You are walking down the dairy aisle in your local food market, staring at the extremely well-lit shelf containing dozens of cartons of milk, lined neatly, row by row, type by type: skim, low-fat, whole, Organic…. Which one to choose?
First, the basics:
- Whole Milk: The whole milk sold in supermarkets is cow’s milk that has been reduced in fat content to 3.25%. I use whole milk in places where the richness of the butterfat can be appreciated. For example, in my coffee and in baking recipes.
- Low-Fat Milk: This is the same as whole milk, except it contains between 0.5% and 2% butterfat. Because low fat milk has a less creamy taste and thinner texture, I combine it with rich foods. For example, I like to pour it over my oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts.
- 1% Milk and 2% Milk: These milks allow buyers to fine-tune how low-fat they want to go. 2% milk should contain 2% butterfat, which means it’s on the high end of low-fat. 1% milk means 1% butterfat, therefore it is on the mid to low end of low-fat.
- Skim Milk: Also the same as whole milk, except contains as little as 0.1% and as much as 0.5% butterfat. I have to admit that when it comes to counting calories, skim milk is a safe bet. I enjoy really cold skim milk with my morning granola. If I am having a milk shake with ice cream, I will use skin milk instead of whole to “skimp” a little.
Even more important than what richness of milk you use, which type of milk should you buy?
- Organic Milk: Like all other organic products, in order to be certified as “organic” by the U.S.D.A., organic milk must contain less than a very small percentage of synthetic chemicals, including pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics that may have been administered to the milking livestock. Organic milk is considerably more expensive, primarily because of the higher costs associated with creating an environment in which organic livestock can flourish free from the chemicals used in the commercial market, which have been linked to the development and spread of certain cancers. The health benefits of consuming milk free of synthetics are indisputable. If possible, I say splurge on the organic milk.
- Raw milk: Milk that has NOT been pasteurized. Because raw milk has not gone through a process that reduces pathogens, its sale is illegal in 22 of the United States. Raw milk is fairly obscure where I live, nonetheless, many people prefer raw milk to pasteurized milk, claiming that the cows that produce it are treated more humanely, kept in cleaner environs, and fed organic grass or feeds. Furthermore, raw milk has more nutrients and flavor. But if you are pregnant or your immune system is compromised, raw milk is not a good choice.
- Milk from local farms: Ronnybrook, for example, a farm located in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York, sells wholesome milk products that are not necessarily certified “organic,” but that do not contain pesticides, antibiotics, or artificial hormones. Further enhancing environmental appeal, Ronnybrook sells its fluid milk products in glass bottles that can be returned and refilled by the farm. I can’t resist the flavor, and their version of skim milk tastes like whole milk! My favorite choice.
Filed under: DAIRY