With some creative thinking, French dairy farmer Michel Cantaloube bought a couple raw milk vending machines from Italy and in two years boosted his annual revenues by 25%.
He decided to do this after a 2007 European Commission directive made it legal for member states to sell raw milk.
Cantaloube sells 200 liters a day (about 53 gallons) through vending machines that he restocks every morning, reported Laetitia Mailhes. Even better, electronic chips keep him informed, in real time via cell phone, of the milk’s temperature and volume in each machine.
The vending machines in France are tightly regulated with thrice-monthly inspections and an “extra in-depth analysis every quarter,” says Mailhes. The herds are inspected monthly and the milking facility once a year.
DF Italia is one of several manufacturers of a variety of raw milk dispensers, including the one pictured above. Some of them are self-cleaning and some come with rustic housing. (For vino fans, the firm also sells wine dispensers.)
From his 50-head Holstein herd, Cantaloube now supplies a popular grocery chain with the vending machine. The unique source of fresh milk draws customers to the store, which provides free space and electricity for the dispenser. He later began selling his raw milk to local restaurants and is moving into the raw yogurt market, as well.
“The local dairy processor was buying my milk [for] 0.24 euro/liter at the time I set up my first vending machine,” he told Mailhes. “Overnight, I was selling 200 liters of milk per day at 1 euro/liter directly to consumers.”
France has had fresh milk vending machines for years, as this image from a 2008 travelog from shows:
After attending an international artisan cheese trade show held in Miami last year, Charlie Adler reported, “Prior to WW II, virtually all French cheeses consumed in their country were unpasteurized raw-milk cheeses; today only 7% are raw-milk.”
Speaking at the convention, Veronique Richez-Lerouge, president of Fromages de Terroirs, a French organization promoting traditionally produced local cheese, asserts that raw milk and cheese are better for us than “dead” pasteurized products. She blames food “safety” authorities for their fear of microbes, despite that the body needs the microbes found in raw dairy.
Canadian raw milk producer Paul Noble says it simply enough, “If God had intended for us to drink pasteurized milk, he would have put a pasteurizer on the cow.”
Ireland Joins the Milk Wars
“Raw milk production is a very real and viable business model for small farmers,” says Sheridan’s Cheesemongers of Ireland.
When selling to co-ops and processors, farmers get between 33 and 35 cents per liter. But, “raw milk is being sold direct from the farmer at a retail price of approximately €1.50 – €2.00 per litre,” which is only slightly higher than pasteurized, homogenized, commercially-processed milk.
Though EU directive EC 178/2002 rescinded national bans on raw milk sales, Irish food “safety” authorities are now trying to reinstate the ban, and are meeting with fierce opposition in the slow food movement. Below is a video report by RTE TV:
Several groups, including the Campaign for Raw Milk in Ireland, are working to stop regulators from banning a product that humans have traded and consumed for thousands of years. They’ve posted a petition [pdf] that Irish voters can use to collect signatures and submit to the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries & Food, Simon Coveney.
Or, folks can write their representatives directly. (Sample letters here, find your Teachta Dála here.) Coveney can be reached at 01 6183753, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
In the US, pasteurized factory milk is adulterated with drugs and genetically modified ingredients. Drug-free and GMO-free organic milk (but pasteurized and homogenized) sells for between $7 and $8 a gallon, while fresh raw milk sells for $10.
In Canada, food “safety” authorities have also criminalized the sale of raw milk harassing, fining and imprisoning small dairy producers.
“We don’t have a Hitler we can blame,” says Canadian raw milk producer Michael Schmidt. “We have a faceless bureaucracy which works with cold-hearted, intellectual tactics to destroy this country right at its core and it starts with the food supply.”
One business strategy that has paid off for raw dairy farmers, private food clubs and herd shares against control-freak regulators is turning customers and share-owners into food freedom warriors, David Gumpert points out. With the internet, patrons are able to immediately organize events, including email campaigns, to protect their supply of fresh food. The strategy has turned the top-down approach of most governments into “connecting and collaborating” with the public.