Last week I was fascinated by the demand for skim milk…so I thought this week might be a good time to start a conversation about milk. In this section, I’ll cover 3 topics which I find fascinating:
– Federal Milk Market Orders
– Pasteurization and Homogonization
– The health effects of milk‐fat
The most fascinating fact about milk is that the price is fixed by a quasi‐government organization known as the milk marketing board. In the 1930s, the USDA set up milk market orders to ensure that everyone could afford milk. Up until the late 1960s, there were over 500 localized market orders. A market order is the price which a farmer is paid for his milk, based on“hundred‐count,” or 100 lbs of milk. The price is set by a board of producers, buyers, and those selling the inputs (grains, etc). The goal is that farmers can get a price that pays the bills. With over 500 market orders, the price was very localized and reflective of the local production costs.
Today, there are under 20 market orders. And because these market orders are so large, they tend to favor large, conventional dairies. Here’s how. The price for Class I (fluid milk) is set at say $13 per hundred‐count. The conventional guy might only be able to sell his for $11 per hundred‐count to the handler. The organic guy, such as Snowville, might be able to get $17 per hundred count. Because the FMMO philosophy is that all milk is the same, Snowville pays into a pool for selling their milk too high…they pay $4. The conventional guy gets $2 so that he makes the same amount on his milk.
Pasteurization and Homogenization:
Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to kill bacteria. The minimum temperature which a fluid milk must be heated is 170 degrees F. In the state of OH, all fluid milk must be pasteurized. Cheeses may be made from raw milk only if aged 60 days or greater, which also kills the bacteria.
Homogenization is the process of forcing fluid milk through a very fine filter. This literally breaks the fat molecules up and allows them to suspend in the milk as opposed to rising to the top. Snowville milk is not homogenized.
Health effects of milk‐fat:
Think about a tennis ball and a bowling ball. A tennis ball has the same amount of contact with the floor as a bowling ball. However, the bowling ball has greater volume and size. It would probably take a dozen or more tennis balls to equal the volume of a bowling ball. So let’s pretend that the bowling ball is natural milk‐fat and that the tennis ball is the milk‐fat after homogenization. The dozen tennis balls have a dozen times more surface contact than the bowling ball. These molecules will stick to your arteries and cause more damage than non-homogenized milk fat molecules.
Further, homogenization and pasteurization breakdown a chemical referred to as “XO.” It’s a chemical found in milk that helps your body digest lactose. Without it, your body may reject lactose…hence, lactose‐intolerant. Minimally pasteurized milk has more XO in it than ultra‐pasteurized milk.
The result….Some lactose‐intolerant folks can drink our milk!