The terms “real milk,” “farm fresh milk,” and “raw milk” are all used to refer to milk that has not been heated in the pasteurization process. But the terms encompass much more! Both farmers and consumers generally use these terms to refer to milk that has not been pasteurized AND:
- has intact cream particles. In other words, it hasn’t been homogenized, and the cream rises to the top. You can see how much (or how little) cream is in your milk!
- is from cows and goats raised on pasture, whether they are 100% grass-fed or supplemented with grain.
- is from family farmers, not factory farms.
Raw milk serves as an excellent example of many of the issues underlying the local food movement. The opposition to raw milk comes primarily from the dairy industry, which is highly consolidated and under the control of a very small number of large companies; the public health arguments against raw milk are heavy on appeals to fear and authority figures but light on actual data.
The support for raw milk is based on a range of reasons that reflect the broader local food movement, from supporting family-scale farmers to seeking out natural, unprocessed foods. Whether you are a raw milk consumer or not, the information surrounding these issues is instructive of many of the forces in our agricultural and food system.
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