Organic Milk Lasts Longer

I’ve never liked milk much. Even now, as an adult with mature, varied tastes, I’d much rather eat cooked, slimy grocery store mushrooms than drink a glass of milk. And that’s saying something.
However, milk is a necessity for a great many things that I do enjoy– cereal, coffee, baking, etc.– so I have to keep it on hand. My first semester I pretty consistently had a jug of spoiled milk in my fridge because I could never use it up before its expiration date.
Then, I discovered the age-defying properties of organic milk.


I know what you’re thinking. What the heck? Organic milk lasts longer? That’s just backwards. And you’re right, it does seem that way to me, too. So I did a bit of Google research and found (in approx 0.21 seconds) that a lot of organic milks are pasteurized with super high temperatures which makes them last longer.

Organic milk often undergoes “ultrapasteurization,” in which the milk is heated to a very hot 280° F (137.8° C) for 2 seconds, rather than the 161° F (71.7° C) for 15 seconds used in conventional pasteurization. By killing more bacteria, the extra heat extends the milk’s expiration date. It’s not clear whether organic-milk producers ultrapasteurize as an additional safeguard against bacteria, since organic cows consume no antibiotics, or simply to extend shelf life. (Source.)

But that doesn’t answer the all-important question when it comes to food: does the extra processing make it bad for you? This foodie site has launched a crusade against ultra-pasteurized milk, and they cite the following to supplement their tirade:

Rapid heat treatments like pasteurization, and especially ultra-pasteurization, actually flatten the molecules so the enzymes cannot do their work. If such proteins pass into the bloodstream (a frequent occurrence in those suffering from “leaky gut,” a condition that can be brought on by drinking processed commercial milk), the body perceives them as foreign proteins and mounts an immune response. That means a chronically overstressed immune system and much less energy available for growth and repair. (source)

From what they’re saying, ultra-pasteurized milk takes out not only the stuff we’re looking to avoid but the good stuff that gives milk its good rep, and if you drink too much of it your immune system will not be happy. That being said, these guys are definitely on the far end of the spectrum. Most agree that ultra-pasteurized milk, although it may taste burnt, isn’t going to kill you.
All things considered, I’m going to continue buying organic ultra-pasteurized milk for my minimalist purposes. Maybe if I ever decide I like milk (doubtful) or when I have kids I’ll switch back to the regular pasteurized stuff, but for me, this stuff is as good as it gets.

Friday Five: Musicians I Love

I know it’s not Friday, I apologize. I only remembered on Friday and then there was a fire alarm in my building (a drill? I don’t know) and then I found myself watching Lord of the Rings until it was Saturday. I want to also apologize for not posting as often, I just got a new schedule at work and things have been hectic, but I promise I have some ideas that will make their way to the blagosphere eventually! That’s all the excuses I have for you today, I promise!
Okay, so this one is a bit lame, but what music lover doesn’t enjoy the chance to prate about their top five favorite artists every once in awhile? I’m usually pretty awful about picking favorites as far as entertainment goes, so these bands I’ve selected for you are my tried-and-true loves.
I’ve added a sample song from each of the bands for your listening pleasure, but in no way are those my favorite songs by these artists. There’s no way I could pick!
By the way, this is going to be a countdown, just for the suspense.

5) The Heartless Bastards (2003-present)

“Be So Happy” (The Mountain)

The Heartless Bastards are a relatively new love of mine; I was only introduced to them this year by one of my cousins who just so happens to have an impeccable taste in music. At first I was hesitant to embrace this band– I’ve never been a huge fan of female vocalists and as a choral singer I’d never before been exposed to anything remotely like Erika’s voice– but I soon came to love them, especially her voice. The Bastards are a rock-folksy band with excellent stage presence– they’re the only ones on this list that I’ve actually seen in concert!

4) Natalie Cole (1955-present)

“Smile” (Unforgettable: With Love)

I’m really only a huge fan of Natalie Cole for her Unforgettable album in which she sings all of the old jazz classics that her father, Nat King Cole, used to sing. I’ll listen to this album when I’m getting ready, when I’m sad, or when I’m in love, the moods are all there. My parents are actually the ones who own this album, so I grew up with this music and it’ll be with me for the rest of my life. I’ve heard so many of the old “greats” sing these songs, and don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome, but in my opinion Natalie Cole outdid them all.

3) Stevie Ray Vaughan (1970-1990)

“Pride and Joy” (Texas Flood)

Who’d have thought I could give so much respect to a musician who couldn’t even read sheet music? Stevie Ray was a phenomenal guitarist, and his cool blend of southern jazz and rock never fails to draw me in.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s a Texas native– I love me some Texan drawl!

2) The Beach Boys (1961-present)

“Little Deuce Coupe” (Surfer Girl)

My parents definitely have odd taste in music (Juice Newton, anyone?) but they did hit the mark every now and then. The Beach Boys was another band I grew up listening to and still can’t get enough of. In my opinion they’re still the best band ever for driving around with the top down, and as a decent musician myself I really appreciate the layered voices and harmonies. Who doesn’t feel good when listening to these happy-go-lucky teens? 

1) Eagles (1971-1980)

“Peaceful Easy Feeling” (Eagles

The Eagles. What can I even say? I remember being in the car with my parents listening to them over and over so now I know all the words to their early seventies greatest hits CD, listening to them through high school when times got rough, blaring their music over the speakers in my truck as I tore down backroads in my hometown… Desperado was the theme song of my first love, and Already Gone was what I played when we broke up. Peaceful Easy Feeling and Take it Easy were my summertime tunes. I learned so much of their stuff on the guitar to play it on my own, and those songs have gotten me through more heartache than anything. This band is golden, and I love it so much. 

Friday Five: Quotes

Recently I’ve been keeping a quote on the mirror above my sink, and these are a few I’ve found which really speak to me. Enjoy!

1) “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
-Henry David Thoreau

As an aspiring writer, this quote really kicks me in the jewels. What does he mean by stand up to live? Live life? All of it? No one can possibly know everything. So do we just need to write about what we’ve lived through? Doubt Thoreau would say that. To me what Thoreau is saying here, in excellent parallel structure, is to keep an open mind and never seclude yourself from the world, no matter how important you think what you have to say is.

2) “One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings.”


The irony of quoting this quote really gets me. That’s all.

3) “I never think about the future. It comes soon enough.”

-Albert Einstein

The older I get, the faster the future seems to arrive. I’ve guessed that it’s because adults can absorb more info at one time, and they think farther into the future. Maybe we shouldn’t be so stressed about what is to come and focus on what is right in front of us (cliché!).

4) “Being mediocre gets you absolutely nowhere in life.”

-Eric Johnson

Eric was the editor-in-chief of my university’s newspaper the semester I worked for them, and at every weekly review of the paper, he would say something that stirred our little patriot journalist souls and rouse us to tackle the next week. I’m sure he’s not the first to say something like this, and he definitely won’t be the last, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to get ahead. I love the idea of bettering myself, but it’s not a race. Eric’s rhetoric definitely did its job, the paper had an awesome semester, but I wouldn’t call these words to live by.

5) “I never trust anyone who’s more excited about success than about doing the thing they want to be successful at.”

-Randall Munroe

These are definitely words to live by, and even apply to yourself, obviously in the career world but I’ll venture to extend it to relationships as well. So many girls I know will date just so they can be dating, and even I’ve done it before, but if you don’t care about the guy then what’s the point? Or going out with a group of friends you hate just so you can be hanging out with people. It’s lame. Enjoy what you do, not the shell of its side effects.

A Few Worthwhile Clichés

I’ve always been fond of the idea that clichés have to come from somewhere. I ran into my own clichéd experience today, while celebrating my youngest sister’s birthday. She’s fourteen, but far from your typical fourteen-year-old girl, and she wanted to take some of her friends hiking down at Hamilton Pool.
Because I am home for a bit and hadn’t spent any time with my family yet, I went along. Six fourteen-year-old girls, my sixteen-year-old sister, her friend, my parents and myself all piled in the car and drove down to the park. Of course the younger girls took off, each talking loud enough to be heard over the others, constantly moving on to see the next thing. They were a tiresome bunch, which means a lot because I currently live in a dorm with a bunch of 18-to-21-year-olds who are often intoxicated.
To get away from the younger girls, my sixteen-year-old sister, her friend and I took it pretty slowly, taking pictures and meandering down every side trail. We spent so much time just noticing what was around us, even though it was hot and muggy and we were all wearing jeans. There were fish in the stream if we looked close enough, and tree-like plants whose new branches had petals around them, as if each new branch had freshly sprung from its flowers. We crossed the stream, precariously, and sat on the other side for a bit, watching the other hikers pass on the trail. Because the rangers take such good care of the park, there was no trash to speak of, and if not for the other hikers I would have believed us alone in the pathed wilderness.
When we finally got to where the stream met the river, the younger girls and my parents had been there for a good fifteen minutes or so and were ready to leave. There wasn’t too much to do by the river, so we were ready to go soon as well. As in so many things, the journey was worth much more than the destination. All I got from the river were feet too sandy to put back into shoes and pants with wet cuffs. That isn’t to say the river wasn’t worth visiting– it was much cooler in the ravine and the sand felt good between my toes– but taking my time to get there was definitely worth the experience.
Yesterday, I was waiting for a friend at a coffee shop downtown, sitting all by myself, waiting for the waitress to notice me, and this guy came and sat down with me. Usually that puts me immediately on my guard, but this man was very nonthreatening, despite the fact that he was obviously older than me. He was flirting with me at first, but once he realized I was much younger than he and in a relationship besides, he let it go and pretty soon we worked up an excellent conversation. We talked about relationships, about our hometowns: in retrospect I’m pretty sure we touched on the entire scope of life.
For me, the most memorable part of our conversation is when he spoke to me about the time he spent with monks in Asia, studying meditation, and how they taught him the importance of living in the present. “We can’t taste yesterday,” he said, “we can’t touch tomorrow. Everything only exists in the present, so we should live accordingly.”
That ideology has so many applications. Make everything a learning experience, and live it to the fullest (see what I meant about clichés?). If I pay enough attention in life, sometimes things fall into place. Some call that serendipity. Hopefully I can be good enough to always keep an open mind and live in the present; I don’t want serendipity to be beyond my reach. 
I hope I’ll have the chance to have such a phenomenal chat with a stranger again. We talked for nearly two hours. And you know what the best part about it was? He didn’t even ask for my number.

Friday Five: Healthy Foods to Buy When You’re Low on Cash

Okay, scratch the “Friday Five” words. One week and I’m already bored of it. But I like the idea of making a list every week, so I’ll hold onto it, just do a different list of stuff every Friday. So, without further ado, I give you the second Friday Five!
One of my biggest loves is food, and eating well has proved difficult in college. There’s no one to keep my fridge constantly full of healthy and delicious comestibles, so I’ve had to learn to forage for myself in the depths of the local Kroger, a task both daunting and dangerous for my pocketbook. Here are a few of the healthy favorites I’ve found thus far:

1) Sweet potatoes


Cost: about $0.98 per pound
Ways to eat them: My favorite ways of cooking sweet potatoes are twice-baking them or making them into oven fries. When you oven-fry sweet potatoes, make sure you use olive oil– it’s consistently healthier and much more flavorful than plain vegetable oil. As far as seasonings go, I’ve found allspice goes well with sweet potatoes, but I also like to make them with green onions and garlic.

2) Black beans


Cost: about $0.85 per can, about two servings
Ways to eat: My favorite way of preparing black beans is to mix them with salsa and garnish with cilantro and lime. Trés tasty! Black beans are also phenomenal in soups and chilis, and they happen to go well when paired with sweet potatoes.

3) Oatmeal


Cost: about $1.85 for 18 oz
Ways to eat: Of course there’s the traditional oatmeal, but try adding bits of cooked apple (fresh, mind you!) and cinnamon for a much healthier and cheaper alternative to oatmeal packets. Oatmeal is also an excellent healthy substitute in cookies and muffins.

4) Bananas


Cost: about $0.45 per pound
Ways to eat: In cereal, in yogurt, for breakfast on the go, on PB & banana sandwiches… Bananas have become my go-to fruit for at least one of my servings for the day because they’re probably the cheapest fruit on the market!

5) Plain Yogurt


Cost: about $1.77 for 1 lb
Ways to eat: Well, to be frank with you, I just like the stuff plain. However, yogurt can also be used as a milk substitute in many recipes, and with a bit of cereal and some fruit, makes an excellent parfait (a trick I learned from a cereal box as a kid!) Protip: make sure the yogurt you buy has only one ingredient! Most conventional yogurt has added flavoring or sugars.

Okay, so that’s not an incredible or life-changing list, but those five foods have definitely been my primary sustenance thus far. Hope you enjoyed it!

International Women’s Day

This is the first year ever I was even remotely aware of International Women’s Day.


Who knew it’d been going on for 100 years, right under my nose?? Most national/international holidays (or general days of recognition) are celebrated by teachers of public schools, but this one isn’t. I’m going to take a stab at it and say that’s probably because (according to extensive Wikipedia research):

1) The holiday didn’t originate in the U.S., nor does it refer to any sort of U.S. historical landmark
2) Little boys will most definitely whine about not having an International Men’s Day (I’m sure the grown up ones sometimes do, too)
3) It was first publicized by a Socialist party and then by Soviet Russia

Can you imagine trying to get the mid-twentieth century U.S. to celebrate ANY sort of holiday that originated with Socialists? Wouldn’t happen. But since I personally don’t think IWD (that acronym reminds me of IUD… funny) is a Socialist plot to overtake our pseudo-capitalist nation, I’m going to ask my boyfriend to take me out to dinner tonight. Because it’s International Women’s Day.

Introducing: The Friday Five

Being primarily a budding writer, I understand the importance of words. Being somewhat of a media philosopher, I understand how current language can define a society.
So, in the interest of creating a weekly bit to keep myself disciplined, each Friday I will present five words I find intriguing for some reason or another. From henceforth, they shall be known as the Friday Five (because I’m a sucker for alliteration).

1. Lilliputian– adj.

  • extremely small; tiny; diminutive
  • petty; trivial

I’d like to begin today with a shout-out to one of my close friends who posted a Facebook status about this word. Lilliputian is an amazing word because it is a direct allusion to the miniature inhabitants of the island of Lilliput in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Definitely a nightmare. Source.

Imagine, writing a book so influential your fictional country takes on a meaning of its own! I tried to read Gulliver’s Travels when I was about eight (for the AR points, mainly), and failed miserably. Something tells me I might have to give it another chance.

2. Bourgie– adj. (slang)

  • obsessed with material possessions
  • stuck-up; pretentious

Ke$ha once again sent me to school. Check out the chorus of Sleazy.

I know what bourgeoisie means (even if I can’t spell it correctly on the first attempt), but it took me forever to put two and two together. You can guarantee I’ll induct this word into my “Girls’ Night Out” vocab.  
3. Mediocre– adj. 
  • of moderate quality; not very good
  • neither good nor bad
  • rather poor or inferior

Mediocre is not a forgotten word or anything like that, we all know it and use it, but it’s definitely one of my favorites. It just rolls off the tongue and sounds exactly like its meaning. But I have some strong ties to this word. Sophomore year of high school, my friend Emily came over so I could teach her some guitar. Of course, this didn’t happen. Somehow, we decided the word “mediocre” sounded a lot like a medicine, which lead to the creation of the fictional drug “Medicore: for the hardcore in you.”
We created a theme song to be sung to the tune of the guitar solo from “Smoke on the Water,” which was as far as we’d gotten in our guitar lessons:

Brain dam-age/ Brain dam-age, yeah!/ You will get/ brain dam-age 

Wrap your mind around that, folks. We filmed a commercial, but we swore a bit and when my mom found it she erased it. (C’mon, mom! We were being hardcore!) Sad day. 

4. Grok– v. (slang)
  • to understand thoroughly and emphatically

Coined by sci-fi novelist Robert Heinlein in the sixties and discovered by me in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. This word is just as fun to use as mediocre, but definitely does not sound like its meaning. Grok. It makes me want to say, “Yeah, I grok you, man,” and dress like a beatnik.


5. Hoary– adj. 
  • gray or white, as if with age
  • extremely old

When I read this word in my Comp II textbook, my first thought was, “Whore-y? Hoagie? WTF?” But it seems my ignorance has once again got the best of me. According to, hoary is first seen used in Beowulf (c. 8th-11th century AD). In those times, hoar meant a greyish-white color, and so, as we do all the time, people just stuck a -y on the end and made it an adjective. It amazes me how much we think humans have changed, when in reality people have been creating slang since the dawn of time.

Ask for Directions

Up until my junior year of high school, I hadn’t given a thought to what I wanted to be. I had no clue what my calling was, and at that point, I didn’t care.
As soon as I found something I was good at, I latched onto it and clung on very, very hard. I beat myself up to fit into the mold of that career and was overcome with stress. Finally, I came to the realization that even if I am good at something, it doesn’t mean I should do it forever. I felt wonderful about my decision to change until I realized I may never settle on anything, and I panicked.
In high school, I’d never been one to ask for help, but now it feels like I’m in an advising office every other week. “Man is not an island,” it has been said, and I’m finally discovering that, for once, I am not the exception to the rule.

The Author is Dead?!?

For my art appreciation class, we were asked to read several articles to potentially discuss in class. One of these articles was penned by Roland Barthes and titled “The Death of the Author.”

  I’m pretty sure Ke$ha wrote “Dinosaur” about this man. Source.

After I finally untangled his ambiguous, bland diction (we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and blame the translation), I was pissed.

Basically, Barthes condemns the idea of the author. He explains that an author puts “limits” on a work; that when an author is given the glory of creation (the term he uses is “God-Author”) the work is linked solely to the author and to nothing else. According to Barthes, an authored work is deemed to have an ultimate meaning. He claims people place too much importance on the idea of an author, that we believe an author is a genius pulling new ideas right out of his head.

Maybe things were different in the early twentieth century, but I do believe he’s overreacting.
To replace the author, Barthes creates the idea of a “scriptor” whose writings are pulled from a pool of past literature and ideas. Barthes believes the scriptor simply mixes these writings about to create a work. 

My senior year of high school, we read How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. In it, Foster claims literature is a conglomerate of everything that’s ever been written. He explains literature isn’t just one book, that when you read, you have to understand it is all-encompassing and has traces of what has come before.

Foster’s idea is very similar to Barthes’s, but I’d say it’s 1,000,000,000 times more accurate.
Yes, each author is influenced by everything he or she has come into contact with before, and yes, each work has multiple meanings depending on the reader, but for god’s sake give the “scriptor” a little credit! I’m about 98% certain Barthes was a fan of the “Infinite Monkey” theorem.

Words, words, words. Source.

In defense of authors everywhere, I would like to examine the life of Barthes himself. Barthes was sick most of his life, which hindered his studies, but he pulled through and entered into the literary scene, took the world by storm, etc. What I find most interesting is that Barthes lived with his mother until she died (at age 84) and lived alone until he died (at 64). Why? Works published after his death revealed that he was gay. Sorry, Barthes, but you couldn’t own up to that? The guy lived through the ’70s!

My point in examining Barthes’s life is to not make fun of him, but rather to point out that I am not judging his writing based on his life. I am judging it based on what it says. I like to read about authors’ lives, but that doesn’t hinder my interpretation, which I believe is a fair way of analyzing literature. Barthes’s essay suggests a reversal of the Renaissance and humanist ideals.

I think the most disappointing part of the whole ordeal was the actual class discussion. We talked in circles about this article for a good 45 minutes, never lifting off the ground. I sat next to an English major who seemed to be the only other person in the room who saw the article as I did.

Barthes, we understand what your point is, but stop trying to take a side. The key to understanding literature is to look at all aspects and to not force meaning upon it.Please, understand that an author generally encourages their readers’ interpretations, and does no way the author itself constrict a work.   Just let writing speak for itself, because if an author cannot clearly communicate his intentions, he must be a pretty rotten author.

The True Definition of Organic

When this blog was conceived, I deliberated for quite awhile about mentioning anything from my freshman composition class. You see, the entire semester we focus on one book. We read it, we discuss it, and then we learn to write by writing about it. Our professor chose The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

If you like food at all, and don’t mind becoming a bit disillusioned with the government, I highly recommend it! Source
Actually, I’m kind of in love with this book. I’m sure many people wouldn’t pick it up because they don’t want to be preached at about the dangers of fast food, but Pollan makes a brilliant argument and condemns the government so much more often than he condemns the general public [read: it doesn’t make you feel quite as bad as Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation]. The reason I didn’t want to post anything is because there is SO MUCH I would try to talk about. Seriously, I could talk about this book for days, as I’m sure my class knows. But when this NPR article showed up, I couldn’t help but pen JUST ONE post about organic food.

I’ll admit right now, I didn’t read the whole thing, but I skimmed it well enough to know what the problem is. “Organic” farmers are pissed because the USDA is allowing other farmers to plant genetically modified alfalfa, which is then sold to the farmers who raise “organic” cattle. I’d be a little annoyed, too, however, I’m particularly interested in this quote from Tom Spohn, a director over at Horizon Organic.

“We just make sure we’re meeting the letter of the organic regulations to the T.”

The LETTER. Ouch.
This statement is particularly interesting in light of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Pollan uses Horizon Organic to demonstrate exactly what is wrong with the genre of industrial organic food Pollan christens “Big Organic.”

This and the store brand are the only types of organic milk offered at my podunk Kroger. I wonder if the Kroger organic is any better. Source
When a person goes to the store and buys something, like milk, which is labeled “organic,” a nice fantasy blossoms in their imagination: cows grazing in open pastures, basking in the sunlight and smiling for the camera.
Wake up, Alice, this ain’t Wonderland.
In truth, the only way organic products deviate from normal grocery store fare is that they are pesticide-free. The food itself is treated exactly the same as its inorganic counterpart, only organic farmers have to stretch their imaginations a bit farther to come up with natural pesticides and fertilizers. 
What drives me crazy about Spohn’s statement, as I previously mentioned, is that he seems so committed to being approved by the regulations as to go so far to stick to their LETTER. As with so many things in life, the LETTER hardly covers it. The LETTER of organic regulations don’t really change what we’re eating. That would take a far drastic and far deeper transformation within our food industry, which brings me to my main point…
This may be a surprising twist, after all that rhetoric, but to me buying organic is just a waste of money. My mother always skipped the organic produce and now that I’m shopping for myself, I do the same. Why? I was hoping you’d ask. 
1) A USDA organic label doesn’t mean 100% organic, unless it says so. If it just says “organic” there could be as little as 70% organic material in the product.
2) Organic products aren’t actually grown differently, which is huge, especially where organic animal products are concerned. Based on Pollan’s observations, as long as we’re still feeding corn to cows, it doesn’t matter. 
3) Recent (and not-so-recent) studies have shown that nutritional value DOESN’T CHANGE from organic to inorganic.
And that, my friends, is why I won’t waste my dollar on a certified organic label.