Monday, March 24, 2014

Why I buy organic milk

I buy organic milk.  There.  I've said it.  And it's true.

But I do not buy organic milk because it's organic.

I do not buy organic milk because of its lack of pesticides.

Nor do I buy it because it's fashionable and others will admire me for my thoughtful and responsible choices.

In addition, I do not purchase it because I know that my milk choice will, in some small way, Save The World.

In fact, let me say this right up front: there is only one thing I really am interested in with anything ingestible: Does it taste good? Well, actually, the question really is 'do I like it,' because "goodness" is clearly self-defined.

And in terms of self-definition, I have little taste memory, so my assessments use the scientific A/B method on everythingthat is I taste things back-to-back to try to determine which I like better, or indeed, if I can tell any difference at all.

I also need to confess that I am a tea drinker and have both milk and sugar in my tea.

Thus I must have milk available every day, and it has to last.  It is inexpressibly sad to see a kelp bed of white curdled milk streamers appear at the top of your mug as you milk-up first thing.

And I like fat milk, a creamy taste.  I call it Boy Milk, i.e. whole milk, Vs Girl Milk, which is skim (as I child I thought was called 'skinned milk.' Really not too far off).

I was initially intrigued by organic milk by the remarkable sell-by dateoften a month away.  Given the issues around the allowed sell-by date (in New York City, the allowed date migrated to 5 days later, so milk that used to last for a week past the sell by date expired in two days, totally messing up my arithmetic) this swath of time was seductive.  I was seduced.

Then an odd thing happened.  I found the organic milk not only lasted longer, but tasted better, sweeter, creamier, I could have 2% and it tasted as good to me as regular whole milk (yes, I verified this in an A/B taste test).

There's a fair bit of information out there as to the whys and wherefores, but the most compelling explanation for me was in Scientific American.  The article's focus is on the long shelf life of organic milk.  It notes that organic milk processing is different from regular milk, as it is heated to a higher temperature (UHT), which kills more bacteria and enables it to last longer and hence travel further.  There are fewer organic farms and the product ships longer distances.  The high temperatures slightly caramelize the trace sugar in the milk, giving it a sweeter taste.  Yum.

I have not found non-organic UHT milk, and do not care for the taste of Parmalat, so I'm just paying the price.

And happy to.

Do you have things you do or buy for all the "wrong" reasons?

Isabel Swift


kathybacongreenberg said...

Quintessential Isabel! Love your voice and I can hear it loud and clear. Hope to see you cats soon!
Kathy Bacon-Greenberg

Isabel Swift said...

KBG (I hope no one dislexic is using your initials!) thank you! Hope you are well. Just used 'friend finder' again to determine that I had NOT lost my cell phone, just left it @ home... Whew!