Life: April 2010 Archives

When the one store in our area that sold Lactaid Cheese stopped carrying it, I asked a dairy section worker there about it, and he told me Cabot cheeses are lactose-free. This was a big surprise to me, because it seems like normal cheese. The only lactose-free stuff I was familiar with seemed modified in significant ways (e.g. Lactaid cheese is that individually-wrapped stuff, but it's better than most of those cheeses, and Lactaid milk tastes sweeter than most milks, too sweet for me to tolerate and for my blood sugar issues to be able to handle). But Cabot markets their cheeses as naturally lactose-free.

So I did some Googling, and it turns out many cheeses are naturally-lactose-free but just aren't advertised that way. Sharper cheeses (which Isaiah won't eat, because he rightly thinks they taste funny) tend to have less lactose, because bacteria from the aging process eats up the sugar, which is what lactose is. Harder, more-aged cheeses are thus more safe for the kid who won't touch them. But then some of these sites also including Colby cheese, which seems to me to be less sharp than the average cheddar, and mozzarella, which seems to me to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. They also said cottage cheese should be lactose-free for the same reason yogurt with active cultures should be. The bacteria, if left in long enough, will eat all the sugar. With active cultures, the bacteria get into your stomach and aid in digestion even if the sugar remains. Isaiah has definitely gotten sick from cheese, though, but it seems every cheese he might eat is supposed to be naturally lactose-free, according to some of these sources.

But then people who are lactose-intolerant still get sick from some of the above, and there seems to be no way to know if it's really lactose-free. Even if it lists the sugar contents as zero, Sam says that just means it's below the legal threshold in each serving to count it. Kraft cheeses are like that, for instance. That means I probably still shouldn't be sure of any given cheese that it's ok unless it says it's lactose-free, but many cheeses might have low enough lactose levels to be fine in moderation. if that's right, then is any of this of any help?

No Free Milk

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Our kids qualify for free lunch at school, and we submitted the city's form for that at the beginning of the year. They've all been receiving free lunches all year. But Sophia decided a couple weeks ago to start bringing her lunch most days, mostly out of peer pressure because most of her friends do that. (If you don't qualify for free lunch, then it's much less expensive to send one with your child than to pay what the school charges. Have they already established bringing a lunch as a status symbol by kindergarten?)

The first few days, we sent juice with her at her request, but then she decided she wanted to drink the school milk with her lunch brought from home. A couple days ago a note came home saying that the lunch room says she needs to pay for 40 cents for milk. I sent a note back saying the lunch room is wrong, because she qualifies for free lunch and has had no problem all year. The teacher sent another note home saying we need to take it up with the lunch room.

It turns out they won't give her the free milk unless she signs up for a free lunch. Kindergarteners don't go to the cafeteria like the older kids. They have to order a lunch, which gets brought to their room. This was never been an issue for Ethan, because he just eats whatever the school lunch is. It was never an issue for Isaiah, because they take him through the lunch line, and he selects which particular items he wants, which is usually not very much. Then they get out the lunch he brings, and he eats some of those items with whatever (if anything) he wanted from the school lunch. He just brought a lunch in kindergarten anyway, because we didn't want them to have to deal with his pickiness and lactose issues until he could actually go through the line to select items. So Sophia is the first to want to bring a lunch while just drinking the milk from the school in the kindergarten setting, and we're just discovering the policy that she has to waste a whole lunch that she won't eat if she wants to get the free milk that she qualifies for.

Now I know they can make room for kids to get free milk without the lunch, because there are some kids who qualify for free milk but not free lunch. Since she qualifies for free lunch, she apparently can't get the free milk without ordering the whole tray of lunch (and she can't select just the items she wants, because kindergarteners don't go through the lunch line). It turns out one of the staff at the school is happy to eat her lunch when she doesn't want it, so maybe it's not so bad in the end, but this is a truly crazy policy. Why would they insist on a policy that requires a free-lunch student to waste a whole lunch to get the free milk she qualifies for on the days when she's brought her own lunch?


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