The Good Mother

Wholesome name, edgy ingredients. To make Mother Culture Yogurt, Michelle Numbers starts with raw milk—currently illegal to buy in Texas anywhere but straight from a licensed dairy farm. Don’t worry, though, it’s not as sketchy as it sounds. “We have a manufacturer permit from the Health Department, so we’re not doing deals in a parking lot,” says Numbers, owner and founder of Mother Culture. Instead, she has big batches of raw milk delivered to her San Antonio commercial kitchen from Miller Farms, in LaCoste, the kind of place that raises Jersey cows on natural grass and gives them names.

Numbers takes this cream-rich milk and preps it using a special low-heat pasteurization technique to save the proteins and probiotics that traditional flash-pasteurization warps or strips away. “One of the primary reasons more kids are allergic to milk is because the milk they’re given isn’t the milk our ancestors drank,” she says. In fact, food allergies are what inspired Numbers to start Mother Culture in the first place. When her daughter, then 2 years old, had stomach and skin trouble, cooking-novice Numbers started making all her food from scratch. Discovering she had a particular flair for yogurt, she launched Mother Culture two years ago. She makes both a classic thin (and drinkable) yogurt, and a thicker Greek-style yogurt in flavors that include the basic (honey-vanilla, blueberry-lemon), the bold (piña colada, coffee) and the experimental (roasted pepper). “We try to get inspired by the food around us at the farmers market,” says Numbers, who sells yogurt as well as cream cheese, dips and kefir in Austin at the Texas Farmers’ Markets at Lakeline and Mueller and at Wheatsville Co-op.

Even as Numbers expands into more stores across Texas (along with Austin, Mother Culture is available in San Antonio and New Braunfels), she plans to keep on using local ingredients when she can and organics when she can’t. “We’re stewards over the process,” she says. “We don’t want to do anything to mess it up.”

By Steve Wilson

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