Here's a new word for you:
Locavore. A person who endeavors to eat local food. (Fun fact: It was the New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year in 2007.)
You might also hear these individuals referred to as "localvores," "food patriots" or "100-mile dieters." There are a lot of detours you can make if interested in getting off the beaten path of your grocery aisle, but let's start with a basic: milk.
Good: Organic milk at local groceries. I won't attempt to name all the organic milk brands you can find in Lincoln. It changes daily. I will attempt to explain the difference between organic milk and every other carton in the milk case. Most milks you find at the grocery will be homogenized and pasteurized. Essentially, it's been run through a very small screen and heated to high temperatures that kill bacteria. If you want the government's approval, look for the USDA organic logo. This little label will guarantee that cows are fed organically, allowed to play outside sometimes and not treated with artificial hormones or certain meds.
Better: Local and not-so-local dairies at your neighborhood grocery. When you walk into your local grocer you have an array of milk choices: national brands, organic brands and, if you look close, local brands. You might have noticed the bonnet-wearing cow smiling at you from the colorful labels of the Prairieland Dairy in Firth. Or Roberts Dairy, which started near Lincoln and has been in business for more than 100 years. The dairy now distributes across seven states, with 90 percent of its milk sold in Lincoln coming from Nebraska cows. Also worth mentioning is Burbach's Countryside dairy in Hartington. This family farm is slightly outside the 100-mile radius used by most locavores, but the milk is sold in returnable glass bottles, a big plus for sustainable living (and your recyclables bin).
Best: Raw milk from the source. Nebraska law says raw milk can be sold only on the farm. Farmers also are not allowed to advertise or deliver. So if you're not familiar with raw milk, that's understandable.
What is it exactly? Raw milk is what it sounds like -- milk from the cow as it is produced naturally. It's unhomogenized, unpasteurized, free of additives, full of butterfat and comes from cows raised on grass. As with most things regulated by the government, it comes with conflicting information about the health benefits or dangers. But one thing is sure: When a jar of milk is handed to you by the farmer who milked the cow that morning, this is the closest you can get to your dairy products.
"It's good for our customers to see where the milk comes from, how the animals live and how they are treated," said Krista Dittman of Branched Oak Farm in Raymond. This is a sentiment echoed by many farmers involved in organic and sustainable farming.
If you're a Lincoln city-dweller, you have several options for raw milk. The closest include Branched Oak Farm in Raymond, the Chisholm Family Farm in Elmwood and the Divino Nino Family Farm in Palmyra. Another nearby source is the Johnson farm in Seward. For more information on raw milk and where to find it, check out the website www.realmilk.com or contact your local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Erin Duerr is a photojournalist for the Lincoln Journal Star who spends her days off in the kitchen. She welcomes questions and comments from experts and wanna-be foodies alike. Contact her at email@example.com.