Sunday, January 10, 2010

Raw Milk

Yesterday, Robert and I drove out to Dyer Dairy in Georgetown to pick up my reserved batch of raw milk.  I have tasted the milk, and I knew that I loved the way it tasted, so we went ahead and picked up enough to last us a while (we put some in the freezer).  They actually milked it yesterday, so it is completely fresh.  Several things that I love about this particular farm is that they are Grade "A" (see below the benefits of being grade "A"), they are inspected MONTHLY (which means everything is looked over AND they test the milk), and they are the least expensive that I have found in the area (at the same price as the organic milk I had been buying).  Also, when it took a little longer for us to show up yesterday, they actually called me to make sure I was coming so they didn't sell the milk (the only reason they even had my number is because I called them once).  They care about their customers.  When I got there, I was amazed.  About 2 1/2 months ago, they set up The Mercantile at Dyer Dairy.  It's a little "store" and they sell a lot of things that I have been looking for.  Not only do they have raw milk, they sell fresh eggs, grass fed beef, bulk beans (of different types), raw honey, raw cheeses, etc.  Their grass fed beef is now officially the cheapest I have found (CHEAPER than ground beef in the grocery store!!).  Their organic bulk beans are a great price, and their raw honey is cheaper than I have found any where else (at $11 for a quart).  It made me very happy :).  The only thing that they don't sell that I need to find is whole chickens.  They had free range turkeys for sell (at $2 a pound!), so maybe they also sometimes sell chickens.  We'll see!  I should ask them :).  I have been buying them when they go on sale for 99 cents a pound at Sprouts, but they aren't cage free.  So, I would like to find a local source in my price range. 

The safety and benefits of raw milk have been a question many times.  That is really because of a lack of information (just like with homebirth!).  Most people have just gone on what they have been told for years (and I had too, until recently).  Yes, when pasteurization first began, it was because people were getting sick from raw milk.  But, it was because of the horrible farming practices that were happening, not because of the actual milk.  So, instead of fixing the issue by correcting the bad farming practices, they just started pasteurizing it (which depletes the milk of most of the nutrition).  I have given information on raw milk in the past, but the blog titled "Miraculous Milk" goes into all the details of WHY to drink raw milk.  Not only does he give a great breakdown, he gives many other resources to check out.  He did a much better job than I can, so I'll just leave you to read up on it on your own :).  One really cool thing is that you can actually live on raw milk alone and thrive!

Below are the standards that must be met in order to be a Grade "A" Raw Milk Facility (this is directly from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance Raw Milk Fact Sheet):

If a condition is found that poses an imminent health hazard, the department is required to suspend the dairy’s permit immediately (217.26d)
•Samples of the milk are collected at least every six weeks and tested for: bacterial counts, coliform counts, somatic cell counts, water adulteration, and cooling temperatures. (217.27)
•At least twice every six months, the samples are also tested for pathogenic bacteria
•At least four times every six months, the samples are also tested for antibiotics

Grade A raw milk must meet the following standards (217.28)
•Cooled to 45 degrees or less within 2 hours (also regulated in 217.29s).
•Somatic cell counts not to exceed 750,000 per milliliter (ml) for cow’s milk or 1,000,000/ml for goat’s milk.
•Bacteria limits of 20,000 per ml (not applicable to cultured products).
•Coliform not to exceed 10 per ml.
•Pathogen limit of zero.

Section 217.29, Sanitization Requirements for Grade A Raw Milk, has 20 subparts, which have in turn multiple sub-subparts, of rules (217.29). Some highlights include:
•Abnormal milk shall be discarded, and animals which show evidence of abnormal secretion must be isolated from the non-abnormal milk and equipment cleaned (a)
•Milk barn must meet detailed construction and cleanliness requirements (b,c, e-g)
•Animal yard shall be properly graded to prevent standing pools of water or waste, housing areas maintained to prevent soiling of animals udders and flanks (d)
•Clean water in sufficient quantity for the dairy operations (h)
•Containers, utensils and equipment must meet standards for construction (type of materials), cleaning, sanitization, storage and handling (i-m)
•The animal and the milking equipment must be free from contamination (n-p)
•People doing the milking must have clean hands, wear clean outer garments, and be free of infection (q, r)
•Effective insect and rodent control is required (t)
•Animal Health: All herds shall be tested and found free of tuberculosis and brucellosis before any milk is sold; herds shall be retested at least every 12 months; cattle herds participate in brucellosis ring testing by Texas Animal Health Commission. For other diseases, the department may require physical, chemical, or bacteriological tests. (217.20)

For me, this is enough to know that what I am drinking is safe and healthy.  The thing is, pasteurized milk has been known to contain harmful bacterias and to cause sickness in thousands.  Just because it's pasteurized doesn't mean that it's completely safe!

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