Three times every week, Jan and Jeff King load 300 gallons of milk in a refrigerated truck, delivering to more than 150 homes around their family's century-old dairy farm. Their grandfather did the same until stopping in 1961. Now Jan and Jeff are taking up the task.
After many requests from neighbors for fresh milk, the Kings bought an old truck and began taking orders. Customers are thrilled to have milkmen once again.
"In the 1940s, Laddie Zwijacz's family took two quarts of milk a week from the King dairy. Each bottle cost 10 cents and had a three-inch layer of cream on top. 'This is what real milk tastes like, not the water you get in stores,' Zwijacz, 78, says of the Kings' current vintage. 'There's a world of difference.'"
People increasingly want to make their own choices for their health, and they are doing so by forming organic food co-ops, buying food from their local farms, and picking up fresh produce at farmer's markets on the weekends.
And in the Saratoga area, the community has even managed to convince a local dairy farm to resurrect the tradition of the milk man.
Personally, I find the idea of bringing back the milk man to be downright enchanting. What could possibly be better than getting farm-fresh milk delivered in glass bottles right to your doorstep every week?
I'm not sure the King Dairy brothers currently sell RAW milk, but that would truly be an ideal to strive toward.
The video above is the trailer from a full length documentary called Farmageddon...The Unseen War on American Family Farms, produced and directed by Kristin Canty. The film is slated for public release in January of next year, but Canty was kind enough to provide me this preview. (For more information, see www.farmageddonmovie.com.)
The film offers an in-depth look into the issue of raw milk, and the many issues that surround it. From government policies that favor big agriculture over small traditional farms, to the fascist-like methods employed to maintain that status quo, to the vastly different health impacts between organically-raised raw milk and its pasteurized and genetically modified factory-farmed counterpart.
Military Tactics Employed to "Save" You from Raw Milk
Canty's film includes the harrowing tales of seven dairy farmers and co-op owners who were raided and shut down for selling raw dairy products to the public.
David Gumpert's book The Raw Milk Revolution also discusses the disturbing trend of using armed force against peaceful civilians whose only "crime" is to provide unadulterated, health-promoting food to people who want to buy it.
This issue is in fact about much more than just raw milk in and of itself.
It's about your ability, your right, to purchase and consume natural, unadulterated food. And it's about big business trying to quench a competitor they know they can't compete with.
Many believe that industry could simply adjust and start selling raw milk if the market becomes strong enough. But they can't!
A factory farm cannot compete with a small organic, free-range farm because their entire business depends on the milk being pasteurized. They simply cannot afford to reproduce the conditions required to produce safe raw milk, such as allowing all the cows to pasture and graze on grass, for starters.
So, since big business can't produce what consumers want, they're simply trying to eliminate the raw milk market altogether. Agricultural agencies along with the FDA and CDC have been particularly aggressive recently in their efforts to crack down on raw milk producers and buying clubs under the pretense of public health safety.
Avoid being fooled by this issue.
As you'll see below, raw milk is typically far safer than pasteurized milk. The evidence to support their claims that raw milk is dangerous to drink simply does not exist; their claims are based on false assumptions.
But truth does not seem to matter in this case. Armed federal agents have and will continue to storm through small farms and barns, confiscating milk cartons and computers under the guise of protecting your health, unless drastic legislative changes are made.
Earlier this year, Grist magazine reported on the military tactics employed against dairy farmers, citing victims such as:
- Rawesome Foods: A private food club run by raw-food advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz in California. Agents took thousands of dollars worth of raw honey and raw dairy products, and shut the group down for not having a public health permit (even though they're a private food club). The FBI and FDA were also on the scene.
- Traditional Foods Warehouse: A food club in Minnesota that offers locally produced foods. Agents raided the club and shut it down.
- A private residence: Agents searched a home and took computers because a family allowed a raw dairy farmer to park in their driveway while distributing raw milk to residents who had ordered it.
- The dairy farm and farm store of Vernon Hershberger: Three raids in a three-month period!
- The farm of Sharon Palmer: Agents raided her farm three times in 18 months over issues with her labeling of goat cheese. A computer and milk used to feed chickens and pigs were confiscated.
- Manna Storehouse: An Ohio food club that has been raided over licensing issues. According to Grist, "Armed law enforcement officers actually held a mother and eight young children being home-schooled at gunpoint for several hours while they searched the home and food storage areas."
Canty's film also includes the raid at the Faillace Farm in Warren VT, which is an award winning sheep's milk cheese facility. In this bizarre case, the USDA incinerated healthy sheep for fear of mad cow disease, despite the fact that sheep are not susceptible to mad cow.
Raw milk drinkers and sellers finally filed suit against the FDA earlier this year, claiming the banning of interstate milk sale is unconstitutional. The case is currently pending, while the violent crackdowns continue...
Why Raw Milk is Superior to Pasteurized Milk
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that raw milk can carry disease-causing bacteria, what they completely overlook is the fact that these bacteria are the result of industrial farming practices that lead to diseased animals, which may then in turn produce contaminated milk.
They make no distinction whatsoever between disease-riddled factory farmed milk and the milk from clean, healthy, grass-fed cows. One MUST be pasteurized in order to be safe for consumption. The other does not.
Believe me, you definitely avoid r drinking any raw milk from a conventionally-raised feed-lot cow! But drinking raw milk produced by grass-fed cows from clean, well-run farms, on the other hand, is actually far LESS dangerous than drinking pasteurized milk.
In fact, not only does raw milk contain good bacteria that are essential for a healthy digestive system, raw milk also offers protection against disease-causing bacteria!
Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, the largest raw dairy in the United States, performed the following test: He inoculated pathogenic contaminants such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella into his raw milk, and into pasteurized milk.
In the raw milk, none of the pathogens survived because the natural bacteria were able to protect the milk. In the pasteurized milk, however -- in which the bacteria and enzymes have been destroyed -- the pathogens were able to take over.
To think that pasteurized milk is safer (even if you don't believe it's healthier) than raw milk from a healthy, grass-fed cow is simply not true.
Factory farmed animals are raised in concentrated feedlots that are absolute hotbeds for dangerous bacteria and viruses, and they're fed an unnatural diet of grains, which creates a much higher level of acidity in the animal's stomach that E. coli bacteria need to survive.
As for the "evidence" that raw milk is dangerous to your health, there have been more than 16,500 confirmed cases of people getting ill from pasteurized milk, or about 412 cases per year, while only about 116 illnesses a year are linked to raw milk, according to CDC data.
How to Identify a High-Quality Producer of Raw Milk
Getting your raw milk from a local organic farm is one of the best ways to ensure you're getting high quality milk. If you're thinking about purchasing milk from a small farmer, it would be very wise to visit the farm in person.
Look around and ask questions, such as:
- Does the farmer and his family drink the milk themselves?
- How long has he been producing raw milk?
- Are the cows clean?
- What conditions are the cows raised in?
- Are there any obvious sanitation questions?
Additionally, look for these general conditions:
- Low pathogenic bacteria count (ie does the farmer test his milk regularly for pathogens?)
- The milk is quickly chilled after milking
- The milk comes from cows raised naturally, in accordance with the seasons
- The cows are mainly grass-fed
- The cows are not given antibiotics and growth hormones to increase milk production
- Cows are well cared for
If a cow is covered in filth and manure, stinks, is wet and cold and doesn't look particularly comfortable, that could be a warning sign that her milk is less than ideal for raw consumption, even if it's from a small, local farm.
Looking for Raw Milk?
As demand for raw milk continues to grow, it will, hopefully, become easier and easier to come by. In Massachusetts, for example, the number of dairies licensed to sell raw milk has grown from 12 to 23 just in the past two years.
If you're still unsure of where to go, you can locate a raw milk source near you at the Campaign for Real Milk Web site. You can also look here to find out the legal status of raw milk in the U.S. state or country where you live. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (which helps farmers that have been raided) also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.