Learning where to get raw milk can be tricky depending on where you live.
Each state has it’s own laws on raw milk sales. Within those state laws are exactly how one can buy raw milk. Buying from a retail store, buying from farm stores, or having a cow herd share are different ways to get your supply of raw milk.
Learn Your State’s Laws
In order to get raw milk locally, you must know your own state’s laws. From there, you can figure out how easy or complicated this process will be.
For instance, in South Dakota, farm to consumer sales of distribution of raw milk are legal. Therefore, you must personally go to the farm to buy and pick up the milk.
In Florida, raw milk is available to buy as a pet milk. Use your imagination if you must.
In North Dakota, herd shares are legal. So, as a consumer you would “buy” a portion of the dairy cows and then be able to reap the benefits of the cow milk (or goat milk) from there.
Unfortunately, some place like New Jersey, nothing is legal. You might have to cross state lines in order to pick up some raw milk. Otherwise, buying your own dairy cow might be the solution!
Find a Raw Milk Farmer
This can include asking around whether in person or online. Facebook rummage pages could be a good place to find a local farm. There is also an online tool called Raw Milk Finder that can help find dairy farmers, although they don’t have all of them. We drive by one farm quite often that had a Jersey cow in their yard. My husband just went up and knocked on their door one day to see if they milked her. (They didn’t. She was a nursing cow for calves.)
Once you find a some place that is willing to sell raw milk to you, ask some questions. What is there protocol for milking? Can you watch them milk? What do they feed the cow? How is the equipment cleaned and how often? Don’t just buy milk from anybody willy nilly. We are looking for fresh milk that is safe for human consumption, not milk that is dirty.
Preferably, finding a sustainable farm where the cows are able to be out on lush green pasture as much as possible will have the best health benefits and disease control. In the winter, the cows should have access to good quality dry hay. Basically, you aren’t looking for this to look like commercial dairies. A raw milk dairy will look different.
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After finding a a place where you feel comfortable with the sale of raw milk, it is time to pick it up! Each farm will have their own way of doing things. You might need to bring your own containers, glass jars or stainless steel jars are best for this. Specifically wide mouth mason jars, that way you can take the cream off easily. However, if buying in bulk, you might want something bigger.
Keeping the milk cold will be beneficial in making the milk taste better, longer. So bringing a cooler along is a good idea.
Other Things To Consider
Depending on the amount milk you will get, there needs to be room in your refrigerator for all this milk. Sometimes, buying a separate “milk fridge” is necessary.
How does the farmer want to be paid? Keeping exact cash on hand for paying the farmer is good manners.
If the farm provides the containers the milk is kept in, what is the cleaning protocol for returning? Make sure the jars are clean when you return.
What To Do Once You Bring The Milk Home
Put the milk away right away. From there, the sky is the limit. It starts out with two options. Drinking unpasteurized milk or doing the pasteurization process yourself at home. Although, many people drink the raw milk as is because that is where all the beneficial bacteria is. You might pasteurize the milk yourself if making yogurt or other dairy products. There are so many raw milk products that you can now venture into making! Have fun and enjoy the raw milk!