Saturday, May 19, 2012

Got Milk?
By Michael

Not ready to give up her Lala
Lots happened in the U.S.A. while we were sailing in Mexico.

Gas prices climbed.
I can no longer tell the difference between the high-end Hyundai sedan and a high-end Mercedes sedan.

Romney closed the field.

More States sensibly legalized same-sex marriage.
On the music front, Toby Keith released his song Made In America, pandering to jingos who associate patriotism and protectionism. The song booms at least every ten minutes from the ceiling speakers in the West Marine stores here in San Diego. But fortunately, they also play The Lumineers, who in our absence ascended to prominence with a roots music style that just makes me feel good and restores my hope in everything human.

Steve Jobs is gone.
Magnum ice cream bars became available in the U.S. We first became acquainted with these when we arrived in Mexico and assumed they were distinctly Mexican—turns out they are made by Unilever and have been selling all over the world (except the U.S.) since the 1980s.

Unfortunately, something that I hoped would change here in the U.S., did not. I hoped that while we were gone, U.S. grocery stores would have been reconfigured and shelf-stable milk would be the dominant offering in the milk aisle. It didn’t happen.

I think only UHT milk is
more expensive.
They don’t sell a lot of pasteurized milk in Mexico. In fact, you can only find it in the very large supermercados, and only a couple facings. Like 70-percent of Europeans, the Mexicans buy their milk in liter-sized boxes. It is ultra-high-temperature (UHT) processed and so requires no refrigeration until opened. It has all the nutritional value of pasteurized milk.
Living aboard and cruising, UHT milk is the next best thing since sliced bread (and especially if cereal is a major part of the diet for half your crew). We would buy and store aboard 36 liters (9.6 gallons) at a time in Mexico, rotating them into the fridge as needed. Their many-months shelf life is suited to our life in which a “quick trip to the store for milk” is rarely realistic. Their small, rectangular form factor is ideal both for dry storage and for small, awkward galley fridge spaces. There is no place in our fridge to put a gallon of milk and the half-gallons and quarts are too tall.

Now our situation is dire. The girls are eagerly consuming their favorite Trader Joes cereals and we are down to our last few liters of Lala milk. I found a Hershey’s-brand boxed UHT milk in a San Diego Ralphs grocery store, but it was $1.99 per quart, or almost $8.00 per gallon.
This was encouraging; I’d solved the supply issue, I now had only to solve the price issue.

I searched online. Suddenly, $1.99 per quart began to seem cheap. On prices ranged between $27.00 and $63.00 for 12-quart cases—shipping not included. Elsewhere I found more of the same. I searched suppliers and wholesalers to an avail. And then I stumbled on a post on a message board praising Dollar Tree and their great price on UHT boxed milk.
I rushed over to the site and found it! A 12-count case of Gossner Foods quart-sized, boxed UHT milk was listed for $12.00—not too far off the 90-cents-per-liter price point we enjoyed in Mexico. Yes!

No! The stuff is out of stock. Judging by the five reviews on the page, it’s been out for a while and isn’t coming back anytime soon. The people who wrote the comments were obviously dedicated UHT milk drinkers, their passion and despair evident: “We depend on you for this milk! We need 120qt NOW! Its such great value - who do I need to call to impress upon you how important this is to us...
So far I’ve kept the girls in the dark about the looming crisis. Neither is tall enough to peer down into the locker where the milk reserves are. But one day soon, there will be no more boxes to remove from that locker, our Mexico milk supply exhausted. I will suggest we give powdered milk a try; they will surely stage a milk mutiny. I just hope it doesn’t happen before Windy returns home.

The Catanzaros (kids not pictured) are friends and former Washington, DC
neighbors who spent part of their California vacation visiting us. We
enjoyed a nice day sail in San Diego's harbor. They have a house and
regular house refrigerator and easy access to a grocery store; they are
refrigerated, pasteurized milk people like we once were.
Windy is now in Thailand, pictured here with Oliver, one of our nephews.
I think UHT milk is predominant in Thailand, I will ask. UPDATE: It is
and Thailand is also one of the first places to recycle the TetraPak
boxes they come in, to address the waste. And the waste the boxes
make is also an issue on Del Viento, but at least they can be compacted. 


  1. Mike, Gossner now only provides milk to Hershey's - they no longer sell it directly to consumers (or even in bulk - all of their product is manufactured on Hershey's behalf). Funny the things I learn because of my work. Based on what I know, you're not likely to find a better US price than the $1.99 you saw at Ralph's - not unless Dollar Tree starts carrying Hershey's products (which is pretty unlikely, given branding costs). Sorry about that.

  2. Powdered milk rocks!

  3. Have you tried Media Crema mixed with water rather than powdered milk? It comes in a small box or can and I use it for baking and drinking. I think you can find it in the international foods aisle in US grocery stores. Good luck!

  4. Yikes on the milk front, you'd think Trader Joe's would carry something along that line...but I assume you tried there. Love the Media Crema comment as those boxes of goodness can be used for just about good luck to you and if you can get the girls to drink powder milk (pm), then you belong in politics. I tell you, I simply don't do p.m. and have tried all my life. Sure wish I could send the girls some box's o' milk....and remind them that when we were in Pto. Penasco,we befriended a very old crusty man who literally lived in a shack beside the marina...we told him we were driving to the States and his eyes lit up and I asked him what he wanted....our gift to him....and he kissed his fingers, crossed his chest and asked for a REAL gallon of U.S. milk. So we brought it back and he kissed the plastic gallon that time so I think there might just be some milk the girls will drink in the States before it's all said and done....but I do wish you luck! lol. We miss you guys....lots! Oh and update: moving out of here Thursday, so we too are packing up the boxes o' milk and other goodies for the northern Sea of Cortez. Your big sail was given to Baja Dogs with a 50# bag of food we donated, so by now the doggies are enjoying some Del Viento shade and Eyoni for a few days, all is good! Adidos! xxoo

  5. Ha, I had expected my kids to fuss about the UHT milk when we were in Mexico but they were quite happy with their LaLa. Also happy with chocolate LaLa. The only tetra pack milk I ever see is the individual size of Horizon organic (box of 18 eight oz boxes is 17.99 at Giant) and also various non-dairy milk. You can order Parmalat from Amazon but financially not a good deal.

  6. If you are coming up to Canada:

    - MAGNUM bars are indeed available here ($$) -- we first discovered them last year in Bali (yum!)

    - UHT milk: "Grand Pre" 2% is pretty good (better than Parmalat, which anyways seems no longer available in BC) -- great on a boat (we always have some on board). Fair warning, however: milk in Canada is more expensive than in USA, and thus UHT is also more expensive too.

  7. As much fun as you think you are going to have in Canada, little did you know that you are making an excellent case for heading to the South Pacific next season.

    1. UHT milk is available in even the tiniest of magasins on the tiniest of atolls.

    2. We paid $4.12/gallon for duty-free diesel in Nuku Hiva. (The $12/gallon rumor is just that.)

    3. You can get an abscess on your eye drained by a French-trained surgeon on a Saturday night in the Marquesas. Cost = $0 (Well, truth be told there was supposed to be some sort of charge and I went back to the hospital to pay three times. Finally met with the payment guy and he said the *real* payment guy was out on vacation until September and I could expect a bill to be mailed in, and I quote, "three months, nine months, maybe three years! [chuckle]" He thought it would be around 4000CPF, or $42USD.

    4. They have Magnum bars here too.


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