When I first moved to Washington last year, I was thrilled to discover that you can buy raw milk here. From the store. For those of you who don’t know about the war over raw milk being waged all over the country, or if you are lucky enough to have lived your life in a state where selling raw milk is legal, this might not seem like a very big deal to you. But some of you will totally understand my joy at walking into the Olympia Food Co-op and seeing raw cow and goat milk on the shelf.
Raw Milk Is Different
There are tons of resources online talking about the health benefits of raw milk. There’s a lot of science and research and all that good stuff. I honestly don’t care about that, and all of that is not the reason that I use raw milk. I use raw milk because for my entire life, I’ve been dairy-intolerant. I’m not sure if it’s the lactose or what, but milk has been pretty much out for me.
But I can drink raw milk. I can eat raw milk cheese to my heart’s content and I can consume pudding made from raw milk with abandon. For whatever reason, raw milk works for me. Plus it just tastes so much better than the other stuff. So when I got the chance to join a local milk-share program and get a weekly supply of raw milk for far less than I was paying at the store, I didn’t even hesitate to say yes.
Happy Milk From Happy Cows
Part of the milk share deal is that we rotate picking up milk for everyone. Once every couple of months it is my turn to pick up the empty bottles at our drop point, drive out to the farm, swap out empty bottles for full bottles and bring them back to the drop point. Last Friday it was my first turn for pickup, which means I got to meet the cows! Okay, so maybe meet is a strong word, but I did make DH take this blurry cell phone picture (I forgot to bring the good camera) of a cow laying in a sprinkler being a cow. We got to say hi to the chickens (the farm also does eggs) who were happily wandering around the property pecking things and being chickens.
The whole thing made me feel great about where we get our milk. Really great because it was so… not what you see in the horrible PETA videos. It was basically the opposite of that. It also seemed totally doable for people to eat like this. There are quite a few families involved in our milk share and not that many cows, not that much land, not a big operation. I understand that there are problems with scaling, particularly where food production for cities is concerned. But the more I see, the more I think it can be done, and that it won’t be that hard if the paradigm would just shift.
It’s fascinating to me that something as small as going to the farm to take a turn picking up milk can make you feel like a part of something larger. It’s a continuation of the blur between small actions and big changes and writing new stories that touch other people’s lives. It’s something about building community and nurturing the people around you.
But mostly it tastes really good.