Archive for June 9th, 2010

The dairy farmer


Organic Pastures Dairy Farm founder Mark McAfee invented and built North America’s first and only “mobile milk barn,” which allows dairy cows to graze and roam in pastures  without having to return to the barn for milking. This circumvents many of the problems associated with factory farming, for example there is no need for manure “lagoons” that contaminate water tables. And it provides milk that is completely organic and from grass fed cows.

But the family owned and operated farm goes beyond organic: they sell their milk raw. That is, the milk is not pasteurized. I am not going to get too much into the debate over raw vs. pasteurized milk, but there do seem to be many people claiming benefits to the immune system because the bacteria promote biodiversity in the intestines. And studies show that 90% of lactose intolerant people can drink raw milk. (If this debate interests you, read more here or here or let me know what you think.)

Even if  you want to try raw milk, however, state laws make it very difficult as it is illegal to sell it in most states. In some, it can only be sold if labeled as pet food. Of course there are ways to circumvent those laws; since you can drink milk from your own cows, some people buy “cow shares” and purchase raw milk from local farmers. But perhaps in an attempt to protect the consumers, lawmakers have actually made or more difficult to stay healthy.

[This post is the fourth in a series that looks at six very different efforts to build a more sustainable food system in the United States. These efforts challenge us to think about food as not just a commodity, but more as a relationship with the Earth.]

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