For a long time I didn’t understand the natural and seasonal nature of milk, as we have been conditioned to perceive it as a household staple which is perpetually available and in seemingly endless supply. Yet, as my family transitioned to a more traditional food lifestyle with a stronger connection to local growers, I quickly learnt the true seasonal nature of it. In the same way that vegetables and fruit enjoy their given seasons, all food are dependant on the environment and therefore reflect a seasonal rhythm of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
Just as the ripest and most robust tomatoes are produced in late summer, spring brings the best cream that the animals on pasture can provide, while autumn gives the most flavourful milk!
It seems logical, yet it took years to realise that traditional and seasonal dairying ensures the health of cows – ask any ethical farmer! This is because the milk and cream a cow produces reflects her health and the quality of nutrients she consumes. It follows that the health of the varied grass and herbs (which are found on a healthy and biodiverse pasture) which the cows graze on will result in the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which have a direct bearing on the cow’s optimal health and influence the nutrient quality of her milk and cream.
In Australia, pasteurisation of milk is legislated and no raw milk is available to the public, so discussing the natural goodness of raw milk is pointless. Although we understand that pasteurising large volumes of milk from multiple sources helps to rid the milk of disease-causing bacteria, we’re saddened that the process also rids the milk of all bacteria (good & bad) indiscriminately!
On a positive note, there are milk producers who understand and practice pasteurising techniques which minimise the destruction of naturally occurring but heat-sensitive beneficial bacteria, vitamins and food enzymes. They achieve this by gently heating the milk over a longer period of time at the minimum allowable temperature (63oC). These are also the small-scale producers who employ scrupulous practices, both with regard to herd health and the cleanliness of their herd’s milking.
For a list of the highest quality milk brands around the country, search here.