How to Find Local Sources of Raw Milk

Written by Anne Elliot, Contributing Writer

I first learned about the benefits of raw milk ten years ago. It was obviously God’s leading and guidance because I wasn’t looking for it. I didn’t even know you could buy milk that hadn’t been pasteurized or homogenized. I didn’t know all the benefits that would come when our family switched to raw milk.

One day, in the providence of God, I “accidentally” clicked on the Weston A. Price website after a Yahoo search. I remember voraciously reading everything on their website, which eventually ended in our family beginning to drink raw milk. We’ve never gone back to that ol’ store-bought stuff!

However, we’ve lived in four states since that time. Each time we move, it’s very difficult to find a new source of raw milk. The first time, raw milk was legal in our state. A wonderful, Christian farmer delivered it right to my door each week for only $2 per gallon, often taking it right into my kitchen for me.

In the second state, milk was legal but dairy farms were few and far between. We had a sick daughter who depended on quality milk for her health, so we purchased milk from a faraway dairy and had it delivered by UPS to our door. As you can imagine, the rest of us didn’t drink much milk at all because of the expense!

In the third state, the sale of raw milk was illegal, but we were close enough to the state line to be able to drive into the next state to purchase the milk legally. Where I live now, our laws require that I drive to the farm with my own milk containers and leave a donation for the milk.

With all the varying laws and the general public fear of raw milk’s safety, it can be difficult to find milk. It can be intimidating to even try. However, with a little persistence, you also can find a great local source of raw milk and provide one of the best foods on the planet to your family. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Learn the current laws where you live.

2. Find a farmer.

Depending on where you live, you have several options. I always begin by calling my local Weston A. Price chapter leader. This person will be well informed on farmers who might sell raw milk in your area.

Another option would be to see if any local farmers have a listing on www.localharvest.org.

You might try talking to farmers at your local farmer’s market, or maybe some local Amish or Mennonite families who know of someone who raises cows. It’s even a good idea to just get in the car and drive around, asking anyone you see if they know of any dairy farmers who might sell directly to you.

Please don’t forget to pray! At one time, we badly needed some milk but didn’t know how to find it. My little son boldly asked God for a cow! I laughed, but then I remembered that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Finding a little dairy farm is nothing to Him! Sure enough, God answered his prayer quickly. He delights in answering your prayers, too.

3. Determine if the milk you find is of good quality.

Most of the fears over raw milk can be answered by common-sense cleanliness. RawUsa’s website has many suggestions for determining if a farm produces safe milk. My own local farmer’s wife told me, though, two basic things to watch for:

Does the farm look basically clean and kept up?

Are the cows out on pasture when possible, eating green grass like God intended for them?

4. Maintain a good relationship with your farmer.

Once you find a farmer who will sell raw milk to you, be sure to treat him respectfully. Be on time if you’ll be meeting him at his farm, since he has a zillion other jobs to do besides providing you with yummy milk. If you use his equipment to fill your own containers, clean up after yourself when you’re done. Ask him for permission before telling others about his farm, especially if your state’s laws are more stringent. Don’t allow your children to wander around his farm without permission. Most of all, pay him well! After all, we want to encourage more farmers to sell directly to consumers!

Many of these ideas work for anything local that you want to find, from grass-fed meat, to eggs, to fresh produce. Do your homework, ask God for help, and treat others like you would want to be treated.

May you find the best food this year!

Does your family drink raw milk? How did you find a good, clean source of milk to purchase?

Image from istockphoto

About Anne Elliott

Anne is a pastor's wife and homeschooling mom to seven sweet kiddos, all living in southern Minnesota. Her passion is trying to discover what the Bible says about almost every topic affecting moms, and she blogs about it at http://anneelliott.com/blog.

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Comments

  1. Valerie says:

    Our local food co-op sells raw cow and goat milk for $15 a gallon. We were blessed to find another source through a women in my book club, and now we only have to pay $6 a gallon. There are four people in our group that take turns driving to the farm once a week (about a 1 1/2 hour drive). It’s typical for us to pick up 22 gallons of milk to be divided between the four families. My husband is lactose intolerant, but can drink the raw cows milk without any problems. We started drinking it last winter, and our family was the healthiest we’ve ever been! Not even one runny nose! At first, it was hard to justify the increased cost of the milk, plus the gas money. Due to the health benefits that we’ve noticed, I don’t hesitate now to spend that much for really great quality milk!

  2. We have been enjoying raw milk from a very small local dairy in central Oklahoma for about 5 years. They are completely grass-fed except in the winter when they receive high quality alfalfa and grass hay. It’s interesting to read about the fishy taste a lot of people have experienced! The milk we get is so clean and sweet tasting I’m really amazed by that. They are Brown Swiss dairy cattle, so their cream content isn’t as high as a Jersey, but still enough to scoop off for your daily coffee.

    It’s SUCH a blessing to be able to get good clean milk from farmers we trust. That’s a great point you made. Not all raw milk is equal! Some of it tastes horrible because the cows are not on grass as much as they should be, or simply because cleanliness is not a priority at the farm.

    I can hardly drink pasteurized milk anymore, and have craved milk with my third pregnancy like never before. I probably go through a gallon a week just myself…if anyone is in the central Oklahoma area, check out Stewart Dairy Farm http://www.stewartdairyfarm.com/ – they recently have stopped selling to the milk truck and are completely dependent on farm to family sales. We’re trying to spread the word as much as possible, and help support their endeavors!

  3. Thanks for this wonderful post! My husband and I have been fortunate to live in California, where the sale of raw milk is legal (albeit at $15/gallon from our local co-op), but we’ll be relocating to another State soon. I’ll definitely need all the help I can get finding a good raw milk source! Even though it’s outrageously expensive compared to regular grocery store milk, I try to focus on the health care costs we’re saving in the long run, and I believe it’s truly worth cutting back in other areas to buy good quality raw milk!

  4. My kids and I love going to the farm to pick up our organic raw milk (in Pennsylvania). It’s a bargain at $4.25 a gallon. Unfortunately my husband just can’t bring himself to drink it :( He can’t get past the feeling that it might be full of bad bacteria, although he sees us drinking it for 6 months now without problems. Sigh…

    • i’m curious if you live in the manheim/lancaster area of pa, since i do, & i’ve been looking for such a farm close by…if not, i did just follow the tip to contact the weston a. price chapter leader, so we’ll see what she has to say.

  5. CharlotteT says:

    I hadn’t been to your blog in a few days. So when I came today, I had a strong feeling to scroll down and I saw this post. I have been looking for a farm around my house that sold raw milk. I know that God lead me to your post because by using the two sites you give, I found a farm that is a 5 minute drive from me.

  6. My eldest daughter and my husband have both had issues with being severely lactose intolerant when consuming the store-bought pasteurized milk from the grocery store. Also, our family has been extremely concerned with the possibility of harmful effects from the growth hormones that cows in the mainstream industry receive to encourage larger milk production.

    I recently began buying raw milk from a farm that sells it “for pet consumption only” which is how it must be sold in the state of Tennessee. Although it is my understanding that new legislation may now permit “cow boarding” where you purchase a cow and pay to have it boarded and milked. The cow and the milk are then yours to do with as you please. It sounds much like the cow share situation described above.

    I am so happy that I have been able to locate a source only minutes from my home. And, the raw milk that we purchase and consume is actually cheaper for us than the organic milk in the store. I am able to purchase two gallons for less than the price of one gallon of lactose-free or organic milk in the grocery store. But, the wonderful thing is…both my daughter and my husband are able to easily digest the raw milk with no pain or discomfort and no indigestion. It has been the answer to a prayer for us. The Lord has provided this blessing to us, and we are so grateful!

  7. I didn’t see all the comments so I see it’s already been explained how to buy milk in a state where it is illegal to do so. :)
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..~A sweet and sticky, oily, soapy mess!~ =-.

  8. Well, it was “nice” to see that my state is the worst state for raw milk! It’s totally illegal, but farmers get around it by selling a “share” of their cow/goat. Then the consumer is drinking milk from their own cow. I have been looking into this and it is about $6.50/gallon. I think I can swing this, I just need to make the jump!

  9. Thank you for all this wonderful information! But what about those of us who live in a state (NC) where selling raw milk is illegal? I live in a regular neighborhood and a cow is out of the question. I’d try a goat, but I don’t think my dh would allow it. (He’s already said no to chickens.)
    I get Horizon’s whole milk by the gallon at Food Lion. It is not ultra-pasturized (just regular pasturized) and is homogenized.
    Any thoughts on alternatives for me?
    Thanks!

    • @Beth,I would look into seeing if there is a cow share where you live. We live somewhere where raw milk is also illegal (BC, Canada). We are part of a cow share, where we get through the legal loophole by the fact that we all own part of the cow, so technically we can do with the milk as we please. Many states where it is illegal have cow shares similar to this one. Check out the site http://www.realmilk.com to see if there are any near you.

      The other best thing I can recommend is to culture all of your dairy, to add back in enzymes for digestion and beneficial bacteria as well. I also wrote a post a while back about using a combination of skim milk and cream to avoid homogenization, which may be a possibility for your situation. http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2009/10/raw-milk-substitute.html

    • Sabrina says:

      @Beth,
      Hi, Beth. I just moved from Georgia to Oregon, both states have laws making the sell of raw milk illegal “for human consumption.” That is the key phrase to work with when talking to farmers are raise dairy cows. If they will print their “labels” stating that “Raw milk, Not for human consumption. Raw milk, sold for pet milk, or for use in feeding orphaned animals.” Then it should not be a problem for them to sell it raw. We have been buying from a local farmer’s family for over a year now, and that is how they are able to by-pass the issue and still remain “legal.” Hope this helps!

  10. Susanna says:

    Anne, I think we went to college together! So fun to see you here at one of my favorite blogs! We love our raw milk and feel very blessed to have a source less than 15 mintues away. We pay $5/gallon. I love Anne’s point about praying. When we first started our conversion to “real foods,” it seemed so overwhelming and not at all possible in a single income family. But I keep praying about each and every part of it, and God just keeps providing! So I view that as confirmation that this is the way we should be eating for now. “Our” cows just went out to pasture this week so I’m bracing myself for the “fishy/swampy” flavor. Last year it only lasted a few weeks, then the grass must have changed somehow.
    Thanks for the great post!

  11. Our favorite source of raw milk is our small herd of dairy goats. We have mostly Oberhaslies and 1 Sanaan. I have heard that some towns will allow families to keep a diary goat. It might be worth looking into if you’re having trouble finding or affording a source of raw milk.

    BTW, goat milk tastes wonderful as long as you chill it immediately and don’t keep a stinky buck with your milking does.
    .-= Beth West´s last blog ..A Peek at the Work in Progress =-.

  12. We’ve hosted a raw milk co-op/drop-off at our house every two weeks for about three years, maybe more. The farmer comes or sends his assistant in a refrigerated delivery truck. I’ve met some really interesting people this week and becoming slightly more politically active as we’ve had to fight a bit for access. Incidents have occurred … but we’re still here, drinking our milk and cream!

  13. Kim Walters says:

    I really like the statement about paying your farmer well :). We’re dairy goat farmers in Oregon, where it is legal to sell goat milk farm-direct. We cannot legally advertise, and you’d think that would make finding us difficult. Not so. Word-of-mouth works! We believe that God brings us the customers we need, through a friend of a friend of a customer or whatever. WAPF chapter leaders in the local area know about us, too, and they frequently refer needy people to our farm. Goat milk is a premium quality product and worth every penny of the $12/gallon we charge. However, I am familiar with financial constraints and limitations, and I know that just hearing such a price causes many to gasp in horror :). We don’t make money doing this; nearly every penny goes right back into feed and farm improvements. But we’re always willing to work with a potential customer on paying for their “good and proper goatie milk”, as my daughter calls it, which has resulted in some very creative and unique barters. Each barter participant feels that he/she is definitely getting the best end of the bargain! We have also discounted the price for bulk order customers with babies. I’d recommend talking to your farmer if cost is a prohibiting factor; you may be able to work out something mutually beneficial.

    I’d like to qualify the statement about things looking “basically clean and kept up”. Our farm is rather primitive though sanitation and cleanliness are of primary importance to us. After all, we drink the milk ourselves, and we cater to mommas who cannot, for whatever reason, breastfeed their babies, so of course we want the best possible end product to go out to those little ones. Sometimes a potential customer will be taken aback by our makeshift barns with giant tarps, irregular fencing, and not-recently-mowed front yard (it doubles as pasture :)! ). They’re expecting the typical pristine landscaped farm and white picket fences, and that’s just not where we are at this point.

    The kids are just coming in with the morning milk so I’ll descend from my soapbox for now!

    Kim Walters, for all the goaties :)

  14. We just went yesterday to a small farm and picked up two gallons of raw milk for $6.50/gallon. We weren’t listening very carefully because our children were running around, but the owner said something to the effect that because of the grass, there would be high levels of omega 3s in the milk. She said it would almost taste fishy & she was giving the cows a handful of grain to counter it.

    When we tasted it that afternoon – wow! It’s like drinking fish milk!! It’s ok in the baked custard I made, and we’ll see how our yogurt turns out this afternoon. You can’t stand to drink it so I’ll have to use it other ways. But have any of you had that problem? I’d appreciate any thoughts. Thanks!

    • @Amy,
      I notice that my milk tastes fishier in the spring, when the grass is growing the fastest. In other words, this is when it’s best for you! However, most of the taste seems to be concentrated in the cream. Maybe if you skim off the cream (and use it for something else; don’t throw out that liquid gold, LOL!), the taste might be a little easier for you to get used to? I think we’ve been drinking it so long that I don’t notice it as much. In fact, store-bought milk is what tastes gross to me now.

      • @Anne Elliott, Thank you! When we open the next half-gallon, we’ll try skimming off the cream. I’m relieved to know this is normal. Thanks for your help!

        • @Amy,

          We’ve been drinking 100% grass-fed, organic, un-homogonized milk (pasturized though, not raw) and the last batch I got has such a strong fishy taste, we literally cannot stand to drink it. It tastes okay at first, but the aftertaste is horrible. Although this milk is un-homoginized, there’s not a whole lot of cream on the top to skim off. Would the taste not be as bad if you cook or bake with it? I’m also wondering about making yogurt, I don’t know if that will help the taste or if we’ll just end up with fishy tasting yogurt? The taste is so strong, I’m really not sure if we would be able to get used to it?

  15. I am wondering if Anne can answer this for me:
    I live just south of the Twin Cities in Jordan. I see that you live in southern MN. Would you mind sharing your source with me? I have one that delivers to a suburb nearby, but I like to check out other sources too. I was curious about whether the farm I use is doing it in a legal way. They deliver to drop-sites which are people’s houses. I pick it up there and leave my money in an envelope. I saw the law says that you have to go directly to the farm and use your own containers. So is this legal? The website labels it as “fresh milk”, so maybe that is a loophole they are using???

    • @Sheri,
      Hi, this is Anne…
      My source lives outside of Saint Charles, MN, so that would be probably be quite a drive for you. It’s over an hour just for me. I’m not at all sure about the legality of your source. As far as I understand it (and hoping this is right), it is never illegal for you to buy it. It is the seller’s responsibility to follow the law. I would contact http://www.farmtoconsumer.org to be sure, though. There very well could be loopholes that they know of and I don’t!

  16. JesLes says:

    If I could find a source as cheap as some of you gals are talking about, i would be much more interested, but the only source around here is $18 a gallon and that is just not worth it to me. I will buy organic milk and trust God for the rest.

  17. We had been drinking raw goat milk but it was $15 a gallon which was a stretch for us, plus it was delivered during a weekday afternoon so I had to rearrange my lunch break to get it in the fridge. Between the hassle and the money, I couldn’t keep up the arrangement.

    We have just moved and I’ve been looking for a sources for all our real food needs again from milk and meat to gardeners markets/csas. I use the internet a lot to get started but friends and groups of like minded individuals really have been the most fruitful for us.

    I had been worried about finding them but you are so right, God will provide! Just recently a friend told me about her source that is only $4/gal. And if you are willing to meet her on Sundays when she is already in town for church, there is no delivery fee! I’m waiting until after our baby comes (in a few weeks) and things settle down to pursue it but I’m very optimistic that our options here will be even better than the ones we left.
    .-= MacKenzie´s last blog ..Border Bits =-.

  18. We recently tried raw milk for the first time. We had a hard time with the consistency as there was so much cream in it. Any tips?
    .-= Pathfinder Mom´s last blog ..We Play – Where Am I? =-.

  19. Francis says:

    This was a great article on raw milk however the ‘faraway dairy’ can no longer ship milk out of the state of California. I live in a state where it is technically legal but the one farm that was producing it got shut down, most likely unfairly. This is a much more difficult product to get than I would have ever imagined! I have found a source that has a cow share program. Its probably about 300 miles away but they deliver to the city I live. I haven’t signed up yet but plan to soon. Just as a side note, I did contact the local Weston Price person and found out that while it is legal in this state, our city has made it illegal to sell in town. Weird huh.

  20. Karen P. says:

    We are so blessed to be able to walk to a small farm down the street, for our raw milk. In amish country farms are abundant & we try not to take them for granted!

  21. Jennifer says:

    I am very fortunate because my aunt and uncle own a dairy farm, so I grew up drinking raw milk at their house. Once I made the decision to purchase raw milk for my family because of the health benefits I knew just where to get clean, affordable milk!

    It is really great to be able to support local farmers, especially family. Even though the raw milk that I get from them is cheaper than the milk from the grocery store, they get a much larger share of the money I pay for raw milk (all of it) because they don’t have to pay the middlemen. So I know that economically it is the best choice I can make.