Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

The Ingredients in Milk February 23, 2011

Filed under: Politics,Raw Goat Milk — realfoodmama @ 4:16 pm
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Fish Milk?

Since my goat has been dried off and I am currently waiting for my hopefully (crosses fingers, arms and legs) pregnant doe to kid in April I am without a milk supply at the moment. If it were up to me we would simply go without, but sadly it isn’t. As a result we have had to buy milk recently. While I would prefer to buy goat milk from my local goat dairy, they are all in the same situation I am and have no milk at the moment as they are also expecting kids and their girls are either pregnant or dry. It is that time of year.

This has, of course, led me to buy organic cow milk from my local co-op. I don’t really drink it except for in my tea, but my kiddo asks for a glass now and then and his father consumes quite a bit of it. When I went to buy the first half gallon I noticed something new in the milk isle. Granted I haven’t paid that much attention for nearly a year since the last time I found myself without a goat milk supply, so maybe this isn’t news to everyone reading. Apparently you can buy milk that has added omega-3’s and DHA in it. Upon reading the back I learned that in the case of the additional omega-3’s and DHA in the Organic Valley version, fish oil has been added to supply them. I beg your pardon?

I mean really, who wants milk with fish in it?

Then, this morning, I was made aware of something even more disturbing that fish-milk. According to the Cornucopia Institute, Horizon Dairy (not known for their exemplary record in following organic standards anyway) has added synthetic, non-approved DHA and Omega-3’s to their milk and are still proudly flaunting the organic label. Apparently the synthetic additives come from a processed algae source, rather than actual fish like the additives in the Organic Valley version. The problem, of course, is that the synthetic source has not been approved organic and therefor the addition of it to an organically labeled product is questionable.

In either case, whether organic fish or questionable algae bi-product, I find the addition of these nutrients to a food like milk highly questionable. Milk is a real food, even in its pasteurized form – though I personally believe raw is better. On the one hand it is somewhat inspiring to see that the recognition of the importance of nutrients like omega-3’s has made such an impact, but on the other hand I don’t understand why the food industry – the Organic food industry even – has decided it needs to mess with something that isn’t broken.

It seems to be just another attempt of the industrial food machine to modify a “product” to fit “consumer” patterns in order to make more money. And in the process they have taken a very simple food and given it an ingredient list.

Suffice it to say I am going to be very glad when my goat milk supply comes back.

Happy Eating (and drinking!)

This post has been my contribution to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday.


Kefir Success!…kind of… February 5, 2010

Filed under: Fight Back Fridays,Home Economics,Raw Goat Milk — realfoodmama @ 11:35 am
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I am pleased to announce that my kefir grains acclimated perfectly to my raw goats milk and I ended up with a beautiful cup-full of kefir yesterday afternoon. The sour smell was very mild, but I decided to stop the culture anyway, change the milk, and give it a try – I have an aversion to really sour flavors as a general rule. It was the sixth morning of letting the kefir sit in fresh milk overnight and everything seems to be working smoothly.

After straining it and transferring the grains to yet another cup of fresh milk (I want to keep a continuous supply going) I poured myself a little and gave it a try. The flavor was very mild, slightly sweet, and very delicious. The thing I find so interesting about kefir is that it is incredibly rich. I can really only drink about 1/8 of a cup before I feel full. I also made my boyfriend and my son try it. The results of their taste test was not quite as enthusiastic as mine:

My son’s response was “I don’t like it…I want to wash my mouth.” (He’s 2, btw.)

His father was more diplomatic and said something to the effect of “My body isn’t sure what this is.”

So this morning, I re-presented it. This time, however, I had added a small amount of organic cherry juice concentrate. This changed the color dramatically and while I didn’t notice a significant change in taste, apparently the boys did because my son gobbled it up and his father did the same. I am hoping that at some point I will be able to convince both of them to eat it un-altered, however for the time being I am willing to accept that they are getting what they need from it, cherry juice aside.

It was pretty exciting to see my little man drink the kefir. The same way I feel when he eats his clams or gets really excited about my sourdough bread. Hopefully when, and if, I get that liverwurst he will be equally excited about that!

The real goal of all of this, of course, is to make sure that he is given the best possible nutrition at an early age and to teach him enough about food so that when he grows up and starts making his own food choices he does so consciously and with a foundation of knowledge rather than just buying things because he saw an ad for them or because they are cheap. It is all about little steps.

Ironically, the real challenge is not my two year old, but his father. He is a southern boy who was raised on sweet tea, mountain dew, candy, and a variety of fried goods (I can bet they weren’t fried in home rendered lard!). In fact, it is a miracle that the only visible damage was to his teeth (which are wretched). He has none of the other health problems so often associated with that diet. As for my part in it, I suppose that working with 40+ years of food experience is much more of an uphill battle than working with my son, who really only has about 18 months of food experience! So while he is willing to let me render my lard, he still wants me to use it for cherry pies, and though he is willing to try kefir, I imagine that if I presented him with a plate of liver he’d burst into tears.

In either case, I think that the most important thing about changing your diet is being willing and able to go slowly, work in small steps, and allow yourself the benefit of the doubt. With that in mind, I’d rather my son drink kefir sweetened with fruit juice than none at all! And the same goes for his dad.

Happy Eating…and Drinking!

This post has been my contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday’s blog carnival.


Goat Milk Kefir February 3, 2010

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Raw Goat Milk,Real Food Wednesday — realfoodmama @ 10:19 am
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Mmmm, dairy...I finally got my Kefir grains from Cultures for Health and I have been spending the last few days acclimating them to my raw goats milk. I am very excited about these little bundles of bacteria and am hopeful to be able to make an actual batch of kefir next week.

For those of you unfamiliar with the stuff, kefir is a fermented milk beverage. It has a sour flavor similar to yogurt, but the texture is very different allowing you to drink it. Said to originate in Russia and the Caucasus, kefir has many health benefits, not the least of which the introduction of beneficial bacteria to the intestinal floura. It is for this reason alone that I have been wanting to start my own kefir culture. More information about the history (real and legendary) and the health benefits of kefir can be found here.

The grains themselves came packed in a small amount of powdered milk which I just added to my raw goats milk. The instructions said to let the grains sit at room temperature in the milk for 24 hours, at which point you strain them and add them to fresh milk and repeat the process.
Soaking the grains Apparently in 4 – 7 days you should have a product that smells slightly sour, possibly yeasty, and not at all off. Today is day 5 for me and I suspect I may need another day simply because my milk is raw and the kefir is working with a much higher load of existing bacteria than if I were using pasteurized milk. It also looks as though my grains are already multiplying! I am very excited about this for a variety of reasons. First, it means that they are healthy and working, secondly it means I can share them if people are interested! Very exciting indeed.

With that success in mind, one of the things I have struggled with is whether to rinse the kefir grains when I change the milk, as there is nothing about this on the instructions from Cultures for Health. I have simply been adding any accumulated cream/curd back into the fresh milk, rather than rinse the cultures with water. It turns out this is absolutely right! I was doing some research and found a great site with a ton of information about kefir grains. Not only did it clarify the process a bit for me, but it also provides some ideas about how to store the grains if they are not being used, as well as giving a few ideas on kefir variations (such as refrigerator kefir or a double fermentation method).

The irony of all of this is of course it is very near the end of milking season and I am running extremely low on my goat milk. Goats typically only lactate for 9 months and I am pushing the issue with my Nubian so that I can have milk until my other girl delivers (expected late March). I am milking my girl every other day in an effort to dry her off slowly and as a result, only have about a quart every two days. Given that I have had to use 2 cups from each milking for the kefir I don’t have a lot left over! Not the best planning in the world!

In either case, I am hopeful that by this weekend I will have a nice batch of birthday kefir (my B-day is Friday!) and when I have managed to get a successful batch, I will post about it here. Until then, Happy Eating…and drinking!

This post has been my contribution to Real Food Wednesday’s, hosted this week by Cheeseslave.


Drinking Locally? June 30, 2009

Filed under: Eating local — realfoodmama @ 9:32 pm
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I am a tea drinker. I drink anywhere from three to five cups of the stuff a day. My beverage of choice? Irish Breakfast blend – lovely black tea with a strong aroma and hearty flavor that pairs perfectly with a bit of sugar and a generous helping of milk.

So where does my tea come from? Am I buying it at the local farmer’s market? Is it coming from my Co-Op after being grown the next state over? No. No it isn’t.

My tea comes from China – or possibly India or Sri Lanka. And the coffee in my house that my partner and my mother drink comes from, depending on the brand, Africa or S. America. And while the coffee, unlike the tea, is processed locally by Aroma Coffee, the beans certainly aren’t grown here.

So, with all the focus on eating locally, how does one drink locally as well without, dare I say it, giving up a necessary addition to your diet? Because while I enjoy caffeine and pretty much require it to live, I really drink it for the people around me. Un-caffeinated, I am evil, pure and simple.

There are, of course, ways to drink your coffee or tea responsibly – buying only fair trade beans or teas and looking for certified organic products. In general, however, this still only partially lowers the impact of this country’s food consumption – the environmental issues are still not resolved.

At this point, I have to concede defeat, as I am not aware of any locally grown and harvested caffeinated beverages out there. Yerba mate is, aside from absolutely disgusting, not grown in this climate either, though it does come from this hemisphere. There are certain things that really are luxuries, and it appears that tea (or coffee) is truly one of these.

While the caffeinated beverages above are hard to buy locally, alcohol is rather easy to find. The surge of the microbrewery trend in the ’90’s has led to a surplus of local breweries and Santa Fe is no different. We have four separate brewpubs in town. And as it turns out, New Mexico is actually decent wine country so there are several small wineries to choose from as well, though they tend to be more spread out and most sell their fare only in their vineyard shops.

Perhaps one day there will be a trend for local coffee growers and tea makers, but until then I will enjoy this warm cup of tea with bittersweet enthusiasm; a delicious cup of indulgence. And as soon as they discover how to grow tea in a high desert climate, I will be the first to try it out. Until then, Happy eating!