Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Raw Milk and Whole Foods

A few weeks ago I was in the Boca Whole Foods scouting out local products. I was very surprised to find Raw Milk from Golden Fleece Dairy, located in Northern Florida. I had never seen raw milk sold in a grocery store before. Of course it was labeled as "pet food" with lots of winking and nodding involved. Apparently, because of safety and sanitation concerns, in Florida raw milk must be sold as "pet food" and not for human consumption, though I can not imagine who would use really expensive milk as a pet food. I mean, I know cats kind of like milk... Well anyway, everyone knows it's not really for pets. It annoys me that it's clearly for people, but just has to be called "pet food." I don't like when people use words deceptively, whether it's to subtly deceive consumers or to get around laws whether or not one believes those laws are fair. I just don't like words used in that way. I don't think just calling something by a different name truly changes its meaning. As an English teacher, I tell my students to always and only use words for the highest good. I don't think this qualifies. But anyway. That is not what this post is about. I just got off on a ranting tangent about semantics. This post is about local raw milk in Florida and how now, just a few weeks after I snapped the pictures above, Whole Foods has stopped selling it. And I didn't even get a chance to try it!

As of September 30th, Whole Foods stopped selling the raw milk. There is now a petition to get them to bring it back.

Clearly, the raw cow milk was very popular because when I was at the store, they were completely sold out of it. The raw goat's milk wasn't nearly as popular. Had there been some cow's milk, I would have bought and tried it. I don't like goat's milk, so I opted to save my $7.99.

Some people believe that raw milk is dangerous. Some people believe that pasteurized, commercially produced milk is equally as dangerous but in a different way. Some raw milk supporters attribute practically magical healing properties to the raw milk that is produced in a safe, clean environment. The debates about raw milk can get very heated and I have absolutely no desire to get involved in one with either side. I'd like to stay neutral here.

I will disclose two things though. First, I have consumed raw milk on a Biodynamic Farm in New York, some of which came from another Biodynamic Farm in Massachusetts. I lived to tell about it. At the same time that I lived to tell of the experience, I also did not experience any magical healing properties of the raw milk and I got the same upset stomach from it that I get from other milk, although everyone around me said it wouldn't aggravate any lactose intolerance. It did, however, taste spectacular because it was full of cream and lumps of butterfat. It was far superior in taste to any other milk I have ever had.

Second, my grandmother, her mother and siblings almost died from drinking raw milk and my grandmother has told me this story about three hundred times. I've told you that I come from some rugged farm folk. My grandmother, one of twelve siblings, was the daughter of a real sharecropper and grew up on farms. All they had to drink was raw milk. It was their way of life. There was no other option. One time the milk got contaminated, everyone drank it and everyone got sick. My great-grandmother lived only by a miracle. The cow even died from whatever it was. My grandmother informed me that this was not all that uncommon and that she knew of several children who got sick and/or died when she was growing up because the milk was bad. This however, was 80 years ago. These people were poor and uneducated. They didn't know about sanitation and they didn't have the same technology, medicines etc. that we have now. I can speculate that if raw milk comes from a knowledgable farmer who is meticulously clean and takes good care of his or her cows, that raw milk is a lot safer than what my grandmother grew up on. I will add though, that after everyone got better from the tainted milk, my grandmother never drank it again and that growing up, no one ever gave me milk.

I have never once, ever in my entire life, ever drank a glass of milk. To me, milk is an ingredient, not a beverage. I mix it in things. Lord knows, I eat plenty of dairy products. I live for cheese. I put half and half in my coffee and I really need to cut back on my ice cream intake. I just don't drink glasses of milk. Yuck. But deep down, I feel like I shouldn't be eating any dairy products, raw or pasteurized. I wish I could give up dairy. I probably won't because I like it so much, but I wish I could. When I think about it logically, it doesn't make sense to me that we'd need it in our diets. Why are humans drinking another animal's milk? I can't think of any other animals who drink another animal's milk (unless humans give it to them). I also can't think of any animals who drink milk as adults. So why do we even need it at all? Do we need it at all? I don't really know.

Here's what I think. I think you should make your own decision about what you want to eat and that it's not really anyone else's business. If you are against raw milk then don't drink it. If you feel like raw milk is the right choice for you, then you should sign the petition to bring it back to Whole Foods. If you are a vegan and don't drink milk at all, well...I'm a little jealous.

Here is an article about Whole Foods not selling raw milk anymore.

Here is the petition to bring it back if you are a supporter of raw milk.


  1. There are tons of non-dairy ice creams, made of soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and I think even hemp milk. And there's of course homemade, which could be made of almond, cashew, or any of the above milks.
    There are also some great non-dairy cheeses, I particularly like Follow Your Heart brand, but I've heard so many great things about Daiya non-dairy cheese, and not one bad thing about it. (I'll be trying it soon)
    I'd be happy to try to help you give up dairy if you're serious about it. Just let me know some of the things that make you want it. There are great non-dairy substitute around today.