Thursday, January 17, 2013

Raw milk - liquid gold!

We have seen a recent surge in demand for raw milk products lately.  We have been receiving quite a few requests per week from people looking for milk, yogurt, kefir, etc. Why the sudden increase? I think its threefold. Another local farm that sold raw milk has decided to leave the valley, winter is usually higher demand due to lower supply, and raw milk as a health food is gaining popularity. I have some thoughts about each of these to share:
It is very sad that we see a farm leave this valley. As I have always said, we need more farms here, not fewer. We could realistically have a hundred or even a thousand small farms just in the Rogue Valley to provide local food to the local population. You simply can't have too many farms! To hear their previous customers out there fighting to keep their food sources active in the face of limited supply is very sad. Raw milk has very limited supply in most any community, and long wait lists with many names. I wish there was somewhere to point people to as a replacement but the reality is its hard to come by.
Secondly, winter time is always lower supply. It is common practice for farms to dry up milk producers in winter. This makes a short supply even shorter. We at Little Sprouts take a different approach though. Instead of "'resting" our herd of goats in winter, we rotate individual goats through an appropriate individual cycle indicated by their own needs. At any given time about a third of our overall herd is resting, while two thirds are producing. That gives us a steady milk supply of milk year round while supporting even more rest than a standard yearly cycle. With this system our girls can rest as long as their bodies require. We don't breed on schedule, we don't force anything... we allow nature to take its natural course individually. Then they milk for as long as their bodies support milk production, whether that be 3 months or 2 years. The point is that each goat does what its body dictates, and yet we have a steady supply for our customers.
The third thought is demand increasing. More and more people are waking up to the reality that raw live fresh milk is a totally different product than cooked, dead, dismantled and reassembled milk products in the store. There is a wealth of info about this out there I won't repeat here. The bottom line is raw milk and pasteurized milk are fundamentally different, to the point of being opposites. As more people realize this and shun the factory produced milk substitutes called milk in the store, demand increases. 
Unfortunately, without government subsidies that only large factory operations receive, producing raw milk at a profit is a challenge. Without a profit the production becomes a community service that many small farms can't afford. So supply dwindles even further over time.
Raw milk is liquid gold to those who understand its benefits, but a labor of love to most farms.  We enjoy our goats immensely, and have reached a level of profitability that is sustainable for now so raw milk is definitely here to stay at Little Sprouts.

No comments:

Post a Comment