everything other thing that juices up production of either plants or animals. Most of these practices have a high moral, physical and environmental cost, including chemical runoff of pasture land into public water supplies, stressing of animals by overloading them with chemicals for production and rapid growth and depleting their ability to fight disease and illness. Japan, the European Union and Australia have all banned use of this product in cattle raised in their countries due to perceived health risks to both humans and animals.

Milk that is rBGH-free is not usually labelled. There are all kinds of political and lobby issues about whether labels can contain this information since Monsanto feels that labeling milk as rBGH-free gives the message that rBGH is a bad thing. Since the FDA, which we all know has our best interests at heart, has not officially said that it's a bad thing, they claim that there are no recognized issues. There is a ton of good information on rBGH here, here, and here.

Because of the labeling issues, it can be difficult to ascertain what grocers actually offer. Kroger, Wal-Mart and Costco have all officially declared that they will not sell rBGH enhanced milk but you won't see it advertised anywhere in their stores. Starbucks uses only non rBGH products. I recently sent an email to ValuMarket, a local grocery chain here in Louisville. They are fanatics about local products and international food items, making their stock extremely friendly to locavores and the Vietnamese, Hispanic, Korean and Bosnian population surrounding their stores. Even so, they deferred my question to Dean's, a very large milk purveyor here in the South and Midwest. Dean's owns the Horizon organic dairy product line and has come under fire from several food policy watchdog groups that claim they are skirting the rules of organic production by feedlotting their cattle and claiming they are grass-fed.

The milk pictured above is Rebekah Grace, a whole and chocolate milk product that comes from a cooperative of small farmers in Kentucky. It is a natural product but is not certified organic. It comes in the coolest old-school glass bottle which is on a deposit and returned to the store. Local product, recycled packaging, not filled with chemicals and tastes fantastic! A perfect combination. Most communities have at least one milk producer that has gone the route of Rebekah Grace, allowing a consortium of small farmers to package their products for local consumption. They are a little more expensive but I believe they are one of those items that it's worth spending real money to purchase. There are also raw milk options, but that is a whole other series of posts and I've taken enough of your time with this ramble. My hope is that I am slowly but surely making astute decisions about where my money goes and how I vote with my dollar. Who gets my milk money is one of those important decisions.


Treehouse Chef said...

I love milk in a glass jar. Haven't had it since I was a kid. I am gonna look for Rebecca grace.

Erin said...

That milk is soooo good!

Since we have been pretty successful with our 30 days of not going out to eat, we've decided that our next step needs to be reining in our grocery spending. We are trying to strike a balance between being cheap and buying locally and organically. There are some things I just won't compromise on even though they're expensive, like eggs from Dutch Creek Farm in Pleasureville (available at ValuMarket). It gives me such a thrill that I can go to the grocery store and buy stuff like this now!

Anonymous said...

I know you told me but I've forgotten what store carries this milk.
-Susie Q

Frugal Maven said...

Susie Q, You can always get it here in Louisville at ValuMarket. They usually sell it for 3.99 on sale plus the deposit on the bottle.

Frugal Maven said...

Erin, Thanks for the comment! I know what you mean about striking a balance between cheap and local/organic. It's tough. We call it living in the gray area. I'm a stickler on eggs, too. Trying to get everyone on board to raise some chickens here in Old Louisville. Only thing this neighborhood's missing is a henhouse. Congratulations on your month of cooking at home!

Robynn's Ravings said...

Still catching up for corn's sake.....grrrrrr!

Rave on about raw milk. It's all we drink for the last two years. Solved all kinds of "supposed" milk allergies. It isn't milk you're allergic to. It's the removal of all the good bacteria (through pasteurization) that kills the good bacteria. But then milk is exposed (follow the process sometime) to bad bacteria and there is no GOOD bacteria to wipe it out. Don't get me started. Our digestive tracts and teeth are SO much healthier since switching. And we only drink raw organic, from grass-fed cows. In fact, I used to work for the producer I buy from. Thanks for educating folks about REAL MILK!

Robynn's Ravings said...

P.S. The Weston Price Foundation is a rich source of info on this subject. :)

Anonymous said...

thank god for cows !!!!!, Stacey

Post a Comment

Tell me something--anything! Let's have a conversation.