Have any of you, recently taken a good look at the dairy case in your local supermarket? I could be wrong, but didn’t it used to be a simple, well-lit, refrigerated structure, filled with rows of cold, delicious, vitamin fortified goodness, in a few different fat contents, flavors, and sizes? Milk cases now contain, an incredible assortment of every milk product ever created. I don’t think a lot of it is even real milk. You’ll see such things as soy, almond, coconut, and rice milk. You’ll also see dozens of different coffee creamers, in exotic flavors like: mocha, hazelnut, caramel, pumpkin, butter pecan, and peppermint.
Usually, when I do my weekly grocery shopping, I’ll stop at the dairy case, quickly grab a gallon of whole milk, and head to the check-outs. Today I took a few minutes to see what the simple milk I grew up with has evolved into. Besides whole milk, they now have skim milk, 1% milk, and 2% milk. Do you know what the difference between 1% and 2% milk is? Yes, one percent. Wow, you people are sharp today. Not much of a difference, is it? How can they determine the percentage so perfectly? Does one guy yell, “Hey Joe, it looks like we got 1.22% milk here. Could you take a teaspoon and skim a little fat off the top?”
Whatever happened to my favorite, childhood drink? Milk used to be a simple, wonderful, pure, delicious, vitamin-enhanced gift from nature. When I was a boy, my grandfather had a farm where he raised dairy cows. We would often drink, warm and delicious milk directly from the cow. It was thick, viscous, and had subtle flavors that spoke of warm summers, gentle rains, abundant sunshine, and tender green shoots of grass, pushing up through fertile soil.
Do you know that long ago, in simpler times, tall and handsome men in spotless, freshly pressed uniforms and cool hats would deliver milk three times a week, right to your door? Unless you awoke before the first rays of dawn, you would never see them deliver the milk. To a small child, it was like Christmas morning, but instead of presents under a tree we would find thick glass bottles, full of delicious milk. I never saw them, but sometimes imagined, huge vehicles, emblazoned with logos of white and black spotted cows on the sides, rushing towards are house.
The trucks would be filled with just a few simple choices. Arrayed on shelving in the back would be row after row of whole or skim white milk, chocolate milk, cream, and buttermilk. That was it. You always knew you were guaranteed fortified goodness that would provide vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients, to ensure your children would grow up with strong bones and teeth. I don’t know if what we see in the store these days is even real milk. Maybe kids just aren’t drinking enough. All I know is, when I was a kid, we would jump twenty feet out of trees and land on gigantic boulders, roll down steep hills, and crash into walls, and except for a few bumps and bruises were fine. Today, kids often break bones while playing games on their smart phones.
Here’s something strange. I found a few cartons of milk with the words “Grass-fed” in big green letters across the front. I’m getting more confused by the minute. Don’t all cows eat grass? I just passed a field the other day, and saw a grazing herd of cows with necks extended, as they hungrily combed the ground for grass. If most cows aren’t eating grass, then what are they eating? Have today’s bovines, gained an affinity for the delicious, yet spicy taste of burritos and chimichangas? I guess that was a cow in front of me yesterday at the Taco Bell drive-through. I originally thought it was just a guy with an enormous head.
There are just so many decisions to be made when buying milk these days. Besides white and chocolate milk, they now have vanilla and strawberry as well. You have to decide on organic milk versus regular milk. I looked up organic milk, and it said it’s produced by cows that eat only organic food, live in large pens and don’t get injected with synthetic hormones or steroids. Wait a minute. Did it just say steroids? I didn’t realize that cows were getting juiced up with muscle-building chemicals. I guess we now know, why some kids these days are passing six feet in height, by the time they’re twelve.
See what I’ve been talking about? These days, we can’t even know what we’re ingesting when we drink milk. What makes it worse is, the milk industry has the greatest public relations experts and marketing geniuses working for them. We’ve all heard the phrase, “got milk,” right? You may have also noticed, due to slick and effective advertising, milk has invaded every aspect of our lives. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of cookies? Yes, you think of milk. How about cereal? Milk again. They even have Santa Claus drinking a billion glasses of milk every Christmas Eve. Personally, I think Santa’s sick of all that milk. Last Christmas I decided to put out a giant fuzzy navel for old Saint Nick, and do you know what happened? It was gone the next morning. Besides making Santa happy, I also had a pretty good night. My wife for some strange reason came up to bed, happy and giggling, and to my delight – very frisky.
Now, I hear that up to thirty million Americans are lactose intolerant, and can’t drink milk. Scientists say lactose intolerance is the inability of the human body to metabolize lactose, which is a disaccharide sugar found in milk. They say, too much lactose causes the body to produce copious amounts of various gases, resulting in cramps, nausea and flatulence. That sounds pretty complicated. In simple terms, I think it means that your tummy will hurt and you’ll fart a lot.
Studies have also shown that ninety percent of people with Asian ancestry can’t drink milk. I find it hard to believe that people can’t drink milk. When I was a kid, we were always so hungry and thirsty we would drink just about anything, including water from hoses. I would drink at least a gallon of milk a week. Now kids can’t drink milk? I’ll bet you don’t hear of hungry children in third world countries being offered milk and holding up their hand and saying, “No thanks. Do you happen to have anything else? Perhaps, a diet coke. I’m sorry, but I’m lactose intolerant.”
While I’m on the subject of milk. Have any of you ever wondered about the relationship between milk, bread, eggs and impending storms? Last week, the local weatherman said that remnants of Hurricane Harvey, might cause torrential rains, high winds, possible flooding, and a small chance of widespread power outages. To be safe, I decided to stop after work for a few basics. Arriving at the dairy section to procure a gallon of milk, I was met with a ravaged and empty milk case. I also saw at least thirty people lined up at the check-out lines with carts loaded with gallons of milk, cases of eggs, and dozens of loaves of bread. I guess, there must be a lot of families with an extreme love of french toast. To be fair; milk hoarding appears to cross all racial, ethnic socioeconomic, and gender lines. A woman in line with me must have had ten gallons of milk stacked in her cart. Figuring she could spare just one, I reached towards her cart, and gently asked if I could please have one. Her answer was short and precise, as she said, “Storm bad, but milk good. Move your hand or lose it.”
Before I move on to my next simple observation of everyday life, I think I’ll hit the local market. I just heard that meteorologists are calling for a cold front, which in combination with a southerly flow of hot, humid air, might spawn some tornadoes, along with localized thunderstorms, and damaging hail. I can always use bread, eggs and a gallon of lactose free, organic, grass-fed, skim, vanilla soy milk. I know it sounds a little crazy, but I can’t take any chances. Who knows what they’re putting in milk these days. My sisters visiting, and her son, Billy is just fifteen, but already close to seven feet tall. weighs in at a hefty two hundred and fifty pounds, and looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. I also, just saw him flip over the neighbor’s car with one hand. I better hurry though. Mrs. Duffy, and five other neighbors just jumped into their cars, and are racing after a big white milk truck.