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Local Raw Milk: Better for you, AND Everyone(except Big Ag)

January 2, 2010

Hi, and thanks for your continued interest if you’ve been here before.

I was thinking about all the benefits, health- and other-wise from our consumption of local raw milk.  For starters, I’ve been using the same glass quart jars to get milk since Ian started on it just before his 1st birthday.  We’ve probably purchased maybe 15 containers of milk from the store since then(goats dry up when its cold).  That is a MAJOR reduction in trash, just from ONE family.  The farm we purchase from now is a pasture-fed herd.  No additional feed is used(unless it’s a hard winter and hay runs out).  Aside from the energy they use on that specific farm to cut and bail hay, no other feed is trucked in, no additional packaging for grains, ‘feeds’ etc.  These cows (and many on small, family ‘pastured’ farms) are not given routine meds of any kind, so consumption of drugs, or run-off from drugs is not an issue.   Because they are pastured, they naturally fertilize their own pastures, so there is no huge problem with “where do we put 7,000 metric tons of cow poop???!?”.  We visited an all-pastured beef farm in Steubenville last year(where we purchase all our beef from), and the farm literally did not smell like a farm.  It was a warm, rainy, mucky day when we toured the farm, and there was no disgusting smell to be detected.   The cost of organic, pastured beef there was actually less than that from the store.   Same with the farm we get our milk from now.  Aside from the cows coming to the fence to see who’s come for a visit(a must for me, I like to know that animals I consume from are treated like family, as these are), and a few barns, it doesn’t much resemble a typical ‘farm’ in the sense of the word anymore(I saw Food Inc., and though I knew a lot already, that additional info made life much worse for me… Ugghh…).   Then there’s the product its self. Aside from routine sterilization of the 2 tanks in the milking parlor, energy consumption from beginning to end is nil compared to milk you buy at the store.  It’s not trucked anywhere– customers come to the farm.  It’s not treated, heated, homogenized, pasteurized, none of that, nor the energy consumption that goes along with it.  Any milk they have leftover goes to feed animals on their farm, from the chickens, to their pigs, to their cows.   No waste.   We pay $2 a half gallon now, soon to be $2.50 a half gallon because we have to switch to a different farm for the winter months.   At the store, half a gallon of organic milk is almost $4.


Economic Potential of Raw Milk:

CONVENTIONAL SITUATION: Thirty cows in a confinement situation; high-protein feed to increase milk production; cows produce 190 hundredweight of milk each year; farmer sells milk to co-op and receives about $12 per hundredweight:

*Income is about $1.50 per gallon or $68,400 per year

*Farmer receives no subsidies (only corporate farms get these)

*Farmer has high cost of feed, vet bills, replacement cows, artificial breeding, interest on equipment loans.

In 2002, dairy farms in the U.S. went out of business at the rate of 16 per day.

DIRECT SALES OF RAW MILK FROM PASTURE-FED COWS: Thirty cows on 100 acres; cows are fed grass, hay and silage from the farm; cows produce 100 hundredweight each per year.

*Income on raw milk or raw dairy products is $4 – $8 per gallon, or $150,000 – $300,000 per year.

*If the farmer is making cheese, cream or butter, he has whey and skim milk, free food for pigs

*Additional farm income from pork, beef, eggs, chicken, produce, etc., possible in a diversified farm based on dairy, could be $50,000 – $100,000 per year.

*Total gross income to farmer $200,000 – $400,000 per year

*Costs for feed, vet bills, interest are much lower; no replacement cow costs.

RURAL REVIVAL: Every $1 earned on the farm = $5-7 for the local community; if 10 percent of the population would buy raw milk and other products directly from the farm, we would need 75,000 farms, all making at least $200,000 per year. Raw milk sales hold the potential for a huge rural revival.


*Allowed in 8 states (CA, WA, AZ, NM, SC, ME, PA, CT)

*On-Farm Sales of Raw Milk: About 28 states.

*Raw Milk as Pet Food: Available in 4 states (GA, NC, FL, ND)

*Raw Milk widely available through cow-boarding or farm-share agreements in WI, MI, TN, VA, CO, OH, IN.

*Raw milk easily available in about 35 states. Worst States for raw milk: HI, MD, RI, NJ, NV, ID, WV, IA, MT, WY.

*SITUATION IN EUROPE: Raw milk sales legal in England, Wales and most of Europe; sold in vending machines in several European countries.

Many farms like theirs focus on a few specific items, and do them well.  We get pastured eggs from them as well, and they are SPECTACULAR.    We always go say ‘hi’ to the chickens, Ian says hi to them in his own personal chicken language now.   The weekly trip to the farm is something he looks forward to.  In March, when the calves are born, Ian will get to hang out with ‘little cowwies’ his size.  How neat is that?  He really enjoyed seeing all the little baby goats the first year we got goat milk, and so did we!  Talk about cute…

Many states have specific legislation that allows for the sale and purchase of raw milk and raw milk products.   In Ohio, you have to buy a share in the farm you choose, and that allows you to legally purchase and consume raw milk from that particular farm.  In PA(where I get my milk now), the farm must be registered with the state(registration includes regular checks by local govt to ensure product is pathogen-free), then they can sell to anyone.  Here is a list of states and regs for raw milk production and purchase:

The most amazing thing to me is that in Europe, you can get raw milk anywhere.  There are no strict regulations or anything like that like there is here in the US.  Europeans on lists and groups I’m on are amazed at the hoops we have to jump through here to get raw milk.  If that isn’t proof enough that there’s a health/money conspiracy, I don’t know what is…  And that’s where I will go next;  health benefits.

For those that are afraid of raw milk because it ‘spreads disease’, I’ve got to tell you this…  On the rare occasions that for one reason or another Ian had to have store-bought milk in his night-time sippys instead of raw milk, the difference is astounding.  When raw milk sits on the nightstand overnight, in the morning, it is merely separated, and has no odor.  In fact, Ian drinks it willingly, whether we know about it or allow him or not.  Now, the store-bought milk…  8-9 hours on the nightstand makes it a night mare.  It’s clumpy, it smells AWFUL, and we fight over who will wash the sippy.  It’s disgusting.  The natural anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial properties are destroyed during pasteurization.  Essentially, it ruins milk.  The process of pasteurization alters some proteins in milk considerably.  Many who are allergic to milk do not have symptoms, or the same severity of symptoms, when they consume raw milk.  Personally, I find that it does not give me the sticky, cloggy throat that store-bought milk gives.   I have a huge glass with my breakfast before work each morning, and it keeps me full longer, and I don’t feel like I have a phlegm hair-ball for half the day.  Too much information?  I apologize 🙂  For the record, it really doesn’t taste that different(less plastic-like if anything), and a few shakes of the jar mixes the cream back in.  No biggie.

There is a lot of info about raw milk consumption on-line.  Like anything else on-line, “you can use the facts to prove anything”, and there are probably as many sites against- as for-.  However, looking at the over-all picture, from beginning of process to end, there really shouldn’t be any other choice BUT raw milk.  Take it from my raw milk-raised 2 year old.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 6:29 pm

    Very very good read! I have a brother who has two cows just for milk. Unfortunately we’ve watched them handle the milk/butter/cheese and been rather disappointed in their hygeine with it all. Otherwise we’d buy our butter from him.

  2. January 19, 2010 9:26 pm

    YIKES!! In PA, the govt tests the milk regularly. However, we had a bozo filling our jars once who dropped a few lids on the floor, now we go on a different day when she’s >not< there. Too bad they can find the time to test small farmers but not huge ones. We'd all be safer…

  3. June 11, 2010 9:00 am

    Isn’t it shocking that we are unable (in some states) to choose what we do and do not consume? Yet, high fructose corn syrup remains on the market!

    • June 12, 2010 2:00 pm

      NO JOKE THERE! And tobacco, and partially hydrogenated oils, and alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, and blah blah blah lol… There are signs posted at the farms that warn of the dangers of consuming raw milk. Sadly though, most people have no idea that HFCS and hydrogenated oils are deadly. The world is a screwed-up place.

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