Friday, November 3, 2017

What I Learned From Asking How Much Milk Costs

An unexpected thing happened to me yesterday. An Instagram share turned into a bit of a life lesson...for me.

I innocently posted a picture of my grocery receipt on IG, as I was talking about #momlife and the strides I have been making in meal planning and grocery savings. At the end of the lengthy post, I threw the question out there, "What does a gallon of milk cost where you are right now?" I was just curious, as I assumed ours here in Vermont was on the high end at $3.99, and I thought this would be an interesting experiment.
The responses started rolling in, both on IG and on my personal FB page. And WOW.

First up were several Canadians who said that they buy milk in the bag, and three bags would roughly equal one gallon which would cost $5-7 dollars.

Several from Indiana and Illinois commented that theirs was as low as .68 or .88 cents a gallon ranging up to $2.

Several from South Carolina said anywhere from $1-$2.

Someone from Europe chimed in and said it was .75Eros for the liter which puts it around 3Euros a gallon.

Someone from Oregon said it was the same as ours at $3.99.

Washington D.C., $4.99 on sale and Philadelphia, $5.69 a gallon.

Someone from West Africa said that they can't buy gallons of milk, only powdered milk which they then mix up into their own milk, averaging out at $3.75 a gallon.

Singapore, $6 a half gallon.

Colorado, Virginia, Iowa....everything between $2-$4.

California and Seattle, $3.79-$7

There were those who only bought only raw milk, which put the price significantly higher, $7.50 a gallon. And those who bought organic milk straight from farmers that was $3.50 a half gallon.

I learned about something called Fairlife milks? Which also is pricier but lactose free and delicious! (according to my sources) (-;

And then there are those....who just don't drink milk. (-;

I must admit that this study is far from perfect. What percentage of milk are we buying? Store brands or name brands? On the clearance rack vs regular rack? Etc. There are a dozen variables not taken into account here.

BUT, as I saw these different numbers and perspectives roll in, I was taken aback.

I assumed that most would be similar to ours, perhaps with some in the south being slightly cheaper. The fact that there were many MORE expensive than ours, and some of the cheapest milk was found in the midwest...I did not see that coming. (If you ever go to Singapore, take a carry-on cow with you.) lesson? Where is there a life lesson in this?

I like the way this innocent post caused me to see different perspectives on a mundane part of our every day. We buy 4-5 gallons of milk a week. Milk is a constant part of our lives. The fact that such a constant is priced and viewed so differently by different people across the world was a sobering reminder to me.

We all have different perspectives on life. I might complain about how much a gallon costs me ($4) when someone else doesn't have access to regular milk at all and yet someone else has to pay way more and would love for it to only be $4.

I think it's dangerous to assume that our perspective (or milk price) is the only one. I had fallen into this trap a little bit.

Just the other day I was thinking about teaching empathy to my kids. How do I teach this? What do I do? All of the exercises and scenarios I came up with had me imagining my kids playing it out in their therapy sessions down the road as they worked through their childhood, one mom-forced empathy exercise at a time.

But really it comes down to perspective and being able to appreciate others' perspectives especially when they differ from our own. And where does this start? Modeling it for them.

Lately I haven't done well with this. I tend get stuck in my life with my problems and my frustrations and I forget to look up and out.

I forget about the smallness of my story in the grand scheme of life. And as my small story expands to take up my entire vision, I miss out on chances to love other people. I miss out on chances to view the beauty and value of differences first hand.

I hate it when I fall into this rut.

I love sharing my experiences as a special needs mom. Not to mindlessly fill the internet with words or for attention, but rather, to share my perspective. And hope that in a tiny way, my perspective can change someone's assumed view of Down syndrome.

I was reminded yesterday of how much I enjoy learning from other people sharing their experiences, especially when those experiences are quite different than my own. Even other families with a kiddo with Down syndrome will have a different voice than mine, a different fabric of life tangled around the gorgeous thread of Down syndrome.

It's the beauty of life. Difference is not a bad thing.

It's a little like...everyone having different experiences and prices in milk purchases.

I appreciated the reminder. The world is bigger than me and my small perspective. The world is bigger than the one aisle of milk in front of me at my grocery store. And if I can teach that even in a tiny part to my kids, I will consider it a job well done.

This morning I had to talk to a customer service chat line. It was obvious that English perhaps was not her first language. I don't know where she was chatting to me from, but as I started to get frustrated at one point,  I thought, "I wonder how much milk costs where she is?" I pictured her walking through a grocery store, putting her hand on a cold gallon of creamy goodness, and walking with perhaps her cart full of kids (just like me!) toward the cashier to pay for it.

I stopped my complaining in its tracks and worked to view from her perspective. This small exercise made her seem human and in need of kindness...just like I would like to receive. We had a lovely chat, and ended the session with all the issues resolved and no frustrations on either side. It was win/win.

Kindness. Perspective. Teaching empathy to my kids.

This starts with me taking in my stilly informal milk study and appreciating everyone right where they are at, responding in grace and kindness when their milk experience is different than mine, or even their response to the question, and remembering that we are all fighting our own battles in our own ways.

Love you guys. Thanks for helping me with my perspective check.


  1. Loved this post! What a great reminder when out and about and too self centered, and people begin to drive me crazy, "How much do they pay for a gallon of milk?" Such a simple, yet complex lesson!

  2. I keep thinking about your 4-5 gallons a week!!!! I can't even imagine, even with our indiana prices! I guess I have a kid who isn't a big milk drinker, and I can't drink lactose milk anymore, so we only have one kid having a small cup of it and my husband having a tall glass of choc milk on occasion! :)

    1. I have four kids (and a husband) who all guzzle it. Oh my word can't wait until this slows down a touch. (fingers crossed) (-;

  3. So appreciated you perspective and simple reminder of trying to have empathy of others' life journey.


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