Thursday, July 21, 2011

Milkin' It

Not to get preachy or disrespectful to the memory of MLK, Jr., but I have a dream. No, really, I have a pretty random dream (among others) that probably comes from my not-too-distant farmer ancestors.

See, my dad grew up on a farm. My mother's family owned a farm for quite awhile during her childhood, too, but Dad's was a working dairy farm with several family homes on the property. That's probably why it was nicknamed "Homestead Farms", and that's what I look for when searching local antique stores for my touchstone to the past - the original glass milk jars, scrolled with the aforementioned, or "Brown's" (my grandmother's family owned the place; my grandfather took over).

I even had quite a bit of experience on a dairy farm from 3rd grade to around 8th grade. Yep, I scraped $#*! and took care of stray cats and got to name cows. It was a fun time.

No, my dream isn't to own a dairy farm...although I'd love to start with my own chickens someday, but that's a whole different dream. ;-) THIS dream comes more in the form of a question (well, more than one): In this age of convenience, why can't dairy farms deliver straight to people's homes like "back in the day"? Why must they sell to a corporation that travels hundreds of miles to further process, fill chemical-laden plastic jugs that allow light to leach nutrients out? Why can't we have reusable glass containers with fresh milk from local farmers?

This dream or wish or whatever you'd like to call it, in my mind, solves several problems. a) Keeping the money local while helping friends and neighbors in their economic endeavors; b) Supporting local farmers who are all too often forced to sell the land that their families have owned for generations; c) Providing local consumers with a high-quality product of convenience. Lots of economic, environmental and moral issues solved, in my mind.

As I see it, it's only a hop, skip and a jump before this could also relate to door-delivered CSA contributions and, one of my all-time HUGE dreams, creating a Central New York-based program like Vermont's Vermont Fresh Network, linking local farmers with local chefs and restaurants, providing consumers with fresh, all-natural, local ingredients. But, yeah. That's a different post. *ahem*

I've heard that urban areas such as NYC are utilizing this, which I think is fantastic. But, what sense does it make when we're surrounded by dozens upon dozens of milk-producing farms within, heck, a 30-mile radius.

And this is the point in our rambling post when I state that I LOVE MY HUSBAND!!! He knew of my silly little dream, and over time obtained the knowledge that there are stores near Utica (Byrne Dairy, if you're from the area) that provide locally-provided milk in (reusable!) glass containers. It wasn't the answer to my dream, but it was partway there. And, since Dave works in Utica, it wouldn't be a huge bother for him to grab milk on the way home.

One day, he excitedly contacted me that he would buy some on the way home. Honestly, he was way more excited than I was. I assumed they wouldn't have the 1% that I prefer using, but when he arrived home, I was pleasantly surprised.


He was also quite excited that he'd get 50 cents back when he returns the bottle, although he immediately recognized that he'd paid the 50 cent usage with the price - which he said was $1-something, so it was $2-something (not quite sure how much), total. That's still better than the stuff we buy at Hannaford. Although I wish I could be guaranteed that this is hormone-free. *sigh* The burden of knowledge. Update #1: I found out from Dave as well as the bottle cap that growth hormones are NOT used in the production of this milk. Wahoo!

I have yet to taste the milk, but Dave insists that it tastes really, really good. This is impressive because, well, he's a man, and even he would admit that he's not usually a milk drinker. I tend to think, "Okay, big meal, tall glass of milk with it." Since meeting Dave, that's turned to "big glass of water" or "small glass of wine" or what have you. Seeing that I have osteoporosis in my lineage, I'm hoping this stuff tastes as good as he says!


And while we're at it, here are a few other beverages that have been keeping us cool during the start of quite a heatwave. (I'm not complaining, though. My brother lives in Chicago - I hear it's hell out there!) 



I used to make homemade organic iced tea, but we've since discovered this "Sweet Leaf" organic tea, which is delicious and costs $1.99 (and, of course, is tax-free). Mix it with a bit of the Newman's Own all-natural lemonade and you've got a refreshing Arnold Palmer. Why does that sound like it should have alcohol in it, too? Hmm.

Anyhoo, I'll be sure to post a follow-up when I taste the milk. Probably a note riiiiight here...hoping to try it in some cereal for breakfast tomorrow. UPDATE #2: Okay, so I didn't have cereal 'cuz I wasn't feeling it, but I DID have an organic English muffin with peanut butter and jelly - is that not calling for a tall glass of milk, or what? The second that I tasted the milk, it brought me back to my childhood kitchen table with a large Sunday meal (why do I automatically think of roast beef?), in a good way. It. Was. Delicious. I'm sold! Had to text the hubs immediately with the great news - which he seemed just as happy about. :-D

What about you guys? Are you consistent milk drinkers? Or don't you use it at all? Do you go for skim (ew, watery), 1%, 2% or whole? Do you purchase what's cheapest, or look for organic or hormone-free? I'm interested in milk trends amongst my friends, what can I say? It's in my blood.

10 comments:

  1. We've been drinking milk from Dairy Del (corner of Culver & Bleecker Sts in Utica -- and on the 'busy' corner in Schuyler, NY) for ages. They sell the milk they get from their own farm, its hormone-free (they should know :-) and they sell it in their own store. Can't get much more local than that! ;-)

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  2. Very cool, Bob! Does it come in various sizes and milkfats, by chance?

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  3. I'm not a big milk drinker, much to my grandma's dismay, but after several horrifying experiences with patients with brittle bones and lecturer's expounding on the terrors of osteoporosis I went on a mission to find milk I could tolerate. Jim and I gradually went from 2% to 1% (which I though was still too thick and milky) then gradually to skim. Even that I thought had a weird aftertaste until I tried organic skim milk. It's got the same amount of calcium and vitamins as the fatty milks for less calories and (to me) better taste. Even for the extra cost, I wont go back to non-organic milk.

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  4. I hear ya, Laur. My sister was the big milk drinker in our family (like, she'd drink it with pizza...yuck), but I still drank it when I was a kid. Strangely, I'm not a big fan of the organic, but I'd rather drink that than (sorry, I know you like it) skim anything. :-P I'm glad you found SOMETHING that works for you, though! The world needs you (a healthy, happy you) in it as long as it can get you. :-)

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  5. In Wisconsin, they sold milk from the local farms in half gallon bags ~ for 49 cents. Or you could get it in the glass jugs for $1. AWESOME!
    I love good fresh milk.

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  6. Very cool! Do you know if it was raw milk (like, straight from the cow?) or pasteurized? How long ago was this? (Just curious.) :-)

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  7. It was pasteurized. It was 10 years ago, but I know they still sell it that way ~ just not quite sure how much.

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  8. Terri SteinbacherJuly 22, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    Isn't it interesting how milk (even the same brand) can taste differently depending on how it is packaged (e.g. paper carton, plastic carton, or glass)? I agree that the milk in glass tastes sooooo much better than any of the other choices. My father used to go by a dairy co-op that sold milk in glass bottles when I was a kid. Loved that milk!

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  9. I remember growing up, my best friends parents would have delivered to their house by a local farmer friend fresh goat milk. It was SO good. It was still warm most of the time when they got it. A gallon a day was brought to them. YUMMY!

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  10. Dairy Del does sell different sizes and milk fats, too.

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