How to Find Safe Sources of Raw Milk
Finding safe sources of raw milk requires some homework. Ordinarily, this would be a valuable service provided by the government. But since they have failed to properly research and regulate this wholesome food, the burden of qualifying a raw milk source now falls upon the consumer. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because it brings into play one of our mantras, which is “know thy farmer.”
Research on Raw Milk
Dr. Ron Schmid is one of the leading authorities on the benefits of raw milk.
In his original book The Untold Story of Milk: Green Pastures, Contented Cows and Raw Dairy Products Dr. Ron details the politics and process that led to the ascent of the large dairy interests and their use of pasteurization and homogenization to improve their profits by having a longer shelf life for grocery store milk. He also details the poor feeding conditions and shortened animal life of confinement dairy cows.
His new book The Untold Story of Milk, Revised and Updated: The History, Politics and Science of Nature’s Perfect Food: Raw Milk from Pasture-Fed Cows expands upon the original work.
It includes recent scientific studies that support his original position that raw milk is real milk that leads to real health. Buy this one, unless you want to collect the series.
Looking to trump your raw milk friends with the latest ideas? Then read upon A1 verses A2 milk.
Keith Woodford in his book Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and the Politics of A1 and A2 Milk examines whether there exists a link between certain proteins in milk and a range of illnesses, including heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.
This is an idea that is still open for debate because the root causes of those diseases are difficult to ascertain and more studies will need to be done to effectively demonstrate correlation. However, one cannot over value the courage and necessary to surface the idea for discussion.
This would be a grand opportunity for the land grant universities, chartered by the public and supported by your tax dollars, to provide empirical studies on the subject, provided they could manage to avoid the pressure of their corporate donors.
You may want to read an article about this book at the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
The question that I still need to chase down is “what about goat milk?”
What to Look For in a Raw Milk Dairy
Can Your Dairy Qualify?
For years, the large dairy interests have colluded with the USDA to promote the idea that unpasteurized milk cannot be produced safely. The reality is that by adhering to the standards below, it can. It just costs more to do it that way and that is why there is so much corporate resistance.
This idea actually looks back to the Certified Raw Milk Standards of 70 years ago, but with an awareness of the progress we have made in collection and refrigeration technology.
For raw milk from a farm near you, see the Real Milk Campaign at the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Raw Milk Production Standards for Human Consumption
Only raw milk produced and sold under the following 20 conditions and standards may bear the RAW USA Raw Milk Certification:
- No antibiotics may be used on a cow or other mammal from which milk is drawn within one year of producing raw milk intended for human consumption.
- No growth or milk stimulating hormones may have been used at any time within one year of RAW USA certification.
- No pesticides may be used on a raw milk cow or in her environment unless OMRI listed or USDA NOP compliant.
- All USDA NOP standards apply as binding guidelines to the pasture environment care and conditions. All dairy pastures shall be USDA certified organic or USDA certified transitional.
- All lactating animals that are producing raw milk for human consumption must be allowed access to pasture 150 days per year at a minimum and 100% of the time when possible.
- Lactating animals must be provided a clean place to lie down and rest. All bedding areas should preferably be natural pasture or be something that the cow would find in a natural environment. Sawdust, straw, rice hulls and sand are examples that meet this requirement. Rubber and concrete do not meet this requirement.
- No free stalls or loafing stalls are allowed.
- Lactating animals must not be kept in crowded conditions and must be allowed to range freely, seek solitude and undisturbed rest.
- There must be ample clean fresh water available and at no time may there be crowding occurring for competition to water access.
- There must be adequate space available for the animal to experience all natural behaviors including: birthing, breeding etc.
- All natural feeds shall be fed to the lactating animal. That includes only feeds that the animal would naturally eat in nature. This includes natural corn, barley, wheat or forages but not soy or cottonseed or other unnatural processed feeds. RAW USA standards emphasize green pasture as a major part of the ration and dried alfalfa and or dried grass forages as supplements. Some haylage made from available pastures or forages are permitted. Feed should be raised and certified organic if possible and if available. All feeds shall be of natural origins and part of the natural diet eaten by cows. For example, organic donuts, organic soybean meal and organic potato chips are not permitted.
- Bacteria standards for RAW USA certified milk includes monthly testing for pathogens including the presence of Salmonella, Ecoli 0157 H-7, Listeria Monocytogenes. If the local regulatory agency performs these tests then no additional tests are required.
- Bacteria standards for raw milk includes testing for SPCs which shall be less than 15,000 SPC on a three out of five samples basis. Tests shall be completed one time per month. Any time a test is higher than the standard then tests will be increased in frequency to one time per week until tests show compliance with standards.
- If the test sequence fails the standards then raw milk will not be sold to the public for human consumption until a test shows compliance with standards. Testing results must be kept for a minimum of three years
- There are no Coliform, LPC or Somatic Cell Count (SCC) test standards for raw milk under these standards. All RAW USA standards meet or exceed the same standards as Grade A Raw Milk for human consumption in California under CDFA.
- All animals in the herd must test negative for TB and Brucellosis on initial test and then once every two years. Any new additions to the herd must be tested prior to being added to the herd. All positives must be removed from the herd immediately.
- All raw milk must be chilled to below 40 degrees within one hour after milk is drawn from animals. Immediate Flash or heat exchanger chilling is recommended. No RAW USA raw diary product will ever be exposed to heat above 102 degrees F at any time, assuring that enzymes and bacteria are undamaged, alive, active and healthy.
- All stored or packaged raw milk to be kept at or below 40 degrees until consumer sale (34-36 degrees is preferred).
- All milking parlors and equipment, milk houses, milk handling and bottling equipment shall be kept clean according to the standards required by the local county or state milk sanitation standards for Grade A milk production. No sterilizers may be used including quaternary ammonias. All hot water washes and cleaning of equipment and tanks shall be documented on a daily records log. If possible, a recording chart should be used to document temperatures and cleaning procedures.
- All operations shall be rooted in social and environmental awareness.
Fair wages and benefits, support of family and community life, investing in employee skills, and developing pride of artisanship are encouraged. RAW USA dairies should engage in environmental stewardship through ongoing development of sustainable, petroleum-independent farming methods, and strive to pioneer positive solutions specific to the bioregional needs and resources of the local community.