Food Photo ~ April 2010

As an adult I have always disliked milk. When I was a kid I used to pour myself large glasses of it, glasses which I would down in seconds. I understand that many adult Americans tell the same tale, how a deep and ever-present thirst for milk as a child became something akin to revulsion as an adult.  Is it that our bodies and taste buds change? Or did the milk change? I think it’s a little of both. Up until recently, when I would conjure up the idea of milk, I would think of an unpleasant smell and the taste of chemicals. I didn’t ever think of having a glass of milk, I didn’t even like the idea of finishing the milk at the bottom of my cereal bowl.  But that’s changed.

Since I met Patrick Lango of White Cow Dairy and drank fresh milk in his field, I’ve been re-thinking my milk aversion. Last summer, I took a bus full of culinary students on a private farm tour, which included a stop at Hoover Dairy in Sanborn, NY. Circumstances forced the Hoover family to give up their herd many years ago, but they bring in fresh, raw milk every day, and then in small batches, pasteurize it and bottle it. It tastes like the milk I used to drink by the cup full, the milk my mom would bring home in glass bottles from the drive-thru Milk Barn in town. Even the lower fat versions of Hoover’s milk are rich and satisfying. My kids, who were not big milk drinkers, can’t get enough of it. Hoover’s chocolate milk and the seasonally-available eggnog are really delicious treats, but we generally stick to the lower fat milk for daily consumption. What was once relegated to only quenching the intense thirst brought on by a slice of chocolate cake or warm homebaked cookies is now part of our daily lives in a way that just feels good.

If you don’t have access to local, fresh milk in glass bottles at your supermarket, look to see if a local food cooperative or farmers market can help you out. When I am unable to make the drive out to Hoover Dairy, I often stop in for Byrne Dairy milk in glass bottles from my neighborhood Co-op. With dairy being at the top of our state’s list of agricultural assets, there’s no reason not to source the freshest, best milk you and your family can afford.

Photo by Christa Glennie Seychew