Finally. I can walk into a local supermarket and buy organic milk produced in my province, Nova Scotia. Up until a few weeks ago, I had to buy milk brought in from Ontario. But that was better than the alternative: no milk guaranteed to be bio-solids free.
But let’s back things up a bit. I didn’t always worry about drinking milk that was not organically stamped. I grew up drinking milk and loved to drink it as an adult. Then one day, I had a bad experience.
The life altering experience was similar to seeing someone vomit spaghetti with such velocity that it comes out their nose, making you never want to eat the noodles again. Or drinking so much Olands beer that your stomach turns inside out and as the room spins you see that red label flash before your eyes like headlights on a plane that crashes into you, stripping you of any chance of survival. Never again, you say, will I drink that stuff! Sure spaghetti and Olands were great products before…you know what…but now they only remind you of that moment.
Locally produced, non-certified organic milk and I parted the same way.
It began with a community meeting. A group of people came in and told us about bio-solids, aka sludge, aka processed sewage. From the beginning I thought putting human waste and everything else that went down the toilets and the street drains in Halifax City on fields that grew food for human consumption or for animals who were in our food chain (cows, goats, beef, chickens) was a horrible idea. It had that barfing, red label room spin effect on me.
To know bio-solids were connected with health issues, even death, and could contaminate the soil and in some case render it dead, confirmed what I initially believed: it was a horrible idea.
The final straw was the day I thought our septic field backed up and exploded in our bathroom. It was a beautiful spring day, warm, and I had every window in the house open. It was fairly windy with gusts reaching 60 km/h. It was a great day to air out the house after a long winter and dry sheets on the clothesline.
The smell that filled the kitchen where I worked was instant and horrible. I ran to the bathroom, fearing the worse only to find everything fine. Although the smell filled the small room, the room was not the source. I ran outside to see what dastardly chaos was causing the neighbourhood to stink.
It was not the vat of cow manure on the farm behind us. I’ve smelt that long enough to know its distinct odour. No, this was far worse than anything that could come out of an animal’s behind.
I looked across the road and found the source. A farmer in a bright blue tractor was spreading something I’d never seen before: bio-solids. To my horror, the strong wind was carrying the powdered fertilizer directly across the street to my home and that of my neighbours.
Immediately I jumped into action. I raced around and closed all the windows and doors, and then ran outside to get the clothes off the line. Too late. They stunk of bio-solids. I threw them directly into the washing machine.
I cursed under my breath and aloud. How stupid was this farmer? Not only was he using a product unsafe for humans, he was spreading it on a day with strong winds, sending his poison into the homes bordering the field. I cursed the farmer again. This idiot who would eventually plant corn on this field to feed to his cows produces milk for a large local dairy company—the same milk that I had bought all my life…until that day.
I could no longer stomach to drink milk. Just the thought of drinking a by-product of sewage made me gag.
After going a few months without milk, I decided to check out what other ‘milk’ products were available. Almond milk was delicious, and the chocolate almond milk was better than ‘regular milk’ chocolate milk. Still, I didn’t like the idea the calcium in almond milk wasn’t naturally occurring. It was added.
After much thought I decided to produce my own milk and bought a pair of breeding goats. We are only about four months from tasting our first home-grown milk.
But while I waited, I still wanted some sort of milk to drink and use in my recipes. Although a bit more expensive, I started using organic milk from Ontario. I enjoyed the milk without the gag feeling taking over, but I thought it insane that the milk I drank had to come from so far away when I could throw a rock and hit the nearest cow that produced our own local milk.
That was until a short time ago when I walked into our local grocery store and found East Coast Organic Milk . Now I can buy bio-solid-free milk from cows grazing in my own province. It totally makes sense. This milk will hold us over until our own goat starts producing and it will fill in the span between milking periods.
That is until we get a few more goats and off-set the breeding to ensure a constant milk supply throughout the year.
The Halifax Herald reported on East Coast Organic Milk in the November 20, 2012 edition.