Unpasteurized milk gaining in popularity as more dismiss health risk

Laura Boywid (right) of Cordova, with son Odin, purchases raw milk from Kimberlie Cole of West Wind Farms, whose raw milk comes straight from grass-fed cows with no homogenization, pasteurization or hormones. The product must be sold as “pet food.”

Carolina Sanchez, a 21-year-old Rhodes College student, starts each day with a heaping bowl of oatmeal, simmered in raw milk, straight from the cows of a local dairy.

Even though the label on the glass bottle warns “Not fit for human consumption,” Sanchez goes through nearly a gallon of raw milk a week, and bristles at the thought of buying commercially pasteurized milk.

Pasteurization is the process of heating milk at a high temperature to kill harmful bacteria.

But raw milk advocates say it also destroys the milk’s natural nutrients.

“It’s just so much more wholesome,” said Sanchez, who believes the nutritional benefits of raw milk outweigh the possible dangers.

A self-described “food activist,” Sanchez keeps a close watch on food recalls and rarely sees anything associated with raw milk, she said.

“It’s mostly foods being nationally distributed and food from industrial plants,” she said.

In Tennessee, the sale of raw milk for human consumption has long been prohibited, and dairy farmers have sold it labeled as pet food.

But a new state law allows dairy farm owners to consume their own milk as well as sell it to people who buy shares of their cows through herd-share contracts.

Modeled after a program in Colorado, the bill was signed by former governor Phil Bredesen in May 2009, and essentially removes the potential for legal challenges to a farmer engaging in such contracts.

New avenues to buy and drink raw milk, coupled with people seeking to eat more locally produced food, have helped the popularity of raw milk spike across Tennessee.

Read more here: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/may/03/raw-milk/

West Wind Farms sells raw milk every Saturday at the Memphis Farmers Market. Tennessee’s largest producer of raw milk, it turns out more than 250 gallons a week.

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