Monday, October 1, 2012

Our Adventure With Raw Milk

The milk jugs and spare jars are all air drying on the counter this afternoon...probably for the last time.
Image source: stock.xchng
One year ago this month, we began our adventure in raw milk. I had studied about it for many years and often lamented that we just could not afford it. However, with three of our four children grown and gone, we finally felt we could splurge. We agreed to give it a try for one year and see how it went.

Here in Michigan we have what is called cow shares. Instead of being free to sell raw milk (unpasteurized, non homogenized, fresh from the cow), dairies may only sell shares of their herd. We paid $75 for a half share (1 1/2 gallons of milk per week). Full shares are $150 (3 gallons of milk per week). These shares are refundable when someone purchases your share.

There is also a monthly boarding fee (currently $32 per month) which is paid as long as you want milk. Since we have decided to no longer purchase milk, we no longer pay this fee, but our share will not be refunded until another share is purchased from the dairy.

Another cost in getting our milk raw was in gas to drive to pick up our milk each week. Thankfully, there were four other families in our town who also got milk from our dairy, so we decided to split up and each take a turn doing the milk run every fifth week. Each family was responsible for picking up everyone's empty containers, driving to the dairy to fill the jugs and jars, then delivering the milk back to the owners (a little over a 70-mile round trip). With the price of gas and what our van gets per mile, that cost us approximately $13 per run.

Now, let's add that all up and see what we were actually paying for our raw milk:
  • $6.25 per month for our milk share (We paid $75 and had it for one year, but never have to pay it again. We get it back when our share sells.)
  • $32.00 per month boarding fee
  • $11.00 per month for gas (approximately, with a trip every five weeks)
  • $1.30 per month for 3 glass jugs, 3 plastic lids, and a bottle brush ($15.50 initial outlay; had them one year)
Total: Approximately $7.75 per gallon

Was it really worth it? Definitely, the cost was not worth it for us. Though it was cheaper than some other sources, it wasn't cheap enough for our family budget even with some of the kids gone. Another problem was that we had hoped to make our own yogurt and cheese. However, the yogurt from this milk turned out slimy and unpalatable, and there was never enough cream skimmed off the top to make butter. Very disappointing, indeed.  

However, it might be worth it for you. If you'd like to do your own research on using raw milk in your family's diet, you might be interested in these books from our friends at*

And, in case you were wondering about the safety of using raw milk, here's a little food for thought:

*Purchases made through this link could result in monetary benefit to this blogger. Thank you! :)