Healthful Habit 1/52

Healthful Habits is a way for our family to intentionally implement a more wholesome style of living one small step at a time. The process of executing these small changes over the course of a year enables them to become lifelong habits.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
{ Aristotle }

Our little change this first week of January is actually an improvement on one we started a number of years ago. We have been purchasing industrial, organic milk and eggs from large supermarkets for some time. While these versions are much better for your health than the usual mainstream options, recent research has convinced me of the following.

1) Pastured cows and chickens produce milk and eggs that are much higher in nutritional value than the products of their peers who are fed a diet consisting almost solely of organic grains. This makes logical sense since neither cows nor chickens were not created to effectively digest grain alone. According to Nina Planck in her book Real Food*, foods produced from grass-fed cows have more beta-carotene, vitamin A, antioxidants, omega-3 fats, and the polyunsaturated beneficial CLA fat. In fact, she goes so far as to claim, "Grass-fed milk is best, even if it's not organic" (70).

2) Purchasing food produced by local farms reduces harmful impacts on the environment and makes it more likely our food is free from undesired and/or unnecessary industrial processes. In addition, being able to physically visit the farm supplying your dairy products** ensures the food is being produced according to the standards you are seeking. It can be very difficult to discover how much (if any) access to pasture chickens and cows on large organic dairies truly have each day.

3) The majority of food (including milk/eggs) is healthiest when closest to its naturally occurring form. Processing that is done to make dairy products "low-fat", "skim", or even nutrient-enhanced typically removes components necessary for your body to most beneficially process the naturally-occuring nutrients***. In the past I had to virtually eliminate products containing milk from my diet due to low lactase production, since we have begun eating foods made with whole milk I am able to consume many more items with milk as an ingredient.

So here's the change implemented this week...

The eggs we purchase come from the several local chicken farms and are available at our two local natural food stores. The pasteurized****, non-homogenized milk is produced on a local dairy farm; we chose to purchase the whole or 2% versions. Incidentally, the milk is almost half the cost of the nationally distributed organic version we were previously purchasing. Both the milk and eggs are significantly more than the conventional versions available, but this is one area of our grocery budget where we feel the additional cost is worth the investment*****.


This is my favorite read thus far in 2012. I highly recommend!

While we do purchase local eggs and milk, the only pastured milk butter products I have been able to find in our area (including the national brands Organic Valley/Natural by Nature and local brands) are unsustainably expensive given the amount of butter we currently consume. I would love to purchase these brands or eventually learn to make my own butter. While not ideal, the USDA organic, store-brand butter available at our local Meijer is the best choice for our family at this time. We do purchase a variety of different local and/or organic cheeses; the brand/source depends on what is available and on sale at the time.

The research I have read on this claim is compelling and {I think} fascinating. I hope to expound more on this topic as my own knowledge continues to grow.

While a good case for the consumption of raw milk (unpasteurized) can be made, we prefer to continue using a pasteurized version; at least for the time being.

The most common comments I receive when the topic of organic eating arises are those related to an inability to sustain the increased cost of food. For every one of those foods we deem worth the additional cost, we have found another way to reduce some other cost within our budget. Overall, the grocery category of our budget has not significantly changed even with the switch to some much higher priced items.