Kimberly Hartke has recently posted a fascinating story, titled “A Tale of Two Milks”, by Stanley A. Fishman, author of “Tender Grassfed Meat”, in which he writes about his Russian grandfather, who grew up as the only surviving child of a family raised on distillery-swill milk.
“….Grandfather was 14 when they reached Canada. They lived in a small town near Winnipeg, Manitoba. Grandfather did not go to school, but taught himself to speak English by watching Vaudeville shows and listening to people talk. He had no accent. He also learned to read and write English. He spent a lot of time at the library, reading and studying. After a couple of years, his mother became pregnant. Grandfather went to work for a local dairy farmer. By the time his sister was born, Grandfather had his own small dairy farm….”
“….Grandfather was also the most intimidating man I ever met. As a child, I was terrified of him. He never yelled, and never was violent. He was a small man, whose growth had been stunted by a lack of food in his childhood. But there was a grim intensity about him that everybody noticed. Nobody ever messed with grandfather. He never smiled; I don’t think he knew how. But there was a reason for the grimness. Grandfather was the oldest of eleven children born in Russia. He had watched each one of his ten brothers and sisters die in Russia. None of them reached the age of five.
Why the Children Died
When he was a child, my father asked Grandfather why the children died. Grandfather answered with two words; “Bad milk.”
My grandfather was born in a small town near Odessa, in Tsarist Russia. His family was very poor, and there were many times when there was not enough to eat. His father pickled all kinds of vegetables and sold them to people who were almost as poor as he was. There was a vodka distillery nearby. It made vodka from grain. The garbage left over from making the vodka was used to feed cattle at a nearby dairy. That dairy sold the cheapest milk available, the only milk grandfather’s family could afford. My great-grandparents did not know why their children got sick and died; their life was a constant struggle to find food for their family. There was nobody to tell them that unpasteurized swill milk was deadly for children….”