Here’s an excerpt from a great new story on the raw milk scene in England from “The Ecologist” website, titled “Raw milk — Magic Bullet or Health Hazard“. It’s written by Laura Sevier and was first published in June 2008. From all we hear, even from mainstream sources, it seems the English are highly “risk averse”. They have one the highest levels of police surveillance of public spaces (through CCTV cameras) and draconian laws on such silly matters as making it illegal to photograph the police (as of February 2009). And yet even they still allow raw milk to be sold to the public at farmers markets. In fact even as recently as a couple of years ago it was sold to the public at the Queen’s own farm store. Is this all the result of the famed English tolerance for eccentricity, or do the Brits know something — as in that raw milk is not really much of a health risk — that seems to have escaped us over here in the former colonies?
“A typical response to it is “Isn’t that gorgeous!”’ says farmer Keith Jefferson Smith, who sells raw milk at Walthamstow Farmers’ Market in London every Saturday. ‘Others say it reminds them of their childhood. Most remark on the sweetness.’
Sale of raw milk is legal at English farmers markets.
The milk he sells comes from his son’s dairy farm in Suffolk, where cows are farmed organically and biodynamically, grazing on grass for 10 months of the year. The sweetness, he explains, is because it is so fresh.
‘We milk the cows on Saturday and sell the milk on Sunday. The longer milk hangs around, the less sweet it is. Most milk you buy in shops is five days old by the time it reaches the shop, after it’s been collected, transported to dairies, pasteurised and packaged.’
Otherwise known as ‘green-top’, raw milk is the least processed milk you can buy. Long-term drinkers of this rare but much-loved substance say it is healthier, fresher and tastier than any other milk available. Others consider it a health hazard. Unlike the vast majority of the 13 billion litres of milk produced in the UK each year, raw milk has not been pasteurised (heat-treated) or homogenised (blasted at pressure through small holes to smash up the fat globules, spreading them evenly throughout the milk). While homogenisation is done for cosmetic reasons, to give the milk an even, white-all-over look, pasteurisation is done for health and safety reasons, in order to minimise the risk of food poisoning from salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli. Continue reading