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Hi! I've found a way that I can get dairy products without disposable packaging.
Just like any small farmers at farmer's markets, many local dairies are interested in ways to prevent unnecessary packaging expenses. My local dairy, which is very small and sells to only a handful of families, delivers our weekly milk in reusable food-safe 5 gallon plastic pails, and the cream is delivered in gallon glass jars. Everyone who comes to pick up the milk and cream brings their own glass jars. Clean gallon glass pickle jars are great to use, or 1 or 2 quart canning jars work great, too. I make my own yogurt, ice cream, butter, buttermilk, sour cream, and cheese at home and I can store what I make in reusable containers made from glass or stainless steel.
Using a small, local dairy is a great way to make a connection with a farmer, to know where your food is coming from, get higher quality milk from animals who are eating their natural diet and who are allowed to live a low-stress life, and working with fresh farm dairy allows you to feel like a farm housewife with your own milk cow. :-) It is harder to work with supermarket milk in the kitchen, because it is so processed, with homogenization, pasteurization, added thickeners, added synthetic vitamins, and then there are all the artificial ingredients put into ice cream and yogurt. There is nothing like home made ice cream with real vanilla, honey, egg yolk, and cream.
Buying dairy in this way usually means making a separate weekly trip to pick it up-- but I love working with it in the kitchen, it allows me to make food for my household that is better quality than what I can find in the stores, and there is no waste to throw in the recycling or the trash, so for me it is worth it.
I know that cow share programs (they are like CSAs) are all over the place, a good way to start looking is realmilk.com
For info about working with dairy, Ricki Carroll's website cheesemaking.com is great. Cheers,
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