My MilkNovember 7, 2009
The Dark Days are coming – by which I mean the Dark Days Challenge where my family will eat one meal a week made of SOLE food (sustainable, organic, local, ethical). The challenge begins November 15th. My local year-round farmer’s market (which doesn’t have a website or I would link you right to it) will be seeing even more of our business as we try to fill in gaps in our own stocks.
One item we now buy routinely from this market is milk. We buy Kilgus milk made by the cows on a farm in Central Illinois. I e-mailed the owners to get a bit more information than I could glean from their pamphlet – and Jenna Kilgus was very forthcoming. She made clear they are not an organic farm. They are grain farmers and the grain is not grown organically. That grain also is fed to the cows, so not organic. However, the animals do graze on “natural pasture” from April to November, so that is good news. Also, the cows are not given any growth hormone (rBST) and that, to me, is very important. Another plus, the milk is non-homogenized, which means the fat particles that are in the milk are not broken down by the homogenization process and so will not pass so easily through intestinal walls. Apparently there is some evidence that non-homogenized milk helps keep cholesterol levels down. The milk is pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized, which maintains vitamins and enzymes.
Oh, and by the way, this milk is tasty. We buy the skim milk and the kids and I go through two gallons a week.
I have a few other milk alternatives. I can buy organic milk at the bigger grocery store. I have done so on occasion and when I do I try to choose one with the closest distribution center. But it isn’t local.
I can buy more “conventional” milk distributed by Prairie Farms. This has some plusses. It is a co-op of over 700 farms and the main headquarters is in Central Illinois. The milk and milk products (butter, yogurt, ice cream) are local, but not organic. There is no indication that there is anything particularly “natural” about their products, other than the milk comes from cows. So, I assume the worse – that they are given hormones and graze minimally.
Finally, there is a milk cooperative nearby that produces organic milk. I did look into it but I couldn’t make times for pick-up, periods out of town, and the money work with our lifestyle.
So, for the time being we will settle for natural and local but not organic milk. Life is full of compromises.