Raw milk drinkers have new source

Sullivan farm gets permit to sell drink

(Middletown Times Herald-Record, NY)

By Victor Whitman


Joe Cullen walks down a dirt path to the Dirie farm in western Sullivan County, with five glass jars jingling in a crate. He's come to buy unpasteurized milk. That's raw milk, straight from the cow.


But doesn't he worry about getting sick?


"Why?" he said, shooting back that's he's been drinking it all his life. Raw milk is healthier, he says. Tastes better, too.


"God knows how long (store-bought milk) has been sitting on the truck," said Cullen, who lives not far away.


Richard Dirie and his wife, Mary Ann, are among a few farmers statewide with a license to sell

raw milk. And you would think, in this modern day, it would be hard to find many customers. An Internet search brings warnings of bacteria-induced ailments, including diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache, vomiting and exhaustion.


The practice of selling and drinking raw milk is frowned on by the feds. Pasteurized milk is heated to remove pathogens. The Food and Drug Administration says several hundred people get sick each year from drinking raw milk or by eating cheese, yogurt and other products made from it.


Although the state has issued permits for decades, few farms in New York have been willing to go through the hassle of additional testing and monthly inspections and milk tests. The Dirie farm on Shandelee Road is among 25 farms statewide with a permit, said Jessica Chittenden, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. In Orange, an Otisville farm sells raw cow's milk. Farms in Goshen and Fallsburg sell raw goat's milk.


The Diries sold about 65 gallons of raw milk in March, their first month, and 30 gallons more in the first 10 days of April. They sell on Wednesdays and Saturdays or by appointment, for $4 a gallon if you bring your own jug or $5 with a Dirie jug.


"You don't know how many customers you'll get," Richard Dirie said. "But you hope that it will be worth your while doing it."


Dirie milk is also not homogenized, a process that prevents the separation of fat from the water. When you open a gallon jug, cream rises to the top. Mary Ann skims it off for her coffee, but it also makes tasty yogurt and whipped cream.


Dirie is sure his milk is safe because he drank it all his life on the farm his father founded in 1944. So have his two sons.


"I don't like store-bought milk," said Dirie's youngest son, Doug Dirie, 18, standing in front of two rows of cows after the morning's milking. "It is like drinking a soda and then taking a drink from a flat soda." 4-14-09






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