Monday, October 1, 2012

the raw milk debate

A few posts ago I spoke about raw milk and was not surprised at the emails and comments I got in return. There are plenty of people who still think all raw milk is one and the same. It is not. There are two types of raw milk. The kind of milk from factory farms that needs to be pasteurized to be safe to consume, and then there are animals that are actually "pasture-ized" meaning they live outdoors on green grass, in small healthy herds that produce beautiful raw milk. Not all raw milk is created equal. Let's start out by saying just that.

I personally do consume it right from my own goats in the backyard. My little backyard dairy has been an amazing experience with animals and food, making everything from milkshakes to cheese right in the kitchen with milk so fresh the cheese tastes like the spring itself.

There have been several movies and books written about the raw milk debate over the past few years and I suggest all of you watch them. The movie Farmageddon (trailer is above) just came out a few years ago and deals mostly with dairy raids and raw milk. The book, Raw Milk Revolution, also dispels myths and fear mongering we've heard for years.

I will say this. Everyone I know personally know who is strongly against raw milk is because either their doctor told them so or they saw a scary report on television. They do not know any organic dairies personally. They do not know how to milk a cow or how lactation even works. Folks, doctors are not organic farmers and television thrives off fear to sell ads. I'm not saying kids are the elderly don't croak because of disgusting and poorly grown raw milk. I am saying not all raw milk is the same. And don't believe everything you read or hear, and certainly don't believe it without hearing the other side of the story.

My stance on raw milk isn't that people should or should not consume it. That is a personal choice for each of you to make. My stance is simply consumers should be allowed to make that choice. A blanket ban on raw milk goes against our rights and consumer freedom. If you want to buy factory farm, chemically and hormonally treated milk at the grocery store go ahead. If you want to knock on a farmer's door with a half gallon mason jar and fill-r-up, that should be just as legal. I do not believe the government should be allowed to stop people from eating what they want of their own free will. I feel strongly about that. What do you think?


Blogger seagrrlz said...

I do not drink raw milk bc I do not have a source that I can get it from. I have had raw goats milk previously. The restaurant I used to work in used to trade our veggies gleanings(all the carrot peels, lettuce trimmings etc. nothing that was cooked or scraped off a plate) for fresh raw goat's milk. I'm still alive lol and was fine when I drank it then.

October 1, 2012 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Sadie said...

I agree with the fact that the government should stay out of it. What we put in our bodies is our choice- make a poor choice, such as drinking raw milk from a poorly run, dirty farm, you deal with the consequences of being sick. The rules that are in place for mass production of milk are probably good ones. But it shouldn't be illegal to sell milk that is raw by small scale farmers.

October 1, 2012 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Emily Browning said...

I completely agree with you Jenna! I don't know if raw milk if the right answer for me yet, but I want the option. I feel like that should be my decision and my right.

October 1, 2012 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger jls said...

I do not consume raw milk, but I am not opposed to the idea, and I too firmly believe in consumer choice, very much so. Consumer choice may be the only way to put an end to the issues in the industrial food supply. Consumer choice is voting with your fork.

October 1, 2012 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Fresh Eggs Farm said...

Jenna, we too drink raw goat milk from our backyard. We make cheese from it and eventually hope to make soap too. I know how my Mabel and Flora are raised and what goes in and how it comes out.

October 1, 2012 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger Karen Rickers said...

I so agree with you, it's an issue of freedom of choice. It's crazy that people are legally allowed to damage their health by smoking, or by consuming processed foods filled with chemicals and High Fructose Corn Syrup, but aren't allowed to buy healthy whole milk from their neighour's cow or goat. I've made chevre from store bought organic goat's milk, and it was amazing, so I can only IMAGINE how good it is from fresh unpasteurized milk!

I hope Bonita and side-kick get preggers so you have lots of milk next year.

October 1, 2012 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Your position is utterly reasonable - but alas, the Supreme Court ruled that we do not have an innate right to put any certain kinds of food in our bodies. Appalling, innit?

I'm fortunate in MA - we have legal raw milk sales at dairies here. I can buy raw cow milk from my local dairy for the one of my children who doesn't like our raw goat milk.

Sometimes I wonder if after TSHTF regulations like these will fall to the wayside. I can't hope for collapse, but freedom from nannying like this might be a silver lining.

October 1, 2012 at 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Alix said...

Absolutely! I would never consume milk from a conventional dairy raw, but milk that comes from healthy cows eating grass (milk that's tested by my farmer twice a week, by the way, and always tests much lower in harmful bacteria that *pasteurized* milk from conventional dairies) is a totally different product.

And I agree with you here as well: I don't care if you do, or you don't, but don't tell me I *can't*

October 1, 2012 at 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Samantha Burns said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head here, Jenna. Most people don't even realize why pasteurization began in the first place--and that was because prior to the invention of the refrigerator many products that we enjoy today--such as dairy products--just couldn't keep, and so would cause sickness or spoilage. So in order to preserve the food products during shipping they began pasteurizing foods to ward off bacteria and spoilage.

Today, thanks to the hand-dandy refrigerator, we are able to enjoy all sorts of wonderful things that folks didn't have 200 years ago. Like raw milk. ;)

October 1, 2012 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger aleahy said...

I agree we should be allowed to make our own choices when it comes to all food! I drank raw milk often growing up-I think it was from a neighbor who had a cow-not even a dairy. As long as you know the farmer and their ways it can be fine!

October 1, 2012 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Karen C said...

The government has been hassling a local dairy that has been trying to get raw milk to the many people around here that want it. This is an organic dairy with pastured cows, and it makes no sense to me that the government won't let people make their own choice. I for one would choose raw milk from a dairy I knew any day over the milk I currently drink.

October 1, 2012 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Doug Pitcher said...

After moving from a place where we had a source of raw milk to a place we didn't (there were dairies but no small time pasture grazed milk supply) we decided to buy a cow so we can supply ourselves. Now when I have to drink milk from the store it has no taste besides that of milk powder and we often get sick immediatetly after a prolonged time without raw milk (cow dries up for example.)

I don't mind the government putting in place laws that protect the people. I just think the raw milk laws should be changed to something like if you own less than 6 cows you are not subject to the same laws of a big dairy. Anything after 6 cows it becomes more of a operation than a small time farmer supplying his friends and neighbors.

Its hard work owning a milk cow but way worth it. We've had our cow on a one acre plot of land for the past year so a small acreage is totally doable.

October 1, 2012 at 9:07 AM  
Anonymous KC said...

I read "Nourishing Traditions" about 15 years ago and it changed how I fed my family. We have been drinking raw milk since that time, even though we had to pay 2 or 3 times the grocery store price. We still felt it was a bargain and worth all the trouble it took to get it. I have felt like I was part of some black market, however, and was (and still am) very careful of who I discuss the subject with. I do not want to get my suppliers in trouble.
And that is the real issue, as you so beautifully discribed in your post. The government has no right to tell me how to feed myself or my family. It is understood that all of the "protection" the government is providing is for agribusiness, and not citizens.
On a happier note, we plan on buying our first milk cow next year!

October 1, 2012 at 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've had similar issues in Canada. It's frustrating to be told that I can't make my own informed choice about drinking raw milk, and yet every time I go to the grocery store there are all kinds of things that are terrible to eat that I have free reign to stuff myself with. I certainly see the point in pasteurization, but there are also a lot of alternatives that we simply don't have easy access to because they're so heavily regulated.

October 1, 2012 at 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love raw milk and drink it when I can afford it ($10 a gallon here in WA state). Hoping it won't be too long before I have my own dairy goats. And yes, consumer choice, please! :)

October 1, 2012 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Amy McPherson Sirk said...

I drink raw milk. I have switched sources because I did not think my old source was particular enough about cleanliness. It's important to make an educated choice, just as you would if you were buying wild harvested mushrooms or home processed chickens from your neighbor down the road. People who buy raw milk have to go to some effort to obtain it and most of them have a very compelling reason for wanting it. I think much of the debate around raw milk is driven by the large commercial dairies that are afraid of losing market share. There is no raw milk "problem". If you add up all the recalls and food borne illnesses in the last year you will find they all came from industrial food production, not from small family farms. I think it is wrong that my neighbor can't make an honest living selling raw milk without being threatened with jail time. There, I'll get down off the soap box.

October 1, 2012 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

It's sad that raw milk is demonized for carrying nasties like salmonella, ecoli, listeria, etc. yet these things are found in grocery store foods several time a year, and nobody says a thing(especially our government officials).

We can't get raw milk in our area, but we were gifted a gallon once, and the whole family loved it, especially the kids. I can't wait to get our farm, so that we can get a goat or two.

October 1, 2012 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I agree wholeheartedly, Jenna. We enjoy our fresh, raw milk with gusto! We also do our best to educate those we come in contact with about the truth about milk.

October 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, I agree with you that when you knock on a farmer's door with a mason jar to fill up, that should be legal.

But some of the issues get cloudy in your words.

See, a newspaper in New England featured a long time dairy farmer who wanted to be able to sell raw milk legally.

I contacted this farmer, because it sounded great and I wanted to buy some.

Here is what she said to me: I have the name of another raw milk farmer closer to you, and she is a scientist too and very detailed. Also, she explained to me, you do not want to drink raw milk if you have any medical problems or a history of intestinal problems. She explained some people can't drink it.

I was too busy to get there, but I did not have any fears about it.

Jenna, just explain the things raw milk people will say. If you know your gut, you cut down the risks.

Do not make it political, in favor. Just be clear.

October 1, 2012 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I never knew how much personality milk can have until the local health food store started carrying it (you can legally buy raw dairy products for "pet food" in my state. That's some expensive nutrition for my lactose-intolerant dog!). The milk over the summer was almost funky at times, probably because it was too hot to graze here. Now that it's cooled down some, the taste is amazing.

I wonder how many of the regs against raw dairy are at the behest of big business? If you want fresh milk, but can't get it, you're stuck buying whatever they're selling. It seems like a nice way to cover up shoddy industry practices AND ensure a market.

October 1, 2012 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Well, first off, I have been drinking raw milk for about 15 years now. Never gotten sick once. We started by getting raw cow's milk from a few dairys around here. I would go once a week and get several gallons for several people. I had a "faucet" that a friend made that fit on the spout on the milk tank.

Now I have had my goats for 8 years and been drinking raw goat milk straight form the goats. Never been sick at all. I sell goat milk too and have never had a problem with any of my customers.

I also make and sell cheese. But Georgia laws are so strict that I really need to get certified to sell for pet consumption. And what they do with the milk after they get it is up to them. I have sold cheese to people I don't know and am scared they might be the "raw milk and cheese police". It is really quite scary to sell raw milk and milk products to people I don't know. I hope I never get caught. Because it is ilegal to do this. But I am a rebel at heart and hate to told I can't do something. Especially from government who really know nothing about this at all. And it is good money. Which I need.

So I will continue to drink raw milk, either goat or cow, as long as I am able to. A friend of mine has Jersey cows that I get milk from when my goats dry up for 2 months. That's when I get to make butter!

And doctors, I don't trust half of them as far as I can throw them. Most work for the government anyway. And this is what they have been taught. Each of us has to make that choice ourselves. I have elderly people all the way down to infants who drink my goat's milk.

October 1, 2012 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger karental said...

We were overrun with beautiful eggs from our hens. Greg asked a workmate if he'd like a dozen. "Sure". Greg took them in and then the person asked, "What do you do with these?" Greg, (shellshocked - no pun intended)...
"They're eggs - you use them like eggs." "Do I need to boil them or anything before I use them?" *sigh* People trust factory-produced, chemically laden and treated stuff, but are terrified of eggs (and milk) which can be traced to the healthy animal it was in yesterday, or this morning.

October 1, 2012 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Anonymous, I don't really understand what you are saying at all? Are you saying people need to know their own body to consumer raw milk? YEs, of course. But you also need to know your own body to consume peanuts, but there aren't anti-peanut brigades out there raiding peanut farms. that is my point.

I will certainly make it political, it IS political.

October 1, 2012 at 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Middleroad said...

I, too, think raw milk from local dairies or backyard goats is a good thing.
But, I'm reluctant to drop all regulations.
I'd guess that within weeks of regs disappearing industrial farms would drop pasteurization to save money and get higher prices. Most importantly, there would be no way for the consumer to know. It would take a major outbreak of a milk-borne illness for buyers to know something was wrong. Surely there is a middle road that will protect consumers who can't inspect the dairy themselves and making raw milk illegal.

October 1, 2012 at 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Middleroad, I hear you.

Jenna, my point is there are a lot of unhealthy people in the US, and plenty of other people who are basically healthy but have gut problems. For example, since she was a young girl, my aunt has been unable to eat fruit because her doctor said she could not process it.

When I was in my 20's, I had gut problems. Doc said just one salad a day, not two, and cut out the bran for breakfast in the morning. Worked fine.

Just explaining, Jenna, when you hype the politics, you miss the details. Some people will have problems with raw milk. Many will know that ahead of time, if you just stick to explaining it.

October 1, 2012 at 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss our raw milk! We had a great source in South Dakota - Black Hills Milk. They would come to town 2-3 times a week to sell and there was always a line. And now in Minnesota I have to travel to the farmer. Which I would do if I could find a farmer who raised cows responsibly (not in a feed lot...) near by.

October 1, 2012 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger just look said...

My family owned and operated a dairy (bought milk from farmers, bottled it and sold it on milk routes) in the 40's, 50's and 60's until it was bankrupted by the MMPA (Michigan Milk Producers Ass.). I lived on a farm where we drank raw milk as well. One of the reasons small local dairies went out of business all over the country then was because of regulations to keep milk refrigerated from the time it came from the cows, til it sold in the stores. Milk routes became prohibitively expensive to run, and farmers had to spend lots of money to buy the cooling and holding tanks to meet regulations, and only big dairies,contracting with corporate processing plants could afford to absorb the production costs. MMPA and other lobbyists for business had lots to do with passing these regulations, and still do. I suspect, because of new knowledge about diseases, most milk may still need to be pasteurized for mass consumption, since most folks don't "live down the road a spell" from Bonnie or Janie (the names of childhood milk sources) Whether or not milk needs to be homogenized under super high heat may be a more accurate discussion of meeting health needs, not pasteurization. I still have family that pays the bills from working on a mega-dairy, and this industry still struggles to stay afloat. (Think cost/per pound, computer generated feed recipes, machinery depreciation, property taxes, to say nothing of farm labor and iron clad distribution contracts)
I buy my milk from a local dairy that pasture their cows, use no growth hormones, bottle the milk themselves, sells from their own store as well as distributes it wholesale. They just doubled their herd size because they bought and installed new equipment that allows the cows to pasture in good weather, walk unassisted to the milk parlor, get milked and return to pasture unassisted by humans through a sophisticated computerized program. This process has been used in Europe for some time, and studied for use in this country to support the potential for use by small dairies. (Check out Moo-ville Farms here, and also check out their "Cream-line milk" too to better understand their products )
I realize this all may be more information than anyone wanted, and doesn't directly address the issue of buying raw milk. It's always about following the money trail, vs. what's healthy or not, with a dash of romanticism blended in for flavor, and not so much about rugged individualism. The dairy industry is a monster of a thing, but for the most part, farmers are still humans doing the best they know how, and are allowed, and still be able to pay the bills.

October 1, 2012 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I don't see what individual constitutions and stomach issues has to do with a healthy food being made a criminal offense. If you think it is more important to talk about digestive facts than the politics associated with food rights, then that's fine. But here on my blog I want the politics front and center.

I am not saying everyone should go out and drink raw milk tomorrow. I have no idea what your body can or can't handle. I am saying there should not be laws telling you that you can't drink it. Each consumer, dairy, and everyone in between makes those decisions themselves. Or chooses not to drink any milk at all.

October 1, 2012 at 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had a cowshare at a local farm for a few years. It's wonderful, and no one has ever gotten sick from it. They also make cheese, which is also wonderful. They have an organic, grassfed herd of mostly Dutch Belted cows.

Did you know that a certain percentage of pus is allowed in pasturized milk? That alone is enough for me. My milk is pus free.

I have spoken to several members who have allergies and problems with commercial milk, or their kids do, and they have no problems with the raw milk. It's weird to me that we've been taught to fear natural milk so much, when it was the only thing available when my parents and grandparents were growing up. I think we should be allowed to have all the information and make our own choices. Monsanto doesn't even want us to know if milk is tainted with RBGH. That is the sad political fact.

October 1, 2012 at 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna, I am explaining why regulations exist. Public health.

It's your blog. Be as political as you want to be. Just explaining to you what raw milk producers say to me: know your gut first, before you drink my milk. These are small dairy farmers, women in New England.

That's it for explaining. You can have the last word! We really do not disagree much.

October 1, 2012 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Amen, Sister!! ~Vonnie

October 1, 2012 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I understand why regulations exist, I don't think we disagree, I just didn't understand why you were bringing up the body stuff because it doesn't make sense that only milk get these warnings. The same reasoning for regulation would apply to all foods then, wouldn't it?

like you said, we aren't arguing. I just think a lot of people are scared. Scared because of doctors, or heresay. People react due to fear. I don't care for that. And I think it is the political machine on both sides using fear over education to get people in voting booths.

October 1, 2012 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

And, I'll just add this...GMO food is considered safe by the same government that is working to ban raw milk. In NH, we can purchase it legally for human consumption, but we fight for that right all the time. There's always the threat that it could be taken away.

October 1, 2012 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Noël said...

Amen sister!!! It's amazing that more people don't find it disturbing when the government tries to tell us what we can and cannot eat. If they are so worried, the should start knocking on the door of Hostess and put a ban on twinkies! My family and I drink raw milk and we love it and we don't have any plans on going back to the nasty stuff. I whole heartedly agree with you and will fight for my food rights.

October 1, 2012 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Marie W said...

I grew up on a dairy. My Drs. tell me now that "You are healthy because of the food you grew up on, on the farm" Everything on the farm was grown with love and pesticide free.
We could not afford nasty chemicals back in the 40's,50's, 60's 70's and on and on.

October 1, 2012 at 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Human adults arent meant to consume milk, period. Problem solved. This debate is always humerous to me. What other adult mammals consume milk?

October 1, 2012 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Christee said...

I agree 100% with the ability to be able to CHOOSE for oneself.
I have 1 dairy goat that I milk and make cheese from and sell it. I have tried the pastuerizing part, heating it to 180 degrees for the specified time but doing that changes the flavor for me. So I make the cheese from the raw milk with the pastuerizing part in the heating to start the cheese process.
Works for me, people are still buying my cheese and no one has reported any sickness. I can't make enough cheese to keep up with the demand that is how much my customers like it!

October 1, 2012 at 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Cordy said...

I also think raw milk should be legal... with some caveats. In the urban system most consumers live in, they're really unlikely to have direct contact with their farmer. The charming "Go to the door with a mason jar" image is simply not a reality for the majority of potential raw milk consumers. So we would always need SOME regulations, in my opinion, in the same way that most municipalities make demands of how clean restaurants need to be. But in general, I think it's silly to have so much government interference in personal food choices.

That said, I am very skeptical of many, many, many of the claims made by the raw milk movement. I am prepared to believe that you see a slight gain in nutritive value from pasteurized to raw milk, as some micronutrients that are heat-sensitive may no longer be destroyed. Things like that.

But I am not especially prepared to believe that raw milk will cure all what ails you and is a miracle. Not without actual research.

PS, I actually grew up on farm-fresh raw milk and never got sick, but that's just anecdata, not proof. And I do not especially notice myself having magical superpowers now, sadly.

October 1, 2012 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger blind irish pirate said...

Like, sooooo not related, but how do you feel about the ban on 32 oz soft drinks in NYC?

October 1, 2012 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Honestly and sadly, it's all about who has the strongest Lobbyist.

October 1, 2012 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Deb Naydan said...

Hi Jenna, I'm with you and Thoreau on this. "The government which governs least, governs best." Especially when it comes to our free choice of what we want to put into our own bodies. Here's a link to some useful information. Thanks for posting this. Deb

October 1, 2012 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Dee Dee said...

amen, sista

October 1, 2012 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Dee Dee said...

amen, sista

October 1, 2012 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Dee Dee said...

amen, sista

October 1, 2012 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Brenda London said...

banning all raw milk sales makes as much sense as banning fresh veggies so folks would not have to deal with the (rare) cases of salmonella that happen due to poor farming methods. One enterprising young lady I was told about sold the raw milk from her one cow as a way to save $ for college. Her methods were fastidious but when the long arm of the law threatened her she came up with this clever plan: she sold shares of the cow so that each of her customers were the owners. By her accounting books she was employed by them to do the milking thus she was able to continue her small business and save enough to go to college. There is no law (at least in her state) forbidding owners from drinking the raw milk from lactating animals they own.

October 1, 2012 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Catcoco said...

I feel very passionate about food freedom. I do not think it is anybody's business (nor the government's place) to tell me what I can and cannot eat.

I will never try to force raw milk down anyone's throat but how do they dare tell me what I can and cannot put in my own body. I am an adult. I can make my own decisions. And, imho, any government that says raw milk is bad to the point of being illegal while sodas are legal cares more about control and money than about anybody's health.

October 1, 2012 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Yes, allow people to use raw milk.

Another example of government interference. As usual, they are involved in something they know nothing about.

October 1, 2012 at 2:32 PM  
Blogger Kelsie said...

I'm running out the door and haven't read the other comments, so forgive me if I'm repeating someone...but it BLOWS MY FREAKING MIND that the government is all for subsidizing the soybeans and corn (so that derivatives of those products can be shoved into every food-like substance on the grocery store shelves) and the government has NO ISSUE with farmers feeding a steady diet of antibiotics and pesticides into our meat and dairy supply and the government thinks it's PERFECTLY FINE that our children are hyped up all day, every day from constant inputs of high fructose corn syrup, neon food colorings, and artificial flavors...but if we want to consciously seek out and consume something as pure and natural as raw milk, it's HORRIBLE and punishable. It not only blows my makes me practically blind with rage. When I worked on a goat farm, we (the employees) had to basically SNEAK bottles of raw milk off the farm for our personal consumption. The owner of the farm, of course, was all for it...but she was terrified someone would see us/find out she was dispensing raw milk (raw, organic, pastured milk!). A big part of it, I guess, is the government subsidizing of industrial ag. and the lobbying, backdoor dealings, etc. that goes along with that territory. They're in bed with all the wrong people, and they've gotta treat those people right. People think I'm loony, but as a fairly staunch libertarian, I pretty much want the government out of EVERY aspect of my life, and that includes my food supply. I understand we simply can't remove government regulations at this point--we're too far into industrialized food. I choose to remove myself from government food as much as possible, though, by growing my own and consciously seeking out supplies from local, "small" farmers who aren't beholden to Cargill or Monsanto. I could scream about this all day, but I have to finish this painting job so I can add another few bucks to my "GET THEE TO A FARM" fund.

October 1, 2012 at 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The only way to have control on the food supply is get the strangle hold in place. When the population overtakes its ability to feed itself or, and more likely, when the people become completely dependent on the government, the government will already have the ability to control farming.

They will tell you what to grow, how to grow it and where to send it.

Of course, it could be that these well-intentioned busy bodies (government administrators) simply wish to make the food supply safer... whether you like it or not... or should that be.. for your own good because they know better. Take it from one government overseer trying to remove regulation from the inside.


October 1, 2012 at 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Walter said...

I just read or scanned all the posts and must offer this: it is all well and good to agree with each other, but it is simply preaching to the converted. What are you going to DO about it? My wife runs a Lamancha goat herd in TN (I do the menial work). We drink, bake, and make cheese from our raw goat milk. We are prohibited by TN law from selling it or even giving away for human consumption. Herd shares are an option, but we are so small it is almost not worth the effort. We did join the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. I had heard the CDC wrote to all states and urged then to tighten raw milk sales rules. I wrote the Commissioner of the TN DOT and urged him to do exactly the opposite. The answer I got from him? Not "raw milk might be dangerous if improperly handled," but a flat, "raw milk is DANGEROUS" without any qualification. No help there. I am engaged, as a co-chair of the local Libertarian Party, with a Libertarian lobbying organization to loosen restrictions on private, non-commercial agricultural sales between individuals. I do not want to push my politics on others; the point here is we cannot simply agree with each other here, we have to do something constructive or we can sit and watch while our rights are steadily eroded. The cool thing about this country is we can disagree and take actions to change things while staying within the spirit and letter of the law. Best make use of that freedom while it lasts.

October 1, 2012 at 5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all about freedom to choose, just as your post is saying. It's not about the milk.

When I was a young child, my aunt and uncle lived in the country. I would beg to have some of their raw milk from Bess, the neighbor's cow. My parents never hesitated. If I had had a milk allergy, whether it be raw milk or otherwise, my parents would have CHOSEN to stop allowing me to drink the raw milk. Dear Lord, that milk was so good! Cream skimmed off the top for whipping, then sometimes the milk would be mixed with Hershey's Cocoa, hot water and sugar to make chocolate milk. Good grief, I wish I had some right now.

Again it not about the milk; it's about the choice to drink it or not.

Good subject.

Diane in North Carolina

October 1, 2012 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger missliss40 said...

My father, an agriculture professor and a life long farmer, would totally agree with you. I tasted raw goats milk this summer. It was fabulous. But i live in the dairy state of
Wisconsin, and raw milk is illegal! In fact, a farmer in my area was justed busted for selling it and has criminal charges against him.

October 1, 2012 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger Joshua Tolley said...

I have to giggle at the "humans aren't meant to consume milk" argument, that concludes no other animal adults drink milk so humans shouldn't either. My cats are glad to drink milk when its available, but they have a hard time milking cows themselves, and those plastic safety lids on commercial milk cartons mystify them. Same goes for my dog, only most everything mystifies him. I know from sad experience that mice like cheese, even when it took me a really long time to make it. By that logic, humans also aren't made to consume beer, chlorinated water, after-dinner mints, sauerkraut, vegetables that have been washed, coffee, or meat in any form other than raw and torn from a carcass. Humans also aren't meant to wear clothes, brush their teeth, build houses, drive cars, talk on telephones, or write snarky comments on blog posts.

Incidentally, the idea that humans "aren't meant" to do something suggests that there are things humans are "meant" to do, and that we must have some intelligence behind our creation sufficient to mean us to do certain things and not others. While I agree that such a creator exists, certainly the fact that adult animals generally don't drink milk is insufficient to prove it.

October 1, 2012 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried raw goat milk from Whimsy, my Mom's cute Nigerian Dwarf goat, last weekend for the first time. It was SO good! I need my own goat. ;)

October 1, 2012 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

^^ I second the sentiments from MissLiss, particularly as we are probably neighbors.....

Thank you Jenna for this post. I'm an amateur cheesemaking enthusiast and supporter of local food networks, and I live in Wisconsin. That's right - America's Dairyland. Sounds simple, right? Our license plates, tourism board, and tax dollars all broadcast and brag about our Dairy heritage.

And yet it's illegal to buy the raw stuff. In any way shape or form.

My friend's father is a fourth generation small herd dairy farmer. He informed me, sadly, that he'd rather buy alcohol for minors than sell raw milk to his own daughter. The repercussions are that severe, and the fines are that debilitating. She grew up drinking raw milk, but the minute she moved out of his house she became a potential liability because someone might find out.

Two years ago we had a small black market 'hookup' for raw milk. A woman who ran a small farm sold it to us for animal consumption. In all fairness, I did share some with the cat. Somewhere along the line, she got ratted out. They shut down her entire farm stand, honey sales, and effectively killed her livelihood.

In America's Dairyland.

While I'm sad to hear that your Antlerstock guests will miss out on what I'm sure would've been locally delicious, I am resigned but proud to hear that you're taking the rules & regs seriously.

Peanuts, shellfish, gluten, sushi, and countless other foods are perfectly legal commodities. This is about choice, and control.

October 1, 2012 at 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenna @ your 11:51 comment.

I agree with you about the confusion with how different foods are regulated. If I had to guess, it's because a tomato or pepper won't go bad as fast as unrefrigerated milk does. But what do I know?

Being a lifelong NYer, on the border of three states, I am guessing the state is protecting me against my choices. Dad got food poisoning from a commercial kitchen, so I see why regs exist.

But back to the choice thing. I said right at the beginning that someone should be able to ring your bell with a mason jar to buy milk -- but alas Bonita is dry, right?

Anyway, passing across one of the local state borders, I see a large cardboard sign with black letters "RAW MILK FOR SALE" right at the border. I have an old milk bottle and will stop by for milk just to see how it goes.

FYI, I grew up on a local dairy's milk, but I just don't drink it much anymore. Yogurt and cheese, but not much milk.

October 1, 2012 at 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been milking my own goats for 3 years now and my son has only had raw milk. It's wonderful-that's my opinion and I should have the right to express it (literally and figuratively!). People deserve the right and choice to eat what they want.

On the other hand, this debate does seem almost moot because as another reader already stated people don't need milk! I love it, yes, but milk is for babies. We're the only species that robs milk from another animal. I just read an article today on a transgenic cow that's been created to produce milk that doesn't cause digestive issues (whey) and frankly I don't know why people are going to such trouble. If milk makes you sick, you shouldn't drink it anyway. If it doesn't and you enjoy it, then by all means you should have the right to drink it raw or otherwise.

October 1, 2012 at 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Lesa said...

You people crack me up! We are NOT the only species that will drink milk from another species. I guarantee that your dog, cat or pig will gladly eat cow, goat or elephant milk if they can get to it. I would find it hard to imagine that any wild omnivore or carnivore would pass it up either!

Whether you choose to drink milk or not is of no concern to me but it also shouldn't be the government's concern. We should all have the choice. If people prefer to drink pasteurized milk they should have that choice too!

We have also come to believe that ALL bacteria is BAD and harmful. But we in fact have more bacteria in our body than cells. The problem with all the pasteurization is that we are wiping out so much of the "good" bacteria and some people believe that puts us more at risk from the "bad". Raw milk, among other things, can strengthen our immune systems... Ever notice the number of immune diseases that are on the rise? Could it be that because of all our sterilization of foods and our environment, our immune systems are going haywire?

Not saying I know all about it, but it is interesting...

Lesa (who drinks both)

October 1, 2012 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger Finding My Roots said...

I have been drinking Raw milk for the better part of a year and love it. We go to a local farm and pick it up every week. We have part of a herd share I get milk and eggs every week. I love the we know the cows and the farmer. We know the chickens and my sons says thank you chickens every time we pick up the eggs!

October 1, 2012 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Dahlia ChanTang said...

I am a fervent advocate for raw milk. Several studies have shown -and the UN condones several of them- that a child raised on raw milk and raw milk products has a stronger immune systems, suffers from fewer allergies, and is better equipped to fight off life-threatening illnesses (in the case of children born in poorer countries.)

It is only in industrialised countries that raw milk is vilified, instead of being seen fr the beneficial food it really is.

While I often question the large-scale consumption of milk, if one is to drink milk and eat dairy at all, then it should be quality raw milk, instead of the white stuff that is peddled as 'pure'milk.

October 1, 2012 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

I feel very strongly about this, too. It's most certainly an issue of freedom and consumer rights. Getting the government out of "protecting us from ourselves" might actually allow more people to take responsibility for their food choices, which is a very empowering thing. I also think small, ethical farms would start cropping up everywhere to meet the demand!

October 1, 2012 at 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I drank raw, chilled milk for many years growing up in the 1970's. Milk went from the cow, into a chilling, stirring tank and then into our glass milk jugs. We lived in a big city, there was a dairy within a 10 minute drive. When we were ready for more moo juice we went to the dairy with our sanitized jugs, went into the room with the large stainless steel tank and drew our own. Foil topped paper caps were provided for us there. I don't remember what we paid for the milk, but I do remember that we left the money in a box next to the caps. I remember that the farmer did not (or perhaps could not)help us with the milk, we served ourselves and left the monies. That dairy is, of course, a residential neighborhood of McMansions now. I still have my fond memories though.

October 1, 2012 at 10:59 PM  
Anonymous Matyas said...

Wow, we saw quite a few sparkling gems in this discussion! Thank you all for throwing in your 2 cents... Here's mine re: "humans are not meant...": So if you are trying to raise a family of 4 on less then $40K in MA AND still provide them with NUTRITIOUS food AND have limited acreage, mostly brushland AND you have to get into a fulltime job to be able to pay the bills... a goat is a GOD-send. Literally. It eats all the leaves, weeds, grass and fallen crab-apples it can find, - all the stuff that humans CANNOT digest - and gives milk, meat AND fertilizer. The kids drink a good part of the milk to get to the next day, the thrifty wife makes cheese from the rest for power-snacks, uses the whey to soak grains or feed the poultry, the family eats the meat on holidays and the husband makes a compost pile from the dropping-rich bedding for a vegteable garden.

Now re: the "robbing of the milk" from the animals: I let the goat kids suckle from their mother the first month, and I do let them continue in the second month during the day (I separate them for the nigh and milk the mother goat in the morning) They gradually eat more and more green stuff, and by the third or forth month they don't need milk at all anymore. I keep up the milking for 6-8 more months after this and the milk keeps flowing - the goat is producing it until I gradually dry her off! Who is "robbed" here?

True freedom comes from getting back “home”: home-steading, home-schooling, home-church, home-business.

October 1, 2012 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Kavius said...

The issue is not about Raw milk, that is just a red herring used by the politically powerful. Don't believe me? Try selling pasteurised milk and see how far you get: you will be arrested.

October 2, 2012 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Kavius said...

Raw milk is legal in NY, as long as you get it straight from the cow:

October 2, 2012 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

110% I used to get milk from an Amish farm and will never forget the wonderfulness of it. This is yet another case of lesislation that protects a few by destroying the rights of many. It has to stop.

October 2, 2012 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

110% I used to get milk from an Amish farm and will never forget the wonderfulness of it. This is yet another case of lesislation that protects a few by destroying the rights of many. It has to stop.

October 2, 2012 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger MKandtheforce said...

Hear, hear. I absolutely adore raw milk and drink it whenever I can. The government shouldn't be telling us what we can eat-- I don't want typical grocery store milk shoved down my throat. It should be my own choice. When I lived in Colorado, the only way to get raw milk was to buy a share of a cow (several hundred dollars) and get regular deliveries. That bypassed the law because you "owned" a part of the cow and therefore could drink it. The typical poor college student like me could not. I hated the limitation. Limit it neither way; my mother physically cannot drink raw milk because she's allergic (she can only drink skim milk). Give us a choice, Washington! :(

Did I mention it's my dream to own a sweet little Jersey cow? Lol.

October 2, 2012 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Josh and Haley said...

I am SO with you. This is a topic close to my heart! I haven't toyed with the idea of drinking raw milk because we don't have a reliable source near us. BUT - zoning laws sort of fall into this category. It makes me very upset that because someone chooses to, or happens to live in a city that they can be told by city officials what type/how many food animals they may or may not raise! I should be able to live in the city and raise all the chickens or goats or whatever if they allow me to feed my family.

October 2, 2012 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

"A blanket ban on raw milk goes against our rights and consumer freedom."

I'm a strong supporter of raw milk. But please don't make this a rights and freedom argument. This is the same argument used by corporations to peddle all sorts of dangerous and unsavory products, and I would be wary of its double-edged nature. I also think it isn't likely to carry much legal weight.

If the government can legally ban DDT, assault weapons, and African ivory - and there are good reasons for the government to do so - then the issue is not whether the government CAN ban raw milk (it can), but whether it SHOULD ban raw milk.

When you look at what the government chooses to ban and the reasons it does so, raw milk stands out as a bizarre outlier. This is the salient argument that will change regulatory and legislative minds. Raw milk does not involve poaching or smuggling. Raw milk does not poison our air or water. Raw milk cannot be used as a lethal weapon. Raw milk poses no more health danger to consumers than raw fish, which is not banned.

On the other hand, supporters of raw milk should be prepared to accept some level of regulation, and it would be better to have a reasoned and scientifically-supported argument for what regulation we are willing and unwilling to accept. For example, I would like to see licensing and inspection, just like for meat (or rather better, as the current USDA inspection program is understaffed and underfunded). There will be unscrupulous producers who will sell questionable milk to make a profit, and unlike meat, most people won't cook their milk first.

October 2, 2012 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Joshua Tolley said...

@Matthew -- How about adopting the philosophy that I should be allowed to do whatever I want that doesn't infringe on your rights, and vice-versa? Under that philosophy, the DDT ban is justifiable, and perhaps the elephant ivory or at least poaching generally, on the grounds that elephants and other poach-able animals are the property of no single person. I'm all for removing bans on so-called "assault weapons", for whatever that's worth, precisely because owning a weapon that falls under the definition-du-jour of "assault" harms no one unless I use it on them, against which there are already plenty of laws. In any case, my body, my choice, because it's not your body.

October 2, 2012 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger shepherdkelly said...

Just a "love you Jenna!"
That's all :)

October 2, 2012 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger shepherdkelly said...

Just a "love you Jenna!"
That's all :)

October 2, 2012 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

I milked my first herd of cows yesterday - 70 cows, mostly Freisians. They are a pasture-ized herd in the UK.

I saw the levels of hygiene necessary at the milking level: cleaning teats, wiping teats, flushing the milking tubes after every cow, filters on each unit to check for mastitis etc, the whole system sanatised at the end, and once a week tests for many bacteria.

I am happy to drink raw milk. Even though we have TB in the UK, which is potentially transferable via un-pasteurized milk, I feel the risk is nominal to me.

I'm from the US and only moved to the UK about 15 yrs ago. When I came here I couldn't drink milk, and had numerous other food allergies. Now I hunt and produce lots of my own food including meat and all my food allergies are gone. I mean ALL.

This could be coincidence or causality I don't know, but I know when I come back to the US for a visit, I always end up with terrible digestive complaints, and have to steer clear of my old food nemeses.

October 3, 2012 at 6:46 AM  
Anonymous Jenn Bartley said...

I prefer the government to stay out of my kitchen and not punish my neighbor if I choose to buy non government approved food products from them. Its an issue larger than raw milk. It's part of removing our freedom to sustain ourselves and making us dependent upon corporations with a bottom dollar in mind instead of people with community and living life in mind.

Interestingly enough its regulated legal food produced in large quantities and sold throughout the nation that makes people sick anymore. Just yesterday there was a report about contaminated peanut butter.

October 3, 2012 at 11:01 AM  
Anonymous lorraine rezentes said...

I used to have a herd of nubian goats. I made Chevre cheese as well as cheddar cheese. I friend said he had been all over France and had never tasted cheese so good! Then like a dummy I moved from my acreage and have mourned it ever since. Go ahead, use ht milk, nothing wrong with that! I just loved those goats, Used to ho out and sit and play with them. I had a guardian dog named Angel ho was always by my side. She was a self appointed dog. Everyone loved her. She saved my life a coule times! Lorraine

October 3, 2012 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

I am really tired of government regulation in almost all parts of my is interesting that something as simple as milk is the basis of such regulation. Let each person decide what they want to drink ...raw or pasteurized. Gov. needs to butt out!

October 3, 2012 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

@Joshua -- Good question. I hope Jenna allows me to be wordy here. I think the philosophy you suggest is necessary but not sufficient. It maximizes our rights as citizens, but it ignores our responsibilities. As an individual-focused, pioneer philosophy, it is honorably benign. But you won't create a just and peaceful society with it. Some examples:

Driving under the influence? If I read your philosophy correctly, it allows me the right to drive intoxicated as long as I don't hit anyone, because there are already laws on the books that make battery and murder illegal.

Ownership of weapons? Why stop at assault weapons? What about chemical and nuclear weapons? As long as I don't hurt anyone with them, why should their purchase be banned or regulated?

These are extreme cases. But even with ordinary handguns, you are asking me to accept some risk by allowing others to own them. You are asking me to trust that my fellow citizens won't commit an act of violence with them. You are asking me to trust that they will keep them secure enough that a persistent thief or idle teenager won't get their hands on it. You are asking me to accept that no level of extraordinary stress or domestic violence will cause someone with a weapon to get drunk and lose control. So I favor licensing and regulation, patterned after vehicle/driver regulations, dependent on the lethality of the weapon.

As for raw milk, there will be some producers willing to sell iffy or downright spoiled milk if they think they can get away with making a profit. Does that mean we should ban raw milk? No, of course not. Conversely, does it mean we should let anyone sell it who wants to? I personally don't think so. Licensing and inspections should be part of the process. And I think the USDA should aggressively market its health benefits too (I should live to see that day!).

October 5, 2012 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Joshua Tolley said...

@Matthew -- obviously this could get into a pretty generic political debate, and I'll try to avoid that. Honestly, I'm ok with you owning whatever weapons you want, or driving as intoxicated as you want, provided you don't hurt someone else. I am willing to allow laws that prohibit not only behavior that hurts someone else, but also behavior that poses a substantial risk of hurting someone else, at least where that "someone else" has no choice in the matter. So impaired driving, or doing something stupid with your weapons, could legitimately be illegal. But yes, I'm asking you to accept that you'll be at some risk when you allow your neighbors to be free. I prefer that risk over the risk of developing a hideously overgrown bureaucracy where those in power can trample my rights as they see fit while hiding behind various loopholes and special privileges.

October 8, 2012 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

@Joshua - Sounds like we agree more than disagree. I'd agree that allowing other people their freedom involves accepting risks that I can't control. I think we're both saying it's reasonable to have laws to manage that risk, though we might disagree on what specific laws are reasonable. As you say, no special loopholes or privileges for those who game the system. I hear you are primarily concerned with governments and bureaucrats gaming the system, whereas I am more concerned with corporations and individuals doing so, but really we do need to be vigilant about both.

October 11, 2012 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger HairbySapphire said...

Hi Alix, where is your farmer located?

January 6, 2014 at 11:21 AM  

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