Raw milk a complex issue
A former dairyman prefers it, but says “buyer beware.”

Posted June 8, 2006


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As a retired dairy farmer, I do wish I could get organic raw milk. In California, Alta Dena sold raw milk, then it stopped and Stueve's took up the slack. I wanted the milk as it was: fresh and raw. They had a listeria problem and had to quit. It is very difficult to produce raw milk and deliver this most perishable product. I warn anyone who tries it, unless on a “cow share” enterprise, that the state or federal health officials will shut you down. It is a shame; I think raw milk is possible, but it is a very problem-fraught enterprise with sophisticated testing necessary. This enterprise could bankrupt a farmer "toot sweet"; it’s a shame, but it’s true. Many farmers are not laboratory versed. Raw milk is the closest thing to blood a food product can be.

I like the idea of people owning shares in a raw-milk dairy, and, thus owning shares in the cows, not being “the public.” Owners of cows can consume all the raw milk they choose. I did sell raw milk to trusted buyers, and I did TB and brucellosis tests annually. I was scrupulously clean. I would not use the milk from another dairyman I know, offered for coffee, etc. I saw pink, blue and green mold growing in his Delaval milk receiver lines. I brushed and sanitized with Shaklee green after each milking; he rinsed, didn't have a milk-line brush on a cable. Raw milk is great, but there are inherent problems compounded with a larger scale. Let this be a warning to rosy-eyed prospective raw milk purveyors.

Alex Stromeyer