A few questions about raw milk


I have followed the stir regarding drinking unpasteurized milk with interest. Like many of you, I am sure, I grew up drinking milk straight from the cow.
We had a fairly large family and a large herd of Holsteins. Drinking our own milk really wasn’t anything to which we gave any considerable thought – it just made sense to drink the milk we worked hard to produce.
Save some milk. We would often be reminded, as we headed out the door to do the evening milking, “Be sure to take the pitcher with you and save out some milk.”
I remember that as being one of my very first responsibilities – at the end of the milking, to wash well, lift the lid of the stainless steel bulk tank and dip out some creamy milk from that huge churning vat.
I remember once when a man from the community stopped by the barn at milking time to ask if he could purchase milk for an upcoming family get-together.
He had recently retired from dairy farming and this would be the first family feast where they wouldn’t have their own supply of milk with which to make homemade ice cream.
My dad said, with regret, he just couldn’t do this. I didn’t stick around to hear the rest of their conversation, but I remember his apologetic tone as if it were yesterday. Later that night, I asked him about it.
Rules. He said there were all sorts of laws governing the sale of raw milk and he mentioned he also had an agreement with his milk hauler and the dairy. Every drop of milk produced, with allowance for our own use, was to go in the milk hauler’s truck to be hauled to the dairy. He also said if someone in that man’s family became ill, the family could blame it on our milk.
That left an impression on me, obviously, or I wouldn’t still remember it all these years later. I can tell you that without question, we were one healthy family. We rarely required a trip to the doctor.
I wondered why there would even be the question of someone getting sick on our milk, but didn’t question it.
Until now.
I am asking lots of questions to no one in particular. Why is it that some people travel for miles to get unpasteurized milk from the only “legal” places to purchase it – from established dairies owned by people who have sold it this way for years and therefore are protected under the grandfather clause in the state?
Years after that conversation with the retired dairy farmer, my parents visited Young’s Dairy near Yellow Springs, Ohio, mainly in search of a Young’s Dairy milk bottle, since Young is my maiden name.
Willing to travel. Dad discussed what a wonderful operation the Youngs run and he was amazed that people travel quite a distance, some of them on a weekly basis, to purchase unpasteurized milk, simply because they prefer it.
Isn’t it noteworthy that some people feel it is worth traveling for and fighting for and shouldn’t they have the right to consume it if they desire to do so?
I am not asking this for any political reason, I am asking because I am curious. I have long wondered why some are born with the drive to tell others how to do things, right down to what they pour in their bowl of cereal in the morning.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.