Hoosier operation brings cream to the top with a flood of memories
November 5, 2003
In case you were
thinking that chocolate milk is just a kid thing, think again.
The chocolate milk
produced by Traders Point Creamery is a grown up fantasy — a dreamy
creamy concoction of dense Dutch cocoa and rich whole dairy milk. When
Jane Elder Kunz offered me a taste one sunny fall afternoon at her
farm, I accepted politely, but after one sip I wanted to wrest the
bottle away from her and refuse to share. Maybe chocolate milk is a
kid thing after all.
Chocolate milk is
just one of the luscious products turned out by the creamery, which is
located on the lovely little Zionsville farm that Kunz inherited from
her grandmother. Looking for a way to keep the farm alive as a
sustainable enterprise and to give practical expression to the
principles they believe in, Kunz and her husband, Peter, an
Indianapolis surgeon, came up with the idea of organic dairy farming.
With 25 grass-fed cows, they are giving the central Indiana community
a delightful and wholesome alternative to homogenized, non-organic,
mass produced milk.
At the moment,
their primary products are creamline milk — milk that is safely
pasteurized but not homogenized — and European style yogurt made from
that milk. Both are pasteurized and bottled (in real old fashioned
glass bottles!) on site at the farm.
The Kunzs have
decided to eschew homogenization because, in a modern age where the
trend is toward ever-easier shortcuts, they wanted to do things the
old-fashioned way (albeit with shiny, new fangled, state-of-the-art
not necessary to make good healthy milk — it is a process by which
commercial milk producers extend the shelf life of milk by breaking up
the milk fat globules into tiny bits so that they stay suspended in
the milk and thus stay fresher longer. Modern milk manufacturing
immediately separates the creamy fat from the skim milk, breaks up the
fat, and adds it back in the desired proportion (at 3.5 percent for
whole milk, or 2 percent, or even 1 percent for low fat).
In creamline milk,
the fat globules do not stay suspended, and eventually they rise to
the top. The lucky people who get the first pour out of a bottle of
creamline milk get a rich and creamy treat. This layer of cream can be
skimmed off the top and used as cream, or shaken back into the milk.
including Kunz and her husband, believe that nonhomogenized milk is
easier to digest and carries the additional health benefit of
containing "good fat," fat that does not pass directly into the blood
stream with damaging effect but is rather detoxified by the liver.
Since the Traders
Point cows are also pasture fed, there is some additional reason to
believe that their milk contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that
lower blood cholesterol. Further discussion of the health claims for
this kind of milk can be found at
Regardless of the
health benefits, however, the Traders Point milk products taste
wonderful. The fresh whole milk hearkens back to half-forgotten after
school snacks of milk and cookies, and the yogurt is a tart and
refreshing surprise. Thinner than most American yogurt, which contains
stabilizers to help it gel, this yogurt is the accomplishment of Fons
Smits, the Traders Point milk expert who came to Zionsville from his
native Holland by way of places like Mongolia, Tanzania, and
Smits, with a
degree in dairy sciences, is the only person I have ever met who seems
genuinely excited about the possibilities of milk. From his schooldays
he has been fascinated by all the things you can make with this
familiar white liquid, and by all the different traditions of milk
production around the world.
He has been
involved in every aspect of dairy production, including the creation
of a prize-winning California cheese, and he is full of ideas for
things he can make at Traders Point. He is experimenting with ways to
flavor yogurt, and I'd call the pineapple, orange and cherry
variations I tasted a smashing success. The chocolate milk is a
treasure (did I mention that?) and he plans to start making ice cream
by next summer. Also on the agenda are butter-making and different
methods of producing fresh cheese, cottage cheese and hard cheeses.
Smits is passionate about cheese making, and it is that niche that he
eventually wants to make his own.
starts with cows
The Traders Point
dairy products are USDA certified organic. That means, among other
things, that the cows are raised on pesticide- and herbicide-free
pasture, and that the animals are not given antibiotics or synthetic
Keeping the cows
happy and healthy is the job of New Zealander Neil McDonald. If Smits'
obsession is with milk, McDonald is crazy about the cows that produce
it. An animal lover myself, I was charmed to hear him speak
affectionately about how much he learns from the animals he tends.
They tell him what they need to eat, they reveal distinct
personalities, and they let him know when they are stressed or
unhappy. There are likely to be few who will feel that way —
McDonald's goal is to give the cows the best life they can have, with
plenty of fresh air, good grass to eat and soft earth to lie on.
close attention to the link between the health of the cows and the
quality of the milk they produce. Scientists have no idea what really
makes great tasting milk, he says, and he is interested to find out
how changes in the seasons and in the animals' feed and treatment
translate into changes in the milk.
If he had his
druthers, someday he would like to ensure that customers get the best
tasting, freshest milk around by delivering the milk to nearby homes,
an ambition that evokes my childhood memories of a daily visit from
the milkman, delivering bottles of cold milk to the metal box by our
In fact, I've
noticed more than once this special and unexpected side effect of
drinking Traders Point milk — its tendency to induce sweet nostalgia
in otherwise level-headed, middle-aged adults. When they taste the
creamline milk, or even hear about it, their eyes soften and their
faces light with memory. They recall their grandfather's farm, or
their grandmother's fresh churned butter, or the milk their father
used to drink or the rush to get the milk before one's siblings could
skim off the creamy part.
I also remember a
comforting sound I had nearly forgotten: the early morning music of
milk bottles clinking together in the fridge — so much nicer than the
impersonal chuff chuff of waxed cartons. And the dark, satisfying
flavor of rich and velvety chocolate milk (I did mention that, didn't
I?) In addition to being delicious, for many of us Traders Point
Creamery milk is worth its weight in golden memories.
would love to hear from you about a favorite food or culinary
experience. E-mail her at email@example.com. Food Fare partner
Jennifer Piurek will tell us about her lesson in Asian cooking in next
Yogurt Breakfast Smoothie
There is no hard and fast recipe for a breakfast
smoothie – it is just fruit, yogurt, milk, and wheat germ whirled in a
blender with a little vanilla extract, honey, and some ice. I have to
tell you, however, that a smoothie made with Traders Point yogurt and
creamline milk is a treat that will set you up for a wonderful day.
Cold, thick, and creamy, it is like starting your day off with a milk
shake. Now what could be better than that?
1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
2 bananas (if you freeze ripe peeled
bananas and keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer, they are
perfect for blending in a smoothie, and you can skip the ice. They may
turn a disgusting color, but try to ignore it. The smoothie will be
A cup of berries or some strawberry
jam (again, frozen berries work well. Blueberries are particularly
easy to freeze. A handful of them in a smoothie gives it a gorgeous
deep purple color)
1 tbs. of honey (if you used jam
instead of berries, skip this)
2 Tbs of wheat germ (or more, if you
1 tsp of vanilla extract.
A handful of ice if you did not use
frozen fruit, to thicken the smoothie
Put all ingredients into a blender
and blend until thick and frothy. This usually makes enough for two
large smoothies, with a little left over for the first one finished.