I still remember the forearm strain of carrying four four-gallon jugs of milk in from the car when mum would get home from the supermarket. When we were little, we drank what Americans called ‘Vitamin D milk’, which was full cream. A bit older and we were moved along to ‘2%’, the equivalent of something like ‘Rev’ in Australia. When I started university, I switched to ‘skim milk’, or as we’d say here, ‘skinny milk’.
There was a short period in my adolescence when Dad insisted we drink a glass of raw goat’s milk every day to help boost our immunity against poison oak. We loathed it, and I reckon I contracted poison oak intentionally to demonstrate the futility of this daily torture before he gave up.
When I gave up skinny milk, I repudiated it with the scorn of a reformed smoker. Keep that thin blue liquid with the mouthfeel of vinegar away from me, thanks. Nowadays I like my milk raw, especially after a night in the fridge so that the first pour has globules of cream to tantalise the tongue as it dances through the skim milk underneath.
It’s illegal to sell raw milk in Australia. You can buy cigarettes, eggs from chickens that never knew a day outside a cage, and as much Coca Cola as you want, but not unpasteurised milk. I understand the health risks, just as I understand them about raw eggs and undercooked meat. But I won’t give up drinking raw milk any more than I’ll stop making mayonnaise and eating burgers made from freshly ground beef cooked so they’re still red in the middle.
What I don’t drink anymore is milk from the big processors, and goddess forbid someone should offer me private label milk from Coles or Woolies. According to Australian Dairy Farmers, some 30 dairy farmers have gone out of business in Queensland since January 2011, at least some due to the duopoly’s unscrupulous milk wars. I know who needs my business most, and it’s the independent dairies, preferably organic. And I’ll continue to defiantly drink raw milk when I can.