by Jennifer Grafiada
Those of us who regularly enjoy delicious, cream-topped raw milk at home know that it can be problematic to keep the good stuff in supply when traveling to another state. Because every U.S. state sets its own laws on the selling of raw milk to the public, those who want to continue drinking raw milk during a visit to another state must do some research beforehand.
Fortunately, it is now possible to obtain raw milk in 43 out of 50 states, largely thanks to the tireless work of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF). The seven remaining states may soon join the rest of the country, with new legislation being introduced each year. At RealMilk.com, which is managed by WAPF, consumers can find a summary of current laws and listings of milk providers in every state as well as several other countries. It is advisable to check back frequently for updates.
In addition to RealMilk.com, there are other resources for finding local raw milk in advance of a planned vacation. For example, the Farm and Garden section of your local Craigslist (Craigslist.org) is an excellent way to find sources that would not otherwise be advertised. Just type “milk” in the search bar and see what comes up. Another website that lists milk sources is Agrilicious.org. Additionally, the Facebook group for WAPF members is a great way to find connections and information on local laws. Those planning to travel also can contact the WAPF chapter leader in the destination area. (Chapter leader contact information is listed in the back of the Wise Traditions journal and at westonaprice.org/find-local-chapter).
Ideally, one should start researching available options a couple of weeks before the travel date, as it may be necessary to place calls or exchange emails with the milk supplier and arrange a pick-up date or time. It is frequently the case that milk is sold only one day a week at a market or during specific hours at a farm, or the supplier might only come into town on a predetermined day. Travelers who let suppliers know what their travel schedule is may be able to make special arrangements as needed.
Of course, raw milk is not always easy to obtain even in states where it is legal. Some states only legally allow suppliers to provide milk to members of a cowshare or herdshare, in which case the milk supplier may not be able to sell directly to out-of-state visitors. Other states may have restrictions that technically allow milk to be sold only for pets. Make sure to stock up on some milk for little Fido; it’s good for him, too! Or it might be necessary to be flexible and drink goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk during the vacation week (or vice versa, if goat milk is the usual drink of choice).
For those who are traveling to one of the seven states that do not currently allow the sale of raw milk (Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island), it may still be possible to obtain it if the traveler is willing to arrange a meet-up at a state border or order from a buying club like Miller’s Biodiversity Farm (Amishbiofarm.com).
Another option is to bring milk from home. For travelers who are driving, fresh milk should stay viable in a cooler for twenty-four hours. Freezing milk for transportation purposes and then defrosting at the destination also works rather well. Sometimes the defrosted milk will have a different texture, but the taste and nutritional value are still comparable to the fresh version.
Those who are flying with an infant are allowed to bring milk onto the airplane, packed in bottles or in Ziploc freezer bags and stored in a cooler with ice packs. Travelers should be sure to tell the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent beforehand if they do not wish the milk to be scanned or irradiated. Otherwise, the milk is likely to be sent through the X-ray machine with the rest of the luggage. Note that there is no need to mention that the milk is raw or offer any other explanation about the liquids in question except that they are for the infant.
Finding a raw milk source in a new locale can sometimes lead to fun adventures and new connections. Travelers may find themselves driving on back roads into an area of the state where normally they would not have gone. The farm one visits may end up being a destination in and of itself and may offer other delicious farm-fresh products that give the visitor a chance to taste the local terroir.
Recently, I was visiting my in-laws in Maryland and decided to explore the surrounding rural area. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the picturesque P.A. Bowen Farmstead, run by WAPF President Sally Fallon Morell, was just minutes from my in-laws’ house. We paid a visit to the farm shop to obtain some “Philander’s Pet Milk” as well as some of the farm’s famous cheeses and pastured beef. It’s a lovely historic area, and we found out the Morells even offer farm stays via Airbnb. For those visiting the Washington, D.C. area, the farm is worth a visit. Finding new milk sources can lead to interesting conversations with like-minded people and connections that could prove beneficial. It’s also a good way to help educate friends and family who may have misconceptions about the health value and safety of raw milk. While running the risk of developing a bit of a reputation (“Wait, you drink raw milk and you don’t use microwaves? Are you sure we’re related?”), there is also the possibility of winding up helping someone with unresolved health issues or so-called “lactose intolerance” by suggesting they give raw milk a try—they might just get hooked on it, too.
Travel can be hard on the microbiome and digestion in general. Making sure to load up on prebiotics (fibrous foods such as bananas) and probiotics (raw milk or cultured dairy products, as well as fermented foods) is a great way to ensure good health while dealing with travel’s added stresses to the system. However, some individuals may be unsuccessful in finding a raw milk source in advance of their vacation. Those who want to avoid the pasteurized version can consider trying a milk alternative (almond milk or coconut milk are preferable to soy). Drinking kombucha, kefir and other yogurt drinks is another way to maintain beneficial bacteria while traveling. Raw milk cheeses are also often available in specialty stores and they also travel well.
Note that prices may vary drastically from state to state. For example, in southern Oregon where I live, I pay six dollars a gallon for amazingly fresh, cream-topped raw milk (and often have it delivered!). In neighboring California, where one can find raw milk in many stores, visitors may find themselves shelling out sixteen dollars a gallon. The difference can be explained by the fact that I get mine from a lady up the road. There is no middleman and no regulatory interference. In California, raw milk is more readily available to the public, but the milk is FDA-tested and must be shipped, stored and properly packaged.
For those of us who understand the many benefits that raw milk can offer us and our families, or who have infants who rely on the Weston A. Price Foundation infant formula alternative, going out of our way to obtain raw milk when sojourning in another state is well worth the effort. Driving long distances, paying a little extra or dragging the family along on a muddy-shoes, back roads farm tour seems worthwhile after taking a swig of cold, fresh milk from a glass jar. The store-bought stuff can’t compare, and we know it!
Hopefully, with the continued efforts of the Weston A. Price Foundation and A Campaign for Real Milk, there will soon come a time when raw milk is much easier and simpler to obtain. In Europe, for example, vending machines dispense raw milk at the push of a button! There are over one thousand three hundred raw milk vending machines in Italy alone.1 In the meantime, while at home or on vacation, doing what we can to spread the message that raw milk is a healthy and not a dangerous food will help bring back the days when raw milk, or rather real milk, was the norm and not the exception.
About the Author
Jennifer Grafiada is a nutritional therapy practitioner (NTP), writer and Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader based in southern Oregon. You can find her at JenniferGrafiada.com.
1. “Raw milk machines are everywhere in Europe, why not USA?” https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/raw-milk-machines-everywhere-in-europe-whynot-in-the-usa-and-canada/.
This article was first published in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts, the quarterly publication of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2018 issue.