The Milk Stands Alone: Traders Point Creamline Whole Milk

Let me start by saying that I’ve never been one to drink much milk. Sure, after the inhalation of a mass of cookies, well yes, but not in the way of looking forward to drinking a glass of milk. My brother loved milk, but I only liked it in a bowl of Cocoa Krispies (which turned it into chocolate milk!) And I only drank it because I HAD to (the usual kid reason—Mom made me drink it, which I vowed to myself I’d stop doing once I became a grownup).

I am now chronologically a “grownup”, even though I still feel like a kid1. I have the mortgage, the crow’s feet, and the junk mail from life insurance companies to show for it. And milk is still an “ingredient” as opposed to a beverage. That is, I still don’t drink milk.

Well, I don’t USUALLY drink milk. There is one exception—Traders Point Creamline Milk, a product of Zionsville, Indiana’s Traders Point Creamery that I buy at Muncie’s Downtown Farm Stand.

TradersPointMilk

So, what is so special about Traders Point Creamline Milk? Let’s start with the cream. Maybe you’re old enough to remember when milk came in bottles (this one does!) and had a layer of cream on top which, if you were lucky, you got to eat (or else you shook the bottle to reincorporate the cream back into the milk. Homogenization is the process that blends two liquids that don’t dissolve together. With homogenization, the milk fat globules are made smaller and then spread throughout the liquid milk. Thus, the milk fat is distributed evenly throughout. Today’s commercially available milk is largely homogenized, so that delectable layer of cream is missing. However, Traders Point milk is not homogenized and a layer of cream (sometimes over an inch thick!) can be found at the top of the bottle.

Traders Point milk is also the product of grassfed cows that graze on pasture free of pesticides. This grassfed and certified organic milk is higher in Omega 3 fatty acid and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), both of which can potentially improve health. Milk from grassfed cows is also higher in beta-carotene.

Traders Point milk comes from Brown Swiss cows, a breed that originated in the Alps (I guess the “Swiss” part is a clue!). The subtly gray-brown colored Brown Swiss are hardy, having been bred to withstand the difficult alpine climate with its strong, cold winters. They have docile natures and require much less attention than some other breeds. Still, they aren’t as common as other breeds, such as Holstein. The milk of the Brown Swiss (and they are prolific producers!) has a fat (4%) to protein (3.5%) ratio that seems ideal for cheesemaking (and there’s a lot of that at Traders Point Creamery).

Traders Point Creamline Milk is my go-to milk (and yes, I do use it as an ingredient!) Traders Point became the first Indiana organic dairy farm to win certification from the USDA. While they might be known more for their cheeses and drinkable yogurts, their milk gets a special nod of approval from me!

1When, exactly, does one actually FEEL like a grownup? Apparently, a mortgage doesn’t do it. I’ve asked other adults this question and no one seems to know the answer. Nor do most of them (at least the fun ones!) feel grown up. I guess it really is okay to feel like a kid.

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Organic Valley—A Cooperative Founded (and Headquartered) in Wisconsin

First, let it be said that I do not follow a 100% organic diet. I do not follow a 100% local or regional diet. Organic foods do cost more (although for a very good reason), some foods may be difficult to source organically, and frankly, sometimes I just want a scoop of Baskin-Robbins Baseball Nut ice cream! That said (and I realize that I am very fortunate here) I do try to follow a largely organic and/or local or regional diet.

So where does Organic Valley come into play? It’s an organic cooperative—and a true cooperative. Founded in 1988 in La Farge, Wisconsin as the Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool (or CROPP), it was a way for a group of southwestern Wisconsin farmers to survive, it has grown into being the largest organic farmers’ cooperative in the world (as of 2013). Remember that the 1980s saw a continued decline in the number of smaller family farms going bust (recall that Farm Aid’s first concert was in 1985), a phenomenon that really gained momentum after World War II. By combining numbers in a cooperative, smaller organic farmers could hold on to their farms while providing chemical-free dairy, eggs, and produce to satisfied consumers. Today, over 1800 farmers and 400 employees comprise the Organic Valley family, although the original Flyover locus has expanded, as these farmers come from across the United States and Canada now.

An organic farmers cooperative can be a saving grace for small family farmers committed to producing healthy products free of chemical pesticides. The iconic Midwestern farmer is largely a relic of the past—today farming is increasingly monopolized by large conglomerates. The likes of Tyson (and Perdue in the east) contract farmers to raise chickens for them (and have detailed rules on exactly HOW to raise those birds). Other corporations (e.g. Monsanto) own patents and supply genetically modified seed for crops like corn and sugar beets. The thoughtful decisions a farmer used to make are being lost as corporate rules become the new farming. Sure, Big Ag may try to foster an image of wholesomeness and family, but make no mistake—farming is moving out of the hands of farmers and into the hands of bottom-line-only corporate executives. That’s part of the reason an organic cooperative like Organic Valley is so important.

Organic Valley

If I can’t purchase local dairy, I feel confident in buying Organic Valley1. I trust the products. Organic Valley’s mission, which you can read on their website, fosters diversity in agriculture and fair prices paid to farmers; these are worthy goals. And I feel a sort of pride that it all started here in Flyover Country!

1Their butters—both cultured (especially unsalted) and the lightly salted pasture butter are excellent and mainstays in my refrigerator or freezer. I’ve used their heavy cream for numerous recipes, including ice creams. One caveat—the cream is ultra-pasteurized, so I use Meijer’s store brand heavy cream when I make crème fraiche; crème fraiche is best made with plain pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized, cream.

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If it looks like a duck (egg), quacks like a duck (egg)…

Then it must be a duck (egg)! My adopted Flyover home Indiana produces more ducks than any other state (as of 2010), something I never knew. I always associated duck farming with Long Island, but the quackers have largely left the island. Today, the US commercial duck industry is centered on Indiana, Pennsylvania, and California. A migration from Long Island to the Hoosier state makes sense, as Long Island real estate has become too expensive for farming operations.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s post—duck eggs. I’d always cooked and baked with chicken eggs, transitioning from the supermarket eggs (which come from battery chickens) to the more flavorful pastured1varieties, usually buying them at the farmers market. One day I saw duck eggs at my seller’s (Abbott Garlic and Poultry Farm) stand and I asked about them. Shelli Abbott feels they are richer, so I was inspired to buy a dozen and go from there. I don’t recall seeing them at my local co-op when I lived in Delaware and I never saw them for sale at the Amish stands I’d occasionally shop at back then. Now, I’m learning to cook (with) duck eggs!

So, how do duck eggs differ from chicken eggs? Well, they are spelled differently. And they have different shells, meaning that duck eggs are encased in thicker, stronger shells, compared to chicken eggs. They are typically larger, although, like chickens and chicken eggs, ducks and duck eggs come in different sizes. But even accounting for size, duck eggs have more fat (on a per gram basis) and more protein as well.

Duck_ChickenEgg

Duck egg on the left, chicken egg on the right. The striations on the duck egg are natural. Both eggs came from Abbott Garlic and Poultry Farm in Albany, Indiana.
I like both kinds of eggs, (bad pun alert!)—you could call me an egg-ficianado!

If you manage to get your hand on a dozen Flyover duck eggs, you might be asking yourself what to do with them. In my next posts, I’ll discuss my method for hard-cooked duck eggs and I’ll share a recipe for easy Garlic-Chive Duck Egg Mayonnaise.

1Pastured eggs are eggs from chickens that are permitted to roam (i.e. wander about pastures) as opposed to being confined to cages. Pastured chickens have a more varied diet (and better life!) than chickens crammed in battery cages, the norm for your supermarket eggs. I find pastured eggs to be much tastier, too!

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