Don’t stress out, Dear Reader, I don’t have my soapbox at the ready and I’m not trying to convert anyone to anything here. But my husband and I have recently experienced a change of heart about some of our eating habits, as many people have lately, and I thought I would share about one point in particular: milk.

At our house, we drink a lot of milk. Scratch that — my boys drink a lot of milk and I do a fair amount of baking and cooking with it. I know that almost all milk is now “made” without growth hormones, but we got to thinking about what the cows are fed, the conditions in which the animals are living, along with what other chemicals that may be permissible in the cows, things needed to keep the animals healthy when they live in tight quarters. Because we want healthy kids and the thought of them ingesting antibiotics unnecessarily is disturbing (as is the thought of cannibalistic cows), so we started buying organic milk.

We checked it out, wanting to make sure someone wasn’t just slapping on a stamp that said “organic” which allowed them to do nothing different in the production but let them jack up the price. There are differences in the standards, just as there are differences in the standards for eggs, with some marketed as organic AND naturally fed (as opposed to being fed stuff they don’t naturally eat…like other animals) rather than just organic. They are getting better standards overall, but to be totally honest, we were sortof hoping for a way out of spending the extra cash.

The more we looked into it, however, the more convinced we became that this would be a wise use of our money and occasional inconvenience. We can get a package from Costco that has three separate 1/2 gallon containers and I think it costs about $10. That is pricey for us, when we could still shop at Costco and pay $3 for a gallon of regular milk. We probably go through about three gallons of milk a week. Ouch. We may have to rethink that tradition of Swedish Pancakes on Saturday mornings because it uses up four cups of milk in one sitting! Still, we decided that the benefits outweigh the costs.

That doesn’t mean I give milk to my kids as readily as I used to. I’m way cheaper than that! They already had to guzzle down a cup of water before I’d give them milk anyway, and now sometimes we forego the milk altogether. That also goes along with a changing awareness of where all our food comes from, the conditions it has been raised in, be it vegetable or animal, the role of marketing and lobbies in what things we think are supposed to be good for us, and a sense of personal responsibility (read: guilt?) for the consumerism of the United States, myself completely included. We’ve also started eating less meat in general, or using it as more of a “side dish” rather than the main event. Everyone is still growing and staying healthy (except for that terrible bout of the stomach flu we had a week ago, but that was unrelated since on one day there were 150 kids out sick from our elementary school). And it feels better to know that we are being awake and mindful of such a mundane but necessary part of our lives.

I’ve included a link so you could take a look at what the LA Times said about this recently. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the whole organic movement. Hope to hear from you!