The ninth post in our series about my family's choice to drink raw milk.
Today marks the beginning of our fourth week as raw milk drinkers. Loyal readers know that I had a great deal of anticipation about how drinking raw milk might affect our diet and lifestyle. So, three weeks in, what are our thoughts?
Jason loves it. He has always enjoyed drinking milk, but he is a very picky eater, hating all things gamey, so my first concern about the raw milk was the flavor. When we tasted it at our friend's house, he said that it tasted like milk and he liked it. As the whole "raw milk issue" has come up in conversations with friends, he is more passionate about its quality than I am. He likes it a lot.
Grace likes it, though she hasn't expressed that there's a difference in the flavor or creaminess of it versus conventional milk. She's had a terrible cough for most of the last month, but I am still holding on to hope that over time the raw milk might do something to improve her allergies and asthma.
Abby is at that two-year-old-stage when the food she gobbles up today she rejects tomorrow. We had never given her very much conventional milk, but we've been giving her about a cup of raw milk per day and she usually drinks it.
I'm not a milk drinker, but I've been making decaf flavored cafe au laits most mornings. The milk isn't technically "raw" after it's heated past a certain temperature, but, anyhow, I like them.
I've also been using the raw milk in making ice cream, though I still use conventional or organic cream in the same recipes. Since a pint of cream costs $10, $12 is about how much it would cost to make a quart of ice cream. At this point, I just can't justify spending $12 to make a quart of ice cream.
I tried to make raw milk yogurt once. The recipe warned that it ends up being more of a drinkable yogurt than a thick yogurt, and it certainly was. After the overnight culturing it looked the same as it had at the beginning of the culturing except that some of the cream had globbed to the side of the jar. So as not to waste it, I used it as the liquid in a couple of bread recipes. In case you are wondering, it did not seem to impart any specific flavor. With this week's milk, I think I'll try making yogurt using my old recipe. It won't be raw, but it may be better for you than the store-bought stuff, and since our milk consumption is up to 2.5 gallons a week, it's a good way to use up that extra half gallon.
Which reminds me, we had started with 2 gallons per week, but the second week we determined that we were consuming more milk than we did when we had the grocery store milk. Two gallons was not enough and we needed a third.
Three gallons a week cost $104 per month, which is roughly 18% of our monthly food budget. We've certainly felt a pinch in the budget, but I wonder if part of the pinch might be 1) the anticipation of the pinch or 2) holiday cooking. I'll revist the finances of this raw milk adventure in a few months.
For most of this month, I've felt guilty that my husband and daughter were consuming this supposed super-food on super-sugary breakfast cereal. I mean, shouldn't part of the lifestyle change be replacing worthless carbs and refined sugars with more nutrient-dense, "real" foods? I an ideal world, yes. But I am a busy working mom with three family members who all have a deeply ingrained sense of what tastes good, and I need to remind myself that gradual change is better than no change. I'd love to phase out refined carbohydrates, and to shift to locally grown meats and poultry, but that would require more money and a new set of cooking skills. For now I'll just appreciate that the ham I bought last night at Trader Joe's* is "uncured" (none of those evil nitrates) and that it is delicious on a buttered piece of (store-bought) ciabatta.
*For a while I had been buying most of our meats at Chico Meat Locker. The meats themselves might not be local, but at least my food dollars were going to a local business. Well, the same organizations that tout the virtues of raw milk rail hard against MSG. Unfortunately, I see MSG (monosodium glutamate) on most of the ingredient labels at the Meat Locker, so this month I bought "uncured" ham, "organic" chicken thighs and "All Natural No MSG" chicken sausages at Trader Joes. (Yep, those words are in quotation marks because I believe they are nutritional claims that should be researched, not blindly believed.)