Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says harmful bacteria that might be present in raw milk poses a health risk, farmers have founds that the enzymes, acids and anti-microbial bacteria naturally found in raw milk actually prevent the growth of pathogens.
The sale of raw milk varies from state to state. According to the New York State Department of Health, producers who sell raw milk to consumers must have a permit from the Department of Agriculture and must sell directly to consumers on the farm where the milk is produced. These producers must also post a notice at the point of sale indicating that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization. Farms with permits to sell raw milk are inspected each month by the agency.
Shaya purchases his raw cow’s milk at the farm and is now in the process of selling cow shares to consumers so it will be considered their milk and therefore exempt from restrictions. According to Shaya, the milk is “very safe from a very small farm where they test the milk.”
“Only .05 percent of people who drink unpasteurized milk get sick, much less than in any restaurant,” Shaya said.
He hopes to expand to a broader New York City market and not only the kosher market.
An unnamed friend in Florida who purchases raw cow’s milk from a farmer says that farmers don’t advertize it so that it’s kept “under the radar.” It’s the kind of thing that’s available to those who seek it out. Most farmers are not trying to convince people to drink raw milk.
Shmeel’s milk might change the chalav yisroel black market to a public market and may draw in a new market as well when people see his flyers promoting the benefits.
I recently asked Bassie, a grocery shopper in Brooklyn, whether she’d want to purchase raw milk if it was available. “I’d be scared to use it because I hear there’s a lot of bacteria and dirt and when things are pasteurized they are free of germs,” Bassie says. “But maybe if I learned more about it and saw people weren’t getting sick, I’d try it.”