Blackmarket milk in Brooklyn
April 11, 2007 11:44 AM   Subscribe

The first rule of Milk Club is you don't talk about Milk Club. Some nameless neighbors of mine, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, are really in to raw milk. So much so that they risk transporting the stuff across state violation of federal law.
posted by digiFramph (52 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For a couple of summers, back when I was in high school, I worked on a farm. We would regularly help one of the neighboring farmers put-up hay. At the end of the day, the farmer's wife would reward us with a plate of home-made donuts and a pitcher of cold, raw milk.
That. Was. Heaven.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:49 AM on April 11, 2007

Bizarre story, but I don't doubt it. I used to live on 80th and 5th, probably one of the greatest neighborhoods I've ever lived in.
posted by inoculatedcities at 11:49 AM on April 11, 2007

It is very strange how severely raw milk is regulated. Thank the agribusiness lobby.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:56 AM on April 11, 2007

"Hey, man. What are you in for?"

"I . . . um . . .sold raw milk."
posted by jason's_planet at 11:56 AM on April 11, 2007

A Moooving violation.
posted by hal9k at 12:10 PM on April 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

Some places have a powerful milk lobby. In Wisconsin, it's illegal to not have butter available at your restaurant.
posted by drezdn at 12:11 PM on April 11, 2007

It is very strange how severely raw milk is regulated. Thank the agribusiness lobby
What? Have a look at How Milk Got A Bad Rap.

Also see Nebbia v. New York (U.S. 1934), where the Supreme Court affirmed state regulation (albiet of pricing):
Milk is an essential item of diet. It cannot long be stored. It is an excellent medium for growth of bacteria. These facts necessitate safeguards in its production and handling for human consumption...
This isn't to say that the regulations might not be outdated, but I think their basis is in public health rather than industry lobbying.
posted by exogenous at 12:15 PM on April 11, 2007

I live in Pasadena, CA, and I guess I'm lucky in that I can just go into the local Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and pick up a quart of raw milk. I did so once, out of curiosity. And I have to say, it's very good, but not so good that I would do what these folks have to do to get it.

Salon ran an article on raw milk back in January that goes into more depth.
posted by Shecky at 12:23 PM on April 11, 2007

The Daily Mail in England a while back had a story about how raw milk might help childrens' allergies.
posted by Adamchik at 12:26 PM on April 11, 2007

I demand raw soy milk!
posted by AmberV at 12:33 PM on April 11, 2007

In the last few years I've found that I actually prefer the taste of fake milk made outta soy. Not that I'm environmental or anything. I think humanity's going the way of the dinosaurs and I welcome it, but I like soy milk's taste from a purely selfish perspective. Especially the vanilla flavored stuff. Yummy.

Yet when I go to the store the penny pincher in me rears its ugly head. Cuz they're selling two gallons of two percent milk for five, or I can buy one half hallon of soy for like three bucks, which bites. I don't understand how come soy milk is more expensive when there's no torturing of cows involved at all.

The fact that none of this milk is 'raw' is actually preferable to me. The idea of getting milk from an old tyme farm where the cow isn't cloned and stored its whole life in a factory and its legs atrophy from lack of use is... well it's downright neanderthal. Do I look like a calf?
posted by ZachsMind at 12:36 PM on April 11, 2007

To counter the dreamy-eyed trend, I'll chime in and opine that the the taste of raw milk is disgusting.

I spent summers as a child in a small village in Mexico where pretty much the only milk option was from one family's cows down the road. First off, it was rarely skimmed of its cream and so the milk is always lumpy. The whole concoction smells more like liquid cheese - one of those stinky ones.

A small market in town sold pasteurized whole milk imported from a nearby dairy. I'd always make my parents go out and get that stuff instead.
posted by vacapinta at 12:41 PM on April 11, 2007

My nephew worked on dairy farms last summer and really got into the raw milk thing. Then he was hospitalized for the diarrhea it caused. ymmv.

And how exactly are dairy cows tortured zachsmind? They freakin love getting their teats sucked, like most mammals. I think you are confusing them with veal. And you know about soy and phytoesrogens right? Enjoy your fancy new vagina.
posted by vronsky at 12:54 PM on April 11, 2007 [8 favorites]

Raw milk does taste better to me, but you know, I really don't like getting sick, and pretty much the only place I use milk anymore is on cold cereal where you are less likely to taste the difference. Cheese made from raw milk, now that is another matter. mmmmm
posted by caddis at 1:01 PM on April 11, 2007

zach might want to look at this, soy.
posted by vronsky at 1:01 PM on April 11, 2007

When I was very young my mother got it in her head that I was allergic to the vitamin D in homogenized milk. Fortunately, I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska where for 18 years my family could drive to just outside the city limits and buy raw milk from an old couple that were hanging on to their dairy farm. I literally grew up drinking raw milk and was never once sick from the stuff. When I moved away from the state for college I tried drinking store bought milk, but could never develop a taste for it. It all tastes hyper sweet, like they dumped a bag of sugar in water. I live in Massachusetts now and have on occasion driven three hours to buy raw milk. This happens whenever I feel a craving for real iced cream. When I was little my grandmother would skim the quarts of cream of the top of each gallon and we would make real old fashioned iced cream. My favorite flavor is strawberry-rhubarb, naturally we grew the strawberries and rhubarb in the backyard. Once in a blue moon we would churn butter. Did I mention that my grandmother grew up on a dairy farm in Kansas, and that the ice cream maker was an ancient hand crank model? Guess whose job it was to turn that crank for forty-five minutes for each gallon? It was always worth it. When my grandmother passed last year I made sure to get that ice cream maker.
posted by Metametadata at 1:12 PM on April 11, 2007

ZachsMind wrote:
Do I look like a calf?

It's those lederhosen, dude.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:22 PM on April 11, 2007

Yeah, I'm with caddis. Screw this milk business. If I'm breaking the law to get dinner, it'll be for raw milk cheese and real salami.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:23 PM on April 11, 2007

And it’s not soy milk it’s soy juice. There’s no soy teat.

Had some raw milk when I was in Amish country. Some great sausage too. And rode some horses. I basically felt like a Mongol for a bit there. But I can see how people get touchy about this. If you like milk (and I do) and you don’t want all sorts of industrial garbage and hormones in it (and I don’t) I can see where you could become the dairy equivalent of a moonshine runner.

A blue and gold muscle car with a hot rod engine and the old facisti Brooklyn flag with “Een Draght Mackt Maght” on the roof is jumping the Newtown creek
- and freeze -
Danny Aiello thick accent voiceover (as ‘Uncle Tony’): “Uh oh, the Dukoli brothers are in trouble with the FDA boys for runnin’ milk over here. What, you think they’re gonna catch ‘em? Fugheddaboudit”
Horn blares a few bars from “Finiculi Finicula”
*break for commercial*
posted by Smedleyman at 1:24 PM on April 11, 2007 [6 favorites]

Let us not completely discount the tremendous value that processed milk has to offer us. With that kind of feedback, I think it's definitely worth trying.

(Yes, I'm reaching back to 2005 for that one, but it's obscure enough to get away with, on the chance people haven't seen it yet =D)
posted by Industrial PhD at 2:02 PM on April 11, 2007

We have a situation regarding raw milking going on here in Ann Arbor. They attempt to get around the law by owning "shares" in the cow....
posted by HuronBob at 2:28 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I guess I should tell my own "more rustic than thou" milk story about how in Greece in the early 80s, cow's milk was a pricey luxury, so we all drank goat's milk when staying with my grandparents. We also milked a goat and squirted the milk right into our mouths.

But what I find really disturbing about the FPP is that it indicates that yuppies of the sort who insist on raw milk have somehow started invading Bay Ridge, which I always regarded as the "hinterlands" of Brooklyn. Is Bay Ridge going to become the new Park Slope?
posted by deanc at 2:34 PM on April 11, 2007

And how exactly are dairy cows tortured zachsmind? They freakin love getting their teats sucked

I take it that's a joke? Just in case it isn't - being artificially kept in a permanent pregnancy/lactation cycle, suffering painful infections like chronic mastitis as a matter of course, eating a very dodgy diet (remember BSE?) due to the demands of simultaneous pregnancy and lactation and the production of 4 times the amount of milk required to feed a calf, being housed in pens that are too small (designed for Fresians, used for Holsteins) then being slaughtered after five years doesn't really sound like a teat-sucking barrel of laughs. Your bog-standard industrial dairy farming is easily up there with battery farming when it comes to unpleasantness.

(Then again, I had foie gras for my lunch the other day, so, you know... animals are only animals, and I don't lose any sleep over not always buying organic milk from a kindly dairy.)
posted by jack_mo at 2:37 PM on April 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

Been there done that. I was drinking raw milk illegally transported across state lines in 1999 -- anyone into Weston A Price knows all about it. I highly recommend it, except be prepared as it is a very concentrated super food, not like your grocery store milk, take it easy and go gentle so you don't get an allergy or other problems like many people do who go at it too fast. Start slow and build up over time.

Some cool things about raw milk: I left it in a glass on the counter for a week. It never went bad and remained edible (in new more solid form) because it has anti-bacterial agents to help calfs fight off sickness. The stuff is amazing, most people have no idea what real milk is. It is possible to live and thrive on nothing but raw milk, it is a complete total food, there are stories of people living decades on nothing but milk. "Milk clinics" used to be common before the 1940s as a way to cure diseases and sicknesses.
posted by stbalbach at 2:58 PM on April 11, 2007

Drink your raw milk. See if I care
posted by catseatcheese at 3:08 PM on April 11, 2007

note: i work in a plant that produces raw milk cheese every single day...i eat of this delicious cheese often...raw milk, however, is a different story.
posted by catseatcheese at 3:13 PM on April 11, 2007

A farm here in York County recently stopped selling raw milk for the second time in a few weeks because of a salmonella scare.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:22 PM on April 11, 2007

Utterly cheesy.
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:25 PM on April 11, 2007

Oh noes! A "few" people had to be hospitalized in the last five years!!! Ban it! Ban it!

And booze.
And bicycles.
And cars.

Even if I am making fallacious assumptions about the base rate, it seems drinking raw milk is no more dangerous than crossing the street, no?
posted by noble_rot at 3:25 PM on April 11, 2007

I grew up drinking fresh goat that came out of goats my parents raised from kids. It was really weird going from that, which tasted like 'normal milk' to me, to pasteurized cows milk.

noble_rot writes "Oh noes! A 'few' people had to be hospitalized in the last five years!!! Ban it! Ban it!

"And booze.
"And bicycles.
"And cars."

Don't forget rollerblades!
posted by mullingitover at 3:35 PM on April 11, 2007

Industrial PhD, see this thread.
posted by cgc373 at 3:54 PM on April 11, 2007

Strange, no one has brought up irradiation. I suspect, but do not know, that irradiation would alter the taste of milk less than pasteurization, and would be just as safe.

But deep down I know that irradiation is one of those things like the metric system in the US; very rational and useful, but unlikely to catch on.
posted by Tube at 4:21 PM on April 11, 2007

If you like milk (and I do) and you don’t want all sorts of industrial garbage and hormones in it (and I don’t)

You're confusing raw, a.k.a. unpasteurized, milk with organic milk. If you don't want all sorts of industrial garbage and hormones (beyond the hormones which are naturally in milk, anyway) in it, pasteurized organic milk is completely legal and fairly easy to find in stores these days.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:49 PM on April 11, 2007

Is Bay Ridge going to become the new Park Slope?

Speaking as a former resident of Ft. Greene (ah, fond memories of my reasonably priced, high-ceilinged, 2nd-floor brownstone apartment on Fulton street...), I'd say, only a matter of time, my friend, only a matter of time.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:53 PM on April 11, 2007

People in Bay Ridge I've known have been really serious about good food.

The eggplant at Areo is so good I skipped watching the Super Bowl one year to come eat it, because I knew it wouldn't be crowded.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:56 PM on April 11, 2007

I've heard about people take advantage of the 'owning = legal, selling = illegal' situation by buying 'shares' of a cow (ie, 50 people own the cow together). That way they can each provide money for the upkeep of the cow, and then they each own some of its milk, without any milk-purchasing taking place.
posted by svenx at 6:28 PM on April 11, 2007

South Brooklyn - top a da food chain
posted by Flood at 6:28 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

It is possible to live and thrive on nothing but raw milk

Unless, like the majority of the world's population, you are lactose intolerant [Most people stop producing lactase in childhoose - Europeans and some other cultures have a genetic modification which makes them continue to produce lactase -- although even many Europeans / European descendants such as myself lack it]. (Some milk products end up with more lactose than others, but raw milk is particularly high in it, and likely to bother people who could get away with eating, say, Swiss cheese).

If you're not lucky enough to have sufficient lactase production in adulthood, subsisting entirely on milk would be full of discomfort.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:42 PM on April 11, 2007

If they really want natural wholesome milk, shouldn't they be drinking human milk, rather than milk from a very non-human bovine?

Sorry for bringing up what is probably a societal taboo subject, but it has always struck me as strange that people think it is gross to drink human milk but perfectly fine, in fact recommended, to drink the milk of a giant four hooved ungulate.

It is certainly impractical, given the quantities consumed, but that doesn't explain the taboo.
posted by eye of newt at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2007

Y'mean soy juice is bad for me after all? Just as bad as the raw crap? GOOD! I can drink it with impunity then, just like Diet Coke (there's nothin' diet about it I just like the taste with a twist of lime - and I hope it kills me).

At this point the only reason I'm trying to lose weight is cuz if I go up one more pant waist size, they start charging you more - which I think is downright prejudiced against fat people. So what if it costs more material to make a 42 inch pair of pants than it does a 40? You don't charge me more for it! Fuckin' Cheap Thin People! I hope you cheap thin people choke on your own Adam's Apples! You heard me!

Cows being used to produce milk for humans are being tortured. I don't care if you put them in a pretty room with flowers everywhere and all the grass they can eat and you pamper them with back massages and soft shoegazer music piped in on pleasant sounding speakers. I don't care if you treat them to football season tickets. They're producing far more milk than (insert your favorite diety here) intended. When they're no longer viable we grind them up into big macs and whoppers. I call that torture and needless death (mighty tasty tho)!

They'll get the last laugh though. You thought CO2 was bad for the environment? All that bovine flatulation is methane.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:05 PM on April 11, 2007

They sold irradiated milk for awhile when I was a kid. It didn't do well, and eventually went away. I think it was two things:

A) The "don't nuke my food" lobby was very powerful (at least in California)
B) The milk, to my super-sensitive child's palate, always tasted just a tiny bit spoiled to me. There was something just a little bit wrong with it. I didn't know why it tasted that way and never asked, but I definitely preferred pasteurized.

Irradiated raw milk could be interesting. Wonder if they could get around that 'spoiled' taste?
posted by Malor at 11:32 PM on April 11, 2007

I save the real sob story for the chickens. Cows have it easy by comparison.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:43 PM on April 11, 2007

I grew up in the country. My family lived across the street from a small farm and we bought raw milk from the farmer. For 11 years, that was the milk I drank. After moving away from the area, I returned after some 5 years. The bed and breakfast I stayed at also had a dairy farm and I requested some raw milk. It was good, but man did I ever get sick. Puked for 24 hours straight.
posted by xmattxfx at 7:08 AM on April 12, 2007

Tortured cows? Not any I've ever seen. Torture doesn't increase milk production, doncha know? It decreases it, and production is where it's at. It pays to be kind to cows. It does not pay to be mean. Diary farming is a business.

I had raw milk while staying at a friend's farm, way back in the dark ages of my youth. I never enjoyed milk so much before or since. Holstein milk, naturally about 2% fat, IIRC.

I haven't thought to seek any raw milk here in South Africa. Come to think of it, I missed my chance while staying at a B&B on a dairy farm, a few weeks ago.
posted by Goofyy at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2007

Cows aren't the only mammal that produces milk, people! Let's think outside the box! What about milking your cat?

There are enough cats that could be milked, thus avoiding the ugly smuggling issue... and a kitty dairy milking station could be set up in an apartment with no problem.

It would be hard to get enough milk, but I'd bet mouse cheese would be very good. You could sell it like caviar.

Or what about all those little "fashion-accessory" dogs. There are enough anemic chicks carrying those things around that the milk-on-the-go aspect would do them good!

Ooooh, how about a lower mammal, like a platypus?
posted by webnrrd2k at 3:38 PM on April 12, 2007

This raw milk douchebaggery seems to be making the rounds in local alternative papers. I'm fine with allowing people to buy raw milk or dog's milk or raw dog's milk, but I object to the sheer dumbassery of the everyone involved. If you like and it tastes good and you're willing to take the risk, fine. But don't try to convince me on absolutely zero evidence that it's somehow better for me than the regular stuff.
posted by electroboy at 12:51 PM on April 13, 2007

don't try to convince me on absolutely zero evidence that it's somehow better for me than the regular stuff.

Well, beyond the common sense evidence (people have been thriving on raw milk for 1000s of years) - it's impossible to thrive on the milk-product found in stores because its been so processed that most of the good nutrients have been removed.

When milk is homogenized, the milk fat is turned into little tiny molecules that remain suspended, and thus, it solves the problem of fat rising to the top. But these tiny fat molecules are so small that they more easily pass through the gut into the bloodstream where they can do damage. The human gut did not evolve to process homogenized milk (along with many other things in the modern food supply).
posted by stbalbach at 8:38 PM on April 13, 2007

Note also, electroboy, that the 'regular stuff' is what comes out of the cow. After processing, it's not regular stuff at all anymore.
posted by Malor at 2:41 AM on April 14, 2007

I'm not convinced the human gut has evolved to drink cow's milk, period. IIRC more people are allergic to cow's milk than are not.

And besides which, it tastes thoroughly disgusting.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:50 PM on April 14, 2007

Apropos of nothing, "Milking" a bull elephant. Probably NSFW. Possibly NSFV.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 AM on April 15, 2007

y'know, I think that may have been MeFi'd already...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 AM on April 15, 2007

Common sense evidence my ass. People have been drinking milk for thousands of years, but people also have been getting salmonella and e coli for thousands of years. In fact, I can state with absolute certainty that life expectancy has increased since pasteurization has become commonplace. Please show me how I am not thriving by drinking processed milk. I think I'm doing quite well, thank you. Your theory about homogenization is just ridiculous. Please present some evidence to support your claim.
posted by electroboy at 11:00 PM on April 17, 2007

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