Raw milk in Time magazine

I’m still trying to read between the lines of this very accurate and positive article about raw milk. Has some corner been turned? Until recently even a sympathetic article about raw milk would be meticulous about presenting the case for government regulation, but here there is none of that. Is it due to changing attitudes about food? Or changing attitudes about government health regulation? Or something I just plain missed?

The description of the cow share program interested me. For one thing, I think they are blatantly skirting the edge of the law by charging by the gallon and calling it a room-and-board cost. Much safer to make it a true sharing program, by dividing up both the costs and the benefits among owners (i.e. if you are leasing 1/20th of the cow, you get 1/20th of the milk, whatever that happens to be).

Even more interesting is the fact that the co-op is charging $6.25 per gallon of milk. At twice the price of supermarket milk, this perpetuates the image of raw milk as a boutique item available only to affluent customers. Would there be more pressure on the regulators if raw milk was readily available from neighbors for under $2.50, less than supermarket prices, as it is around here?

One of the reasons we’re looking forward to having our cows freshen is that we currently go through sixteen gallons of milk a week, about $2000 per year. So in a bit more than a year the savings will pay for both cows.

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7 thoughts on “Raw milk in Time magazine

  1. Greetings Rick,

    I am in the same boat – we just closed on 40 acres this morning, and can’t wait to get on it. While we only go through 8 gallons of milk a week, we are paying significantly more for it than you.

    We’ve already bought the cow…..

    Doug

  2. Isn’t it funny how I keep seeing the phrase “tipping point” in relation to other issues/concerns, and what we’re seeing right now in Time is the tipping point about raw milk (and last week with the local/organic article). Based on conversations with very ordinary suburban moms, I have concluded that most people have stopped believing that the rules surrounding our food production have anything to do with protection of consumer’s health and safety (and everything to do with protection of some business/gov’t monopoly.) Faster, please…..

    And on that note, I guess I’m the second most recent rural resident to check in, since we are now two weeks into farm living. The chicks have arrived. Now, where do I sign up to get my Jersey girl? Who do I ask? Seriously, is there a clearinghouse for info on locally available cows? The only grass-fed dairy I know personally isn’t forthcoming with info.

    I would appreciate any direction you or other commenters could provide.

  3. Doug,

    Congratulations! Believe me, you’ll find ways to go through more than eight gallons once it’s available and affordable.

    MrsBurns,

    Of everything we’ve done so far, I don’t think anything was as mysterious or headache-inducing as tracking down a family cow. Our cows were recommended to us by someone who was much more diligent about searching them out. I told him that I thought there will probably be a very good business in breeding and raising family cows for people who need help in getting started and are willing to pay for it.

    You might try Joann Grohman’s Family Cow forum; there is a section called “The Auction Barn” where folks trade information about available cows. We came very close to buying one that we found listed there.

  4. We found our “payback” time on the cow was much less than a year — closer to four months. I included all our eqipment purchases (electric fencing, milking pail, etc) and hauling costs (transportation cost almost as much as we paid for a bred-back, lactating, purebred Jersey because of our location) in the “cost of the cow”, as well as ongoing purchases (hay, etc). But I also included what we were spending on butter, yogurt, cream, etc on the other side of the balance sheet (we’ve only just stopped having to buy cheese in the past month, and that has bumped our cow-related savings up significantly.) The quick payback time is partly because dairy prices are so high where we’re living ($4 – $5 / gallon for milk, $6-$8 / lb for cheese, depending on whether we take a ferry to buy it or not). But hay and feed prices are also higher here than they would be in a more agricultural area. And my calculations also didn’t include the several hundred dollars worth of veal that we put in the freezer when the calf started taking too much milk.

  5. I have talked to several people in the past year, corporate types. They have no problem believing that the regulations are to protect large producers as opposed to customers.

    I have talked recently to people about the recent salmonella contamination of peanut butter. And the thinking is what is going on for peanut butter to be contaminated with peanut butter?

    Joel

  6. You might find it an interesting point of reference that organic milk costs in Manhattan costs $4.50 to $5+ dollars per half gallon. And that’s not even the nonhomogenized, low-heat pasteurized stuff (Ronnybrook), much less raw milk. So, I’m thinking the $6.25 per gallon sounds like a not-bad deal!

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