Fresh milk is at once one of the most vital and ephemeral of substances, with a nutritional quality that will always depend largely on the distance it must travel before it reaches your table.
Because of its inherent delicacy, most commercially produced milk must be exposed to heat treatments in order to control spoilage during transport. This ends up significantly undermining both its taste and nutritional value.
Like meat, milk is a also a direct reflection of the diet and health of the animal from which it is sourced. Because of this, and because it is often a product consumed by children, it is important to seek out organically produced milk products whenever possible.
Sadly, the vast majority of the milk available on supermarket shelves today is sourced from enormous mega-dairies where thousands of cows are confined in crowded containment barns and fed on pesticide-laden genetically-modified grains. To make matters worse, the stressed and unhealthy animals are then protected from infection with mega-doses of antibiotics.
In Northern California however there are several local dairies that are both organic and humane. One of the very best remains Sonoma County’s wonderful Straus Family Creamery. A pioneer in the movement for food transparency and the fight against genetic modification, Straus also remains deeply committed to sustainable production methods. They grow much of their own feed, use recycled glass bottles, and generate the bulk of their power from a methane digester located directly on their farm.