Monday, July 11, 2011
Raw Dairy - The Great Debate
I was hoping to get some feedback from my readers regarding a subject I know little about firsthand - raw dairy. I've never tasted raw milk but am curious enough to want to give it a go one of these days. My next door neighbor has traveled great distances in order to get some, which is an indication that it probably tastes really good. I'm more interested in raw cream and milk as ingredients for making my own butter and cheese. I wouldn't mind using organic pasteurized milk/cream for this purpose but I'm finding it rather difficult to source pasteurized milk that isn't also homogenized or ultra-homogenized. From what I've read, homogenization can be an impediment to making good cheese.
There seems to be a good amount of controversy and debate surrounding unpasteurized dairy - namely the food safety risks associated with consuming such products. Though I have no desire to contract listeria, I can't help but wonder whether the FDA's regulation of dairy in this country, at least when it applies to the small farmer or cheese maker, is a bit too rigid and bureaucratic. Of course, small dairies are not immune to food safety issues. And the recent E Coli outbreak in Germany raised some questions as to whether or not organic produce is in fact "safer". In any case, I wonder if consuming raw dairy is worth the added risks. (I'm guessing that will largely depend upon its taste and added nutritional value.)
On a side note, I was in the dairy aisle of my supermarket the other day when it hit me that the fluid contained within those paper cartoons and plastic jugs was in all likelihood a mixture of milk from literally THOUSANDS of nameless cows spanning great distances from one another and from me. The upside is that if one of those cows were sick, the potential harm would be diluted by a factor of several thousand. However, just the very notion of consuming a product derived from that many animals (including processed meats) makes my stomach turn a bit.
If you would like to know where you can find raw milk and other dairy products in your area, rawmilk.com is a great site.