Following a chance encounter with organic milk at his friend’s house, our son urged us to never purchase anything else. Skepticism over discernible difference to justify additional cost met parental indulgence – we agreed to try a litre.
One sip was all it took – we will never buy conventional milk again. This was the milk of my youth – exquisite dairy nectar, complex as fine wine, a treat to delight the senses. I had found the exclamation mark, the poster child to define “organic”.
Wading through the organic maze is tricky – as with any trend, marketing gurus skirt, twist and dodge regulations to hitch a ride on organic’s market share. Purchasing organic for ethical reasons isn’t practical – unless you shop exclusively at local farmers markets – this is big business. Organic and natural, red hot buzz words jostling for shelf space beside “free run” and “free range”. That said – with increased imports of questionable food products from countries like China ( I hadn’t planned to go here but couldn’t live with myself without cautioning – avoid Chinese mushrooms, spinach, garlic, tilapia, apple juice, honey, and vitamins – see link at the end of this post) examining food source and practices isn’t a terrible idea.
To be honest – avoiding Chinese imports crosses my mind long before “organic” becomes a factor. Organic milk shattered my tidy little world so completely, I’m looking at food with fresh eyes. Goodbye cynicism, so long skeptical mistrust, see ya later “farm to table” eye rolls, have a nice trip “ancient grain” quinoa snickers – organic, you have my undivided attention.
Free range chicken or eggs don’t flutter off pages of idyllic storybook farms. Organic milk doesn’t flow from quaint sunny meadows. Pesticide free fruit and vegetables rarely spring from the fictional valley of the “jolly green giant”. Organic is big business – business on a massive scale.
For milk to be certified organic, cows must eat certified organic feed – sneaking in animal by-products strictly forbidden – antibiotics and milk producing hormones common in conventional milk production, are out of the question. In North America dairy cows must be “treated humanely”, one definition being they have access to open grazing pastures. ( Keep in mind, “free run” chickens need only be given the opportunity to leave industrial barns for a prescribed amount of time each day – a six inch square opening at one end of the facility satisfies the requirement ) Don’t get misty eyed over bovine bliss amid the daisies – organic milk, every bit as industrial as conventional milk production, deal with it and focus on taste.
Concentrate on end results – cows fed unadulterated food, not pumped up on hormones or kept “factory ready” with antibiotics, produce milk exquisite enough to knock me on my ass. Twenty year old Scotch to Moonshine, five year aged cheddar to squeeze cheese – and if that’s not enough – pasteurized at much higher temperatures, it keeps well over a month in your fridge.
As my son said – just try it. If “holy cow” sentiments don’t slap you on the side of the head, I need my taste buds examined.