I purchased my goats from a friend who has decided not to milk next year. When she calculated everything out, she was only making $20 a month selling raw milk via goat shares. She’s frustrated and I probably would be, too, if I were milking goats to make money. But I’m not.
I keep goats primarily to feed my human kids (and myself) raw goat’s milk. It’s a whole food, and pasteurized milk is not whole. It’s a “part-food.”
Orangejello nurses from his mom, Pumpkin, each morning when they’re reunited
While eradicating any possible bacteria, the pasteurization process kills many of the nutrients and enzymes in the milk. Foods are holistic; the nutrients they contain are symbiotic and are meant to work together. When some are missing, you end up with imbalances, and the lack of milk enzymes in store-bought, pasteurized milk (enzymes help us break down and digest foods) is responsible for milk allergies. Thankfully, nobody in my family is allergic or intolerant to milk. But I prefer the enzymes anyway, and the sweet taste of fresh goat’s milk is amazing!
We have “half-weaned” Orangejello by separating him from his mom, Pumpkin, at night. This gives us a quart of her wonderful milk each morning. When we’re done milking, she re-joins the herd and Orangejello aggressively suckles — it’s so funny to watch, as he’s just about as big as she is! (When he punches her udder to let down the milk, he sometimes lifts her off the ground.) But we don’t want to deprive him of her milk entirely; the nutrition he’s getting from it shows in his robust size and gleaming coat.
Of course, I wouldn’t mind turning my love for raw milk into a profitable business. I’m a single mom, and hay and grain for the goats is expensive, not to mention the vet bills and the trips out to Elizabeth, Colorado to see the only caprine vet for miles (the long trips account for why our goats often join us in the drive-thru). But people like me have been prevented from selling our milk by the government, or more specifically, the dairy industry lobby, aided and abetted by the government. You see, lobbyists don’t just try to influence government; lobbyists often ARE government:
I began making venn diagrams like the one above over at GEKE.US when I realized that it wasn’t just government distorting what should be free markets… it was corporations, too. Corporations have little power to distort markets on their own, but they find ways to manipulate markets and consumers through government regulatory processes and something called “regulatory capture.” Lobbying can influence these processes, but it’s much easier if you simply get people working for your corporation on the “inside” of these powerful government agencies.
As a result, folks like me who might like to start a small business selling raw goat’s milk have been thwarted by two major dairy trade associations: the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation. I call their collective conglomeration ‘Big Milk.’ The corporations they represent really don’t like the idea of people like me competing with them for your milk business. So they’ve succeeded in instituting regulations and legislation making it much more expensive for goat owners to do business. Not to mention completely outlawing the sale of raw milk; the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR Sec. 1240.61) mandates that all milk for direct human consumption be pasteurized.
(Some of you may be thinking that the FDA is simply trying to keep us safe, protecting us from the nasty microbes that can sometimes be found in raw milk. But seriously, how many times do we have outbreaks of food-borne illness? It happens constantly, despite federal regulations intended to protect us from it. That is not the intent of these regulations, and it never was.)
Many people, faced with the stark reality that there’s no money to be made keeping dairy goats, pass on it… unless, like me, they really want to feed their families whole, natural foods. But it’s expensive and difficult, and I just wanted you to realize that the government (at the behest of large dairy producers) makes pursuing a healthier lifestyle much more expensive for the “little guy” or the single mom, than it has to be. Thanks for looking out for us, federal government! Keep subsidizing and protecting Big Milk, while penalizing tiny, family farms!