Monday, March 03, 2008

Emailing about milk

While I don't read as much as I'd like (oh, television, you are so hard to give up), I do manage to read a whole lot about food. In fact, I have an entire shelf in my bedroom dedicated to the food books I am slowly but surely accumulating. Currently, I am working on Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (which the Anthropologist got me for Christmas) and Sandor Ellix Katz's The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved. I am full to bursting with food knowledge that I am eager to share with others — whether they want to hear it or not.

Working at a child care center, the topic of food often comes up, not only in relation to children but in relation to the food that the teachers eat (remember who I work for and the free food we get?). The first food-related email thread that went around a couple months back wanted to know why we didn't get fruit like grapes and bananas in our kitchen and how difficult it was to get used to eating seasonally and locally, which is something the chef staff highly values. So I got onto my soap box and let them know why eating this way is a good thing (better nutritional value, supporting local farms), including giving them what I call my "banana lecture," which basically breaks down why buying bananas creates such a large carbon footprint. I don't know if anyone actually paid any attention to me, but I did get a couple of thank-yous for the information.

The latest opportunity for me to spread the good food word came today, with an email about milk consumption at the center. The head chef was concerned that the children weren't drinking enough milk and that 12 ounces was meant to be their recommended daily allowance. Back up I went onto my soap box, and I said: "Milk is a food, and it is a food that the children are consuming as part of a varied diet. By eating milk and milk products, beans, meat, grains, veggies, etc., our kids are getting what one would assume would be a well-rounded amount of nutrients every day. K------ said, 'Children require about 12oz. of milk each day to insure proper growth.' I would think that if the children are getting their calcium from dark leafy greens or yogurt or cheese, and their vitamins A and D from other sources (carrots are a good source of A; sunlight gives us D), we shouldn't worry too much about how much milk they are or are not drinking."

It's am interesting topic to me, this whole milk thing. Personally, I love milk. After reading Marion Nestle and Nina Plank, and doing research on which companies produce the most sustainable, consumption-friendly product, I drink whole, nonhomogenized, organic Strauss milk (in the glass bottles). Despite being able to easily put away a glass or two of milk in a sitting, I don't necessarily agree that milk is as important as a food as the dairy industry would like us to believe. Certainly, it is no more important than any other foodstuff. Anyway, I'm curious whether anyone will have a response to my position on milk.

In other news, I have been very uninspired to cook lately, and I have to convince myself not to stop at Taco Bell or suggest to the Anthropologist that we have dinner at the brewery. The last couple times I went to the farmers' market, I went home with very little in my bag — which is, perhaps, just a sign of the between-seasons slump: I'm tired of root vegetables and greens, apples and oranges. Bring on the asparagus, artichokes, and peas!

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