07 May 2010

The Untold Story of Milk - What's All the Hub-bub About Raw Milk?


I have been doing a little reading on the milk industry of late. It all started when I spied a small ad for raw milk being sold at a small farm in our town. When I brought the place up in conversation at church one Sunday, one of my 'church lady' friends wondered aloud what all the fuss with raw millk was about. She'd been raised drinking milk straight from the cow and she was alive to tell the tale. I detected a healthy dose of Yankee cynicism in her tone when another woman commented on pasteurization being a public health response to dirty conditions in dairies. She sniffed and replied that her family's dairy was clean and that's why she never had problems. She doubted that other folks' dairies were cesspits. I changed the subject by asking about the flavor of raw milk as opposed to the pasteurized product. More flavor, richer, taste varied depending on the season were some of the comments. Hmmm...

I came away from that conversation wanting to find out more. Doing a bit more reading, I found it's difficult for the small farmer to get a market going for the real thing. Public health laws have governed closely the production, distribution, and sale of milk for a long time. Today's consumer demands for more natural foods , milk and dairy products being one of them, have placed small producers of raw milk in a bind. The laws say they can't produce more than a certain amount, but consumer demand is picking up dramatically for their product. What's a farmer to do? Push for new legislation ... and advocate through various farm and natural foods non-profits.

Which leads me to a book that I found ... The Untold Story of Milk is an excellent overview of milk. The author gives you a history of milk's importance as a cultural product, the science and chemistry of milk, the public health world's policy on milk pasteurization, the naturopaths' philosophy and rationalization for raw milk products consumption, and the history of the industrialization of milk and dairy production. Milk is BIG business! Check it out. Perhaps you'll think a bit deeper about what's in your milk, where it comes from, what you'd like in your milk and cheese that would benefit your body ... interesting stuff!

2 comments:

  1. Both of my parents grew up on dairy farms, but growing up I lived 3 hours away from those farms, and in town. I can still remember how hard my grandfather would laugh when we came to visit. We kids insisted that Mom and Dad stop at the store and by "regular" milk before we got to the farm because Grandpa's milk "tasted funny".

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  2. Yup! It does taste different! I remember having milk from White's Dairy and it had a distinctly 'green' taste every Spring when the cows were back on green grass browse as opposed to winter silage. Hmmm! Nothing like Spring milk!

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