Wearing slippers and bed hair, I give the carton of Snowville Creamery whipping cream a gentle shake, pour a shot into my cup of coffee, and watch as it makes a volcanic rise to the top, bubbling and swirling and reaching tendrils across the surface of the cup’s dark roast. Minimally processed and unhomogenized, the cream’s ultra-luxe fat globules settle where they may, never quite dispersing completely. I don’t even bother to stir it in. The first time I encountered cream this voluptuous was as a child. After spending a morning learning to milk a cow at a nearby farm with my grandmother Millie, we divided the contents of the pail—frothy on top and still warm from the Guernsey’s body—amongst several glass bottles, and carried them home in a cooler to her refrigerator. By the next morning the milk had separated and the cream had risen. Millie spooned the thick cream into her coffee and on top of my oatmeal. It coated our mouths with sweetness, and I asked her why it was so different from what came from the grocery store. Never wasting an opportunity for enlightenment, Millie’s response was: “When you know peace, everything you give is sweet.” Happy cows. Or at least, they used to be.
There is increasing evidence that today’s monoculture of industrialized factory farms where dairy cows are confined and overcrowded, boosted with artificial growth hormones, and trough-fed grain treated with pesticides results in a product that comes at considerable cost to health: the cow’s, the environment’s, and ours. Beyond the health aspects, there is flavor. Milk fat on its own has exceptional flavor. Left to the corporate giant’s sterilization and standardization practices of high heat, ultra-pasteurization, and homogenization, the life—and flavor—is cooked and shaken out of it. Fortunately, there’s a movement towards the resurrection of flavorful and wholesome milk by small-batch dairy farmers using good breeding, sustainable farming methods, low-heat pasteurization, non-homogenization, and same-day processing from grass-munching cows. From the pastures of southeastern Ohio, Snowville Creamery reigns supreme.
Years past my childhood introduction to real milk, I had all but abandoned it. A little cream in my tea or coffee, some Chantilly cream on a dessert now and then amounted to the most I consumed. I hadn’t drunk a glass of milk in years, even with a chocolate chip cookie. I discovered Snowville products at Madison’s at Findlay Market. I began with half and half, and nearly cried with joy. Soon after, I purchased a half-gallon of milk, and drank an entire glass standing in the middle of the kitchen. But it’s the whipping cream I am mad about. It graces my coffee. I’m making butter like it’s 1899. I’ve found a reason to love pudding again. Fresh from the cow flavor, it makes me happy. And maybe a little sweeter.
Originally published in the November 2009 issue.