Back to Basics: The Organic Milk Deception

Organic milk (from a grocery store) may not be what you think it is.  It really makes me sad to see people at grocery stores spending double the price of regular, pasteurized milk, because they think they are doing good for themselves by buying “organic” milk.  See, the problem is that organic milk brands such as Horizon and Organic Valley ultra-pasteurize their organic milk, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. (NOTE: Organic Valley DOES sell organic milk that is traditionally pasteurized, & not ultra-pasteurized, but I’ve noticed most stores only stock the ultra-pasteurized variety.  Look out for that and if it’s ultra-pasteurized, don’t buy it.  At least I wouldn’t…what a waste of money.)

"Organic" milk can easily win a consumer over by the USDA Organic stamp alone.  But those won over simply by the idea of organic, ultra-pasteurized milk probably don’t completely understand the process of ultra-pasteurization, what it does, and how.  Here’s the breakdown:

The cows are hormone, anti-biotic, and steroid free.  (This is, obviously, a good thing, and is better than the antibiotic and hormone laced milk we get from conventional store bought milk).  However, ultra-pasteurized organic milk is pasteurized even more than the regular, non-organic milk (which doesn’t make any sense to me!). — The milk is heated beyond what it needs to be heated to in order to sell regular, pasteurized milk (hence the name, ULTRA-pasteurized).  The organic milk is heated to a temperature of 280 degrees (F), in comparison to regular pasteurization temperature of about 161 degrees (F).    The high temp pasteurization kills so much of the natural nutrients & enzymes in the milk itself that the milk you end up drinking is completely dead and nutrition-less.  The milk is so dead that the ultra-pasteurized milk sold by these brands does not even need to be refrigerated.  They have an extended shelf life, and can remain unrefrigerated for up to 6 months — ever see those little individual cartons of Horizon or Organic Valley milk that are sold on the shelves/in the aisles of grocery stores rather than in the refrigerated section?  Yep, that’s why.  And the 1/2 gallons and gallons of ultra-pasteurized organic milk that is sold in the refrigerated section is only to appease the minds of consumers, and to have the product be sold where the other milk products are sold — not everyone feels comfortable buying milk that hasn’t been refrigerated…and rightfully so.

Additionally, milk proteins are very fragile, and high heat such as the heat ultra-pasteurized milk is subjected to, damages milk proteins so badly that our bodies can no longer properly digest or recognize that protein.  Because our bodies enzymes can only properly digest undamaged milk proteins, the milk proteins end up undigested and often leak into the bloodstream. (Since practically all of us who have had been eating a modern day diet have some form of what is called “leaky gut”. - find out more about how this works in the answer segment here). When the proteins enter the bloodstream, your body creates an immune response since it cannot recognize those proteins.  The immune response your body creates turns out as the many symptoms of auto immune disorders, including: allergies, asthma, fatigue, eczema, infections, headaches, etc. The immune response your body creates can possibly, overtime, create dairy allergies and intolerances.

But of course, regular pasteurized, hormone and antibiotic filled, store bought milk from confined cows isn’t healthy either.  So what’s the best option?

Raw Milk fresh from a farm!  Raw milk is the most nutritious milk you can get (talk about getting your money’s worth…), and It’s really not much more ($) than the ultra-pasteurized organic milk you may have been buying already…really!  It may even be around the same price depending on where you live.  There are most likely farm co-ops that deliver to your area, or even to your door, so seek one out (no excuses)!  If farm fresh raw milk is absolutely not an option (maybe your not as lucky as I am to have local farm co-op’s deliver when the nearest farm is way too far), shop for low pasteurized, organic milk!  It DOES exist, but you’ll have to go out of your way to find it.  It most likely also has to come directly from a local farm, but check your local Whole Foods.  Whole Foods stocks local products, so that may be your best bet if you can’t find it at a farmers market.  If I run out of raw milk, I either go without, or buy Natural By Nature organic, grass-fed (grass-fed is also an important factor of any dairy product!…more on this another time), low-pasteurized milk .   And it’s local too!

Farm Fresh Milk Warning

Nourishing Our Children shared this picture via Facebook so I had to post it here.

Check out Nourishing Our Children’s overview of raw milk vs. pasteurized milk here.


Back to Basics: Roasted Chicken

I’ve been cooking a lot of chickens lately and I love it.  So this Back to Basics post will be dedicated to the process I take to make a delicious chicken and what I do with the leftovers!

To start:

We have a chicken that came from Clover Patch Farm via the 4 Season Harvest Buying Club (which I’ve previously blogged about here).  This was somewhat of a smaller chicken than what we were used to, but it still had lots of meat!  This, and all of the chickens we get from the farm, are Freedom Rangers (by choice).

Freedom Rangers are free range, and raised on pasture.  They grow slower than the Cornish Cross breed and have bigger legs/thighs due to the exercise they get during their lives by being free range. (Hah, that was my very brief explanation).

*ABOVE: I’m not sure why the chicken looks dark in some areas like in the wings & towards the top of the chicken (right hand side) — it wasn’t this color in person, it must have just been the lighting.*

First step was to cut off the neck, which comes attached!  This time I did this part all by myself, without the help of my boyfriend who is usually the neck-cutter. I was very proud of myself!

Next, rinse the chicken thoroughly in cold water and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. 

Drizzle oil onto the bottom of pan to start, then place chicken in the pan. 

Season the chicken by rubbing with oil of choice (just don’t use those rancid vegetable oils!) and adding spices/herbs of choice.  This could include any combination that you like.  I tend to use any of the following: Basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and salt & pepper.  I rub the chicken with these seasonings on all sides.  I also juice a lemon and pour the fresh squeezed lemon juice over the chicken, but that is optional.  I put half of the lemon (sliced up) in the cavity, along with some farm fresh/grass-fed butter, about a quarter of an onion (chopped), and all of the seasonings that I used for the skin of the chicken.

 At this point, I chop up the rest of the onion to place in the pan, around the chicken, along with any vegetables I want to add for dinner that night.  I like: red potatoes, zucchini, carrots, celery (mix & match).  Other vegetables also work fine, just use whatever you like!

Oh, back to the farm fresh/grass-fed butter! I put about a 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon of butter under the skin of the chicken, just between the meat and skin at all 4 corners of the breast (at the top and the bottom end of each breast).  you’ll have to separate the skin from the breast a bit with your fingers but it’s not a big deal…just slide your fingers under the skin.

Roast the chicken at 475 degrees, uncovered, for about 45 minutes.  (It could need more or less time depending on the size of the chicken).  This step is to brown the skin a bit and to get it to be a little crisp.

Remove pan from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Add 1 cup of water to the pan (maybe 2 if needed — personal opinion).  *Picture below*

Cover pan and place back into oven for an additional hour and a half, depending on the size of the chicken.  Sometimes I leave it in a bit longer.  I use a meat thermometer to double check to make sure it’s completely done.

Next, I take the chicken out of the oven and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes.  This allows the juices to settle within the chicken. 

And without ever basting, you will have the most tender, moist, and delicious chicken ever.  It is seriously. so. good. 

The first time I made a freedom ranger chicken (this exact same way), I made homemade gravy to go with it, and we ended up not even using the gravy because the meat was so good alone.

At the bottom of the pan will be the delicious juice that came from the chicken (obviously cooked with the vegetables and all of the seasonings used to cook the chicken).  DO NOT WASTE THIS!  It is so, so good.  I put this in a container to be used when making other chicken meals (leftovers from the chicken we just made), add it to soups, rice, mashed potatoes.  ANYTHING that you want to add some extra flavor to (in an easy and healthy way…throw out the boxed, processed stuff.  You don’t need it when your cooking with the drippings from the chicken!)

This small container lasts longer than I originally thought it would because I only need to use about a tablespoon at a time/per meal.  It solidifies and becomes gelatinous/jell-like (rather than the liquid that’s pictured here.  This picture was from before it was refrigerated), due to the gelatin from the chicken.  This is the good stuff.

As far as the left over meat:  We’ve gotten anywhere from 6 to 9 meals out of any given chicken. Just look at how much chicken is here after I took all of the meat of of the bones (I tried to separate the dark meat from the white meat):

And this is after we’ve already eaten our dinner for that night!

Granted, there’s just two of us (my boyfriend & myself), but it still impresses me!  This chicken was the smallest chicken we’ve had thus far, at 3.75 pounds, and it still made 9 meals.  NINE MEALS FOR TWO PEOPLE!  At $4.39 per pound, this particular chicken cost us $16.46.  That’s $1.82 per meal (for the chicken, not including vegetables or any sides I make), which comes to only $0.91 per person, per meal of chicken.  Awesome?? YES!

I separate the meat into smaller portions (enough for a meal for two) and wrap them up separately.  I put the individual packages into the freezer and have quick, easy, and delicious meals ready to be taken out of the freezer, defrosted and heated up for dinner again.  I do all kinds of things with the left over meat, but our favorites have been: Chicken over mashed potatoes (with sides of vegetables that we choose at the time) along with some of the drippings from the chicken that was saved as well, or a stir-fry with either rice, noodles, and/or vegetables of choice.  We love it.

And lastly, because we don’t like to waste any of this awesome chicken, I do not throw out the bones!!  I use those to make chicken stock for soups.  If I do not make the stock right away, I freeze the bones to be used for stock at a later time.  I’ll post about making stock in a future Back to Basics post! (This is important part of the chicken process!)

That’s all for now, but I hope this post inspired someone, anyone, to go out and get a farm fresh, Freedom Ranger and try this!

Back to Basics: Farm Fresh Delivery

We got our first ever farm fresh delivery last week!  I was super excited to pick it up and even more excited to have everything in front of me.

I like going to Farmer’s Markets but it’s not always the most convenient thing for me — I tend to forget to go to them (at the right place, at the right time, on the right day), and because every Farmer’s Market is different (and depending on the season), they may or may not have what I want. 

Farm deliveries make it extremely easy to get farm fresh food — it’s literally delivered from the farm to the city, and you go to pick it up at a specified “drop off” location (some farm delivery services even deliver to your door).

As you can see from the picture above, my order consisted of:

Organic Sprouted Seven Grain Bread - This bread is way healthier/better for us than store bought breads. Sprouting is one of the traditional ways to prepare grains that is important to eliminate anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors in our grains. Click here for my blog post on how to properly prepare some of your own grains and why it’s important.  Commercial breads are NOT prepared in this traditional way (unless it is stated otherwise). Since I am not into bread-making myself (at least not yet!), I decided it is worth it to pay a little more for bread that is prepared to digest properly and to reduce risks of developing problems over time.  Another reason for buying this bread is that it is completely natural, in the sense that it does not contain any rancid oils (vegetable oils such as canola or soy) or any other unnecessary ingredients.  Lately I’ve been reading labels and checking ingredients to switch out some things that I want to eliminate from my diet (or atleast consume LESS of, for now — baby steps!) and this bread is definitely a YES on my list!

Eggs-  These eggs are from pastured hens and are antibiotic and hormone free!  Most grocery store eggs come from factory farms where hens are crammed into small cages indoors, are fed a poor diet, and never get any exercise or fresh air.  Because of these poor conditions, the hens are often sick and need antibiotics (and hormones) to keep them healthy. Pastured hens, however, roam on the green grass of a farm and get plenty of exercise and fresh air and sunlight!  They also eat a natural diet of what they should be eating:  Things like grass and bugs found in nature!  Eggs from pastured hens make a much healthier egg (and you can tell by comparing these eggs to your regular, grocery store egg).

Chicken- The same info regarding the eggs goes for the chickens themselves!  Poorly raised/treated chickens makes for poor quality (health-wise) meat!  This chicken is a Freedom Ranger.  These chickens are free range (roam, exercise, and eat on pasture), and are antibiotic and hormone free!

REAL Milk-  Yep, Real, RAW milk.  I was super excited to finally have raw milk in our lives! Read my post here about raw milk and why it’s WAY better for you than store bought (pasteurized) milk, aka: dead milk. Milk is alive and is traditionally consumed that way.  We love this stuff!  It tastes much lighter than pasteurized milk, and it is delicious!!  Of course, it’s important to make sure that your raw milk is coming from a clean and reputable source.  This milk comes from an Amish farm in Paradise, PA.  The cows live on pasture and are grass-fed — and that makes for some very nutritious milk filled with lots of probiotics!  :)

Grade B Maple Syrup- Grade B is hard to find in most stores (although Whole Foods does have it, it’s more expensive there than buying it from here).  Basically, maple syrup is REAL syrup and is great to use as an unrefined sweetener. Grade B is better for you than grade A.  Grade B contains all the good stuff — the minerals and nutrients.  It literally is the bottom of the barrel, but that’s good in this case!  That’s where all of the nutrients settle to!

Yogurt- The 2 containers you see in the picture are all natural, peach and mango yogurt from grass-fed cows!

I order all of my farm fresh food from: Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative.

Although I’m not a CSA member, I am still able to place orders for farm fresh food by being a member of their Buying Club (4 Seasons Harvest)!  It’s free to become a member!  And some co-ops require you to be a CSA member in order to take full advantage of all that they have to offer, such as meats, dairy, etc.  But Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op allows you to buy just what you want (through the buying club), which is the exact service I was searching for!  They make deliveries to different areas throughout PA (and many different sites in Philly alone).  You get to pick your drop off location and once a week, they deliver to that location.  All you have to do is just pick it up (on that day, between specified times).  You place your order the week before, and pay in advance. It’s the easiest and most efficient way to get farm food! Especially if you do not live near a farm, or if it’s not convenient to go to a farm).  I love it & I highly recommend it!!