Raw milk fans in Maryland have had to go “underground” to get their raw milk

From Allison Bourg on Hometown Annapolis.com

Suzy Provine of Millersville is an advocate for legalizing the sale of raw milk in Maryland. As a member of private buying club Grassfed on the Hill, she has raw milk shipped from a farm in Pennsylvania to her flower shop, where other Grassfed members pick it up once a week. Photo by Allison Bourg, The Capital

When the truck carrying the goods pulls up to Suzy Provine’s flower shop in Millersville, as many as a hundred people may show up to get their fix.

They’ll snatch up their share of the contraband and take it back to their homes, where they are free to consume it in peace.

The illicit substance in question?

Raw milk.

The members of Grassfed on the Hill – a private club for Marylanders who want to purchase unpasteurized milk – pay $6 per gallon for the milk, shipped directly from an Amish-run farm in Lancaster County, Pa. Some tout the health benefits of drinking natural milk. Others like the idea of knowing exactly where their milk is coming from.

Whatever their reasoning, they’re a devoted bunch of consumers. They just wish they could buy their milk at local farms.

“I love the farmer that we get our milk from,” said Liz Reitzig, one of the coordinators for Grassfed on the Hill. “But as a Maryland person who grew up in Maryland – it’s a shame I can’t support a Maryland farmer.”

Maryland is one of 10 states that forbid the sale of raw milk, though there’s no law preventing residents from buying it. Advocates say this forces people to patronize out-of-state farms, sending valuable consumer dollars elsewhere.

Reitzig estimates that Maryland loses about $2 million a year to out-of-state farms, largely due to raw milk sales. She and other critics of the state laws are fighting back, planning rallies in hopes to get the seal of approval on such sales.

“It is sad that in this economic crisis we’re having, farmers in Maryland can’t even begin to be a part of that,” the Bowie woman said.

Her group is one of a handful of so-called buying clubs in Maryland. The clubs partner with farmers in other states to bring raw milk to Marylanders, who then pick up the milk at different drop-off points. A Blooming Basket, Provine’s shop, is one such location in Anne Arundel County; there also are spots in Annapolis and Linthicum. Provine estimates there are at least a few dozen drop-off spots throughout the state.

“It’s an underground thing,” said Christiana Logansmith of Annapolis, a two-year member of Grassfed on the Hill. “No one is buying this milk who doesn’t really want to.”

Laurie Bucher, chief of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Milk Control, said there are good reasons for banning the sale of raw milk. Drinking it is risky, and could lead to salmonella poisoning.

“We can’t change people’s minds, but we’re here to protect the public’s health,” Bucher said. “Even the advocates will tell you, they know they’re taking a risk, but they feel the benefits outweigh that risk.”

The department won’t cite consumers for buying raw milk, but inspectors will come down on farmers who sell it. Bucher said farmers get a warning for their first violation, and if they continue to sell the milk, they’ll get a notice from the department of an intent to suspend the farm’s milking permit.

If the farmer ignores that, inspectors will notify the cooperative where their regular milk is sold, and ban the farmer from selling all together.

“That’s happened three times that I can remember,” Bucher said….”

Read it all on Hometown Annapolis.com

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Raw milk fans in Maryland have had to go “underground” to get their raw milk

  1. daniel proctor

    i believe raw milk is the healthy choice over big farma’s boiled puss filled milk. i’ve been looking into raw milk since i last herd the alex jones show talk about it. i would like to get my family to switch to raw milk.wondering if you could contact me as of where to purchase some.

  2. John

    Daniel, Just as an FYI as you consider your choices. Commercial milk is not boiled. It is briefly heated to 72C (min., this is just a bit higher than the hot water from your tap (usually 50-60C). White blood cells (often referred to as somatic cells(SC)) are present in milk from all cows as part of the normal mechanisms to prevent disease of the udder. Dairy processors continuously track SC scores and use either $ incentives for low SC or $ penalties for high SC to ensure milk quality. IMHO the SC score of the best raw milk providers would likely be in the range where dairies pay incentives. Overall, on average, I’d think SC scores for commercial and raw milk would be close to being the same (but if I were obtaining raw milk I’d like to know the farm history of SC scores for myself).

  3. sherri

    Hi. Thank u 4 fighting 4 our rights! I want 2 buy raw milk. And I want 2 b involved in gaining our rights to choose. How can I do this in the US? I live in Maryland. 443.857.7080
    Can I join a US group? Do u have one? I have 3 yr old little girl and I want 2 raise her on natural foods not chemicals.
    Sherri

  4. rose zeuch

    I beleive we have the right to choose to drink raw milk; I have several health problems and have been looking to buy raw goat milk . I would like to join your co-op, PLease contact me.I live in Pasadena.Md

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