Hippie-steps and greasy milk

It started with a plastic Ziploc bag and almost ended at greasy milk.

As I reached for the box of 50 baggies I’d just bought, it struck me: I just paid for something just to throw it away. But we were two days from vacation so I set the thought aside.

While in the Caribbean, I struggled with the idea that a bunch of (relatively) rich first-world-er’s were all riled up because the cab drivers “charged too much.”  Too much for what?  We could (and did) afford it, right?  And they were making a week’s wages in a single day?  And did you not look out the window and see the shantytowns?

Speaking of shantytowns, I couldn’t help but notice they were built out of the same materials we throw away.  We buy vehicles for the purpose of throwing things away (truck, trailer) then pay more for that privilege.  This after *cough* PAYING for the thing we’re now throwing away.


Then I tweeted this:

Sometimes when I eat various fruits, my throat itches. Rarely just one fruit, rarely consistently.

And got this response from @kateditzler:

@notquitebetty The itchy is a reaction to pesticides. Peaches are one of the biggest perps.

Crap.  Into the world of pesticide research we go.  It’s not a nice place, something I knew from that time my dogs almost died from getting into something unknown (we thought at the time it was old, industrial pesticide from the 50’s somewhere on our property).


I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food years ago.  I know about “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I’ve put off reading Food, Inc. because I know it’ll be harder to enjoy a steak at our favorite steakhouse and the occasional McDonald’s (judge away).  Who wants to live in a world where Chick-Fil-A is off limits?  Not me!

But the little voice in the back of my head telling me we need to make better choices is getting louder and more urgent.  I look at the bounty from a recent shopping trip and my heart aches at the pile of packaging going into the trash, never mind the packaging on the stuff we haven’t yet used – milk jugs, meat wrappers, dog food bags.

Sigh.  I knew this would happen.

Being cheap has always been my coping mechanism for being indecisive.  Rather than debate the merits of the thing, I choose the cheapest one.  I’m now experimenting with using “most natural” as my decision-point instead… which is why I’m drinking greasy milk in my coffee.

See, we found this wonderful little organic store in the next town.  Once upon a time when I could leave my office during business hours, I’d buy (expensive and yummy) grass-fed beef from the (spa*) farmer at the farmer’s market. Well, this farmer sells his stuff in this co-op store that also stocks line-caught and semi-local seafood, organic produce and specialty beer.  With the promise of a pulled pork lunch, I enticed my husband into a trip.  If I can’t trust the labels in the grocery store, I’ll put my trust into the man who takes pictures of his kids with his chickens.

While there, we bought local milk: pasteurized but non-homogenized milk.  Have you ever had non-homogenized milk?  Nothing forces you to reconcile with your city-ness more than having to Google for instructions on what to do with the milk in your fridge.  The bottle has this greasy creamy stuff that rises to the top and won’t shake in despite my husband’s best attempts.  And when you pour it in your coffee, a greasy film floats on top.

Ew.  Forget this “as close to natural” thing; milk should not be greasy!

Well, except it should.  Sort of.  The “grease” is the naturally occurring fat that gets smooshed into shape during homogenization.  You can filter it out or you can drink it.  We’re lazy so we’re drinking it.

And you know? It’s not too bad.


Last night my husband walked into the bedroom while I was doing a quick yoga sequence in a desperate attempt to quell the spasms in my upper back.  After a few dirty jokes about “downward dog,” he sat on the bed and stared at me, much like my dogs do when I bust out the yoga.  My husband, though, got the added benefit of being able to understand the instructor telling me to breathe my breath down into my leg.

“You know how yesterday, greasy milk was one hippie-step too far for me?  Today, this yoga thing is.  Maybe tomorrow.”


*Spa Farmer: Runs a farm where the animals live happy lives on green hills eating natural things while being cared for by a family who takes pictures of them and has been known to give them names.  Yes, all before killing them so I can eat them, but hey, it’s a better life than the steaks at the grocery store had.


6 thoughts on “Hippie-steps and greasy milk

  1. Your greasy milk story had me smiling. I grew up on a dairy farm so naturally we drank raw milk. It was not pasteurized or homogenized – just straight up raw. It’s been 10 years since I’ve lived at the farm and I still shake the store-bought milk carton before I pour it. Just in case. 🙂

  2. I read Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma last year and it really changed my life. Ever since, I’ve been working to replace my CAFO meats with that of local farmers and trying to buy local and/or organic (within the limited budget I’ve had, working to save for our wedding). My fiance has been a little slow to accept my own “hippie-steps” (love that!) – at first he was like, “Why should I care what my food eats?!?” But then I made him watch Food, Inc. and he is starting to get it. Plus, I mean, I do all the shopping, so…. 🙂

  3. This post made me smile. I grew up on a ranch and we had a milk cow that my dad milked morning and night. That “cream” on the top is one of a few things that pretty much kept me from drinking milk!!! My sister was more of a milk drinker and still is but I had a hard time reconciling the blob of cream on the top. 🙂

    I too have been leaning into getting away from CAFO meats and buying local… I started with a grain CSA and starting to grow some of my own produce. I now endeavor to only buy meat from local markets that specialize in spa farms. It’s hard for me to pay more but it ends up working out that we eat make our meat go a little further and eat less of it at a time so I think that is actually a very positive reaction. I think every little bit helps! 🙂

  4. I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Saskatchewan, in a town with a population of 400, if you included all the farms in the surrounding area. We always bought our meat directly from the ranchers, usually splitting a cow with another family. A side of beef would last all year, cut, wrapped and packaged by the local butcher. I didn’t know any different – I spent the first 18 years of my life eating spa beef, and now I have to pay a major premium for it at the grocery store. I’m a little bitter.

  5. I’ve had the same surprise of “cream” on top when I got some organic milk and also some organic yogurt–not a fan! BUT I’m pregnant, and every time I’m choosing dairy products at the grocery store, I imagine delivering a 20 pound mutant baby who is the oversized result of bovine growth hormones. Bring on the “cream”! 🙂

    I had a similar-ish experience coming back from our honeymoon in Ireland nearly a year ago–my husband and I were *shocked* at how even the catsup tasted better there because they don’t add high fructose corn syrup to everything. It’s sad when catsup in Ireland tastes more like tomatoes than most tomatoes in grocery stores in the US. Likewise there just didn’t seem to be as much waste and consumerism there.

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