After a 10-year absence, I’m happy to say that I’m back on the land of the living. And by living, I mean I can once again enjoy a tall glass of cold milk any ol’ time I want.

Returning to the homeland all started with a reluctant trip to Walmart. Kroger has stopped selling the cheddar cheese I like (Cabot extra sharp), so I’ve been forced to brave my way through Wally World every few months to buy a few bricks. Once I’m already there, I generally elect to do my other grocery shopping, since even I can’t see the value in leaving one grocery store just to go to another.

Recently, William and Gabrielle asked to switch to 1 percent milk from skim, and so I was in the milk aisle looking to fill their request. As you might know, some Walmart brand milks are different from Kroger’s, so I was simply looking for 1 percent and not paying much attention to the other labels.

I found a light blue bottle that fit the 1 percent bill and moved on as quickly as I possibly could, since I’m always a little convinced that if I stay in Walmart too long, I might get permanently stuck inside. I came home, unloaded the groceries and the next morning, I flew to Winnipeg to spend time with my parents.

While on the phone with William, he asked me if I was aware that I’d bought lactose-free milk for them. It was then I remembered that unusual blue on the label. You don’t see a whole lot of azure when you’re looking at food labels, and I realized the milk makers had probably assigned such a strange shade so the lactose-free drinkers would be able to easily identify their kind.

Anyway, I apologized to William for my error and he said something surprising: “No, no, it was actually really good. You should try it.”

William has been trying to convince me to try lactose-free milk for the past 10 years, a campaign he began after the 10 years he spent trying to convince me that I had a problem with lactose.

In fact, I spent my entire childhood and the entirety of my 20s just believing I had a sensitive (I preferred the term “capricious”) stomach, and was one of those people who was always on the lookout for a bathroom lest my GI system decided to turn on me.

Finally, finally William was able to stop me from drinking milk and, honestly, my life changed. Traveling, getting stuck in traffic, going for long walks after dinner, using public transportation, suddenly all of it was problem free.

Still, never drinking milk sucked. I mean, cookies are delicious, but they are really just not as delicious without a glass of milk. And in my milk-free life, I realized there were many meals that just weren’t the same sans moo juice. A bowl of borscht or, really, just about any kind of soup. Perogies. Mac and cheese. Even hotdogs. I mean, what are you going to have instead? Water? That’s just depressing.

On a few occasions, I just drank milk anyway, no matter how much my stomach might get upset. But, in the end, it wasn’t worth it. And then once, just once, William convinced me to buy a lactose-free brand, and it was so terrible I wouldn’t even use it for baking.

On a side note, has anyone else noticed how massive the milk section has become over the years? By the time you get past the soy and almond? It’s practically an aisle now, right?

Anyways, I got back from Winnipeg and William convinced me to take a sip. It’s strange how hard he’s had to work on me about this, as I’m generally not a picky person. But, I suppose, milk is something sacred to me, and if it’s even kind of not right, I am grossed out.

Low and behold, the milk was great. Tasted exactly, and I mean exactly, like the normal stuff. I took another sip and then drank the whole glass.

Of course, you know what I found myself contemplating next: the idea of going to Walmart for the rest of my life to get my special milk. And then I was out with girlfriends and my friend Sarah Knight just randomly mentioned that she had discovered this excellent lactose-free milk that her kids loved to drink.

“I mean, for the first time in her life, Madeline asked if she could have a whole glass of it,” she said. “She asked it wondering if it was even possible to drink milk that way.”

I quickly asked her where she got it, she told me the brand and that it was at Kroger. Well, Bob’s your uncle, there it surely was, in the odd milky-blue bottle.

So. What’s it called? The brand is Fairlife, with an exclamation mark in place of the first “i.” It has a cow on the front (shocker) and a yellow cap. It’s not cheap ($4.49 a pop), but it’s worth it to me. And it will bring you firmly back to the land of the living.

One thought on “For the lactose impaired

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