I’ve always hated tomatoes. I still pick them off my salad and remove them from sandwiches when at restaurants. And the number I buy from the grocery store can be counted on a hand (or two). This is simply because my husband introduced me to the world of garden fresh tomatoes. Put one of those puppies between 2 slices of toast with bacon and lettuce, slather with mayo, and oh my word it’s like summer is having a party in your mouth. I love it when summer invites corn on the cob to the party as well, that’s quite a delish paring.
And I’ll never forget with KLR warned me that the carrots from my garden would taste “different” from what you see on platters at family gatherings. This threw me for a loop – I thought, how can a carrot taste different from a carrot? It turns out that when it goes from dirt to sink to plate, the flavor just bursts in your mouth. Yet another party!
And oh, the onions. I think husband and I have each secretly wondered if it would be shameful to plant an entire garden with just onions. We just can’t seem to grow enough. Sliced and paired with other veggies in a foil pack… oh. my. word. Summer is nothing but party time in vegetableland.
All of this beautiful garden-to-plate enjoyment, paired with some literature of the Slow Food persuasion, has prompted me to think about some of the other courses we consume. By having the 584 million pounds of cow in our freezer, we did eliminate a few of the stops the steaks take along the way (we go from farmer to butcher to freezer. I’m cool with that. I have no inkling to take on butcher-like hobbies). And I think I found an egg source here in town, but her hens are bit slow right now. When husband’s fellow coach had chicks it seemed like we got fresh eggs every other day, and I have to say the quality was better. There must be better grubs in the ground over by Wharton.
So now I seek milk. I’m not necessarily wishing to “go raw” (even with the persuasion of my sister), but I simply feel that my milk might be better if it doesn’t travel half way around the globe to get to me. It goes from farm to plant (for processing, packaging), then likely a distribution center, to the store, then to me. And in order to keep it fresh for all those car rides, they have to do a bit more, well, preserving. Thanks to the economics of organic milk, that gets extra- extra- pasteurized so that it can endure the long, dusty shelf life.
Growing up, at each stage of my life I had friends who were the daughters of dairy farmers. Kindergarten to senior year, I found myself frequently invited to the table of one who spent mornings and evenings milking the cows. And specifically I remember Saturday mornings in the Bettinger household, eating homemade donuts (like they have at Chinese restaurants – dough with a finger-hole in the middle, covered with sugar) and milk. Mmmm, that was some good breakfast. That family brought in their own bucket of milk (did a bit of self-pasteurization) and stuck it in the fridge. Rich and creamy, perfectly paired with a fried carbohydrate. Glory.
So now I’m seeking out alternative milk sources. But guess what? It seems Uncle Sam does not want this to be an option. I found a group of like-minded people in the Toledo area and I asked to be a part of their listserv to get info on where I can find such products. I was asked to provide a brief summary of why I want to join the group (“Hi, my name is M and I’m a certified nutcase when it comes to food.”). The reasoning? In case there are moles. Not furry ones – government ones trying to shut down the illegal milk trade of the world.
Seriously? Our economy is failing, parents are neglecting children and doing drugs, there are starving people in India and you’re worried about me getting fresh-tasting milk? We feel so strongly that it must come in a certified carton?
Yes, yes, I understand “food safety” regulations. But that didn’t seem to mean much here recently when we were all dumping our megafarm eggs into the river, if I remember correctly. Making sure it was packaged and shipped according to the government didn’t seem to stop the little germies from taking up residence in people’s tummies.
I agree that the producers of food have to be accountable for what they provide people. But when I go to pick up some milk and I say, “you know, my family got kind of sick last week. And another family that gets your milk had similar symptoms. Do you think it was something in the milk?” And the farmer says, “yes”, don’t you think he’ll take accountability? I mean, he’ll have to see me every week – or watch me go elsewhere. What is more American than that law of supply and demand? I think there’s even more accountability to keep your animals happy and healthy because your patrons know that it’s your animal. When I buy a package of eggs or a carton of milk at the store, it could have come from Middle Of Nowhere, Iowa or on State Route 292 and I wouldn’t have a clue.
And so it goes. Some secret CIA agent continues to spy on the little farmers of Bufu, Ohio and making my life and quest for real milk a bit more difficult. But I shall persevere. That is, until we move to the country and get our own cow (a Jersey, named Bess. With a bell around her neck). But that won’t be for a few years as H is not quite old enough to do the milking. If you think I complain a lot about buying milk, we can only imagine the implications when I am actually doing the milking.