Raw milk used to be difficult to find in New York. At one time, Hawthorne Valley Farm was one of only three sources for it in the state. Now, there are more than 50 sources in New York, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation. Our milk is Demeter-certified Biodynamic® and must adhere to very strict standards to maintain that certification. Additionally, dairies in New York State are inspected once a month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Raw milk advocates say they can drink raw milk without experiencing allergic reactions such as bloating and other digestive discomforts. Others like that it often comes from family farms, in contrast to ‘factory farms.’ Most say that it just tastes better!
What is raw milk?
Raw milk is, simply put, milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized.
Is Raw Milk nutritionally different from conventional pasteurized milk?
Raw milk is minimally processed, and considered a ‘live food product’ – it hasn’t been pasteurized, or heated. As a result its enzymes are fully active, and it contains beneficial bacteria, 22 amino acids, OMEGA-3 fatty acids, vitamins, immunoglobulin’s, minerals, antioxidants and natural CLA.
Is it safe to drink?
Raw milk that has been produced under sanitary and healthy conditions is a safe and healthy food. It is important that the cows are healthy (tested free of TB and undulant fever) and do not have any infections (such as mastitis). The cows should be eating food appropriate to cows, which is mostly grass, hay or silage, with only a small amount of grain, if any. The milk should be full-fat milk, as many important anti-microbial and health-supporting components are in the fat. The cows should be milked under sanitary conditions and the milk chilled down immediately. (source: http://www.realmilk.com, an initiative of the Weston A. Price Foundation)
How do you ensure the safety of your raw milk product?
Dairies in New York State are certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Markets and are inspected once per month.
In addition, we have implemented our own strict process to ensure that conditions are sanitary, and our milk is safe to drink. This includes cleaning our bulk tank prior to its being refilled with incoming milk. This ensures the freshest milk possible. The USDA inspector checks a chart recorder that is attached to the bulk tank that constantly records temperature and time. The cleaning of the tank raises the temperature on the chart, thus indicating to the inspector that the tank has been cleaned. Our charts are inspected monthly to ensure that the milk is constantly below 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additionally, the antibiotic count is tracked and inspected for each body (or batch) of milk. All dairy farms – no matter the size – must test for antibiotics if selling raw milk. For us, it’s a bit ironic that we test for this because as a certified Organic and Biodynamic farm, we are not allowed to use any antibiotics. However, this is a big issue for the inspector as many times – even on certified organic farms – she has seen antibiotics in plain sight.
Finally, we voluntarily run a 24-hour bacteria test that checks for E.coli, Salmonella, and other unwanted bacteria. Many small farms that sell raw milk do not have this option, or the ability to run a test like this. The test is completed overnight, so if it is all clear (it always is!), the milk is sent to the store. Since the safety of our customers is paramount, if a high bacteria count were detected, we would not send the milk to the store. We take this extra step since we sell a large volume of raw milk – anywhere from 500-1,000 lbs per week.