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Mass Market Milk Mission

July 27, 2010

This may be the first time I’m admitting that perhaps I am impossibly fussy about certain things.  Espresso and cappuccino are two of those things.  Manhattans might be a third.  But I remember a while back when the Starbucks corporate office made a systemwide pledge that if you were unhappy with your drink, they would remake it until you were satisfied.

That left me asking the question, “What if they can’t?”  Because honestly, they couldn’t.

Milk, on the other hand, isn’t something that I am impossibly fussy about.  I buy organic for Little Miss Fussy because I’m nonplussed about antibiotics in addition to growth hormones and pesticides. But there are some of you out there, and you know who you are, who demand things from milk that go far beyond the organic standards.    

Yes, I could buy my milk from small-scale local dairies that feed their cows entirely on grass and bottle their milk unpasteurized (or even gently pasteurized) in glass bottles.  Actually I don’t know that I could, but I assume it’s possible.  I don’t know because I’m actually not that fastidious about everything.

All the same, you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find milk for Little Miss Fussy.

I forgot to mention one little thing.  Ultra-pasteurization isn’t terribly appealing to me.  And what’s remarkable is that excluding small-scale local dairies that sell either directly or through the co-op, there is only one brand of organic milk available locally that is simply pasteurized.

Here is how a big player in the dairy industry describes ultra-pasteurization:

  • Ultra pasteurized simply means that the milk has been heated under pressure at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time (280° for two seconds versus 167° at 15 seconds for standard pasteurized).
  • This advanced technology extends the shelf life to 60 + days (from 18 days).

This is what the radical hippies have to say on the subject:

According to Lee Dexter, microbiologist and owner of White Egret Farm goat dairy in Austin, Texas, ultra-pasteurization is an extremely harmful process to inflict on the fragile components of milk. Dexter explains that milk proteins are complex, three-dimensional molecules, like tinker toys. They are broken down and digested when special enzymes fit into the parts that stick out. Rapid heat treatments like pasteurization, and especially ultra-pasteurization, actually flatten the molecules so the enzymes cannot do their work.

Here’s my more moderate take.  Milk shouldn’t have a sixty-day shelf life.  Period.  If you are processing a fresh and perishable product to the point where for all intents and purposes it is no longer perishable, I don’t want it.

So every week I make a trip to one of our local Price Choppers for organic whole milk.  Because it is their store brand, and exclusively in the full gallon jugs, that is the only mass-market organic milk sold in the Albany area that isn’t ultra-pasteurized.

Do you want to know the worst part? Often they are sold out.

Yep.  I make a special trip to Price Chopper to get this one thing.  If it weren’t for this one product, Price Chopper would not even make it into my regular shopping rotation.  And far too often, I go to the milk cooler only to walk away empty handed.

Luckily I live a short drive from at least five different Price Choppers.  Now I have learned to call ahead and check to see if there is any of this milk on the shelf before I get in the car.  Yesterday I only needed to call two before I found the milk in stock.  Granted, with phone trees and hold times it took me the better part of fifteen minutes.

So cheers to Price Chopper for being the only mass market retailer to supply this product locally.  I only wish you had a more reliable supply.

Last but not least, today is Mrs. Fussy’s birthday!  She is a critical player here at the FLB working behind the scenes to make sure all the commas are in the right places, and that I keep the devil down in the hole.  Thank you for all your support.  Happy birthday.  

There will be cake.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    July 27, 2010 9:58 am

    In some remote areas such as parts of Nevada or Alaska and definitely in West and Central Africa, to name just a couple of examples, ultra-pasteurized (and/or powdered) milk is a Godsend.

  2. Tonia permalink
    July 27, 2010 12:32 pm

    I agree that milk shouldn’t have a 60 day shelf life. But, I also care about where my products come from. Where does Price Chopper’s “organic” milk come from? If cows are living in piles of crap, poor living conditions and health, or inhumanely treated with no grass in sight, even though they are being fed “organically,” how is this good?

    I think you will find this interesting:

  3. Chris permalink
    July 27, 2010 2:48 pm


    Great link! Awesome to see Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent (raw milk) and Evan’s Farmhouse in Norwich (the best heavy cream you will ever have – lowest temperature pasteurized – available at HW coop) both received near-perfect “5 cow” ratings :)

  4. Erin Lenseth permalink
    July 27, 2010 2:54 pm

    They use all UHT milk here and Asia.

    And margarine, which I REFUSE to touch.

    It’s nothing short of disgusting in terms of flavor and concept, but it’s the best thing they can get without paying a fortune.

  5. Lucy permalink
    July 27, 2010 3:39 pm

    Meadowbrook delivers. (518) 768-2451. They also offer juices, eggs, and other dairy products.


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