Saturday, November 27, 2010

Is Dairy Clean?

Talking with a friend who is getting interested in CE after talking with me and seeing the junk in my trunk disappear , she asked me a question that is debated amongst CE folks: Is dairy clean?

Well...yes and no. I choose to eat some dairy, and not others - and here's why.

Organic milk is clean. It's free of growth hormones and hormones that they give commercial cows to induce increased milk production. It is a product you can find in Nature and drink without any manipulation. Now, we know that pasteurization is important to rid the milk of anything that shouldn't be in the milk - and I am completely for it. Making certain products with that milk adds a certain level of "Clean or Dirty?" to the equation. The procedure to make cheese can either be clean or dirty.

The cheese making process:
  1. Starter cultures are added to raw or pasteurized milk to begin acidification or "sour" the milk.
  2. Animal or vegetable rennet is added, curdling the milk. The resulting solids, or curds, have the consistency of custard.
  3. The curds are cut with knives called harps, releasing a liquid known as whey.
  4. The whey is drained to varying degrees, depending on the desired consistency of the finished cheese.
  5. The curds are placed into molds and drained further. For hard cheeses, the curds are pressed under weights.
  6. Un-aged, or “fresh,” cheese will then be packaged and shipped to market, ready to eat. Other cheeses are aged and tended to for a period of time that ranges from days to years.

Most commercial cheeses? Unclean - additives, colorings, preservatives and unnecessary starches are added. Most organic cheese? Clean. They generally don't add a lot of extra ingredients.

What about yogurt?

A lot of commercial yogurts are really cleaning up their act. These days, if you look at a cup of yogurt in the store, the ingredient list is shrinking in response to consumer's requests for healthier food choices and the growing market for expensive, almost artisnal yogurts. Again, look for the fewest ingredients, and stay away from ingredient lists where you either can't pronounce some words or don't know what they are -

Something I want to try soon: Making yogurt at home with your crockpot - Thanks to A Year of Slow Cooking blog - she's awesome with that crock pot!

Ice cream? Sour cream? Well, I'm avoiding both of these mainly because I am eating cleanly for weight loss. If / when I'm ready to reintroduce these items, they will be like yogurt - few ingredients as possible.

So is dairy clean? Go to one blogger, and s/he will say no. Another will say yes. I prefer to take it on a case by case basis. I've been seeking out organic and simply made products over the mass produced stuff you can find anywhere. The effort has been well worth it.