On Tuesday, Missourian reporter Emily Coleman wrote a story on a new successful product for some Missouri dairy farmers — raw milk. Eric Vimont, owner of Pasture Nectar Farms, has been producing raw milk for sale since 2006 and has found a thriving market for it.
"We tend to do a few other things over time, but (raw milk) will always be our centerpiece, and nothing else can take away from this," Vimont said.
Milk bought in stores is pasteurized, a process that kills potentially harmful bacteria. The milk's texture is then made more uniform by breaking up the milk fat into smaller particles more evenly distributed throughout the liquid, a process called homogenization.
"Raw milk just comes straight out of a cow, and it's cooled down," said Chris Davis, a dairy expert at MU's Southwest Research Center farm. "Nothing is added to it; nothing is taken away from it. It hasn't been heated; it hasn't been homogenized. It's milk in its pure form."
Proponents of raw milk state that the heating destroys nutrients and enzymes vital to digesting the calcium. An FDA consumer magazine from 2004 states that the difference in levels of those enzymes is minimal.
There are health concerns over raw milk that led to an attempt to desist the Vimont's milk operation. According to the article: "On May 19, 2008, the Missouri Health Department warned that raw milk is not necessarily better for children because of a hemolytic uremic syndrome case in an infant who had consumed raw goat's milk."
Last year the State Milk Board issued notices of violation to the Vimonts for selling raw milk out of their homes. Missouri law states that dairy producers be inspected, certified and licensed by the board in order to sell their product through a third-party vendor. Because the Vimonts sold their milk out of their home, however, the law did not apply to them, and an apology letter was sent by the board to the Vimonts.
Should the dairy board try to regulate raw milk being sold out of farmers' homes? Is more education about the health concerns of unregulated products needed as the organic food movement gains more legs?