Saturday, January 10, 2009

Maaa Yogurt, Please...

I've always had a complicated relationship with milk. Not that skinny is everything, but my skinniest time ever was when I went off all dairy. I put soy milk in my tea, Tofutti on my bagels and went cold-turkey off the grilled cheese. In addition to losing lots of weight, I felt energetic and un-congested. It felt so right -- until I got pregnant with my daughter, and the bacon quesadillas came calling.  

I never went off dairy again. I still don't drink milk (haven't in decades) and neither do my kids or my husband, but we eat cheese and yogurt and use milk for cooking and in coffee. Did I mention that we eat cheese? I love cheese so much that it feels wrong. Especially when I remember how great I felt when I was off it. That's what I mean by complicated. 

So I was interested to read this book, Milk, by Anne Mendelson, about the history of milk.  She writes that humans in most of the world have been milking animals forever, but only drinking fresh milk for the last couple hundred years and only in one tiny corner of the world (northern europe) and how we have lost so much with the advent of the industrialized dairy. She rails against homogenized milk, and the loss of other kinds of milk, like from goats and sheep and water buffalo. 

(She also says, as I've been carping about forever, that it is a weird and totally culturally-biased public policy to be pushing fresh milk on populations who lack the mutant gene that allows them to digest lactase. Most people in the world can digest soured or cultured milk, but not fresh milk. And that it's only been since the advent of refrigeration that even the mutant-gened northwestern Europeans have been able to drink fresh milk with any real commitment.)

It made me think, as I have been in general, that it is not any one food that is bad. It's not milk or meat or sweets or bad combos or gluten. It's industrialization. If you avoid industrialization, you automatically avoid other pitfalls. (ha, partly because you can't afford anything in excess, if it's locally grown and small-batch-prepared).

Anyway, the book led me to do things yesterday out of curiosity: 1. buy unhomogenized milk ($4.50 for 1/2 gallon, yikes) and 2. buy goats milk yogurt ($2.76 for 6 oz, YIKES).   

Even though I've had maybe one glass of milk in the last couple decades, I couldn't resist trying a glass of this here new-fangled unhomogenized milk. Last summer I tried a glass of raw milk in New Hampshire, but didn't think too much of it. But this stuff was delicious. It totally took me back to the milk I used to drink growing up. It was creamy and delicious and lacking in the very slight bitter undertone that I have come to associate with drinking fresh milk. 

Then the goat's milk yogurt, which I had for breakfast and loved. Thinner than the Brown Cow cream-on-top yogurt I usually eat, and tangy and bright. I love bright. I love tangy. Thin is okay.  $2.76, I don't love. Oh well, you can't have everything. 

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