This post is part of the Real Food at Walmart series. This is the 6th post in the series … you can find the first post here. The premise of the series is this: “What if you HAD to buy all your food at Walmart? How close to a 100% Real Food diet could you get?”
The Walmart dairy section on first glance looks like it’s got it’s act together, organic wise. After all they have a lot of organic labels here, Horizon being the most prominent one. Horizon’s parent company Dean Foods has a strong partnership with Walmart. Thus they are stocked in a big way. All isn’t peachy-keen though in dairy organics land though. Virtually all organic dairy is ultra-pasteurized dairy, and Horizon is no exception.
So what’s the difference between pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized milk?
Is this really a big deal? Yes, it is. Ultra-pasteurized dairy products do not require refrigeration before opening and have a shelf life of months. They are a highly processed food. But I know it’s really easy to overlook the difference. I myself made this mistake for an extended length of time. I was buying Horizon’s Ultra-Pasteurized Whipping Cream and depended heavily on it in my cooking:
It was organic and the best product available to me, or so I thought. Every now and then a nagging sense that I was repressing awareness of something truly important would surface but I’d just shove it back down again. It seemed the only realistic choice so I just didn’t want to look too deeply at it. What would I do without my organic ultra-pasteurized heavy whipping cream? I was aware it was ultra pasteurized but didn’t know much about what that meant. I knew Sally Fallon stated pretty flatly to avoid ultra pasteurized dairy, but I reasoned how much worse could it be than simple pasteurized milk? And this went on for several years. I never tried to educate myself on the differences in pasteurization.
Then kinda by accident I came to understand fully what ultra pasteurized milk was in terms I could digest. It has a shelf life of months. Six to nine months. In europe they don’t bother to refrigerate it at all. Here in America it’s in the refrigerated section only because the sight of room temperature milk doesn’t get people reaching for their wallets! Emotionally this struck a chord with me, making me realize this is a very unnatural product. It became associated with hydrogenated oil and twinkies in my mind. I was horrified. And very angry at myself for not taking this seriously when those nagging doubts would arise. Now be aware that we’ve bought this for years and it’s been a staple of our diet. I believe now that it was associated with some health problems that just won’t seem to go away. I’m still working to reduce them now.
Ultra-Pasteurized Milk is a newfangled food, avoid it completely
OK, so most of the seemingly good choices in the Walmart dairy aisle are not-so-good … in fact most of them fall on the “Avoid Completely” list. So what are we to do here? What else can we pick from? We have several compromises we could choose to make.
First and most obvious is to simply buy regular whole milk. This is going to be from factory farm dairies with the cows fed GMO grains, antibiotics and hormones. So not so good a choice.
We have Promised Land HHST Pasteurized milk on the shelf at Walmart. This is rBST and rBGH free. I haven’t heard much about HHST pastuerization but Wikipedia had this to say:
The other technique is called higher-heat/shorter time (HHST), and it lies somewhere between HTST and UHT in terms of time and temperature.
So not the best, but at least it’s not treated with rBST or rBGH. Since this is a Texas based company I’m not sure how wide a distribution this sees across the country.
Perhaps other regions stock a brand of lower temp pasteurized milk. Ideally, you’d go for a vat pasteurized brand, though I didn’t find anything like that at my Walmart perhaps you’ll have better luck in your region. If you can’t find vat pasteurized next go for whole milk that simply isn’t ultra-pasteurized and hormone free if you can find it. Never choose 2% or skim milk.
So being certified organic is the lesser concern here, though I’m still concerned. Non-organic milk is produced by factory farmed cows eating the same GMO grains we we over in the previous post on Walmart beef. Not a good long term choice.
What about cheese and other dairy products?
I did find a number of interesting cheeses like Kerrygold Dubliners Grassfed Cheese in the deli section. I’d stop by this section first for the highest quality cheese. Also, lots of Cabot brand cheese. This is simply labeled “pasteurized”. Butter choices are limited but they do have butter in stock amidst all the PUFA spreads.
That’s it for this week 🙂 … Next week we’ll look at dry goods like grains, flours, pastas, canned goods, condiments, etc … Should be fun!
This post is part of series … Read the rest by following these links
Introduction: Can it be Done?
Part 1: A Quick Tour of Walmart
Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables
Part 3: Fats and Oils
Part 4: Meat and Bones
Part 5: The Dairy Section
Part 6: Pantry Foods
Conclusion: The Nature of Compromise
This post is shared at Butter Believer’s Sunday School, The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania, The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Mamma’s Natural Living Monday, Cooking Traditional Food’s Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, Mamaldiane’s The Gathering Spot, Penniless Parenting’s Hearth and Soul Blog HopKelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday, Deep Roots at Home’s Picks of the Week, Day 2 Day Joy’s Healthy 2 Day Wednesday, This Chick Cooks Whole Foods Wednesday, Real Food Freak’s Freaky Friday, Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday, Real Food Whole Health’s Fresh Bites Friday and Too Many Jars in my Kitchen’s Fill those jars Friday.