Raw Milk - Portland,OR

Updated on June 18, 2010
S.B. asks from Beaverton, OR
14 answers

Hi moms,
I'm curious if any of you use raw milk and raw milk butter, yogurt, kefer, ect., in place of pasteurized milk. If so, would you mind sharing your experiences both positive and negative? Does anyone have a raw dairy farm they would recommend? I'm asking because I've been researching the benefits of using raw milk especially for my two year old son. truthfully, I'm a bit nervous about the transition. Thanks!

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answers from Seattle on

I also grew up on raw milk. Not for any particular reason, but we lived pretty rural and it was cheaper to buy the milk directly from the farmer down the road. No one I know ever got sick from it and frankly I didn't even know that it was much of a concern before I read about all the "raw milk scandals" in the paper.

A few things to consider:
- if you buy directly from a farm the milk will not be homogenized. Milk directly from a cow (or other animal) contains more fat that what you buy as whole milk at the store. The higher fat content can cause some digestive issues, if you drink a lot and are not used to it.
- it is not homogenized, so after it stands for a few hours the cream will rise to the top. You can skim that off for whipping cream or shake the bottle to redistribute. As kids we would dip our fingers in the cream do get as much as possible it of the can :)
- it contains a lot of live, active cells and yes, bacteria. It is not as shelf stable as commercial milk, even in the fridge. If I remember correctly it will turn sour after 2-3 days tops.

When I was young, after it turned sour, we would leave it out on the counter at room temp to make sort of a natural yogurt "thick milk" or clabber. It was a favorite treat served with cinnamon and sugar.

One of the approaches you can consider, instead of "making the switch" just add it to your diet occasionally and see if you even like it.

Personally I don't go hunting for it in Seattle, but when I go home, we still get it and everyone in my family will drink it from the youngest kids to the grandparents... including my daughter.
Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Raised my children on raw milk and butter. Yes, it is better for you. I switched to goat milk when I realized they like me were allergic to cows milk.
Bought milk goats and milked them myself. Made my own yogurt et al.
Homogenized milk is not as digestable as the raw milk. Many of the enzymes in milk are spoiled in the homogenization process.
We also ate an organic diet which I adhere to to this day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

S., I grew up drinking raw milk and my mom has a dairy goat now that she milks, but I am not drinking the raw milk yet, nor am I giving it to my son (about your son's age).

I love raw milk. It tastes great. However, after reading what I could about it, I realized that the risk from e-coli was too great for me to take for myself or my son at this point. Later, I will probably drink the milk from my mom's goat, but I would probably not drink commercially available raw milk. Here's why. In states where raw milk can be sold, there are significantly higher rates of illness from contaminated milk. That's objective. Some ardent raw milk promoters will claim it isn't accurate, but I think it is and I don't see that the benefits outweigh the risk from e-coli when I consider drinking commercially produced raw milk.

For my mom's milk, which I will drink later, but not now, I can take precautions to ensure it is safe. My mom is having her soil tested to see if she has e-coli in it. That's a good indication (but not certain) of whether there is any possibility of e-coli making its way into the food chain and getting into the animal feces and maybe into the milk. I also know very well how scrupulously clean my mom is when milking her goat and--because I grew up in a farming community with lots of dairy animals--I know that that is not true of everyone. Large scale production doesn't allow the producers the luxury of being as careful as a single person can be. Pasturization takes care of a lot of the bacterial issues that sloppy sanitation can create. As a child, I watched friends milking and saw them tip out a little milk if a cow or goat knocked a little feces into it off of its hooves. They then sold it. That isn't safe. I know my mom dumps the whole container or (sorry, but this is how it works for us and we don't sell milk or cheese) she will tip out a little of the milk so the obviously contaminated part and the milk around it is out, then we pasturize the milk and make it into cheese. We do not drink it raw if it isn't absolutely clean.

Raw milk sales are legal in Oregon, but they are severely restricted. I think the restrictions are very sensible. They let small farmers with very few animals sell raw milk from their farm. No advertising is allowed, so you have to learn about availability by word of mouth. Knowing how commercial dairies work and knowing how small farms work, I think the restriction makes sense.

There is a lot to consider when thinking about raw milk, but like I said those are the things I considered when I was making the decision not to drink raw milk right now or to let my young son drink it right now. It is wonderful stuff, but just not worth the health risk as far as I am concerned. You are doing the right thing by informing yourself so that you can make an informed decision about drinking raw milk. Keep asking questions and good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i've been hooked on raw milk for several years now (and hooked is how it feels!) and i doubt i could ever go back. i haven't had the flu or even a bad cold in years. maryland is stupid about raw milk so i have to drive an hour each way to get it, but i buy from a farm where i know the farmer, can visit every aspect of the facility, know his frequency of testing, his philosophy and so forth, and therefore am totally confident of the health and ethical aspects of my milk. i make my own amazing yogurt and ice cream, and plan to branch out into butter and cheese. i cannot recommend it highly enough.
obviously there are risks, but they are not nearly what the fearmongerers claim (and far less risky than buying factory-farmed meat or produce.) find a local farmer, inquire extensively into his methods and philosophies, look at the cows. i wouldn't buy raw milk from an unknown source, but then, i find i'm less and less comfortable buying ANY food from an unknown source.
good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Having grown up with raw milk being the only milk in our house for many years, I can tell you it was great. We skimmed the cream off the top and collected it for about a week to make churn butter, having not only great butter but buttermilk. We got it at nearby dairy. And when we visited relatives in Eastern Washington, we milked the cows that provided the milk. It was great. We switched to raw milk after my brother had developed health issues with all the antibiotics that were being given to the herd via their feed and transferred to their milk, so my Mom found a small dairy that didn't need to treat their cows continually with the antibiotics.

You use it relatively fast, it will turn sour. Not that it will hurt you, but you will know when it's gotten old. My daughter found raw milk at QFC in downtown Bellevue across from Bellevue Square. She was amazed to see it there and brought home a pint of 'normal' and a pint of chocolate. She wanted to try it out. She used the cream on her strawberries.

Find a dairy or a store, like QFC or PCC that carries it and give it a try. There shouldn't be any problems with the transition. Digestion will be easier, much like babies who are breast fed.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I grew up on raw milk and would highly recommend it to anyone :) In fact, I thought that is how every one got their milk until I was a teenager! I don't live in your area, so I don't know of a good source for you - sorry.

Interestingly, we had a local farm recently be accused of (on the news no less) of selling raw milk that contained e-coli. It basically shut these poor people down and then it turns out that they were not contanimated at all. Good research is important, but don't let the raw milk naysayers scare you.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

It is illegal to sell raw milk in Oregon, although I've heard you can find it at some health food stores in Vancouver. You can buy "cow shares" in Oregon as a way to get around the law. After all, you're not "buying" the raw milk if it's from your own cow, right? We've looked into this, but it involves a very large initial investment, plus maintenance fees. You may be able to find a local farmer who will allow you to come pick up raw milk, although it'll be tough. We had a guy last year, but he decided to stop doing it...too much risk.

Before giving the milk to your child, please take the time to ask for a tour of the dairy. Raw has many health benefits, but it can be risky if it's not extremely clean.

Pasteurization became mandated back in the 1950's when milk production became industrialized, and therefore dirtier. Before then, when milk was produced by local farmers, there was very little milk contamination, and milkborne illness was almost unheard of. Once it became industrialized, the bacteria levels in milk rose dramatically, so the government decided all milk had to be pasteurized. It's a vicious cycle, but part of the commercialization of our food system.

I'm assuming you've seen "Food, Inc.", but you might also want to check out the book "Real Food". It opened my eyes in ways I never imagined.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I think I was my healthiest when we lived on a dairy farm when I was a kid. It was only for three years, but I drank from-the-cow fresh milk every day..usually three or four times a day and I ate raw honey. Didn't miss much school due to being sick during those years either. Anyway, that's a good experience for you. Becareful using raw products..make sure that you aren't going to get into trouble. There's some rules about raw products I've found. (It's illegal at least in some places to sell unpasteurized milk simply because the FDA has testing requirements for the temperature of the tanks it's held in etc to prevent bacteria growth. I've read articles recently (can't remember where now), that dealt with people getting arrested for selling raw milk. I tell you, it's wrong in my opinion..if more drank it raw I believe a lot of good could come healthwise. Unfortunately, its not that easy unless you own goats or a cow :).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi S.,
Raw milk is much better for us- digestion wise. The proteins are simpler to break down, and there are still the good bacteria in it that are good for the digestive system.
The only tough part will be finding some here in Oregon. I think the current law is you can only get raw milk products if you actually go to the farm to pick it up, or if you know someone who has 3 or fewer cows.
If you don't mind taking a trip to Washington their raw milk laws are a little more lax- you can buy it in stores (its finding a store that carries it that may be a little hard though).
I say do it! I dab a little bit in making cheeses and when I can get my hands on raw milk, I do it and my family loves it.
Keep in mind it will separate a little in the fridge if you leave it for awhile- so shake it up before drinking, and the spoil time on it is quite a bit shorter than pasteurized, but thats because it hasn't had all that stuff done to it! :)
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

I think as long as you're confident the milk is clean you won't have any problems. We used to get raw milk from our neighbors (Amish) and honestly I couldn't tell any difference in the taste - the only difference was it separated! But I wasn't too confident about the cleanliness of the milk (and had mild diarrhea few times, which is not common for me) so we quit drinking it, and I haven't had that wierd diarrhea since. If I knew someone with modern, very clean facilities I wouldn't worry about it at all.



answers from Eugene on

There are actually some farms in Oregon that sell raw milk. Check out realmilk.com for some sources. I use raw milk when I can get it and thoroughly enjoy it.



answers from Yakima on

We live on a small farm and have a dairy cow, we LOVE our raw milk! I make butter, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream from it and it's SO good and so good for us. Our kids are healthy and love the milk. We had to buy store-bought milk for a short time before our cow had her last calf and we could sure taste the difference! We are very conscious about cleanliness and if we aren't sure about a batch, we feed it to the barn cats and chickens. That said, you can only be 100% sure about the quality if you're doing it yourself! We don't sell or even give away our milk, but if you can find a clean, responsible seller, I'd definitely try it.



answers from Seattle on

I once sought out and found raw milk to use for making cheese. That said, I would never give raw milk to a child. There is too much potential for contamination (e-coli, etc.), and little ones don't have immune systems that can battle these organisms as well as our adult bodies can.



answers from Portland on

We love it! I think it's perfectly safe & ours comes from a reputable farm. We get our through Portland Green Parenting. http://www.portlandgreenparenting.com/
If you have any questions about this, just ask.

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