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Don't Cry over Raw Milk

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Oct 20, 2006 4:50PM

Michigan authorities searched Richard Hebron's home and car last week in their attempts to uphold the law, according to this Business Week article. Which law would that be? Oh right, the one against distributing "raw milk and its various byproducts, including cream, buttermilk, yogurt, butter, and kefir." We've heard kefir can be super dangerous too, especially when it is fruit flavored. Hebron runs his 110-acre farm, Family Farms Co-op, with another family and distributes the raw dairy products to an Ann Arbor outlet as well as two outlets in Detroit and seven in Chicago.

Michigan authorities had been investigating the Family Farms Co-op for several months, after several children became sick after consuming unpasturized milk. By Michigan law, milk must be pasturized to be sold; that is why Hebron's milk is sold through a co-op model. Each member of the co-op "owns" a share of the farm, therefor making it legal to operate.

There is a small but persistent raw milk movement that is pushing for looser restrictions on dairy pasturization. The most prominent of the groups is the Campaign for Real Milk, run by the Westin A. Price Foundation. They argue that pasturized milk can be linked to health problems including allergies, heart disease and even autism.

Unlike in Michigan, sales of raw milk in Illinois are legal, with some restrictions: 1) No advertising the sale of raw milk, 2) Customers must bring their own individual containers, and 3) The farmer must produce the milk "in accordance with the Department (of Public Health) rules and regulations. For those who are ready to live dangerously (read: live unpasturized) here and here are two lists of where raw dairy products are available in Illinois.

Full Disclosure: the author is related by marriage to the author of the Business Week article.

Image via jonmclean