Some like it raw.

I can’t believe it’s the end of another week.  I don’t know how time manages to fly so quickly even though I have such a slow-paced, easygoing life.  I thought that when I got laid off, my days would really slow down as I eased into being a SAHM with Poppyseed.  And the truth is that, sure, some days do seem longer than others and I certainly have a lot more time.  And yet I still get to Thursday nights and think to myself, “How is tomorrow already Friday!?  Where did my week go?”

So I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I have recently started giving Poppyseed raw milk.  Up until now I had really been on the fence regarding giving her any dairy.  I grew up drinking milk, and most of my friends and family give their kids milk, but once I started reading up on my nutrition I realized that dairy can be very problematic.  Additionally, pasteurization pretty much eliminates most of the good stuff that cow’s milk has to offer.   Then when you start getting into the lower fat varieties of milk there is pretty much nothing beneficial leftover.  (This is why people who are paleo will usually drink full fat cream or milk over skim or 2% if they eat any dairy at all.)

A lot of people do like to rely on cow’s milk for calcium, but another thing that I have learned is that calcium requirements are much lower if a person isn’t eating much sugar.  The average American eats LOADS of processed foods these days, and there is a lot of hidden sugar in these foods.  This can lead to a much higher need for calcium in the diet.  As for those of us on the paleo diet, we are really only getting sugar from fruit and veggies, so our sugar intake is pretty low and stable throughout the day.  That is good news for our bones, and as a result our calcium requirements are much lower and easily attainable through eating lots of veggies and fish.

(Please feel free to research what I have said here on your own.  I am not a professional by any means!  I sometimes find myself making mistakes when I attempt to repeat what I’ve learned.  If you are truly interested in the pros and cons of milk, Chris Kresser  wrote a really good article on dairy and the different views that leading researchers have made for and against it.  I really like him because his writing is very clear and he is not dogmatic.  He is actually in favor of some dairy – raw dairy – in the diet and does a great job of explaining why.)

I also happened to catch a few online episodes of The Healthy Life Summit over at The Village Green website in March.  There are tons of online interviews on that site that would usually cost a pretty penny to download, but they were free for a week and I was able to listen to almost all of them.  And wouldn’t you know, most of the scientists, authors and health care providers interviewed were very in favor of milk – but only RAW milk!  They gave tons of reasons and evidence why raw was far superior to pasteurized.  It caught my attention.

I had never had raw milk until recently, and I was pretty skeptical.  The thought of milk going straight from the cow and into a gallon in my fridge seemed pretty, well, unsanitary.  But after doing some digging around and hearing all of those conferences, I became more open minded.  I recalled reading that the pasteurization process really does sort of negate any benefit in milk (again, please research on your own if you doubt me – I’m not trying to convince anyone), and I also remember Oatmeal’s parents saying that they grew up on raw milk, as did their parents.

Of course the problem with buying raw milk is that it can be hard to find.  Additionally, it is very important that you get raw milk from a dairy farmer that has met certain criteria by the state where you live and hold certain certifications.  (I’m basically telling you not to buy raw milk off the side of the highway like you would a watermelon.  Bad idea.)

I bought a gallon of raw milk from a farm that delivers to my area once a month.  I gave Poppyseed a few ounces one night, and she liked it!  I decided to replace some of her nursing sessions with a bottle of raw milk.   (Yes, she is still nursing.  I know, I know, I’m still nursing a baby past 12 months,  some of you think I’m officially a weirdo.  What can I say, that baby loves her milk!  I assure you she will be weaned prior to kindergarten.  Ha!)

Anyway, she gulped down that raw milk like a champ.  We quickly ran out, and our next delivery wasn’t until a month later.  The source of our first gallon was over 100 miles away, so I decided to look for something closer.

After some google searching, I came across a really awesome looking farm about 40 miles away from College Station.  I picked up the phone and asked if Poppyseed and I could come and visit.  We got the green light, and so Tuesday we woke up early and hit the road.

Reader, I have to tell you, this farm was GORGEOUS.  It had to be over 100 acres of bright, lush, green hills.  They had completely grassfed dairy cows, a hydroponic garden, and more.  I met the farmer’s wife and their children.  She told me so much about the raw milk, their vegetables, their grassfed beef and more.  My head was spinning at how knowledgeable she was.  I talked to her for almost two hours while Poppyseed played with her kids.  She had so much fun crawling all over the garden, squealing and petting the dogs.  I got some of the most precious pictures of Poppyseed with the other children, but the lady respectfully asked me not to post any pictures of her kids online, which of course I agreed to!  But here are some of the pictures that I was able to take that did not have her kiddos in them.  This was of their hydroponic garden, which I had never heard of before!  All of those plants are actually floating on water.  Crazy cool!

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One of the discussions that we had regarding the raw milk and grassfed beef was the issue of price.  I couldn’t help but ask her why a gallon of raw milk was triple that of pasteurized milk in the store.  After all, wasn’t labor lower since they didn’t have to send it off to be pasteurized or corn finished at a processing plant?  This was her response in a nutshell, almost word for word:

It’s not cheap like Sysco showing up at your door with their grain fed, 75 cows in a 100×100 foot barn.  It’s just not the same.  I’ve had people call and ask about the milk, gasp and say they pay $3.29 a gallon at the store, so why is yours $10?  I say, “Let’s talk about the logistics, let’s talk about this.  Let’s talk about the 70×70 barn that costs 12.5k to build and holds 100 cows that can be fed a commodity grain at 9 cents a pound, so you pay 35 cents a day to feed them.  Okay so let’s talk about the grassfed cows now.  Typical land price is $2500 an acre, each cow needs 10-15 acres, you do the math.  Now you have to fence it at $3 a lineal foot, and you also have to divide it into 33 paddocks because you don’t want us to chemically worm them and that means we have to move them every day so that they aren’t on the same piece of ground for 33 days to break the worm cycle.  And you’re also paying to cross fence it all at $3 a foot.  When we decided to charge $10 a gallon of raw milk, we looked at the number of cows we had, what we were paying our person to milk them, and the cost of running the equipment.  It was costing us $10/gallon and we were selling it at $7.50.  So we went to our customers and said you know, we have a good job and farm for fun, but we are dumping our money into our farm so that you can drink raw milk. It would be better for us to just have a home milk cow and go on vacation instead of doing this for y’all.  So decide, will you go up to $10 so we can break even, we don’t care because it’s already set up, or we are going to sell it all and stop dairy making.  So we just set it all out for them, and at the time those customers said they were willing to pay $10.  For a long time we just broke even until we did the next batch of cows. You have to realize, to get a dairy cow that is free of leukemia, it costs.  There’s only 1 in 3, 60% of dairy cows in America have a leukemia virus that now they know is transferring to people and they don’t know what it’s doing to us.  And pasteurization doesn’t kill it, so that means when you cook it it doesn’t kill it either.  The government put a bandaid on it and said “oh well if any of these cows come through the meat packing plant with it and they have a tumor, we will condemn those cows for dog food and save all you people from getting this virus.  But you notice they forgot to include one small little factor, which is that less than 1% of diseased cows have a visible tumor.  So really, they did nothing.”

Later in the conversation, she said this:

“There are so many expensive factors that come up when you try to do things right and make things good, and it’s well worth it.  But I think our government does a disservice to us as people by subsidizing our food, whatever they are, from corn to whatever, because we do not have an idea what it actually costs to feed ourselves and because food is so cheap and so readily available that people are not interested in knowing why or how to raise it themselves.” 

That last paragraph really got me.  I think it is very true.  Friends will often ask what it costs to eat high quality protein, produce, and dairy.  I always explain that we actually spend a comparable amount to what we paid before we ate paleo.  That’s primarily because we eat out only 1-2 times a month now, sometimes less, and it is so much cheaper to eat in than it is to eat out.  But still, when people know we are spending $10 on a gallon of milk, they flip.  And the truth is that – YES – eating healthy can be more expensive than eating more processed meals.   A breakfast that consists of farm fresh eggs with a side of kale and an avocado is absolutely more expensive than eating a bowl of cereal.  I’m not arguing that.  But if you look up the average cost that an American family is spending on food in a given month, we are actually only spending about $25-$50 more a month (if that) because we, unlike most families, almost never ever eat out at restaurants.  (Here’s one way to look at it.  We can eat a stir fry made with grassfed beef and fresh veggies at home for less than $15 – and usually even have leftovers for the following day – but would spend at least $20 to order a similar meal with less quality ingredients from a lower end Chinese restaurant or even $30-$40 at a higher end Asian restaurant.)  You save a A LOT of money by eating in all 21 meals of the week – money that can be put toward really great ingredients!

So, I really understand where the farmer’s wife is coming from – I feel a huge sense of contentment and comfort when I eat real food.  My body feels better, I see that my child is almost always feeling 100% and does not get sick (knock on wood), and my husband has great energy and looks fantastic despite a hectic commute and work schedule.  It’s worth it to me to cook in every weekend rather than getting a babysitter and go on a date night to a restaurant.  I don’t mind that I’ve been carrying the same purse for 10 years, because I don’t want to waste several hundred dollars on a new “fashionable” one when I know that amount of money could buy a half of a pastured hog and feed my family for months, or join a fruit and vegetable CSA where I get two huge boxes of seasonal and local produce a few times a month so that we can eat the freshest food available.  Over the past two years I have come to really open my eyes to the huge different between the ready-made-in-a-box type of foods and real food.

So needless to say, I was just blown away by our visit to this farm and the knowledge of the owners!  I happily joined the farm membership so that I could get the member discount (and pay only $8 a gallon!) and bought a few things to go home with me.  I got the raw milk from 100% grassfed cows, 1 container of raw vanilla yogurt, 1 container of raw lemon yogurt, 1 container of kefir (if you don’t know what kefir is then this article explains it), and a bag of pink Himalayan salt.  I’m planning to start making our own kefir soon, so I’ll let you know how that goes.  I’m sort of scared, ha!

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I will admit that I have pretty much rationed the milk in our house!  Only Poppyseed is allowed to drink it, and I only allow a certain amount per day!  The rest of the time she nurses or drinks water from her cup.  I may be paying $8/gallon of raw milk, but I will only buy a gallon a week at most or I’ll end up having to sell our furniture on Craigslist!  Hehe.

And as if our kitchen isn’t getting weird enough with all of the raw milk and kefir, we joined a CSA this week.  On Thursday we got two huge boxes of produce!   The picture below cracks me up because I look somewhat terrified.  I was.

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I was up until 10:30 washing different varieties of greens, counting fruit and trying to figure out WHAT I was going to do with over 40 apples and oranges!

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It included the biggest bunch of celery I’ve ever seen.  That thing is half my size.

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This is our refrigerator right now – out of control I tell you!  What has happened to us?  Raw milk, kefir, cod liver oil, an entire beet plant?  Have you ever seen such a thing?  Please tell me if your fridge looks like this so that I feel less like a weirdo.

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Well, I can only hope that you have enjoyed reading about our trip to the farm.

A few resources for you:

Looking for raw milk in Texas?  Visit TexasRealMilk.org

Looking for grassfed beef, pastured pork, free range chicken or more?  Visit EatWild.com

Did you know Lola and Oatmeal is on Facebook?  Please “like” us!

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Comments

  1. Absolutely love it. Slowly but surely we’re shifting your way. Here’s the thing on spending a lot of money on food– I think as a society our values are way out of whack (duh)! But why is it the norm to spend so much money on what goes ON our body rather than
    What goes IN our bodies. I am absolutely guilt free about spending money on good food, to cook at home or otherwise.

  2. Michael says:

    I still can’t believe that you aren’t giving me credit for finding the cool farm in Cameron. I still have the text message.

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