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Posts Tagged ‘raw milk’

Though it’s been some time since my last post, I wanted to let you know that we did make it out to the Raw Milk Dairy Days open house at The Robinson Farm. The afternoon was beautiful (I wish I’d brought my camera). This place was much easier to get to than Misty Brook Farm, which makes a difference when thinking about weekly excursions to buy milk. We’d only planned on going to buy milk and get out of there, but we got suckered into doing their walking tour. (By suckered, I mean we were handed a map by the nice lady at the welcome desk.) That was interesting. The tour, which we did on our own, commenced near  one of the pastures where a group of cows was hanging out. On the way to those cows, we observed several chickens and roosters roaming in small fenced-in areas, foraging for bugs. We stood there in the afternoon sun, along with a family, watching the cows attempt to shake flies off their faces. One cow even peed on another one. A bolder cow approached the father of the family and licked the crap out of his hand. I really wanted to pet that cow, but as we started to make our way toward the next pasture, he seemed to get a little skittish.

The next stop was another pasture where some calves were hanging out. I’m not sure if they were the veal cows (I hope not) or just up-and-coming milking cows. The map did distinguish between the two, but as it’s been a month since we walked through these pastures, my mind’s a little rusty. (Makes me wonder what the state of my mind will be in 20 years.)

Across a side street was another enormous pasture. Despite the pasture’s size, the cows were once again gathered in one large clump behind some trees, completely inaccessible to us. By the time we made it through that pasture, I wished I’d brought my sunglasses. Toward the end of the tour, we passed another small enclosure with more calves.

Our walking tour finished, we went to check out the farm stand. Like the one at Misty Brook Farm, it was a small barn/shack with fridges and buckets of fruit and vegetables. It was also a self-serve type arrangement. At least this place had a scale, so we could really weigh our produce and pay accurately. At the time, we only got milk and cheese. We decided to try their “A Barndance” cheese, which is similar to French Abondance. Can you say YUM? That stuff was amazing. Great Panini cheese. Anyway, we wrote out a check for the cheese and two gallons of milk and headed home.

The milk at The Robinson Farm is sold in the plastic half-gallon and gallon containers and is significantly less expensive than the milk from Misty Brook. (I’ll also mention it’s a lot easier to pour when it’s not in a glass jar.) Now don’t go assuming their raw milk is cheap; it’s still costlier than the pasteurized stuff you get at the grocery store (even the organic milk).

All things being equal, my preference is for the Misty Brook Farm raw milk. Maybe it’s the glass containers, but to me it tastes slightly better. Unfortunately, not everything’s equal. The Robinson Farm is closer and easier to get to. Their farm stand is larger and better equipped to handle consumers. And their milk is less expensive and is sold by the gallon. So if we’re going to be drinking raw milk regularly, we’ll probably be heading to The Robinson Farm. And next time, I’m going to bring my camera, so I can take pictures of their traditional red barn.

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Looks like we may be heading to The Robinson Farm sooner than we thought! According to an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette they, along with other farms in Massachusetts, will be hosting Raw Milk Dairy Days. There’s additional information, such as directions to the specific farms and their open house hours, on the NOFA website.

Our challenge will be mustering the energy to drive out to Hardwick after flying back to Boston from Portland, OR at 11:59 p.m. the night before.

We could always try Eastleigh Farm in Framingham, since their open house is Saturday and Sunday, but they’re not certified organic.

So it looks as though we’ll be sleepwalking through The Robinson Farm open house on September 11th! I’ll let you know whose milk is tastier: Robinson Farm’s or Misty Brook’s.

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Sundays are our shopping days. My husband and I normally drive 45 minutes to Whole Foods to buy our groceries for the week, jaws dropping at the cost when we check out. Still, we go week after week, knowing that good food costs more. It’s a price we’re willing to pay, since we believe the adage: You are what you eat.

A few months ago, we went vegetarian for moral and health reasons. At the same time, I started looking into the local farm scene, wanting to support the local agriculture. As a member of NOFA Mass, I get emails and newsletters letting me know about the goings on in that scene. Recently, there’s been a lot of hubbub about raw milk and the Association’s mission to make it more readily available.* So we decided, instead of driving the 45 minutes to Whole Foods to brave the crowd and the cost, we’d instead drive to one of the nearby farms that sells raw milk.

We chose Misty Brook Farm in Barre, because it’s close, organic, and has limited fruits and vegetables for sale. The farm is located on a partially paved road, a little off the beaten path. (Not too far, though, since my GPS was able to find it.) Though it took us nearly 40 minutes to get there, it was a scenic drive on a winding road through the hills and woods of central Massachusetts. The first sign that we’d reached the farm was fenced fields with grazing cows. We probably drove past a half mile of them before reaching the farm store, a tiny wooden shack situated at the top of a dirt driveway. Thank goodness a kid was sitting in a station wagon out front. We were about to leave when he told us we could enter the closed shack, take what we needed, and leave money in the gray deposit box.

What?!

Yes, it seems Misty Brook Farm, at least at noon on a Sunday, operates on the honor system. In the shack was a fridge full of raw milk bottles, two freezers with various meats, and wooden boxes with tomatoes, greens, onions, and other fruits and veggies. Since we couldn’t find a scale, and the other stuff was priced by the pound, we opted to just take the milk and leave a check. I plan to contact them and find out how the weighing of and paying for fruits/veggies works when nobody’s there to man the farm store.

On the way back, we stopped at Carter & Stevens farm store, also in Barre, to see if we could check a few more items off our grocery list. Turns out we could: organic tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, apricot jam, corn on the cob, and raw cheddar cheese.

I admit we couldn’t get everything we needed at the farm stores, so we bought the balance at Trader Joe’s. But even with the expensive raw milk in our bags, we spent less than we normally do at Whole Foods. And we feel better about having bought local, organic stuff!

The first thing we did upon unpacking the groceries was to try the raw milk. I already think I’m hooked and am not sure I could ever go back to pasteurized milk. The raw milk was sweet and creamy as it went down my throat, and I quickly downed a full glass. My husband did the same. This sweet deliciousness is completely worth driving 40 minutes to the middle of nowhere. And if we tire of the dirt roads leading to Misty Brook Farm, we can also try Robinson Farm, which also sells raw milk and limited fruits and vegetables. We may not be buying all of our weekly groceries from local farms, but it’s a start we feel good about.

* It’s been found that raw milk has many health benefits that pasteurized milk does not. The following links provide more information about raw milk:

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