There's Bessie!
It's finally happened.  I caught the raw milk bug.  Yep... I'm into it.

Ask anyone who knows me - I can be stubborn.  Alternative health and food trends often leave me skeptical at all the hype.  It took me 3 years to start drinking kombucha, and another 4 months after that to even research its health benefits.  Now, I'm so 'into' it that I make my own kombucha.

So how did I become a raw milk convert? This morning I got an email from a local dairy owner, offering a (raw) milk share from her soon-to-be lactating cow, Bessie.  Shares are about $3.50/gallon, 50 cents more than the local organic milk I've been getting from the grocery store.  Usually the cost (and having to drive 30 miles pick the milk up) would be enough to tip the balance towards store-bought. 

But... I looked at the pros and cons between store-bought and farm share, and raw milk won out:

Raw milk share

  • Raw (sours)
  • Cream-top available
  • Pastured cow
  • Fed pesticide-free grasses & grains
  • No hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives
  • Reusable glass bottles
  • Local family farm

Store Bought Milk

  • Pasteurized (spoils)
  • No cream-top available
  • Pastured cows
  • Fed pesticide-free grasses & grains
  • No hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives
  • Reusable glass bottles
  • Local family farm
As you can see, the store bought milk is really pretty excellent - but I can't make butter with whole milk, and once pasteurized milk goes bad, it spoils.  Both gross and disappointing.

Raw Milk Reason #1:  Raw cream-top milk can make butter (one of my favorite things)!

With a steady supply of raw milk, I could make:
~ butter
~ buttermilk
~ drinking cream
~ sour cream
~ yogurt
~ yogurt-cheese
~ frozen yogurt
~ cottage cheese / farmer's cheese
~ tons of other cheeses

Raw Milk Reason #2:  When raw milk starts to sour, the natural probiotics start to ferment the milk.  This is different from how pasteurized milk spoils, as it isn't fermenting, simply 'putrefying'... again, eww.  Soured milk is still very much edible.

With soured milk, I can make:
~ sour cream!
~ baked goods like biscuits, corn bread, & pancakes
~ cottage cheese
~ paneer
~ buttermilk replacement

Raw Milk Reason # 3:  Health Benefits?
So, like I said, I'm a little stubborn when it comes to special diet trends.  I don't believe everything I read.  But!  There are certain things that I understand and accept:
  1. Pasteurization = Heating.  Heating any food decreases its nutrient levels.  Therefore, raw milk contains more intact nutrients.
  2. Pasteurization destroys enzymes and little bacteria buddies.  Enzymes and lactic-acid-producing bacteria found in raw milk are our friends, and their presence helps our body become a more diverse and balanced ecosystem.
  3. There are lots of other claims people have made that I don't have the patience or inclination to explain.  Food Renegade has a great Real Milk post that outlines more health benefits of raw milk.

Raw Milk Reason #4:  Rebellion
Raw milk is illegal.  Buying milk on the black market (or would that be the white market??) makes me feel like I'm living life on the edge...

What are your thoughts on raw milk?  Are you a convert?  What do you use it for?  And where do you find it?

You might like:
- Make Yogurt!
- Yogurt Cheese:  How-To
- Chocolate Almond Milk:  How-To
- Kombucha - Brew Your Own 'Booch

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4/16/2012 11:44:29 am

Hi there, found you at Fat Tuesday! :-) I just made the call today to find raw milk. In my state, it's illegal to sell raw milk AND cow shares. I've been wanting to do make the switch for quite some time! Can't believe your raw milk only costs $3.50 a gallon! CHEAP!!!

I also enjoyed Radical Homemakes. Great book!

4/16/2012 01:22:55 pm

Oooh, a scofflaw! Good luck with your milk quest. Just curious for comparison - how much does raw milk cost where you live?

4/17/2012 11:24:19 pm

I'm a recent convert too, Roswell, GA. Never liked the taste of store bought milk much, and my oldest son is the only one who drinks it. I'm paying $7 a gallon, ouch! But for all the health benefits, I'll gladly pay that much. It's also delivered to a co-op just down the street from me, so I don't have to drive far. I must say, I can actually start drinking milk again as the raw milk tastes so much better.

4/17/2012 11:38:00 pm

Oh my Gosh a cow share for $3.50 per gallon. I am paying $7.50 in Michigan. You are a lucky girl!

4/18/2012 04:24:25 am

I have been using store milk, it was cheaper, closer, etc. But our one of our goats just had babies, so now we have our own source of raw milk, so that's what we use now. A friend gave us her share of raw cow's milk a couple times when she was out of town, it was fabulous and the kids loved making butter and icecream with all the cream on top.

4/18/2012 09:34:18 am

I am jealous. I can't find a local raw milk source here. I look forward to reading about your kombucha exploits too. I need to get a scoby... It's been almost 20 years since I made and drank kombucha.

4/18/2012 02:11:55 pm

You are so awesome! :) I hope you're a member of the WAPF! :) We pay $7 a gallon for real milk from pastured cows here in Utah, so glad you were able to find it a such a good price! :)

4/18/2012 02:32:15 pm

Wow, I'm feeling really fortunate right about now! Not only do I live in Missouri, where it is (somewhat) legal to buy raw milk, but mine only costs $3 a gallon! BUT, I'm still really new to this raw milk business, so, if you could share the hows of some of the uses you listed for soured milk, I'd be really grateful. I had no idea there was a difference between soured and spoiled, and I've just been throwing mine out! :(

Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
4/18/2012 11:21:52 pm

Hi Cassi,
I would be glad to make some soured milk how-to posts! I still haven't gotten my raw milk source up & running yet, but once I do you can bet you'll see more. In the meantime, check out these resources:
~ http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/maximize-your-real-milk-and-cream
~ http://www.cooks.com/rec/story/121/

Good luck!

4/20/2012 09:59:18 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! These resources look GREAT, and I can't wait for my next batch of milk!

4/20/2012 08:40:44 am

I am also interested in uses for sour milk. I have been dumping mine, too! I get it for $4 per gallon from a local farmer and it is legal in my state.

5/11/2012 02:21:05 am

Cassi--what part of Missouri? I'm in Maryville and have just decided to look for raw milk...I have a son that is mostly likely an Aspie and I've been told that raw milk enzymes are great for kids on the Autism Spectrum.

5/11/2012 07:35:18 am

Unfortunately, a little bit of a commute for you. :( My milk lady's in Salem. Good luck finding someone a little closer to home, though. You might ask around at some of your local farmers' markets or farm supply stores; someone may know someone. I just got REALLY lucky in finding mine--happened to be driving by the right place during the right half-hour, saw her and pulled in to see what was up. Just one of those gut hunches, y'know? :)

4/18/2012 03:45:49 pm

I'm so jealous of you paying $3.50 -- even the folks paying $7! Here in British Columbia we are paying $18.50 per gallon! I can't believe it myself -- that is where all our money goes. And on top of that I think that our days are numbered, they have already declared raw milk to be a hazordous substance in 2009. They think it is just as dangerous for you as some corrosive oven cleaning chemical. What morons! Health Canada is truly in the pockets of corporate sleeze bags.

Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
4/18/2012 11:24:37 pm

Well gee... I sure feel sheepish. Everyone, I have an announcement:
I misunderstood the dairy farmer's pricing explanation. My raw milk source here is a whopping $12/gallon!

Looks like I'd better keep looking for those $7/gallon deals, eh?

4/19/2012 04:47:18 am

Oh! That makes me feel a little better ! But even across the border in Washington State we pay only $8 - $9 for raw milk. So I don't know why Canadian milk is so expensive.

4/19/2012 11:11:19 pm

LOL! Reason #4 . . . that''s one of my reasons too. Usually I am a rule follower but for STUPID laws I have no problems and am proud to break 'em. And yes, you do get a deal on raw milk. Mine is over $6 a gallon. Good for you. Thanks for linking to FF! We hope you come back!

4/20/2012 01:37:03 am

I love my raw goat's milk. Of course, when they are dry, I'm on store bought.

4/23/2012 07:05:59 am

Keep in mind that what you pay the store is an artificial pricing system with dairy farmers losing their farms every day. Our milk from our Jersey girls runs the eqivalent of $6.50 a gallon through cow shares and we barely make a profit. Plus it's hard work! Thank your farmer. :)

4/25/2012 11:35:33 am

Right on for the raw switch! We've been on raw milk for a few yrs now... Love.it. We were paying 6 a half gallon plus a 2.00 bottle deposit - so 16 a gallon from our local food co-op. We recently found a sweet 4th generation raw dairy about 15 minutes from our house! Now we are driving out weekly to the farm and scooping up a gallon for 6 bucks! I still can't believe how lucky that feels after paying so much before. I'd do it again though in a hot second.

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