“On a sunny May Saturday — one which promised to be a good day at the market — I found myself instead walking down a forested path in Shrewsbury. I wanted to take a pointed look at what was not at the market or, more precisely, what was banned from the market. My quest took me to Tangled Roots Farm, and the path led me to an open pasture where goats happily grazed.
Tangled Roots Farm is a diverse, beginning farm run by Lucas Jackson and Maeve Mangine. Nestled into the lush, forested hills of Shrewsbury, the farm sits on 110 acres that Maeve’s family has owned — un-farmed — for years. When you drive up, there’s a long-neglected orchard that Lucas is clearing and replanting. Farther down, stacks of logs sit in the woods waiting for shiitake mushrooms to appear. Cross the dirt road, and you’re back at the goat pasture and the real reason why I visited the farm: raw milk.
Raw milk is simply unpasteurized milk, but it’s a lightning rod for controversy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is strongly against it, pointing out that three people have died in the last 23 years from illnesses traced back to raw milk. Yet, Vermonters, especially those from dairy families, have been drinking raw milk for generations. Advocates point out that raw milk is fresher, tastier and a way to support small dairy farmers that cannot afford expensive pasteurization machinery.
Without a doubt, big dairy farms need pasteurization to protect their customers and prevent disease. Large herds mean less individual attention and more sanitation concerns.
In contrast, Lucas and Maeve have a much more intimate operation. When Maeve walks into the goat pasture, her herd of goats flocks to her and nuzzles against her side. She knows each by name and can describe their individual quirks and attitudes. In the mornings and evenings, she milks the mama goats by hand in a meticulously clean milking shelter complete with tracking charts and daily measurements….”