The trouble with milk

Every day: Cheerios, blueberries, non-fat milk. Every. Day.

Until those rare days when I forget to buy milk. Sometimes then it’s just blueberries. Sometimes it’s an egg or two (farm fresh!). Sometimes I just guzzle some orange juice and power through.

But what I don’t do is use whole milk. Like, ever. Until recently.

I was leaving my girlfriend’s house, didn’t feel I had time to stop for milk, so she offered to give me some of hers so that I could maintain my breakfast regularity.

“But it’s whole milk,” she threatened.

Dammit.

“OK, I guess I can handle whole milk just once,” I said.

Before I go any farther, I should go back to the beginning. Growing up it was whole milk, the vitamin D stuff with the red carton, and later the red cap. That was Dad’s choice, and we were fine with it. I guess they thought it was the right option; kept my little boy bones and teeth strong and all that. Heck, I don’t even think two percent milk existed until I was 10 or 12 years old, and if it did, I sure wasn’t aware of it.

But at some point when I was in my early teens, my parents decided to make the switch. It was, perhaps, a more healthful choice for my mom and dad, and we all got used to it pretty quickly. I was on the two percent train until my early 30s, when I happened to rent a house with my best friend. He had graduated to fat-free milk, and we quickly realized we were both wasting a lot of milk and fridge space by buying both. So I decided to finally climb on the fat-free bandwagon, where I have been ever since.

But fast forward a decade and a half back to the present day, and my girlfriend still drinks whole milk. So if I am at her place and want milk, well, I know to brace myself for the onslaught. Hey, in her mind, fat-free milk is just cloudy water; it’s the difference between actually adding a flavorful and necessary ingredient to your cereal versus just getting it wet. it’s all about perspective here.

So, anyway, I tool a small container of the whole milk home, and I poured it over my Cheerios and berries. Immediately, I noticed the extreme brightness off the stuff and thought, “This looks more like Elmer’s glue than milk.” It was — how do I put this? — a little too white. Know what I mean?

Then I dug in for a spoonful, and I swear I had to exert extra effort just to plow through it. That’s how thick the whole milk seemed to me after years of fat-free. For a moment, I considered getting a knife and fork form the kitchen. But I labored on.

And what I wasn’t prepared for was the flavor. This wasn’t just milk — it was milk. No, it was more like really bland gravy. Next time, I’ll just bake some biscuits to pour it over. All I was missing was a little pepper and sausage, and I’d have had an old-fashioned Southern breakfast instead of just a bowl of cereal. Surely, all that fatty substance can’t be good, right?

Not necessarily true. When I started doing some research, I also learned that, despite what the USDA has been telling us for years, skim milk may actually not be the more healthful option. According to the Washington Post, scientific evidence is beginning to contradict conventional wisdom on milk and other dairy. A recent analysis published in the European Journal of Nutrition found people who drink whole milk tend to weigh less and have lower rates of obesity than people who drink low-fat or skim.

Now what? I guess what I need to learn is not to forget milk when I go to the store. And if I do forget, and decide to borrow from a whole milk drinker, I better be prepared to chew the stuff. Or at least to have some biscuits on hand.