It is the first liquid that flows through our lips, the first quench of life -- milk. Pure, velvety milk passes through pillows that will never be as soft as they are just then, and coats the tongue with its sweetness. Milk, the building block of an entire delectable food group. So white, so precious. Warm, honeyed, comfortable milk, the Master Augmenter, morning's workhorse, a magic fluid that works with the coffee and the Cocoa Puffs, the muesli and Bob's Red Mill Oats -- and, of course, the Cream of Wheat. We've been told it also does the trick quite well with cookies.
Since we were weaned, however, our milk has arrived via the big grocery-store teat, where it miraculously appears already ultra-pasteurized and homogenized. If you skipped nutrition class that day, the goal of "homogenization" is to, literally, homogenize milk's consistency. In the day of the milkman, the cream in the milk used to rise to the top, and that first sip was a pure, sweet, dense heaven. For some silly reason, the dairy farmers who supply the big grocery stores desired a more uniform consistency, hence homogenization.
They also desired a long shelf life, hence the ultra-pasteurization. It's illegal to sell non-pasteurized milk because of the danger of evil bacteria, but your basic grocery milk pasteurizes the hell out of its product, killing all the bacteria, both the bad and the beneficial kind.
"They burn it," says Jennifer Jacobs of Farmers' All Natural Creamery in Kalona, Iowa. "They really cook it, like at 200 degrees. When you do that, you're burning out all the good bacteria and nutrients as well, and those nutrients are needed for a healthy brain." Farmers' All Natural Creamery pasteurizes its milk at the lowest possible temperature. The tradeoff is a shorter shelf life, but it's worth it for what we consider to be the Champagne of Milk.
Farmers' All Natural is the product of Amish Mennonites of Iowa, Illinois, and Troy, Missouri. They produce the milk without the aid of evil electricity. They add no hormones or antibiotics. Their cattle are vegetarian and never fed GMOs. Everybody wins. You can win every morning by ordering your jumbo Americano at the Hartford Coffee Company in Tower Grove Southwest. It sits on a residential corner, a true neighborhood coffee joint, designed kid-friendly with a play area. Hartford offers Farmers' All Natural in its 100 percent fair-trade coffee; combined, the two ingredients result in an exquisite cup of java. If you prefer your breakfast at home, Farmers' All Natural recently started selling its dairy products at Whole Foods and will soon be in both Wild Oats and Dierbergs.