This excerpt is from an October 12th, 2008 story in the “Bucks County Courier Times”, titled “Raw milk drinkers say benefits outweigh the risks”. Bucks County is in Pennsylvania where raw milk is legal.
“They like their milk straight from the cow — raw and unpasteurized — and so far as thousands of raw milk drinkers are concerned, the benefits of consuming raw dairy products outweigh the risks of getting sick.
In Bucks and Montgomery counties, there are only four dairies licensed by the state Department of Agriculture to sell raw milk and raw milk products.
Trent Hendricks has the only license to sell raw milk in Montgomery County. He sells about 600 gallons a week to a customer base of about 500 families out of his Hendricks Farms and Dairy on Green Hill Road in Franconia, near Telford.
Hendricks suffered a setback last month when the state suspended his license for about a week while it investigated an outbreak of campylobacteriosis, a gastrointestinal disease that sickened 10 or more people.
The bacterium has many sources, one of which is raw, unpasteurized milk. According to public health officials, all those who suffered the bacterial infection last month had consumed raw milk from Hendricks’ dairy.
Hendricks’ lab tests showed no presence of the harmful bacteria in milk at his farm. The negative results were confirmed by the Agriculture Department’s own tests, and his license was reinstated. And Hendricks remains unconvinced that his farm was the source of the outbreak.
The experience — pardon the pun — left a bad taste in the mouth of the farmer and some of his longtime raw-milk customers.
“I really think the Department of Agriculture should send him a letter of apology,” said Debbie Finkelstein of Havertown.
She has been making the 50-minute-or-so drive up to Hendricks’ farm for about 4 1/2 years to buy raw milk. When it started out, she said, it was just for her and her family. Now, she buys raw milk for friends, about 30 families.
It’s worth the trip, she says.
Many of the people for whom she buys raw milk, she said, have difficulty digesting pasteurized, homogenized milk.
“It’s not that uncommon with older people,” she said. “But they have no problem digesting raw milk. Probably it’s because it’s alive. It has enzymes, good bacteria, everything needed to digest it.”
Since drinking raw milk, she said, she has enjoyed better overall health.
“Personally, I think pasteurized milk is an adulterated food,” she said.
That’s an opinion shared by many raw milk drinkers, including Kimberly Hartke of Reston, Va. She’s with the Washington, D.C.-based Weston A. Price Foundation that’s “dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods” to the human diet.
She personally favors raw milk because she believes the process of mass producing pasteurized, homogenized milk removes vital nutrients that the milk producers then replace.
Hendricks doesn’t promote the health claims of his product.
“We don’t make claims it’s going to do this for you, it’s going to do that for you,” he said. “It’s not our position to do that. We want to be a very reliable and trustworthy source of premium raw milk. Not all raw milk’s the same.”
For that reason, he doesn’t feed grain to his cows. They eat grass.
Proponents of raw milk also believe that smaller is better when it comes to producing food.
There’s little or no accountability in large-scale food production, Finkelstein said.
“Their focus is on the bottom line,” she said.
But with a small farmer and milk producer like Hendricks, “if something’s not right, he’s going to take care of it. He cares about his customers and has a direct relationship with them,” she added….”