Our Raw Milk Frequently Asked Questions

Want to learn more about raw milk or about Organic Pastures Dairy’s standards and production processes? Great! We have posted raw milk information for helpful learning with frequently asked questions to help you with any questions you may have. Need more information? Simply email us or post a question to our Facebook wall and we will answer your questions. 


ABOUT OUR PRODUCTS:

Our Product Availability

We do our best to keep all of our wonderful products in plentiful supply, but sometimes we simply don’t have enough to go around.   We know this is frustrating, but we want to share with you some of the challenges we face in trying to match our supply with your demand.

Our first challenge is our milk supply varies throughout the year.  Some of this is due to the changing of the seasons.  In fall, winter and spring; we have optimal temperature for grazing and pasture quality.  However; in the summer, we have hotter temperature and the cows only graze in the early morning and late evening as they spend a good portion of their day resting in the shade to stay cool.  This effects our milk production.

Secondly, some of our products take more milk to make than others. Did you know it takes 3 gallons of milk to make one pound of butter?  That’s a lot of milk! In order to supply the growing market for raw butter and cheese, on occasion, we partner with other certified organic, pasture-based family farms. Collaborating with these farms makes it possible for us to supply our customers with pasture-grazed raw butter and cheese, year-round.  On the occurrence that we purchase milk, it is never bottled but is used exclusively in the production of our raw butter and cheese. 

Our goal is to balance our supply and demand so there is just enough milk to fulfill all orders.  It is a tough balancing act.  Thankfully, we have our own distribution fleet and Sales Department that work closely with the store personnel.  Together, we do our very best to put the right product mix on the shelf for you to buy each week.  Our Marketing Department also strives to know your feedback so we can do our best to adjust ordering and supply to certain markets that are short. 

Helpful Hints:

Butter can be frozen up to 6 months, and the flavor or nutrient value is not changed.  Stock up on butter when it is available. 

Also, you can make your own butter by churning 2 pints of cream for every pound of butter. 

What is Skim Milk?

When we separate the cream from whole milk to make butter and cream, skim milk is the byproduct.  Skim milk is made when most of the cream (milk fat) is removed from whole milk using a cream separator. The milk fat in skim milk is between 0.1-0.3%.  Our Raw Skim Milk roughly contains the same amount of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and immune factors that is found in our raw whole milk.

Why do we use plastic not glass?

We use a number 2 HDPE plastic, which is BPA/BPS Free.  This plastic does not leach unless heated. When we first started our dairy, we sold our raw milk in glass containers.  Over the years, we received negative feedback, such as difficulty removing the lid, heavy to lift, as well as the cost of the deposit. A lot of energy was required to clean the returned glass containers, and harsh cleansers were needed to remove milk residue.  Glass containers are three times heavier than plastic, which required us to drive to market 3 times more often for the same amount of milk due to weight restrictions for delivery trucks.  We then had to drive the empty containers back to the farm.  For these reasons, we switched to a number 2 HDPE plastic which is non-toxic, recyclable, takes less fuel to transport, and does not require cleaning. 

How to see the cream line in our container?

It may be a bit harder to see our cream line because we use an opaque plastic container. We have chosen this opaque plastic to block sunlight to protect sun sensitive vitamins.  Depending on the season, our whole milk ranges from 3.75- 4.00% butterfat.  This is far in excess of the minimum 3.5% for whole milk.  To better see our cream line, may we suggest:

  • Letting the milk container sit undisturbed for 10 hours.  Before agitating, look closely for the cream line. 
  • If you still unable to see the cream line, transfer to a clear glass jar and let sit in disturbed for 10 hours. You will easily see the cream line.   

Why do our products have a higher price compared to other milk?

We are sensitive to price concerns and have put a great deal of thought into our price.  In order to provide safe raw milk for years to come we must be sustainable.  All of our production costs have been considered. We are honored to do the absolute best we can to provide delicious and nutritious raw milk to our many consumers in California.  Here are some of the factors that determine our price:

  • Food Safety Program-
    • Our protocols include extensive testing and meticulous practices that far exceed what is required by law? We employ highly trained personnel to manage the quality of our milk, and execute the daily duties required for a fully operational food safety plan. 
  • Organic feed costs
  • Organic herd management-
    • We treat all of our cows naturally; without antibiotics or artificial hormones.  These homeopathic therapies are more costly than pharmaceutical treatments.
  • Lower milk production-
    • Without artificial hormones, our cows produce much less milk than conventional dairy cows.  Our cows produce an average of 5-6 gallons of milk per day.  The average milk production for commodity dairies is 10-15 gallons per day per cow.  This decrease in yield makes our production costs much higher.
  • Delivery costs- the convenience to have fresh raw milk available in over 600 retail outlets is an added expense.  We sell our products at our farm store at wholesale prices.
  • Special liability insurance
  • Extraordinary taxes levied on raw fluid milk (sold as raw for human consumption) by the California Milk Pool system. 

Are we GMO-Free?

In accordance with the National Organic Program Organic Trade Regulations, none of our ingredients are genetically modified, and our cows graze on certified organic pastures. The seeds we use to plant our pastures, forage crops, and organic grains are certified to be GMO free. 

Is Organic milk the same as raw dairy products?

Organic milk is NOT the same as Organic Raw milk. Organic milk simply follows the USDA Organic Dairy Standards; which consist of feeding only organic feed, no antibiotics or hormones, and some “access to pasture”.   Most organic milk is processed with heat (pasteurization), and is homogenized.  At OPDC, we go beyond the USDA Organic Standards by pasture grazing year round.  In addition, we NEVER process our milk (pasteurization or homogenization), which protects the integrity of all of the nutrients; such as beneficial bacteria, protein, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fats.

Does heating raw milk affect the nutrients in the milk?

At temperatures above 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit, the components found in raw milk are destroyed, denatured, or damaged.  In order to receive all the nutrients found in raw milk, never heat raw milk above 110 degrees.  Heating raw milk for cooking, or other reasons, will not make our milk unsafe, but most of the nutrients will become lost.  

What is Homogenization?

Homogenization is the process of emulsifying fat globules found in milk. This is done by forcing the fat globules through a tiny hole under extreme pressure of more than 3,000 psi (pounds per square inch).  This breaks the fat globule into small, irregularly shaped pieces.  This prevents the fat (cream) from rising to the top of the container, making the fluid uniform in consistency. We never homogenize our milk; therefore the fat globules in our raw milk are undisturbed. 

What is Pasteurization?

Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a specific temperature for a predefined length of time to destroy bacteria and microorganisms found in milk. This process does not discriminate what is killed.  As a result, many of the beneficial bacteria, delicate enzymes, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are altered, destroyed, or denatured.

What happens to the dead bacteria in pasteurized dairy products?

The nutrients that were killed or damaged during the pasteurization process remains in the liquid milk as a dead cell rather than a living cell.  This can be highly allergenic to some people.

Why don’t we offer other dairy products, such as chocolate milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, fresh cheese, and yogurt?

Unfortunately, there is a law in the United States that prohibits the sale of raw dairy products that have added ingredients.  In addition, all dairy products must follow a “standard of identity”.   There is an exception for raw kefir, because the added ingredient (cultures) has an established “standard of identity”. 

All raw cheese must be aged for 60 days, therefore, fresh raw cheese are prohibited. Sadly, the delicious raw dairy products found in other countries are not available for retail sale in the United States.  With some effort and creativity, you can learn how to make these foods in your own kitchen. 

How can I keep my raw dairy products Fresh Longer?

Raw milk is a living, and perishable food. The beneficial bacteria found in raw milk multiply quickly in a warm environment, but multiply minimally when kept cold.  There are many variables that determine shelf life; therefore the Best Used By Date is a general guideline.  Here are a few helpful tips to keep your milk tasting fresh longer:

  • Keep raw milk cold (36-40 degree Fahrenheit).
  • Transport milk in an ice chest from the market to your home
  • Store milk in the coldest part of your refrigerator (usually on the top or bottom shelf).
  • Purchase milk soon after it is delivered to your market.  Ask the dairy manager what day of the week our milk is delivered.  Purchase your milk on the day of delivery or soon after, and check the expiration date.
  • Purchase what you will consume in 5-7 days.  You may want to consider freezing the milk if you need to purchase less frequently.

Why did my milk sour, and should I throw it away?

Raw milk is a living, and perishable food. The beneficial bacteria found in raw milk multiply quickly in a warm environment but multiply minimally when kept cold. Souring is the natural evolution of raw milk.  If your product has soured, it can be returned where it was purchased for a full credit or it can be used in other ways. You can use it for baking, in a smoothie, or making kefir.  It can be used as a healthy treat for your pet, or as plant fertilizer. 

How do we make our kefir?

Kefir is a super probiotic cultured beverage that contains an abundance of gut-friendly bacteria. Kefir is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and easy to digest.

Our Kefir is made by culturing our raw skim milk with 12 living and active cultures from specialized bacteria which are approved by the State of California.  These bacteria work with the many unique bacteria found in raw milk.  The milk is cultured in a warm room using a large stainless steel vat.  It takes approximately 48 hours to make.

Do we test our milk for radiation?

We have tested our milk for the presence of radiation 3 times since the tragic radiation disaster in Japan in 2011.  Our most recent test was done February, 2014.  All test results were NEGATIVE FOR RADIATION.   Radiation is in our atmosphere and comes to earth with rain.  Our farm is located in an arid (desert) environment, with an average of 12 inches of rainfall annually.  This gives us some protection against radiation contamination.  As Organic farmers, we do everything possible to make our earth a safer place for all of us. 

HEALTH RELATED QUESTIONS:

Is raw milk safe?

Raw milk is a low risk food for illness if produced responsibly. Milk intended to be consumed raw (not pasteurized) must come from healthy cows and the milking process must be done in a very clean environment.  Once the milk is collected, it must be meticulously managed to minimize contamination. At Organic Pastures Dairy, the health and wellbeing of those who consume our products is our highest priority.  We have an extensive Food Safety Program to keep the risk for illness as low as possible.  However, we cannot guarantee 100% safety from consuming our raw dairy products.  No foods, including pasteurized milk, can make such claims.  There are misleading reports of deaths caused by drinking raw milk.  The fact is, these tragic deaths were NOT caused by drinking raw milk intended for human consumption but “improperly pasteurized milk” from milk intended to be pasteurized, or from improperly thermalized milk where cleanliness standards are much less strict than for raw dairy standards.  

It is important to consider the benefits of unprocessed (raw) milk versus the potential risk for illness.  Pathogens (“bad bugs”) are everywhere in our environment.   Raw milk is a super-food that contains the nutrients to keep our immune system healthy and strong, so when we are exposed to pathogens, our immune system can fight back.  There are few foods that support our immune system as well as raw milk does. 

Is raw milk safe for my toddler?

Raw milk from cows is just like milk from humans; it is raw and unprocessed.  The nutrients found in all mammals milk (humans and cows alike) support a growing baby at its most immune-compromised state. The diverse colonies of beneficial bacteria support the digestive system, immune system, and are linked to brain development.  Enzymes break down nutrients making them bio-available.  Fats present in raw mammal’s milk are building blocks for nervous tissue in the brain.  All of the other nutrients play a critical role in the health of the growing child.

Raw cow’s milk is a great food for toddlers once they have stopped nursing from their mother, or as a supplement to mother’s milk.  Raw milk is a very low risk food for illness if produced responsibly.  Milk intended to be consumed raw (not pasteurized) must come from healthy cows, and the milking process must be done in a very clean environment.  Once the milk is collected, it must be meticulously managed to minimize contamination. At Organic Pastures Dairy, the health and wellbeing of those who drink our milk is our highest priority.  We have an extensive Food Safety Program to keep the risk for illness as low as possible.  However, we can't guarantee 100% safety from consuming raw milk.  No foods, including pasteurized milk can make such claims.

It is important to consider the benefits of unprocessed milk versus the potential risk for illness.  Pathogens (“bad bugs”) are everywhere in our environment.   Raw milk is a super-food that has the nutrients to keep our immune system healthy and strong.  When exposed to pathogens, our immune system can fight back.  There are few foods that support our immune system like raw milk does.

Parents make choices regarding their child’s health and well-being.  Our advice is to seek out foods that support your child’s immune system. Unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods are your best choice.  If you choose raw milk, please take the time to get to know your farmer, his/her production systems, and practices.  It is best to tour the farm.   Ask about their food safety program, look for clean practices, and ask about pathogen testing.  There is no such thing as “perfect” or “guaranteed” safety.  We can only look for the best possible, and minimize risk. 

We have many satisfied parents who praise the benefits of raw milk.  We would be honored to be your raw milk producer, and promise to work very hard to produce safe and delicious milk. 

Is raw milk to drink safe when pregnant?

Many pregnant women consume raw milk as a great source of gut-friendly bacteria, protein, enzymes, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Many government agencies and Western trained physicians do not recommend pregnant women drink raw milk because they are concerned with the potential illness from Listeria Monocytogenes, and other harmful bacteria. 

The abundance of lactobacillus bacteria found in clean raw milk [that is intended for human consumption] helps protect against the growth of Listeria, and other pathogens.  Although it is not impossible to get sick from drinking raw milk which was intended for human consumption, the risk is low. The Center for Disease Control has no reported deaths from drinking raw milk, or any illness associated with Listeria Monocytogenes.  There have been reported deaths and illness from Listeria from cheese made from milk intended to be pasteurized but was improperly pasteurized or thermalized (heated). This is NOT raw milk intended to be consumed raw.  The cleanliness standards for milk intended to be pasteurized is nothing like the strict standards for milk intended to be consumed raw.  In fact, raw milk cleanliness standards meet or exceed the standards for milk that has been pasteurized. 

The benefits of all foods must be compared with risk.  There is never 100% certainty that you won’t get sick from the foods we eat.  We recommend that you choose foods that are nutrient-dense, organic, and unprocessed for optimal health.

At Organic Pastures Dairy, we have an extensive Food Safety Plan.  We follow strict guidelines to reduce the risk of illness as much as possible.  The health and wellbeing of our consumers is our highest priority.

If raw milk is new for you, what can you expect?

Unlike pasteurized milk, raw milk is a GUT- friendly food, easy to digest, and is less likely to cause milk allergies.  Because of this, many people are able to add raw milk to their diet without any problems. 

For some people who have been treated with antibiotics, have gut problems, or a diet that consists of processed foods, the bacteria in their gut may be out of balance.  If you consume raw milk too quickly, you may experience mild cramping, diarrhea, or bloating.  This is the bodies’ way of adjusting to this living food.  For this reason, slowly introduce raw milk to your diet.  We recommend you start with ¼ cup of raw milk, or raw kefir.  Wait several hours.  Slowly increase the amount of raw milk as tolerated.  This will allow your gut to re-build its gut flora slowly.  Within a few days, you should be able to consume as much raw dairy products as you like.

ABOUT OUR COWS:

What do our cows eat?

Our happy cows graze on pasture year round.  To ensure our cows maintain optimal nutrition when they are making milk they receive a daily ration of organic alfalfa hay, minerals, a small amount of organic grain, and raw whey (which comes from our cheese-making).  

Why do we feed our milking cows grain?

When cows are producing milk, they require extra calories to make milk.  Pasture feeding alone will sustain the cows’ life and prevent illness, but it is not enough nutrients to produce milk. Our milk cows graze on our green pastures daily.  In addition, they are fed a daily ration of dry organic hay, minerals, a small amount of organic grain, and raw whey protein (from our cheese making).  This ration keeps our cows well nourished, healthy, and able to provide your raw milk.  Healthy cows produce healthy milk.

Are our cows tested for A1/A2 genetics?

We do not test for A1/A2 genetics.  It is our opinion that raw, non-homogenized milk, from organic cows that graze on pasture makes the most nutritious milk.  We have 10 different breeds that make our milk delicious and nutritious.  We believe the genetic diversity of our cows adds to the overall nutritional diversity of their milk.