I feel like my family has been on this ever evolving journey over the last few years trying to provide as much food off of our land as we can, eat food the way it was meant to be eaten and move away from processed foods, but for some reason one thing that never really occurred to me was to drink raw milk. We’ve been drinking mostly organic milk for awhile, but raw milk isn’t really something that’s readily available in most grocery stores. I actually remember my first attempt at making my own butter, it was an epic fail because I didn’t realize until the cream didn’t turn that I had bought ultra-pasteurized cream. From everything I have read raw milk is the best for making butter, pasteurized will work, but ultra-pasteurized won’t.
So anyways, I was watching Farmagedon on Netflix instant watch a while ago and the movie is in part about the benefits of raw milk and how difficult it can be to get raw milk to consumers who want to purchase it. So after watching this movie I started doing some research into raw milk and if it was something I wanted to purchase for my family. It definitely fits with our goals of buying local and minimal processing of our food. The research I did just reaffirmed my goals of feeding my family fresh local food from small farms.
Currently sale of raw milk for human consumption is only legal in 39 states, but just because the sale of raw milk is legal doesn’t mean it’s easy to acquire. Only 10 states have laws that allow the sale of raw milk in retail stores, and if you don’t live in those 10 states you might have to buy raw milk directly from a farm, or you may be able to get raw milk through a herdshare program. I’m grateful I live in Washington where raw milk sale is legal in a retail setting, but that doesn’t mean I can go down to the nearest chain grocery store and buy raw milk, most of them don’t sell it. There’s a local produce stand I frequent and they sell raw milk from a farm just 10 minutes from my house! You can buy milk directly from the farm as well, but the produce stand is right in between us and I’m there all the time picking up fruits, vegetables and the most delicious local salsa that they sell.
The raw milk I buy is from Old Silvana Creamery, and they sell raw milk from Guernsey cattle. If you’re like me you’ve never heard of Guernsey cattle before. Basically it’s a type of cattle that’s known for the golden milk it produces due to high beta-carotene content. Guernsey milk also contains more protein, omega-3’s and vitamins than milk from typical dairy cows.
The staff at Old Silvana Creamery is so open and knowledgeable about their farming practices and they’re happy to let people come tour their farm and see where their milk comes from. I absolutely love the openness and transparency they embrace. They actually welcome anyone who would like to visit their farm to give them a call right on their website. I’m not sure if I would have thought of asking for a tour without the open invitation.
I took my two sons to tour the farm with me and they were so excited to “See the cows!”
Old Silvana Creamery used to be a conventional dairy farm with 300 cows, but after taking a 13 year break from dairy farming they decided to do things a better way. They now have about 30 cows, and are milking about roughly 25 at a time. Guernsey cows only produce about 4 gallons of milk a day compared to about 9 gallons of milk from a conventional dairy cow. However, conventional dairy cows will produce milk for approximately four years and then go to slaughter, and while Guernsey cows may produce less milk per day they can often live and produce milk for up to ten years.
Weather depending the cows get access to pasture up to six months a year and the cows resting in the shade looked just as content as the cows grazing in the pasture. When the cows aren’t grazing on pasture they are fed a diet of hay, alfalfa and oats from certified organic, grown organically, but not certified and non-gmo sources. One of the most impressive things about the farm was the incredible amount of space and freedom the cows had to roam where they will.
I’m not sure who had more fun at the farm, but I think it was me. I’m so glad for the time we had at Old Silvana Creamery and the knowledge we were given so freely. I asked a lot of questions and not a single one of the answers made me blink. Do you guys drink raw or pasteurized milk, and what lead you to that decision for your family?
If you’re interested in checking out more research about raw milk and Guernsey cows here are some additional resources: