Book Review: The Untold Story of Milk, by Ron Schmid, ND

The secondary title of this fascinating book? “The history, politics, and science of nature’s perfect food: raw milk from pasture-fed cows.”

And, the book delivers on both its primary and secondary titles. I challenge anyone who has a poor opinion of raw milk to read this book with an open mind! While I myself am a raw milk drinker and advocate, I learned so much about the early history (ancient history, really) of milk, the struggle for clean and reliable milk that led to ‘certified’ milk and pastuerized milk, the role of milk in the prevention of disease, and how the ongoing struggle to ensure access to consumer choice of raw milk is a convulted case of ‘follow the money’ at best, and under-handed politics at worst.

Anyone that thinks milk is boring would do well to read this book, that, while extremely informative,  and at times even scientific, is by no means dry reading.

I think among the epiphanies I noted while reading it was that the advent of pasteurization in the early to mid 1900’s was not a conspiracy aimed at ending the sale of raw milk. It had noble aims and goals, and accomplished some of them. In large cities, such as New York, the number of people, many of them immigrants, who desired milk for themselves and their children, outweighed the resources to safely deliver raw, or pure, milk to them. As a result, so-called ‘swill dairies’ grew up alongside of whisky distilleries, the cattle being fed and housed un-naturally, that is on the leftover mash of the whisky-making process and confined in pens where they stood and rested in their own excrement. Milk, in its raw state, in this condition, was unsafe.

On the flip side, physicians continued to advocate for access to raw milk, so that their patients could truly heal and receive nutritious food. The physicians of this time so believed in the healing power of pure milk that they inspected dairies and certified them independently, asking the dairy farmers to sign an ethical code, and adhere to safety and cleanliness standards. The ‘certified’ dairies the physicians endorsed were generally outside city limits, and couldn’t provide for the needs of all.

As a stop-gap measure, I would say, milk pasteurization entered the picture, rendering the swill-dairy milk sterile. However, forever in the minds of the public, continuing to this day, we confuse ‘sterile’ with ‘nutritious’.

Take a chance and read this book! I’d love to hear what you think of it. It reinforced my own desire to continue to advocate for the right to choose the milk I drink, and for the state or national government to protect and defend my right to do so – though sadly, even in my state of North Dakota, the legislature is considering a bill to make it much harder to have access to raw milk. Perhaps if each legislator even read the first three  chapters of this exciting tome, the education they receive would ensure that no further bills of this nature be considered.

Lost: Lard

As promised, this Monday’s post continues Friday’s Fatty theme, and today, we’ll explore Lard.

Lard gets a bad rap. And while its true you can eat too much of any kind of fat, many of us fear fat unnecessarily, as I alluded to in Friday’s post.

Traditional fats and foods were studied by dentist Weston A Price, and the results continue to astound people. Controversial, to say the least, but when you examine the foundational study (published in 1953) that declared saturated fat to be a villain, you’ll see, as other researchers have, that the logic is flimsy at best, flawed at worst. (Conspiracy theory, anyone? Bueller?) You can dwell on the controversy here, and here, or just enjoy the fatty slide show at the bottom of the screen.  Depends on how much you want your thinking challenged this early on a Monday morning.

But now, the story of my happy pig. This past fall, our family had the opportunity to purchase a whole hog, organic, pasture-raised (YESSS) with two other families. I opted to receive the fat as well – so I could render lard. It came in three humungous bags, all ground up, which was nice and would save me time. One of the families didn’t want their share of fat, so I have one bag still left in the freezer! Suh-weet!

I came across this idea of rendering lard on another blog, which led to a search on several other blogs for the method I wanted to go with (sound familiar? I hope on the computer to do one thing, and …..3 hours later….) I settled on the Simple,Green, Frugal Co-op site  post, as it had the most detailed instructions, and I remain pleased with the results – the method worked out great! Read the post, then enjoy my Lardshow, which is like a slideshow, only all the slides contain something lard-related:  You’ll see the whole frozen fat, the fat in the crockpot, the honey-colored warm lard right after I strained it in a flour sack dishtowel, the “cracklins” (more on that in a post soon!),  the finished white solid lard, and the first delicious pie crust I made! I keep the jars in the freezer until I’m ready to use them. Then, I move the jar to the fridge, and just work away at it.

Embrace the fat. Yum! Yea, verily.

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