When my favorite coffee shop added rice milk to its ever growing thermoses to choose from, my thoughts turned to: if there are so many dairy and dairy substitutes out there, am I ingesting the one that’s best for me? In general, I’m not a dairy seeker. I generally have organic, hormone and antibiotic free whole milk. I have greek yogurt several times a week and will indulge in organic ice cream now and again. But now the milk conversation has turned to raw milk and its incredible benefits. Hence the investigation begins. Raw milk is being touted as the “real thing” and a return to milk in its true form. The big issue with raw milk is that it is not pasteurized. Pasteurization does kill some known bacteria, but also kills important enzymes and destroys valuable vitamin content. The Westin A. Price Foundation is leading the charge and are the greatest proponents for raw milk. The vitamin content and purity alone makes it a viable player in my dairy consumption. I would caution those with immune impaired systems to check with their physicians before going raw in anything.
There’s also a milk player out there that surpasses the organic hormone free choice, it’s Ultra PureTM milk produced by Mountainside Farms. According to Cyrus Schwartz, President of Mountainside, the company “uses a technology similar to that employed by water filters to remove 90 to 95 percent of bacteria and other impurities that exist in the milk prior to pasteurization… with a a shelf life of 17 days, compared with eight to 10 days for milk not treated with the technology…”
For those who are vegan or lactose intolerant, there are many choices there as well: rice milk, soy milk and almond milk. Rice milk is sweeter and denser, however it’s not a nutrient, it’s a carbohydrate source. It’s also good for vegetarian dessert baking. Soy milk, made from soy beans is a combination of emulsifiers, water and protein and for sometime seen as the savior for the vegan and lactose intolerant community. However, soy milk fell off my short list when GMO soybeans flooded the market and the possible undesirable estrogen effects. Upside though, the isoflavones are good for preventing cancer. But for women, the scales tip, but do not balance: cancer prevention or wacky hormones. My favorite in the non-dairy category is almond milk.
Almond milk has been a staple throughout the Middle East and since the Middle Ages. (Just the track record alone makes me interested.) It’s an amazing source of protein, can be made at home and in small quantities and does not turn rancid. It’s considered a middle note sweetness, meaning it can add sweetness to a product naturally without being overly sweet and takes well to the addition of spices, particularly vanilla, cinnamon and cardamon.
Personal conclusion, I might try raw or upgrade to Ultra Pure since I travel a lot and like the longer shelf life. And the minute I get some extra time on my hands, oh yes, and buy a blender, I will whip up some almond milk.