Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Am Humbled

  Oh phooey. I just found out that I'm out of milk. My jar in the fridge is empty as empty can be! Guess I'll have to pasteurize some more this afternoon, or tomorrow morning...

  Yes you read that right. I really did say "pasteurize". I've been in the raw milk business for roughly six years, I've shied away from pasteurized milk for pretty much that whole span of time, and if you ever wanted to get into a fist fight with me then just say something negative about raw milk. Seriously. I was also incredibly good at debating my case on why raw milk was superior, and why pasteurized milk was trash not worth even feeding to an animal. I may be horrible at arguing, but I could have floored a politician on this one subject. 

  Looking back now, I hate what I used to be... In my "passion" for what I did, I became such a judgmental wretch. No, more than that; I became elitist and proud. I won't deny the fact at all that I looked down on people who didn't drink raw milk. Shucks, at the time, this was a big deal to me! I was in a challenging business where I was not only dealing with high maintenance dairy animals that required precision in their care, but a business that was and is hated by the government. I had the hotline number for the FTCLDF (farm to consumer legal defense fund) in my coat pocket at all times, just in case a government federal official stopped by one day and told me to cease and desist... I could tell you exactly what the bacteria count multiplies to in a 20 minute span when milk is above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. I knew exactly what year pasteurization started and why. I knew the chemical changes in milk once you heated it past 120F. 

  In a nutshell, you couldn't have paid me to drink pasteurized milk.

 Excuse me a moment while I hide my face in my hands in shame and embarrassment over who I was. Gosh... Passionate? More like hard headed.

  A few weeks after I bought my first milk cow, back in 2012, I began to realize something rather ironic: I seemed to be intolerant of raw cow milk. I wrote a post about it, which you can find HERE. So what did I do? Oh the logical thing of course, and started pasteurizing the milk. NOT. That whole sentence is dripping with sarcasm. Nope, if I couldn't drink it raw then I'd just go without dairy altogether. After all, I wouldn't want to contaminate myself with that awful, ruined, chalk water, now would I!?!?! *Gasp of horror* I might -- DIE or something! Or -- get some awful disease! Or, or -- um... Hold on, I'll think of something... Um, I might -- be tempted to eat Lucky Charms cereal for breakfast since I'd have milk to pour over it!!! Gaah!!! Nooooooo! You'll never take me alive!! Man the cannons, boys! It's my way or the highway! And if we can't drink it raw, then we ain't drinkin' it at all!! Goodbye Lucky Charms! You never had enough marshmallows anyway!! 


 I'll try to come back down to a level of normalcy now. Ahem. 

  With the almost-laughable realization that I couldn't drink the milk from my own cows, I made the seemingly simple decision to just go dairy free. So I did just that. For almost two years. 

  I really craved Lucky Charms cereal... And Honeycombs. Heck, I missed cold cereal in general! And I missed having a glass of milk to go with snacks. Life just isn't the same when you have to drink water with your chocolate chip cookie. Your life feels like a lie. My sister might not agree with me on that, as she is the quirky individual who dips her graham crackers in water before eating them, but I'd like to think that I'm on a slightly higher plane of "normal" than she. Even if I do eat ice cream with a fork, and never a spoon... Your life is still a lie though, trying to consume water and chocolate chip cookies in tandem!! Stick with me folks, stick with me!

  Then I landed in Missouri. Where I hand milk two Jersey cows almost every day (weekends off). When I first came, I tried drinking the milk, in hopes that maybe my system had changed over the years and I could tolerate the lovely dairyness again. Oh just think of the bliss! Milk, whenever I want! But nope. No luck. I. Felt. Horrible. This was borderline ridiculous now. Who ever heard of someone being intolerant to RAW milk!?!? Sheesh. I praised this raw milk stuff to the skies (farther than that, actually) for years. It was supposed to be this magic liquid that came just shy of making you immortal. This was just wrong that I couldn't drink it. 

  A couple weeks ago, my host family offered to flash pasteurize a quart of milk to see if I could handle that. Partly because they felt bad that I was having to be anti-dairy on a dairy farm (oh the irony! It's killing me!), and partly because they were curious if I was truly intolerant to the raw milk, or if it was an intolerance to milk in general. After a couple days to think about it, I caved and agreed to be a guinea pig. One would have thought I had just signed my life away or something... The next day, I tried a small glassful and waited for the usual feelings of being ripped apart on the inside because I had just consumed milk. 


 I felt great. All day.

  And the level of irony has just gone through the roof. I'm intolerant to raw milk, but can have pasteurized milk just fine. 

  You might say I did a bit of maturing that day. This whole "raw vs. pasteurized" debate suddenly seemed pointless and ridiculous. Milk is milk, folks! And the large dairies work killingly hard to make sure that their product that goes on the store shelf is the highest quality that they are capable of producing. I was done being judgmental. Here's how it goes folks: You drink your milk how you like it, and I'll drink it how I like it. No more bashing. No more saying one is better than the other. 

 I am humbled. This has long been a pride issue in my life, and it feels good to finally have come to my senses in this aspect. And now I need to make a note to pasteurize another quart of milk soon... It's been great having dairy back in my life. :)

 And can we please agree that Lucky Charms cereal needs to have less "cereal" and more marshmallows?


Anonymous said...

I gotta tell you, working in the veterinary industry for years at at a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for most of them... you couldn't pay me enough money to drink raw milk that didn't come from my very own tested-disease-free cow. I don't trust ANYONE enough to drink raw milk from their animals. I've seen too many samples come through from backyard dairy animals that test ++ for all sorts of things (even brucellosis, which I'd sure never want to contract) to ever drink anyone's raw milk but my own. I have no issue with raw milk and if people want to buy and sell it hey, fine! It's silly to make it illegal. But it's sure not for me!

That said...if I could find a way to make a backyard dairy cow work for me, I'd be all over it in a heartbeat! But I'd sure have her tested on a frequent basis :-)

Glad you've got your dairy back!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. Really made my day. I showed it to my family, and we were just in stitches (in a good way). But seriously, this was really thought-provoking. There's a whole lot more than the raw vs. pasteurized issue that can suffer from people creating tidy little boxes for themselves. And just about everyone is guilty of doing that somewhere. By the time I had finished the post the 2nd time through, I was able to identify where I was being (and had been) a judgmental wretch. OUCH. I guess sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the smaller issues that we can't see the forest for the trees. Thank you for that reminder.