Milking It for All It's Worth

Last night a friend gave me a ride home, apologizing for the glass milk bottles occupying floor space in the back seat. The bottles were from Twin Brook Creamery, a local dairy in Lynden perhaps better known as that brand in glass bottles carried by QFC. If you've never had their milk, Twin Brook does not homogenize, which means (at least in the whole milk variety I bought) the cream rises to the top. It's luscious.

My friend, who hails from a small farming town in Indiana, said, "It's the only milk that tastes like what I had growing up."

Now, knowing my problem with plastics, I would love to abandon my gallon jugs and go glass bottles, but there are two things preventing me:

1. Our family goes through four gallons of milk per week. That would be a lot of glass bottles and a lot of moolah.

2. The glass bottles have to be returned (duh) to receive your deposit back, and I am deeply glass-bottle-returning-challenged.

For supporting evidence of Point #2, consider these bottles that have become permanent fixtures in our garage over the past several years. They're not even Twin Brook. I have no idea where they came from. Whole Foods?

Gathering dust

But whether or not your family can afford glass-bottled milk that puts a lump in the throat of an exiled Indiana farm girl, it's still worth it to shell out for organic milk. Food activist Robyn O'Brien posted this article from Food Ingredients 1st that describes European studies on organic meat and dairy. It turns out their studies confirm what Skagit River Ranch had already clued me into, a few years ago--pastured = better for you. That is, pastured meat and dairy are higher in omega-3 fatty acids (the wild fish kind!) and cancer-fighting antioxidants and conjugated linoleic acid (a good fat). If you can't afford the wild fish, or you're freaked out by the articles about overfishing, work a little more pastured dairy and/or meat into your diet. Switching to organic for baby might save on expensive skin cream purchases in the future, as well, as

recently published results from several mother and child cohort studies link... organic milk, dairy product and vegetable consumption to a reduced risk of certain diseases. This included reduced risks of eczema and hypospadias in babies and pre-eclampsia in mothers.

I know organic is expensive. Switching to organic might involve budget cutbacks in other areas. Maybe a couple fewer non-home-brewed coffee drinks per week? Or skip one meal out? (Every time we drag the whole family to a restaurant where you actually sit down to eat, I can't help looking at the bill and thinking, "This would've bought us a week's worth of groceries." And that was for Thai food, for Pete's sake--we're not talking El Gaucho!)

According to their website, Twin Brook Creamery pastures its herd in the summer and then feeds them during the winter on grass they put by. It's pastured dairy, all right, and organic in all but name. So I'm thinking that, even though we can't afford four gallons per week of the stuff (and those bottles would multiply in our garage like the treasure in Bellatrix Lestrange's Gringotts vault), maybe I might switch our half-and-half and whipping cream to Twin Brook. Those only need replenishing every few weeks, and--heck--the bottles are only half as big!