Thoughts about Food: Milk

I sort of hate drinking milk.

That’s not true: I despise it.

As a kid, I didn’t do milk and cookies. I don’t like the flavor of milk. I don’t like the texture of milk. I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that milk will add extra pounds to my hips. Mind you, I will eat cheese of any variety like it’s going out of style, and I use milk in cooking and on cereal. I just don’t drink it.

As I was walking through Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago, trying out all sorts of little tidbits set out by the Evil Tempters they call “employees”, I ran into a guy in overalls who said, “You need some milk to wash down that spicy sausage!” I thought for a moment: he was right, the one thing that will help your mouth recover from spiciness (capsaicin in particular) is milk. Intrigued, I started chatting.

It went something like this:

Me: “I don’t like to drink milk.”
Him: “You haven’t had milk like this.”
Me: *dubious*
Him: “No, really. Try it.”

He explained to me that the milk we have today isn’t like the milk from 40 years ago. Instead of grocery stores having relationships with farmers, they have relationships with large companies that blend the milk from many, many cows together and homogenize it (which distributes the fat evenly within the milk, instead of allowing it to separate as cream). The cow’s diet has changed: instead of naturally grazing on grass, they eat grain.  Its environment is no longer the idyllic, rolling pasture we imagine when we think of cows, but instead factories with concrete.  The high temperature pasteurization process doesn’t add any flavor; instead, it disintegrates any that might be left.   Milk that’s in the dairy aisle has often taken a long road to get there, and the shelf life is much longer than it used to be. “Better living through science” is not always the best.

The milk was from Snowville Creamery, which is located out near Ohio University, and they say they make “Milk the Way it Used to Be”. The milk I had on Saturday was in the cow on Thursday, and expired a week and a day after we purchased it, giving it a ten day shelf life based on when the cow was milked.  The cows are grass fed, which means the milk actually has flavor (much like grass-fed beef). They use the lowest temperature legally possible so that the milk keeps that flavor.

This milk was a revelation.

I called Terry over, and he tried a sample of the whole milk.  He made me try some, too (again: brainwashed to think whole milk is bad for me).  I took a sip– it was rich, a little buttery, and really quite good.  It didn’t have a weird plastic smell (which I find even in paper-packaged milk).  I actually… liked it.  Am I going to start drinking gallons of whole milk? Probably not.  But am I going to change my milk-buying habits?  Yes.

Terry agreed– and bought a half-gallon on the spot.  He agreed that it tasted like the milk he drank as a kid.  I want to try their cream as well.  Ooh, and cottage cheese made from Snowville milk?  Yum.

Snowville Creamery’s milk is a bit more expensive than what you’d get at Kroger’s– about $3 for a half-gallon, which is what we purchased.  Is it worth it?  Oh, yeah.