Monday, August 17, 2009

How to Get Raw Milk in Massachusetts

Folks ask me where/how to get raw milk in Massachusetts.

Here are some options:
  • Get yourself to a Massachusetts farm that is licensed to sell raw milk. This is the easiest option. The closest farm to Boston is Oake Knoll Ayrshires At Lawton's Family Farm in Foxboro. I blogged about it here. You have to schedule an "orientation", so that they can meet you, and then you have to call a day ahead whenever you want milk, so that they know how much milk to get from the cows! They only have 10 or so cows. Besides milk, they sell a few other products. NOFA lists other Massachusetts raw milk farms here. Besides Oake Knoll, I've been to Upinngil Farm in Gill: also Ayrshire cows, great milk, and cheap!

  • Pick up some raw milk on your next trip to Maine or Connecticut. Make sure to bring a cooler or an insulated bag. For extra points, bring an ice-pack of some sort, or ask for ice at the store—some stores will give you ice for free. I've purchased raw milk at Rosemont Market on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine, and at the giant Whole Foods in Portland. Also, I've never been, but my friend recommends Golden Harvest Market, in Kittery, Maine.

  • Join a buying club. One of the most popular is Just Dairy. Just Dairy carries a fantastic variety of farm fresh products, but their membership fees are high if all you want is some milk now and then. Mr. Tarzan is a new buying club that I blogged about here. Unfortunately, Mr. Tarzan's geographic scope is somewhat limited, at least for now. There are periodic rumors of new buying clubs emerging in JP and in Cambridge, but I don't know if they've gotten any traction.

  • Start your own buying club. All you need to do is get a bunch of people together, take turns driving to a farm, and figure out the finances and logistics to everyone's satisfaction. Harder than it sounds; but there's definitely demand for it. And if it goes big, there's no reason you can't pay yourself for your time.

  • I have heard that there are dairy cow share programs in Massachusetts. I don't know exactly what the authorities think of this, so I won't provide any details.
As far as other raw dairy products go:
  • Raw milk cheese is legal, so long as it is aged at least 60 days before sale. (This is a federal law.) Roughly speaking, hard cheeses are old, and soft cheeses are young. So raw cheddar is easy, while raw brie and farmer's cheese are problematic. I did have some brined raw feta a while ago that was fantastic. It may have been under brine for more than 60 days, but I'm pretty sure it violated the spirit of the law. I'll have to try making some myself.

  • My understanding is that you can't (legally) buy raw cream, raw butter, or any other such "processed" raw dairy in Massachusetts.
That's what I know. Please comment if you have additions, corrections, questions, or whatever.


JJ Gonson / Cuisine en Locale said...

Alex, you are the best resource! Thank you so much for this info
xoxoxo jj

Anonymous said...

Alex - I've joined Mr. Tarzan's Club and through him I've been able to get raw cream - but I did have to sign separate papers that released the farm of all liability (and, likely, promise my first-born). I've used this raw cream to make raw, cultured butter, which is my new favorite thing in the world.

Alex Lewin said...

JJ—glad you found this useful! And thanks for re-blogging it!

Alex Lewin said...

Linsey—I'm a little jealous that you were able to join Mr. Tarzan, even though Cambridge is actually closer to him than Sudbury is. Whatever.

I got some corn at the Central Square market today—I mentioned to the vendor that I didn't particularly feel like boiling water, and she said I should just eat it raw, and that she did this all the time. It was great! But I can only imagine how it would have been with some raw butter…

Kaat said...

Just this morning I got an email from Mr. Tarzan that he has to cease and desist! Hopefully it's a mistake.
This milk is like medicine to us: my daughter's asthma has decreased considerably since she started drinking it.

Alex Lewin said...

Kaat, that's really bad news about Mr. Tarzan! He was one of the best options around.

I'm going to do an updated blog post about how to get raw milk around Boston. We should be able to find you a new source of milk. With a little luck, Eastleigh Farms in Framingham will be selling raw milk within a few weeks.

Kaat said...

Thanks Alex!
I really like Mr.Tarzan personally. He had the will and the courage to go ahead and start his business, and he's a nice guy. So I hope in the first place that he solves whatever the problem is, and doesn't get into trouble.
But I'll look into Eastleigh Farms, because we are dependent on the milk.
This is, by the way, a fantastic blog. I wish I had discovered it earlier. So many workshops and local issues that I missed! Hopefully we can do something together here in the outskirts of Boston soon.

Taster B said...

The following website is a pretty good resource for sourcing raw milk. If you're on the north shore, Portsmouth isn't a bad option...

still looking for raw butter...

Alex Lewin said...

I've posted a follow-up to this blog post. The Mass DAR is tightening the screws. Read it here:

Taster, it will be hard to find raw butter in Mass. I'm guessing you will have to make some sort of private arrangement with a farmer.