The nutritional value of milk is so well-known that it has been the staple of our diets from times immemorial. My home is no exception. However, getting my family to drink milk willingly has been quite a chore because my daughter and my mother despise it with equal zeal and my father, a tea lover, can’t stop complaining about the fluctuating taste of every cup he drinks. Yours truly too is a good sport when it comes to running away from a glass of milk.
It won’t be wrong if I said;
My family loves our milk in the desserts. Not in the glass.
I know, it’s rather sad because my growing child needs her daily dose of milk just as much as my elderly mother and I need it to battle osteoporosis and other illnesses. But, no matter what we add to the milk, its varying consistency (thanks to the adulteration) and the unpleasant smell (blame it on the unhygienic handling by our milkman) seems to loom large over our heads more often than we’d like.
This is why my mother recommends boiling and re-boiling the milk for an extended 5 minutes. This way we try our best to sterilize the milk from any possible infectious microorganisms, at the cost of diminishing its nutritional value.
Failing to like to drink milk myself, I haven’t been able to inspire my child to do so. No amount of warning by the pediatrician has worked either. And preparing desserts out of our daily portion of milk has been only adding to the calorie consumption, ruining my diet plan and tipping off the balance of diabetes for my mother.
Last weekend, after playing with her friend Parul* (my neighbor, Sandhya’s daughter), Pari insisted on staying at their home for a little longer. While I was chit-chatting with Sandhya in her kitchen, I noticed something unusual.
Sandhya brought out a Tetra Pak milk-carton from her pantry, opened it and added milk directly to the boiling pot of water to make tea.
I couldn’t resist asking, “Won’t you boil the milk before using it?”
“There’s no need to do that.” said Sandhya as she laid out cookies on a plate.
“Don’t you need to boil off its preservatives?” I muttered, failing to understand what made her feel so sure about the milk.
She turned off the teapot and while straining tea into the cups said, “The milk in Tetra Pak is kept safe in its multilayer packaging designed to protect its nutritional value and natural taste without the need of preservatives.”
“No preservatives? Then what about sterilization? How can you be sure that the milk that’s not refrigerated is as nutritive as fresh milk?” I continued probing, unconvinced.
Sandhya served me my cup of tea and as she sat by my side, she continued.
“You know, I too was very skeptical about the carton milk until a couple of months ago. During our visit to Pune, my husband had the opportunity to visit the Tetra Pak plant. There he learned how milk from the very best sources is procured and subjected to Ultra High Treatment before proceeding to pack it immediately, aseptically. This helps retain the nutritional value and rich taste for longer periods and makes boiling unnecessary.
While Sandhya was enlightening me about her switch, I was playing with the milk carton to get a closer look. Among other things, I was glad to note that besides securing the goodness inside, the packaging was recyclable too.
We drank our cups of tea in complete silence because I needed time to process the information.
As we put our teacups away, Sandhya said she wanted to show me something. She poured milk from the carton into two glasses and placed them in the microwave.
“Why two glasses? Pari doesn’t like drinking milk” I interrupted.
“Are you sure?” asked Sandhya before responding to the beeping microwave and moving on to add a spoonful of sugar to the glasses.
“Come on, I’m her mother,” I said rolling my eyes behind her back.
That’s when Sandhya asked Parul and Pari to come to the kitchen.
What happened next was something I had never seen happen in my home.
The girls came in running, Parul knowingly picked her glass. After initial resistance but encouraged by seeing her friend drink, Pari too started drinking her share of milk in a competition.
Minutes later, the two had rushed out of the kitchen, happily fed, while I was left in disbelief of what I had just seen.
Sandhya’s gentle nod and mischievous smile confirmed that it wasn’t the first time Pari had happily finished her glass of milk. As a smile rose to my lips, I got busy preparing for a visit to the nearby grocery store to get my carton of milk that was safe, healthy and tasty too.
* Names changed to protect identity.