Sunday, April 06, 2008

6 April 2008: Milk

One of the best experiences from our weekend came when we went to visit the nice people at the Traderspoint Creamery. And the nice cows.

We read about it in one of the glossy brochures from the hotel, and saw something about it on an Indy tourist website. Turns out it's just outside the city, in a borderline place between Indianapolis and the satellite village of Zionsville: in fact, so borderline that our new exciting GPS system (nicknamed 'Flo II' for reasons I decline to explain) actually couldn't quite figure it out. But we found our way there, and it was worth it.

As regular blogophiles will know, part of our self-appointed mission here in the USA has been to find not just British goods, but generally decent, natural foodstuffs of the kind taken from granted by those who shop at Waitrose and Uptons of Bassett. The hardest thing to find has been milk: even finding organic milk has been a struggle, and to be honest it's not all that exciting even to find "homogenised 2%" which happens to also be from an organic source. The only clotted cream was imported UHT from England, and we've yet to see a hint of even that here in Indiana. No Gold Top, no Jersey milk, nothing even close.

Until yesterday, when we went to Traderspoint. Not satisfied with simply being 'Organic', they have a good size herd of Brown Swiss cows (all of whom we saw yesterday as we happened to be there at milking time) who are entirely grass-fed and hormone-free. Pasteurizing is short and hot, killing nasty bad bacteria but preserving the good kind that you find in yoghurt, and then they make it up into different ice creams, yoghurts, chocolate milk and just plain old Whole Milk. You can actually watch the whole process - from the field, through the milking, the pasteurizing and (as witnessed this afternoon when we returned to buy some stuff) the bottling. The whole place is open for you to walk around, ask questions, explore a small working farm with everything on site and nothing to hide.

And you know what? Look at the bottles and you see cream at the top. Genuine top-of-the-milk. Haven't seen that over here before. I asked them if farms like this are common over here.

"We're the only one that we know of," replied the helpful worker.

And I can understand that: at three dollars for a two-pint bottle of milk, it's a little over-the-odds, even for an expensive corner shop in Southampton, and in America the move over the last generation or two has been for cheaper, mass-produced goods, even if it's at the expense of quality. So producing milk that costs a dollar fifty a pint hasn't been a popular move, and it's hard to find. It may be that, as in the UK, the trend is finally moving towards more organic, naturally-produced goods, but it's a good way behind the UK and there seems rather more inertia holding it back.

And a word about the moo-moos: I just had a look to see what I could find out about Swiss Brown (mainly to see if they're similar enough to Jersey cows to allow me to attempt making clotted cream) and found they're quite possibly the oldest of all dairy breeds, recorded use dating back to some monks over a thousand years ago.

And there in the background you can also see chicken coop where the free-range girls lay their eggs, which are also sold in the little farm shop.

So there it is, an exciting discovery just outside Indy, a place where extremely rich, creamy milk is produced in an entirely natural and fully expensive way. And on a fun weekend which involved cycling round the downtown canals of Indianapolis (why did nobody tell me this is a really nice city?), meeting an old friend from many years ago, shopping for British goods at the local Marsh (and guess what: we found Alpen, imported all the way from... Canada...), this was a clear highlight.

So come visit us in Indiana, and we'll take you down on the farm.


Becky Swanwick said...

Happy birthday, Dunc, hope you have a lovely day x

Whiskers said...

WOW... right in our own back yard. I will need to take the kids there and relive the memories of scooping manure to be spread in my uncle's pastures.

DuncMcRae said...

Thanks Becks, how did you know?? I thought I always kept it a pretty good secret?

DuncMcRae said...

Whiskers... highly recommended is their home-made blackberry ice cream. Never tasted anything that good outside of curry before.

Becky Swanwick said...

good memory, me :-)