The right white stuff

1 Apr

If you were a child of the 70s or 80s, like myself, you’ll probably have similar memories of milk breaks. That Very Important time spent perched on your tiny, brightly-coloured plastic chair, nursing a mini milk bottle and sucking up watery cow-juice with all your might in order to earn a star. And, if you were well behaved, you got to clear away the empties (how did they ever fool us into thinking that was a privilege?) But the best thing that could happen in a milk break – the truly most brilliant reward for having to down the phlegm-making cow-juice like a rugby boy downs beer (but without the same enjoyment) was being given, simply, an unshaken bottle. Here, like a magnolia-coloured crown, the cream would sit. Oh, the joy of seeing that little piece of goodness resting precariously on top of the milk! The next move was to squash your straw, slip it down the inside edge of the bottle so as not to disturb your curdled prize, suck the bastard dry and savour the final, thick, sweet goodness left at the bottom and stuck to your straw. Remember?

These days, opinions on milk have changed somewhat. It is still seen as an important element in a person’s diet. It’s gone from being a national obsession to a bit of a controversial topic. Lactose intolerance is now widely acknowledged as a cause of thickened phlegm and mucus (nice), dry skin conditions like eczema – particularly in young children – and stomach complaints. The culling of male calves born into dairy farms is a serious issue, and the proposed US-style, in-humane super-dairies are a very real possibility.

Although milk is undoubtedly a good source of calcium and other nutrients, we consume so much of it, which is crazy when you think that the human digestive system is not massively efficient at breaking down lactose. The enzyme is also often hidden in processed foods as well, like soups and crisps and this is why some people react to it.

Luckily, there are plenty of other readily available options like goats milk (which naturally possesses lower levels of lactose – and is much tastier I find) and soya, rice and hemp milk too. I suppose, with all this contradictory information, the thing to do is to buy organic cow-juice where necessary, as it will most likely come from farms that are against the culling of male calves – and it’s proven to have higher nutritional value. Also, why not create your own mix-and-match milk menu? Rice milk is really good with cereal, hemp milk tastes decent in a cuppa, just as soya does in a coffee. But, all that said, there’s nothing – just nothing – like a bloody good spoon of cream. And whatever any health food bod says, that is one thing that CANNOT be replaced…

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