Yes- we’ve done it. Tackled the replacement of yet another dangerous food in our lives- mass produced milk. What was a small local purchase years ago has turned into mass production, and the result is not just another sacrifice of quality for quantity. Instead, the horrendous treatment of cows in the mainstream milk supply has made it a dangerous staple in American households.
While cows used to graze in pastures and fields, mass produced milk cows are consistently fed a less nutritious diet and, in the past, even dead cows (thankfully, this is illegal now). However, it is legal for calves to ingest the blood of dead cows as part of their feed. Not only is that disgusting, but there is also the possibility that the blood could be from a cow that was sick and infected due to mistreatment. That said, it can’t be anything close to a healthy supplement for a calf.
In addition to the questionable diet, growth hormones are given to cows to make their udders unnaturally large so that more milk can be produced daily. Unfortunately, it would seem logical that these hormones injected into cows are also passed along into the milk supply. That would be in addition to any steroids, antibiotics, or pesticides that the cow may have also come into contact with before being milked.
Another factor of mass produced milk is the blood and puss that form on the udders when a cow is milked with harsh machinery. This also becomes a part of the milk supply and combined with the other elements above, makes it necessary for this milk to be pasteurized (or heated) before refrigeration and selling. Even with the pasteurization, the true contents of mass produced milk are unsettling as we are unaware of what potential consequences may result from them in the future health of the U.S. population.
Now, at last- what you’ve been waiting for- an alternative. This past weekend Sarah and I found our solution to mass produced milk right in our local community: Lubbers Family Farm. This farm offers cow shares to the public which in turn allows them to pick up either one or two gallons of fresh, raw (unpasteurized) milk each week.
We met with one of the owners, Karen Lubbers, who greeted us at the farms “Milk House” where she gave us a tour of the small building as well as the milking area and actual cows. During our short visit, a number of current members stopped to fill their weekly milk allotment into reusable glass containers.
As we toured, we asked questions and learned about the process and schedule of milking, how they cleanse their systems, what the cows are fed, and how they are treated. When possible (mostly in the summer), the cows graze freely in the pastures and are only fed a very small amount of grain. Seeing the facility firsthand and having the discussion with the vendor (something that would never happen with the mass milk supply) truly put our minds at ease.
Throughout our visit, the farm was alive with activity and the cows looked healthy and comfortable. Karen reassured us that if a cow did have a serious infection or issue requiring antibiotics that it would be taken off the milk supply until the antibiotics had safely passed through the cow’s system. She also informed that they send their milk to a third party monthly for testing and verification of safety.
The last, and best part, of the of the visit was tasting the raw milk. We had expected it to be completely different than our previous, mass produced milk experiences, but it was pure white, cold, refreshing, and delicious (almost sweet). We were truly relieved that it would not be hard to switch to this healthier, local alternative and eagerly took our contracts (required in Michigan for the cow share) to review in detail at home.
From our great experience, I strongly recommend searching out milk alternatives right in your local community. You may find that a better option for you and your family is only around the corner. Here is a great resource to check out your own local milk supply. If you live in the U.S., it offers basic information by state and then city. It is a wonderful feeling to purchase a product that is healthier and what it claims to be while supporting you local area.
*New York Times Bestseller “Skinny Bitch” by Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin was used as a reference for this article