Milk and Honey, or How to Become an Outlaw and Live off the Fat of the Land  

Posted by Dave in , ,

I have a confession to make. I buy raw milk. And I drink it. And I even let my kids drink it.
I know, I know, this is a fairly new blog, and I probably just lost your trust. After all, who wants advice from a lawbreaker. At least I think I am a lawbreaker, I'm really not sure. There are now a slew of new laws and enforcement of old laws and a general hodge podge of reasons why not to drink, sell or buy raw milk.

Why? For an inkling, look at this link.

I don't believe the oft quoted saw about health reasons. I know my farmer, though he shall have to remain anonymous here. He is a neighbor, and has milked all of his long life. And drinks raw milk. Like his parents, and his children. They are all the epitome of health. In addition to the hard work of producing the aforementioned illicit substance, including producing all of the hay and and such to feed the cows and removing their waste, and keeping milking facilities and machinery clean and in order and just generally working harder than most of us ever dream of, the grown sons hold down full time jobs, and the father (now grandfather, and soon to be great grandfather) oversees daily operations since he has retired after a lifetime in a local steel mill. All the long suffering wives of these miscreants, and their children look longingly at the "better lives" of their legal, town bearing friends and wish they too could have a materialistic lifestyle. Or maybe not.

I believe there is a certain amount of, for lack of a better term, 'life' in everything, and especially any given food. The further from the place where it lived its life, the less life left in it. Likewise the more processing and or the less healthy or "life-ful" its upbringing. Did it consume healthy nutrition that was also full of life? Was it handled in a safe, and yes even respectful manner after harvest? This is really as important for a carrot or a cow. Whether the beef or the milk is healthful depends in large part on whether the farm was. The lack of safety that has resulted in tainted beef, tomato recalls, and bans on raw milk are more a reflection on a society that views it food sources as simply commodities.

Should we regulate the production of food to ensure safety? I give a reserved yes, but we need to apply a certain amount of common sense. If milk is going anonymously into a bulk tank, and then a tank truck to be mixed with gallons of other anonymous milk, then to a factory to be further lost in the mix, and then is expected to stay on a shelf for a week or two, maybe we should take the life out of it. Almost a mercy killing. Is this any way to live? Anonymously and without any life or purpose? How much life has to be removed from a food so that it is "shelf stable"? There are lots of arguments for and against raw milk. But in the America I still remember, we had choice. No one buys raw milk unknowingly, and so the burden is on them. For me, the health benefits outweigh the downside. I know where each drop came from, and I even know the cows, as my kids frequently have to be pried out of the barn where they pet and talk to the animals.

Last night, we had to wait for a few minutes while the bulk tank was being cleaned.

While we stood outside a breeze brought us the incomparable smell of fresh cut hay. It was enhanced by the wonderful smell of the manure, which our friends also sell by the truckload, an incomparable treasure for gardeners. Yes, I love the smell of manure. And not just for the aesthetics, it is a great indication of the health of the herd, and can even show differences in seasonal diet. Those who know cheese or wine can tell a lot about the weather and the soil and more from the end product. Although, such information is not as available in cheese from pasteurized milk or wine from pasteurized juice. There just isn't as much life in it.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 7:12 AM and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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