Home > Food > Rant about California Milk Subsidies – Not!

Rant about California Milk Subsidies – Not!


I had originally intended to rant about an agency, or rather a philosophy, that I thought discriminated against small families and singles: Milk Subsidies. I started to, then abruptly changed direction.

You see, it’s always rubbed me the wrong way to see the absurdly low price for milk in my local stores – but only if you bought 2 gallons at a time. I love milk – but I can’t drink 2 gallons before some of it goes bad, so I couldn’t take advantage of the 2 gallon deals without ending up wasting a LOT of milk.

That was before this past Saturday. The day started OK – A nice cup of french press (the best way to make only 1 cup of coffee with fresh ground beans) accompanied by a slice of banana bread. Then set myself down in front of the Google Machine and start my research. Found a whole bunch of California bureaucracies and agencies dedicated to regulating and promoting milk. I tried to read the fine print to understand why milk is priced as it is, and just couldn’t understand the details. Suffice it to say that it looks to me as if California has agencies whose purpose is to reduce the price of milk, while other agencies enforce a virtual monopoly through a quota system – which tends to raise prices.

Frustrated, I decided to simply do a fancy table showing how the 2 gallon price is ridiculously low, so off to Lucky – where I spend 15 minutes in front of the dairy case writing the price of all sizes of milk I could find – Cup, Pint, Quart, 1/2 Gallon, Gallon and the “Buy 1, get the second almost free” 2 gallon deals. I did just that, and I did it for Nonfat, 1%, 2% and whole milk, from 4 producers – excuse me, California calls then “handlers” – representing 5 lines of milk (one the of handlers had regular and organic lines.) I’m not going to give the details, because something important happened after I left Lucky.

Luckily (no pun intended, but it IS there!), I didn’t actually BUY any milk as I had plenty at home. Why was that lucky? On the way home, I passed a theater I thought had closed (the El Cerrito Speakeasy) and saw that it was open, under new management, and showing “Food Inc.” With no perishable food in the car (“luckily”) I was able to decide, on the spur of the moment, to watch the movie.

Folks, this movie is scary. 2 hours later I walked out changed. There’s an incredible amount of not very good stuff that has happened to our society as a result of the corporatization of our food supply. I’m not going to detail it here, just repeat that (imagine hypnotic moving spirals) SEE THE MOVIE (imagine MORE hypnotic moving spirals.) What changed in me? I decided to stop doing my shopping at Lucky, Safeway, Andronicos, etc. and start doing as much of my shopping as I could at the El Cerrito Natural Grocery (ECNG) – the closest natural foods store to my home. I even stopped there on my way home – to add to my milk chart!

What did I find regarding milk at ECNG? They don’t even HAVE a “2 Gallon” deal! In fact, they only have 1 milk handler that participates in either the price subsidies, or the price increasing quota system – and that wasn’t the milk I was going to buy because it is corn fed. Why is that bad? Again – SEE THE MOVIE!

Thus, my reason for wanting to rant has disappeared. As has my short-lived quest to understand milk pricing in California. I’ve decided, for other reasons, to buy milk from a place that has a reasonable price progression as the amount of milk purchased gets larger.

Regarding the other reasons – I want to avoid the big corporation food producers as much as possible – and making sure I don’t buy from a handler participating in the quota system is part of that. The rest? Buy when I can from Farmer’s Markets, specialty stores and natural food stores. Buy organic when not prohibitively expensive. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, Monsanto at all costs and proteins from animals/fish fed on corn. Fish? Did you say FISH raised on corn? Yep – that’s what I said! Apparently, fish farms are starting to genetically engineer their fish to eat corn! One more time: See The Movie!

In another week or two, I’ll post describing how my new shopping patterns are working, but I will offer a preview:

Today is Monday. I saw the movie Saturday. Since then, I’ve eaten meals with fresh salad twice! And (drumroll please)…I’ve packed a lunch for tomorrow that includes salad. As a single person who isn’t into salads, it’s been rare that I’ve purchased salad greens prior to the past 3 days! And it’s also been quite rare for me to bring lunch to work.

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