Several years ago, I had the pleasure of finding a company in the eastern part of Ottawa who delivered organic local milk in glass bottles. I also had found a sheep farmer who would sell me small amounts of sheep milk weekly. It was wonderful and I was proud to tell my daycare clients that their children had access to the best milk available. I did make sure to get permission from parents before giving kids the privately sourced sheep milk and out of about 15 clients there was only one who was uncomfortable with the idea so I respected that and did not give their child the sheep milk.
That sheep milk was sweet, clean, rich and velvety. It made the most amazing yogurt. This is because the fat content was high, and before you feel concerned you need to know that babies NEED FAT. This is what helps their brains grow. Never give 2% or skim milk to babies. It’s not very good for anyone actually. If you look at the ingredient list on formula you will see that a huge portion of that is oils. That is because babies need fat. Those oils are usually soy, canola or sunflower and are rarely organic. You also need to know that soy and canola are the most GMO crops in the world. Also Soy is estrogenic and known to be disruptive to hormone balance (or helpful if you are menopausal). Canola oil is a non-edible oil called “rapeseed” which was redesigned for cheap food production in Canada and then re-named as “CANola” so it sounds more palatable. These are the formulas being recommended and sold to babies instead of breast milk. Of course it’s better to use formula with all the vitamins and minerals a baby needs to grow than starving them; and breastfeeding isn’t always possible but it is the best choice if possible. The second best choice would be goat or sheep milk as the digestive systems of these animals are more similar to human digestion than cow milk. This is not common knowledge because the “cow” industry wouldn’t like it to be. As a matter of fact, it’s almost impossible for a goat or sheep milk industry to even form and grow in this oppressive climate of monopolized food security. That’s another kettle of fish. Getting Back to how WONDERFUL is sheep milk it has more protein and fat that goat or cow milk among other things. See a very good unbiased comparison of cow, goat and sheep milk here: http://www.weedemandreap.com/milk-showdown-cow-sheep-goat/
What happened with my sheep milk was that my sheep farmer/artisan cheese producer got threatened by his friendly government officials who basically said “We know what you are doing is legal, selling this sheep milk, but if you don’t stop it, we will find a way to revoke your cheese making licence”. Already it’s very difficult for farmers and food producers to survive. Due to legislative practices that are not evidence based but more specifically purposed to discourage their business officials make the lives of good honest farmers so difficult and make their financial viability so vulnerable that they give up. This is affected by enforcing costly things like constantly changing the specs for the facility or the temperature and conditions that cheeses must be kept in order to be compliant.
This kind of interference in local food distribution is evident as well when you look at the rules about egg farming. Eggs are legal for a small farms to sell only if the customers drive out to the country once a week for their 1 or 2 dozen eggs. We urbanites are not “allowed” to access eggs from a small egg farmer at the market downtown or in our stores. The local eggs you buy comes from a substantially sized local production centre that must by law have several hundred birds before being allowed to operate. There are a few cases of CFIA terrorizing farmers specifically for distributing raw milk. We have a hero in Ontario who is championing the right to drink raw milk (see https://thebovine.wordpress.com/the-michael-schmidt-story/) and a devastating ongoing drama of a heritage sheep breeder who was targeted a few years ago and her whole flock wrongly and unecessarily murdered(http://shropshiresheep.org/news-on-cfia-slaughter/).
So, sadly, I lost my source of sheep milk as this hard working honourable man had a family to support and can’t risk being shut down. I do miss it sorely.
I am not sure about the details surrounding the demise of my local dairy but all I know is that last summer the milk I had been receiving in my weekly delivery seemed different somehow. I don’t drink milk myself and so it took me a while to notice that the consistency was definitely different, the colour was different. It was no longer as rich and creamy and the colour was less natural white and more of a greyish. I also noticed that my daycare babes were not guzzling it back happily any more but their milk consumption went steadily down with no plausible explanation. Then I started noticing the dates of the milk I was getting were very close to expiry. So after about 4 months I phoned and asked what this was about. I was quite disappointed to discover that they were no longer producing milk but were shipping it in from a small town in southern Ontario, some 5hrs away. To me, that they didn’t inform me, but waited until I noticed something, was unacceptable! I said that I wanted LOCAL milk and the lady suggested that they are distributing local milk from Pembroke in cartons. I said “I wanted LOCAL milk in glass” but the only option was local cartons or glass shipped up from a dairy which to me was uncomfortably close to the American border. I am sorry but I do not want any milk that could have been fraternizing with American milk. We have very good regulations here about hormones in milk that Canadians fought very hard to keep in effect. I do not use many packaged products because I know that ingredients are not carefully or prudently monitored and I don’t want to be giving unsafe and unnecessary hormones, antibiotics or carcinogenics to tiny little children. So I regretfully cancelled my convenient milk delivery.
I won’t end on a bad note. I am a very determined woman who prides herself on giving the children in her care the very best of everything possible. So I noticed at my local veg store they had some nice organic milk in bottles. I bought one, loved it and proceeded to contact the dairy. This dairy turned out to be just outside Kingston (so a mere 2hrs away) and I was told that they don’t deliver to Ottawa. I REALLY liked the delivery as I am housebound from 8am-5pm monday to friday and have a very busy life outside those hours. I said “I know you deliver to Ottawa, I saw your milk at my local shop”! As it turns out my local shop was privately trucking that milk in!!! So I went to talk to my local shop and they agreed to special order a case of milk for me each week. I need to go and pick it up, and I’m not getting it for a wholesale price or even a slight discount which is unfortunate (and frankly a bit unfair) but at least I have access to some gorgeous creamy local milk in glass bottles again. Their whipping cream is an incredible treat as well. Nothing you get at the superstore even comes close. I am so excited and grateful to have solved my milk dilemmas for now, and I sure hope that this very special and exclusive milk continues to be available to me and to the lucky little kids I have the pleasure of nurturing for a living.
Oh, and if you ever see an opportunity to try sheep milk DO IT. I’d like some too please.