Getting Milk
Russell Degnan

"Despite my admiration for the carton, I felt superior to those who reached into the supermarket's dairy case and withdrew Sealtest products, admitting to the world that they didn't have home delivery and hence were not really members of society but loners and drifters."
- Nicholas Baker "Mezzanine"

Such privileges were a rarity for me. If was I was old enough to be alive when home delivery of milk existed in Australia, it was well gone by the time I started paying attention to what receptacle it arrived in. The one time we did have home delivery it was in England which is quaint, if not a little backward in certain things -- notably plumbing and closing times.

Not that it was all cartons. When I was growing up in Warnambool, and then later, Horsham, milk came in bags [1]. Giant, unwieldy bags, the milk would slop around in, falling to the edges across the crease in the centre of your hand if you held it there, and thus resisting any centre of gravity that would make them possible to carry in one hand. Or at least, with one small, rather weak hand.

When they worked the bags were not, in themselves, so bad. They were placed in big plastic containers, and the corner cut off. Despite what you'd think, They poured reasonably sensibly once you got past the first little bit that would, like those idiotic square fruit containers, literally jump out of the packaging; and contrary to what I'd expect now, I don't recall them ever collapsing into the jug into a mess of plastic and milk.

But they were the bane of my existence as an eight year old.

The problem with the bag is it isn't particularly strong. A leaky bag was pretty common, bringing on something of a crisis in a small boy who didn't know that you could complain to adults about the level of service you received, when one of those adult's products leaked down your leg and into your sock.

Dropping them was worse. A carton might leak a bit when it hits the floor. But if you were, say, trying to load the plastic container, and it was say, 6am in the morning and perhaps a little dark, and the bag for instance, decided it would unbalance itself and tip the container over, and you, being a small boy, perhaps dropped said bag, then you were in for a shock.

Because those babies exploded!

Cleaning milk up from every conceivable surface in a kitchen would definitely suck. Lucky for me it was my birthday.

And just try and carry one on a bike. A bag of milk weighed about ten percent of what I did, so trying to balance with it in one hand wasn't going to happen. Nor could I put it on my lap and peddle. So I tried putting it on the handle bars. A hundred metres up the road the bag swung its way into my bike spokes: more milk on the feet, legs, bike, ground...

But that isn't the point of this post, merely a segue from a funny quote into the general area wherein we shall find the point of this post.

Having spent so much of my youth drinking milk in large quantities, I was also somewhat surprised by friends who didn't drink milk, and who, as a result, were offered the wide variety of alternative drinks we had at home, including... um.... water from the tap?[2].

It has also made me relatively picky about my milk. I can tell the difference between milk from different regions, between milk from different companies (farmland is crap), and between fresh milk and stuff the supermarket has left sitting on the floor for an hour why their pubescent 16-year-old shelf-stacker had a smoke and tried to chat up the girl on the checkout.

And so, being picky, this morning greeted me with a very unpleasant surprise when I opened the fridge at work for milk to go in my morning milo [3]. Because instead of the normal collection of actual milk, there was only six litres of pretend milk, also known as low-fat milk.

And I hate low-fat milk. Low fat milk is not milk. Low fat milk is water with white colouring in it. It is an abomination. It is the negation of the only thing that is good in milk. It turns into a cloudy pale, lifeless, substance, devoid of taste and any redeeming value. And so to people who subject others to low-fat milk, let me make the following plea:

If you have such a problem with fat in milk, then drink less friggin milk [4], or water it down yourself, or instead of saving 1g off you daily fat intake on milk find an actual fatty food to save it on, or maybe do some exercise. Or even stop being sucked in by marketing techniques trying to make you feel guilty by targeting the most commonly bought products.

And let me enjoy one of life's simpler pleasures without having it destroyed by your pallid excuse for milk.

[1] My ignorance on this subject is quite broad. I don't know for instance, if milk came in bags in Melbourne, although I never saw it at the houses of relatives in Melbourne. Also, for all I know milk still comes in bags in the Western District, but since I don't live there I don't know that either. I suspect deregulation put a stop to any remaining bag distributors.

[2] Note that this was in Traralgon, not Horsham, where offering water from the tap is somewhat akin to offering your guest a glass of cats piss you've spat in, except less healthy.

[3] The morning milo being different to the afternoon milo, and the "everyone has gone home at 5pm so lets have another" milo.

[4] Particularly if your only putting it in coffee, and you probably are. I find it hard to believe the 2% of milk that has been converted from fat into something non-fat has any particularly gratifying taste.

Passing Fancy 28th January, 2006 01:54:27   [#] 


Getting Milk
"And I hate low-fat milk. Low fat milk is not milk. Low fat milk is water with white colouring in it. It is an abomination. It is the negation of the only thing that is good in milk. It turns into a cloudy pale, lifeless, substance, devoid of taste and any redeeming value."

Amen, brother!
scott wickstein  28th January, 2006 18:06:31  

Hang on, that 6 litres of milk disappeared rather quickly then...

I think I need my soy milk back, I miss its hormone-altering awesomeness...I'm becoming more of a man!
Anderson  1st February, 2006 13:41:52  

Getting Milk
Is it the soy, or lack of, that makes you dopey?

"work" milk Thomas.
Russ  1st February, 2006 18:01:48  

Why would you say that?
Anderson  1st February, 2006 18:08:34