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!