Sorry I haven’t posted for a long time. I just got back from Chewonki and I definitely have a lot to share about the things I learned there.
While at Chewonki, I took on a vegan diet except I drank milk from my friend’s farm. It is part of my philosophy to not only avoid foods which are harmful to the environment, but support those that I deem sustainable and kind to animals. Milk grown on the local Goranson farm fell under the last category for me. The milk is special because it is super fresh and I know the person who is making it. The mik comes from just one cow, which means Carl (my friend’s brother) can give that cow a lot of attention and care, making sure to keep her happy and healthy. The coolest thing about this milk is that it’s raw, unpasteurized and unhomogenized. Homogenization just means that the fat globules in the milk are brought under high pressure to mix them into the rest of the milk and create a homogenous solution which looks clean and fresh to consumers. All milk that is sold at supermarkets is pasteurized, meaning it’s heated to kill any bacteria and make the milk effectively sterile. But the heating gets rid of a lot of other things that are beneficial for humans. It reduces the amount of vitamins A, B, D, E, and K. It denatures the enzyme lactase which helps us digest the protein lactose in milk. It kills helpful bacteria which would naturally fight off the bad bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella. A lot of milk in supermarkets is vitamin D fortified and Lactaid is milk that has the lactase enzyme added back into it. These fortifications are examples of humans destroying something that is naturally present in the milk only to add it back in, which seems pretty inefficient to me. The reason we have pasteurization is to get rid of pathogens and harmful bacteria, but these wouldn’t be present if we had better, cleaner conditions for our cows. If pasteurized milk is safe because it is sterile, raw milk is healthy because it is rich in life. I am lactose intolerant and I hadn’t drunk milk in probably 3 years, but I tried that raw milk with no problems.
The pasteurization process makes sense for a system which is looking for efficient, guaranteed, standardized safety. I think it’s nice to hear the other side once in a while, though. Pasteurization makes sense for our current system, which transports milk long distances. Here is a really cool site which allows you to figure out where your milk came from by looking at a code on the bottle: http://whereismymilkfrom.com/ This isn’t the kind of system I want to support, which is why I won’t drink milk. The kind of self-sustaining, localized agriculture like Carl’s makes sense for me. Since raw milk can’t be bought in a grocery store, I won’t likely drink milk again. There are a few reasons for this decision. Often times, I hear the argument that cows enjoy being milked. This is true if the cow is giving milk to its calf or being milked gently by hand. But with commercial milk production, cows are milked by machines which aren’t comfortable or careful. Along with this mechanization, cows must be repeatedly impregnated to keep them producing milk. If the cow gives birth to a male cow, it will likely be sold to become veal and live a short life in a confined crate. Whenever I think of consuming milk, I remind myself that I am in a way indirectly supporting the veal industry and other cruel practices.
Obviously, it’s a really hard change to fundamentally change what you consume, but I find it fascinating and enlightening that a product we often don’t think about has so many moral and environmental complications to it.
This was really interesting, I’m glad that you’re still blogging!! I was wondering, do you just avoid drinking milk, or do you avoid eating products which were made with it as well? I’m just curious because I have considered switching to a vegan diet, and I know that eliminating milk is a part of it, so if you do avoid milk altogether, I just wanted to know how difficult it is and also any advice that you would have!
Yeah it’s an interesting question. I avoid any products with milk, butter, or eggs in them (mostly, you’ll see later my exceptions). I am lucky enough to have a vegetarian mom who cooks for me and my brothers, two of which are vegetarian and the difference between vegetarian and vegan cooking isn’t that much. It’s really not that hard if you kind of transition off of certain products slowly and it definitely gets easier with time. I have a lot of hummus since it is filling and has lots of protein. Something I really like is a hummus and spinach sandwich. I also am starting to eat a lot of greens like spinach and kale which don’t taste like much but you can put in pretty much everything to add some iron, calcium, etc. It’s very easy to get things like tofurky which people often think are gross before they try them but are actually delicious. The thing is these usually have a lot of ingredients and chemicals, flavoring and coloring and all that. I’m sure you’ve tried some of these things. A rule that I’m now trying to obey is don’t eat food that is trying to be something else. It’s easy to just eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains, but if you want to you can also get “fake meat” kind of products. I also really like veggie burgers when you can see all of the individual vegetables and tell that its just corn, beans, and carrots rather than a bunch of stuff you can’t identify. My favorite snacks are nuts and seeds, granola and trail mix, different bars like Kind bars with nuts in them. My family will sometimes make our own trail mix by mixing our favorite dried fruits and nuts. Also, if there’s a farmer’s market close to your house then you can get eggs or milk there maybe, talk to the person who was involved with producing them, and see if it makes sense for you to support that farm and product and system. It’s not vegan, but it’s probably small-scale and close to home. I say that I’m vegan and I mostly am but my rule is if I am the person who grew the product, know the person or can talk to the person who grew the product, then I might make an exception. The exception would be because I think it’s a good product to support, not just because I really need cheese or something. For example, I’m going to get a few chicks next week which will produce eggs that I’ll eat. Since I can personally look after the animals, I know they are getting taken care of and my family can stop buying eggs from the grocery market. Maybe you can get chickens or make it to the farmer’s market or maybe you can just start eating a lot of nuts and things. Whatever works for you, but I really hope you try it because I love it. I don’t have any problems like losing energy or feeling hungry a lot. Thanks for asking. I’m glad that you liked the post and that you’re still reading these and everything.
Nice blog Simon. Ben buys raw milk(Claverdale Brand) at the health food store(Country Sun) on California Ave in Palo Alto.
That’s awesome. I had no idea you could get it around here.
It’s great that you are blogging about something you feel so strongly about! Your commitment shines through as well as your encouragement to others to change their habits.You’ve definitely got me thinking!
I tweeted out your blog on Twitter and hope that others share it too! Someone already “favorited” my tweet, so that’s pretty cool. Keep blogging 🙂
Thanks a lot. I really appreciate you tweeting about it and I’m glad people are seeing it. I really enjoy finding out and writing about this stuff.
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