As more people become aware of the incredible health benefits of raw milk, the demand has gone up, which is awesome! However, in the process I’ve seen quite a few suppliers whose standards are less than ideal.
So, here’s a quick list of the things to look for when choosing a farmer:
1. Living Conditions: the cows should be free-roaming in pasture, with free access to grass, fresh water and sunshine.
2. Feed: 100% Grass-Fed is an absolute MUST. Many, many farms will tell you that a little grain is ok, and that it’s only given during milking times. Some will even tell you that feeding a cow grass or hay 100% of the time is impossible, but it is not. Here’s the problem: a cow’s body is designed to digest grass, not grain. It makes them produce more milk, so that’s a big part of why people do it. However, a cow is only able to produce a finite amount of nutrition (vitamins, protein, calcium, etc.) per day so if you are getting milk from grain-fed cows, your nutritional quality is far inferior to the milk from a grass-fed cow. In essence, it’s “watered” down. Also, cows who are fed grain are far more likely to become sick than their grass-fed counterparts. The problems posed by the grain in the cow’s body is passed on to you. Many farms say that “it’s just a small amount of grain” because it’s given only during milking. However, consider this: a “small amount” is often 1.5 lbs of grain per 100lbs of body weight, per feeding. Take an 800 lb cow, being milked 2x per day, and bam, that’s a whopping 24 lbs of grain per day! If that isn’t organic grain, or soy free grain, we’ve got en even bigger problem. Soy mimics estrogen in the body when not fermented, and many farms don’t consider soy a problem when giving grain, thus, passing on the estrogenic properties to you (or your kids!) Conventional grain is loaded with pesticides, and GMO grain poses an even bigger problem for me for reasons far too extensive to include in this post. As much as I dearly love and defend the rights of my Amish friends, many are either not concerned with GMO’s or honestly don’t have access to enough information regarding them to cause them to discontinue the use of GMO corn and soy in their feed. It’s imperative when you are choosing a raw milk provider to ask them about everything that their cows are fed.
3. Containers: Glass is my absolute go-to. It’s easily sterilized, reusable, cuts down on landfill waste, and resists bacterial growth. I am OK with the occasional use of new, sterile, BPA-free milk jugs. My farmer uses glass when provided by the customer or a new, sterile, BPA-free plastic jug for those who don’t provide glass. I’m using THESE 1/2 gallon mason jars. Many raw milk coops reuse old sturdy plastic juice jugs, and this poses 2 big problems for me: 1. BPA – the more a plastic container is used, and handled, and scrubbed, and heated, the more BPA it releases. 2. Bacteria: plastic (especially once it becomes scratched and heated) is far more likely to harbor harmful bacteria than glass or new plastic. Raw milk, like any other raw food, is safe when handled properly, and unsafe when handled improperly.
4. Protein type: The cows I get my milk from are Jersey A2, the most digestible form of dairy protein. A1 is a very common protein found in most American milk, and is much more difficult to digest making it sometimes more harmful than healthful. For more information on this, Mother Jones wrote this informative article.
Want to find a raw milk supplier in your area? Check out realmilk.com…but not every farmer on the list adheres to theses strict standards so be sure to ask the good questions!
I hope this is helpful!
PS – Our adorable little dove babies on the front porch have hatched, and I finally got a peek at them while Mama was away gathering some good bugs and worms. (SO glad we don’t treat our yard with pesticides or weed-killers!)