The sale of raw milk directly from the farm has become fairly common over the past few years. During my travels this week, I noticed a new addition to our local community with the availability of raw (unpasteurized/non-processed) milk from Hameau Farm located on State Route 655 between Reedsville and Belleville, Pennsylvania.
Gay Rodgers, the resident farmer, has had her eye on retailing raw milk for some time and beginning about a year ago, she initiated a project to have her farm and its herd of Ayrshire cattle certified, thus allowing this dream to become a reality.
I stopped by to find out a little more about Gay’s journey and to look at her operation. The first thing I noticed about Gay is that she is passionate about farming, Ayrshire cattle, and grass-based milk production.
Within a few minutes of our visit, we were deep into a discussion about what was required to become certified to sell raw milk from the farm and the layers of regulation in place to assure a healthy and safe supply of this great product to the public. Although some would think that the regulations and non-stop inspections and lab testing may dampen the drive to bring this product to the table, I found this information compelling in support of my decision to use raw milk in my culinary activities from this point forward and, without any doubt, this is a safe and healthy product.
In addition to the food-safety aspect, Gay also shared with me her philosophy of a grass-based diet for her herd and how this relationship between the grass and the particularities of the Ayrshire breed provides for high levels of both butterfat and protein. Also, the way the fat is formed within Ayrshire milk allows for an increased level of ease within the transformation process of Ayrshire milk into butter, yogurt, and cheese over other dairy breeds. Because raw milk is not processed, many of you who suffer from dairy intolerance may be able to utilize this product as the pasteurization process eliminates the lactate from the milk leaving only the lactose thus eliminating an important relationship between the two that allows for enhanced digestion.
I found through our discussion that Gay and I have similar thoughts as to how our food is grown, harvested, processed, and marketed to the public. We both support a commonsense approach to this process that embraces both artisanal, commercial, and hybrid agricultural activities to feed the world’s population.
Raw milk is available at Hameau Farm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and is retailed straight from the milk house. Please remember to bring your container as Gay, at present, is not able to provide for this level of service. The good news is that soon she will have available glass containers that you, the customer, can purchase and bring with you each time you visit the farm to have refilled just like a growler at your local brewery.
Without a doubt, my visit to Hameau Farm and the time I spent with Gay Rodgers warmed my spirit and gave me the inspiration I required to get through this cold and blustery early March day.