"No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies." — Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Raw Milk, Yogurt, and Other Fermented Milk Products

Well, we're back in Tucson now. The move was harrowing and stressful, but we made it here safe and sound. We've rented a cute little 1-bedroom place and we're getting settled and into our respective grooves.

As part of our preparation to move, we looked up local producers of food products. We've found raw dairy, grass-fed organic beef, olives and olive oil (!!!), vegetables of all kinds, fruits, wine, and more. Much of this can be found at the various farmers' markets in Tucson or even at some stores such as Aqua Vita. We joined a raw milk cooperative.

We received our first gallon of raw cow's milk last week. I was very excited; many yogis live on nothing but raw milk, and it is considered by many in India to be "the perfect food". I had decided to try drinking 8 ounces per day to start, going up to 16 ounces (or more) per day if my body liked it.

We were so anxious when we received the container that we opened it immediately and took a drink. It was definitely milk, but it was salty and sour. I considered it basically undrinkable. I've had raw milk before (both cow and goat), and I knew something was up. Had it soured a bit? Would we get ill? Had we wasted our money (this stuff is not cheap!).

We reported our experience to the dairy and waited. After a couple of days, the herd owner sent out an e-mail apologizing for the milk. Her refrigerator had been on the way to breaking down and wasn't staying cool enough; the milk was starting to turn into yogurt already. We never got ill. I drank some, but we turned the rest of it all the way into yogurt with store-bought yogurt culture. YUM! Not only is the yogurt good, but we made a tiny bit of butter from this batch; it was only 2 or 3 tablespoons, but it was pretty good!

We received our second gallon of milk yesterday. This batch is sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious! It also had a significant amount of cream on top (over a pint). I can drink this stuff, no problem!

We've also made piimä, a Finnish cultured (fermented) milk product. It's a bit like crème fraîche, but has a very slight sourness as if it was very tame yogurt. It's quite tasty!

One thing we've both noticed is that neither of us has had any issues from the raw milk. My fiancee gets indigestion and gas when she drinks store-bought homogenized and pasteurized milk; this raw milk hasn't bothered her at all. I also noticed that I didn't form as much mucus when I drink the raw milk. Milk is a very cooling, kapha-producing substance, so it produces copious mucus in some people. In the desert, though, it's almost a godsend, and a cup of milk balances out the heat and dryness. Very wonderful!

I would strongly suggest getting some raw milk and trying it. Unless you have a medically-diagnosed allergy to dairy, raw milk will most likely feel much better to you than the "processed milk-like food product" you buy in the supermarket. It is an excellent food, full of protein and good fat, and is very cooling in the summer heat.

Now I see why cows are considered holy in India. :-)