May 1, 2008

Raw, Organic Milk at Windsor Dairy

Photo: Lauren Mackey. Check out her great photo blog here.

One of my new favorite new additions to the Boulder Farmers’ Market is Windsor Dairy, and their amazing raw milk cheeses.

While it’s illegal to buy or sell raw milk in Colorado, it is legal to have raw milk if it comes from a cow that you own, so several farmers have decided to form cow sharing programs in order to provide raw milk to people who want it. Windsor Dairy is one of those.Raw milk is milk that has not been homogenized or pasteurized at all; it’s fresh from the cow (or goat or sheep) with all of the enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients still intact. (Pasteurization actually kills off most of the protein, Vitamins A, D, C, and K as well as bacteria that is actually good for our bodies.) Raw milk is actually very safe… probably safer than “conventional” milk in a lot of ways (if you happen to be lactose intolerant, lactase producing bacteria are present in raw milk, so you can drink as much as you want without ill effects).

Being a parent, food safety is a huge concern for me (it’s got to be safe as well as local and organic or at least all natural), so I did the research before deciding to move toward raw milk. I found the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Campaign for Real Milk. I shared what I learned about raw milk with my kids, and on Saturday after hitting the Market, we headed up to Windsor Dairy for a visit.We arrived at the farm and met up with Liz, our tour guide. Liz was great… and we learned a lot, including some history of the farm and how the owners made the decision to convert from a conventional dairy to an organic one. Even though the cows produce less milk, they seem to be pretty happy cows, so the owners feel the trade was worth it. We saw the calves, and found out that there is an ongoing personal struggle between needing to domesticate the calves and run a dairy farm while trying to keep both mommy and baby cow happy. One of my favorite parts of the day was watching the boys get to know the calves and spend some time petting them.

The entire farm is open to inspection, and you can see the entire herd (about 70 cows; only 60-some were actively being milked when we went) roaming around the pasture, seeming pretty relaxed and happy and doing what cows love to do… roam around, eat grass, and make cow pies. The boys even got to meet one of their bulls (Windsor Dairy doesn’t castrate their calves, instead letting them be bulls and get the cows get pregnant the old fashioned way instead of by artificial insemination).I grew up in farm country, and remember what humane farming looked like compared to modern factory farms. Windsor Dairy fits my memories and I was impressed by what I saw and heard. Happy cows getting to be cows, and milk the way it’s supposed to be (local and organic)… what more needs to be said?

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