As you may know, I'm part of a milk coop that buys raw milk straight from Paskamansett Farms in Dartmouth. I've gotten a pig there, and several chickens, and even a turkey this Thanksgiving, but mostly, it's about the milk.
It isn't legal to sell raw milk at stores in Massachusetts. The laws vary state by state, some allowing cow sharing, others sales at farmers markets, and still others full delivery.
Growing up in Maine, where raw milk can be sold legally on store shelves, I was surprised to find it so much harder to find on the Cape. Once you get the grassy, full-fat taste of the stuff in your mouth, you understand, it's hard to go back to the stuff you find in plastic jugs. Raw milk isn't pasteurized, or homogenized, so the cream separates from the milk and floats to the top. Sometimes I skim it off for coffee or tea, other times to make butter, though you'd be surprised how much you need to make even half a stick.
Photo courtesy of Paskamansett Farms
The reason raw milk is so controversial is because of its potential to carry bacteria. Kept cool and clean, there's very little chance of contamination from a small, family farm. We drank raw milk for hundreds of years before industrialization came on the scene. But then, with hygiene and health conditions deteriorating quickly, scorching the milk offered a quick fix to dangerous bacteria. Rather than require clean milk, we decided to clean it ourselves, putting the industrial milk filled with hormones, corn, and anti-biotics on the shelves as we find them today.
Next week, our milk coop is splitting up. There's such a demand for the milk that we're breaking into two groups—one from Wellfleet and Truro, the other out towards Orleans. We take turns doing the pick-up—the more people we have, the less often you have to make the trip. And while it is a drive, I only do it a few times a year, and each time so far I've picked up an animal to boot.
The milk costs $3.50 per half gallon, and comes in on Saturdays. It's from grass-fed, antibiotic free cows, and it tastes to match. That being said, you have to do your own research to decide whether or not you're comfortable with un-pasteurized milk. If you decide you're interested in joining, now's the time.
Links to read up on raw milk: