Did you know you can get fresh milk from the farm right here in Douglas County? Delicious, cool, wholesome milk with a layer of thick cream on the top, from cows who are content to graze on grass and hang out under shade trees, chewin’ the cud.
I have been a fan of what is termed “raw milk” — I just call it milk — since I moved to Roseburg in 2014. In Oregon, it is legal to purchase raw milk if it is from a herdshare or from a small farm with three cows or less.
Many people are worried about potential health risks. Raw milk, if contaminated, can harbor bacteria that can sicken people, most especially the immunocompromised. There have been six outbreaks linked to raw milk in Oregon since 1996, but no deaths.
People are encouraged to get to know their farmers and make sure that protocols are in place to ensure a sanitary process. From what I have gathered from my own experience and research, I feel that fresh milk can not only be a safe product, but a nutritious one.
I have heard anecdotally of people’s health improving after adding raw milk to their diet, and many people who think they are lactose intolerant find they can enjoy raw milk without issue. And of course, yogurt, kefir, butter, cheese and ice cream can all be created!
Helios Farms, based in Yoncalla, sells raw milk through a herdshare program. Their milk is tested daily on an on-site lab that exceeds the FDA requirements for safety. There are four drop-sites throughout Douglas County: Central Feed in Sutherlin, Creators’ Antique Store in Drain, the Saturday Umpqua Valley Farmer’s Market and a privately hosted site in Roseburg. Sign up at the booth at the Umpqua Valley Farmer’s Market or go to HeliosFarms.com.
There are other small families who sell milk in Douglas County. I have sampled several and they are all fantastic. One option is the Wheaton family, who have a farmstand directly across from Norm Lehne farm, off Garden Valley Road. Stop at the blue house and head into the garage to see what is available. They currently have plenty of milk, and fresh apple cider.
My great Uncle Larry recently reminisced to me about watching his grandfather skim the cream off the top of the milk they had delivered fresh to their house daily in Santa Barbara. That cream is heaven in coffee or with some fresh local peaches and berries. In my opinion, if you haven’t had fresh local milk, you are really missing out.
To learn more about raw milk laws and food safety facts, check out RealMilk.com.