By Two Dancing Buckeyes on July 21, 2011
In my home, milk is a pretty popular commodity. Both my children are capable of drinking copious amounts on a daily basis. And it ain’t cheap either! My husband will be the first one to tell you my milk-spending habit is on the ridiculous side. But I am always quick to point out that if it’s ok for the average adult to spend $15 for a bottle of wine, why not $8 for a half-gallon of goat milk?
Wait a minute you say?....goat milk? Who drinks goat milk? Well, many in the U.S. are not aware that throughout much of the world, goat milk--not cow milk--is the numero uno choice for consumption. And it makes sense that goat milk would be more attractive to the world’s population. Goats are smaller animals than cows, obviously, and require much less space and food. One goat can produce enough milk for a family of four on a daily basis, which makes it a superior choice, at least in my opinion, to having an enormous cow meandering around your suburban backyard!
I admit that goat milk has a slightly different taste than cow milk, but most likely I notice the difference since I was raised drinking cow milk. My children, on the other hand, would definitely prefer a glass of goat milk over cow milk any day. My family spends the summer in Greece, and it is there that my son had his first encounter with fresh-from-the-pasture goat milk. We have a friend who runs a goat farm and offers milk to us on a weekly basis. Of course, when he gives us the milk, it is raw. Now, I admit there are those who are in favor of raw milk and those who are against it, purely from a perspective of hygiene. But I will get back to the “raw” issue in a bit. Honestly, I have never tasted anything so rich, creamy, and delicious in all of my life. The pasteurized (and in some cases, ultra-pasteurized), homogenized liquid they bottle as milk these days does not even come close!
When I returned home to New York, I looked for goat milk at the grocery store. There were a few brands, such as Coach Farms and Meyenberg. Unfortunately, my local grocery store discontinued selling the Coach Farms brand, probably because it wasn’t selling well enough. And the Meyenberg brand milk was ultra-pasteurized, which I try to avoid. Where’s a girl to find goat milk??? I sort of put my goat milk search on hold while I went through my second pregnancy, opting for un-homogenized, organic milk from my local farmer’s market. But when it came time for my daughter to start weaning into dairy milk, I started searching online for a goat milk supplier.
If I may, I am going to take the time here to explain why I chose to start my daughter on goat milk versus cow milk. Goat milk is similar to human milk, containing the same bioactive components, which suppress the growth of harmful organisms. It is also easier to digest than cow milk because its protein molecules are smaller and its fat proteins have thinner membranes, allowing the lactose to pass through the intestines more rapidly. Goat milk also contains about 7% less lactose than cow milk. Even many adults, who consider themselves to be lactose intolerant, find they can tolerate goat milk. It is very soothing on the digestive tract and is a well-known treatment for ulcers. Goat milk has an alkaline pH, so it doesn’t produce acid in the blood or intestinal system as cow milk does. It also contains more medium chain fatty acids, more Vitamin A, is a rich source of the trace mineral, selenium, and 3% more calcium than cow milk. Additionally, goat milk contains a more highly-evolved cholesterol than cow milk, making it more available for absorption to the brain and body. Goat milk does not form mucous and is therefore better tolerated by asthmatics and those with allergies. It has been observed that children who drink goat milk sleep better through the night and are more satisfied between meals than those children drinking cow milk.
And the list, which goes on and on, fully supports goat milk’s superiority over cow milk for digestion in humans. There’s another point I would like to make now regarding goat milk. Because goat milk does not contain agglutinin, it does not need to be homogenized. (Basically that simply means the fat globules do not cluster together like they do in cow milk.) The homogenization process allows an enzyme, xanthin oxidase, to be more heavily present than in un-homogenized milk. While the dairy industry will deny this theory, xanthin oxidase is thought by many scientists to initiate the harmful formation of plaque in the arterial walls. Hmmmm….maybe this could be a realistic contributing factor to why there are so many people suffering from coronary artery disease since the 1930’s when milk began to be homogenized??? Food for thought!
Ok, you say. So where am I supposed to find un-homogenized milk? The first place to look is your local farmers’ market. There is a good chance that even if none of the farmers are selling it, they will probably know someone who does. Second stop: the internet. You might be surprised, but there are national and even international directories online, connecting consumers with farmers and their products. In fact, on my quest for goat milk, I stumbled upon the Real Milk website ( http://realmilk.com/where.html ). Realmilk has an international directory, where you can look for suppliers/co-ops selling raw milk in your state. To my “udder” surprise, I came across a co-op in New Jersey, which delivers to Manhattan once a week, called Udder Milk, which not only sells delicious raw cow and goat milk, but other products like cheese, eggs, meats, and homemade soap, just to name a few.
I, too, had my reservations regarding raw milk consumption, most likely due to hearing my whole life that raw milk is unsafe. But the only reason why raw milk could be unsafe is if the farmers producing the milk raise their cows in unhealthy environments, such as the huge factory farms constituting a majority of American farms today. If you purchase raw milk from a farmer who raises grass-fed cows, goats, or sheep, with clean, healthy, organic standards, you should not have a problem. If you still have reservations, just heat your milk until bubbles begin to surface (but not boiling), then store in glass containers in your fridge.
Hopefully after reading this you might consider trying goat milk, un-homogenized milk, or maybe even raw milk. But even if you don’t, perhaps you might think about that next jug of milk you pick up at the store. Cheers!
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By Karen Ballum