Got a Craving for Raw Milk? Blame it on Nina Planck

Every Tuesday morning, the supplier, under cover of pre-dawn darkness, packs up his truck in rural Minnesota to make his weekly delivery. His drop-off site is a nondescript, middle-class home in a Minneapolis suburb, where his regular customers begin to converge around 8:00 a.m. They drive up, park, pick up their orders, leave cash, then return to their everyday lives.

What they’re doing is illegal, but the contraband isn’t cocaine, krugerrands or even Cuban cigars.

It’s milk. Straight from the cow. Whole, non-pasteurized, non-homogenized, non-industrialized, raw milk.

Why is it illegal? Because the Minnesota Department of Agriculture prohibits the sale of raw milk, unless it is purchased by consumers only “occasionally” and only “at the farm where the milk is produced.” (Source: Westin A. Price Foundation – “What is Real Milk?”)Nina Planck: Raw Milk PusherNina Planck: Raw Milk Pusher

So, why do otherwise law-abiding citizens buy illegal milk? Part of the blame should go to Nina Planck.

Founder of London Farmers’ Markets and author of Real Food: What to Eat and Why,  Nina Planck is America’s leading – and most outspoken – champion for the cause of raw milk. My first exposure to her was in early 2006 in the form of a New York Times op-ed piece that she wrote, called “Whole Milk is Best”:

Whole milk is what is called a complete food, because each ingredient plays its part. Without the fat, you can’t digest the protein or absorb the calcium. The body needs saturated fat in particular (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat can’t do the job) to take in the calcium that makes bones strong. Milk fat also contains glycosphingolipids, which are fats that encourage cell metabolism and growth and fight gastrointestinal infections.

The all-important vitamins A and D are found in the fat. Historically, whole milk and butter were the best sources of these vitamins in the American diet, which had up to 10 times more of both vitamins than modern industrial diets.

In skim and low-fat milk, the vitamins are removed along with the fat, so dairies add synthetic A and D. But Vitamins A and D are fat-soluble; that means they cannot be absorbed into the body unless they’re taken in with fat. Thus, even fortified skim and low-fat milk are not nearly as beneficial as the real thing.

Reading this piece three years ago opened my mind to the possibility of raw milk for my family. I knew of other families who were regularly consuming it and so already had a source. But I needed further research to feel completely safe with the decision, and then to convince my reasonably skeptical husband. So I went on a quest for more information. Here was my reading list:

Before too long, I was convinced, and began giving raw milk to my family almost three years ago. Its taste is rich, creamy and satisfying in a way that 2 percent or skim never were. My kids love it and now turn their noses up at the milk they are served in school. I credit raw milk with clearing up my daughter’s eczema, which is corroborated by a group of British researchers who concluded that just a couple of glasses a week reduce a child’s chance of developing eczema by almost 40 per cent.

Most important, we know the milk is safe. We trust the small farm where it comes from and know that their cows are happy, healthy, well-cared for and grass-fed. This means we also have learned to expect shortages during the winter, as well as extras – like butter, cheese and ice cream – in the summer.

So if you find yourself seeking the taste and health benefits of black-market milk but don’t know a “supplier,” click here to start your search.

And don’t blame me. It’s all Nina’s fault.


my understanding of the raw milk law in MN is that it isn't illegal for the buyer of said milk, so much as itis illegal for the farmer to be dropping it off ata place other then his farm. there are no laws that i amaware of that could get you, the buyer, in any sort of legal trouble. i just wanted to clarify that because in MN we actually have fairly liberal laws regarding farm-fresh foods. there is also alaw which allows farmers to sell rawmilk product such as cheese and butterrightout in the open at farmers markets solong as it's sold as "fish bait","pet food" ect. there is a cheesemonger at one prominent Twin Cities Farmers Market who has been doing this for years, apparently withno majorproblemsas isee them there often.

also, if folks dont want to buy raw milk, which my family cannot, buy the second best option; local, grass-fed, organic, low-temp pasturized (also called vat-pasturization and completely legal)milkfroma small farm, such as Castle Rock or Crystal Ball Farms herein MN/Wis.

I'm not sure if state laws can go against federal laws. And per federal law, it is illegal.

Kris misread the federal law. Did you see the word "interstate" in the document you linked? Milk that is transported across state lines must be pasteurized. The milk described in this blog post is produced in Minnesota, for sale in Minnesota. No interstate commerce is involved, ergo the federal law Kris linked is irrelevant. State law applies.

I'm not sure the blog post author is correct about the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture rules either -- unless you have a direct link to the actual state regulations (the Weston A. Price foundation is not my go-to for legal advice). My understanding is that it is legal to purchase milk directly from the farmer, and that meeting the farmer at a private home to conduct the transaction is legal.

Apologies for the error.

bearing, that is also my understanding of our state law, and i also would not use the wapf as my go to for legal council. kris- raw milk is sold on grocery store shelves in California and a few other states, just fyi.

Here is a fully link to the MN Statues concerning milk:

You may want to specifically read Limitation on Sale:

Thanks for the link. I guess it depends on what "secured or purchased" means. If I call the farm and order some milk, have I "secured" it? See what I mean?

In any case, it seems pretty irresponsible for the original blogger to go on and on here, non-anonymously, on this public blog about how the milk she buys is illegal. Is she trying to get them shut down? Even if she's incorrect about the milk being illegal -- and I think this is the case -- this is kind of inflammatory, and some reader of the blog who gets off on USDA regulations may notice this, make a complaint, and cause trouble for the farmer.

I mean, the author of this blog post is basically accusing the farmer of knowingly and deliberately breaking the law. That doesn't strike me as an appropriate way to treat someone who voluntarily provides you with a service that you say you value.

So sad it's illegal in many places. How many people really get sick from it? The number is probably way less than people getting sick from salad bars.

I love raw milk!!! Maybe it's my Swiss heritage? I was going through two gallons a week by myself (1 cow/ 1 goat). I love it in every stage. I use a little bit of the plain milk in my coconut flakes sometimes, but 80% is made into kefir. The other 20% is made into cream cheese, harder cheeses and sometimes butter. Amazing stuff in every stage! Nothing like homemade raw blue crumbled on your salad.

I've had to dial way back back lately, it was stalling my weight loss. I really miss it and am salivating just thinking about it's deliciousness!

Wow! I guess I struck a "raw" nerve!

OK, let me respond:

First, please notice I did not disclose one bit of information about where I buy my raw milk. I would never do anything to jeopardize that valuable resource for me and my family.

Second, straight from the UMN Extension office about food safety:

"The Minnesota Statute 2002, Section 32.393 Subd. 1 requires pasteurization of milk for sale for the purpose of human consumption. The exemption to this rule: 'shall not apply to milk, cream, skim milk, goat milk, or sheep milk occasionally secured or purchased for personal use by any consumer at the place or farm where the milk is produced.' The buyer must provide the container for the milk. Under the pasteurization ruling, the farmer cannot advertise the sale of raw milk."

So, when I buy milk, it is not occasionally, it is regularly. It is not at the place where it is produced, it is at a suburban home. And, further, I do not provide my own containers, the farmer owns the glass bottles the milk comes in; I pay a deposit for them and return them each week. So you be the judge whether or not it is illegal.

My whole point in writing about this is to bring to light another important real-food topic. Is raw milk better for us? And if it is, why can't we more easily purchase it? Emily is correct -- in California, you can buy a limited supply of raw milk in stores, but the legality of that is constantly under attack by factory dairies who have to pasteurize the hell out of what they sell because it wouldn't be safe to drink otherwise.

I would guess that the Minnesota farmers who sell raw milk in the way I've described do so with full knowledge of whatever statue prevents them from doing so legally. But sometimes, when there's a law that's without merit -- whether it applies to segregated buses, "don't ask, don't tell," or, on a smaller scale, the sale of raw milk -- it can take an act of civil disobedience to help spark needed change. The more people who get a taste for raw milk, the more legislative power they will have in getting new laws that make more sense for consumers and farmers.

Thanks for letting me participate in a great discussion. Let's keep talking!

"First, please notice I did not disclose one bit of information about where I buy my raw milk. I would never do anything to jeapardise that valuable resource for me and my family."

OK, but let's see what you're doing here. You are basically announcing under your own name that you are participating in what you believe is an illegal enterprise. You have announced that you know who is supposedly breaking the law, you have announced that you believe the person to be deliberately breaking the law, and you know where and when this lawbreaking is happening every week.

The government has this thing called a "subpoena" by which they could, if they liked, order you to give them the information you have. You are already putting the farmer at risk. I am trying to warn you because I support your right to buy raw milk and I would not like to see the farmer shut down (even if he is breaking the law), nor would I like to see him legally harassed if he is not breaking the law.

For instance, did you consider getting the farmer's permission before publicizing the existence of the drop and publically accusing him of knowingly breaking Minnesota law?

I used to get my raw milk products delivered here in Va. on sort of a clandestine basis. The products came from an organic dairy in Pennsylvania. The practice has stopped because of the interstate provision of the Federal law. The only legal way to purchase ANY raw dairy products in Va. is to buy a "herd share" from a farm. This makes it impractical to buy raw dairy products, for me anyway. The laws are that were put in place to "protect us" are foolish. I grew up on raw milk. The laws were put in place because a very very long time ago when a lot of cities in the U.S. had neighborhood breweries, dairies were started next door to them and the cows were fed the mash from the breweries after it had been cooked to remove the sugars. These "dairies" were filthy, disgusting places and people got sick from some of them but generally the raw milk from a well run dairy produces milk that will not harm you because it is loaded with anti-pathogenic compounds. All mammalians offspring all sterile at birth and get their protection from the mother's milk and not just from the colostrum but also the milk after the first feeding. Raw milk straight from the teat has enzymes and antibodies that kill any pathogens that might be present on the teats of the mother. Mammals in the wild and specifically ruminants have no way of washing their teats so survival of the off spring is dependent on these enzymes and antibodies. many tests have proven that pathogens will not grow in Raw Milk. All of the laws restricting the sale of Raw Milk are still there because of the industrial food industry. It is factory farming that has ruined our food supply and made us dependent on foods that are the underlying cause of a multitude of "modern diseases."

If you're interested in a read about raw milk and many other transactions deemed illegal by the government, check out Joel Salatin's book, "Everything I Want to Do is Illegal."

Isn't anyone going to mention that humans may not actually be meant to drink cow milk at all? :-) Keep those passionate comments coming, friends. Thanks for actively participating.

Raw milk is wonderful. You absolutely do have to be careful about 'who your farmer is" however when you purchase raw milk. The WAPF are clearly on to something...Last thing we need is someone who derides good food in such a powerful position...but my guess is that the idea of quality is either too controversial or too complicated to pitch to the american publlic.

I'm just like you. In fact I just started my raw milk research. An informative read about milk is

    The Untold Story of Milk
      . What really got me thinking about raw milk is Sally Fallon's book
        Nourishing Traditions
          . I would really like to personally talk to you about the man that supplies your milk and would like a true reference from you (I have an idea of who your talking about). Please email me!

If it is the man I know in MN, he is a caring and good farmer that has been harrassed many years for doing what he and his family do best. We lived in MN 15 years and bought raw milk a good part of that. Please consider the scenario by which all farms will be required to be corporate farms following federal guidelines. Where are the freedoms and livings of thousands of families? It is only the last 100 years or so that food has regulated and raw status earned the description of a "dirty word". Societies have thrived on whole foods, dairy included without going extinct, in fact they had far less doctors back then and no federal health care. For example here in our century, Loudon County in Northern VA had 382 dairies in 1973 and now it has two. Has the regulation helped our farmers or hurt them? How many recalls are there every year from MacDonalds, Burger King or etc? How about Food Lion , Safeway, Super Valu ? How many are linked to good stewardship of the land ? How many are linked to corporate farms who employ people who just don't care. We need, as a nation to rethink the model by which we get out food and let the farmers do what what they do best.
And by the way a herd share or cow share is a good way to weed out people who genuinely want raw milk and those who may do it for as a fad. But our freedom should allow us to purchase food in its natural state. The government should protect farmers not prosecute them. Buy Local, Eat Wild.

*been regulated

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