The Best Milk I Have Ever Tasted

I am thrilled to be able to finally drink minimally processed, unhomogenized cow milk that is produced within twenty-five miles of my home.

While I love Ohio Family Farms organic whole milk, and think it beats other, national brands of organic milk (like Horizon) hands down, the first sip of Snowville Creamery’s unhomogenized whole milk blew me away. It was like nothing I had ever tasted before–clean and pure in flavor, and fresh as fresh could be. It is processed minimally the same day as the milk comes from the pastured cows, right on the farm. It is pasteurized–it is illegal to sell raw milk in Ohio, but instead of being ultrapasteurized at a very high temperature for a shorter period of time, it is pasteurized at a lower temperature for a very slightly longer time. This results in an amazing flavor difference that is beyond compare.

And–get this–these pastured cows are not raised with rBGH–and the milk is cheaper than either Ohio Family Farms milk, Horizon or Organic Valley. In fact, the price is meant to be comparable to mass-produced non-organic milk in price–and it comes quite close. And the quality is miles ahead of all of the other fluid milk products I have ever had, organic or conventional.

So, uh, let me see–I can get a better product that tastes fresher and which supports our local rural economy–and save money?

Oh, good lord, please sign me up for that!

I believe I have just become a convert of the “Dairy Evangelist,” Warren Taylor, the outspoken and passionate owner of Snowville Creamery. (I have note here–his daughter is one of Morganna’s best friends here in Athens–but really–I’d like this milk regardless of who had anything to do with producing it.)

Look for an in-depth post in the very near future including an interview with Warren and Victoria Taylor, as well as the farmers who raise the dairy cows. Hopefully, I can also get to visit the farm and processing facility so I can take photos of the operation, so that readers can get a really great glimpse of what it is like to be a small food producer in rural Appalachia.

Until then, let me just say give a big thank you to Warren and Victoria for bringing their dream of a local dairy to fruition, because I, for one, am going to spread the word. You guys rocked my world and I am going to do my best to get everyone I know to try your milk, and taste the difference a truly local dairy can make.

And I have to say–I am really looking forward to trying the butter I hear is in the works from Snowville Creamery. I hope that there might be some in time for the holiday baking season.

15 Comments

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  1. I’ve only ever had milk like that for one week, on my uncle’s dairy farm in Minnesota — but I remember it well….

    Comment by donna — December 13, 2007 #

  2. I am insanely jealous! Our close-to-local slaughterhouse/butcher is now butcher-only of frozen things brought in for who knows what reason…

    I look forward to the day when I move farther south where “rural” isn’t *that* far away and I can get more fresh goodies.

    - C.

    Comment by Cindy — December 13, 2007 #

  3. I got to talk with Warren. What a great guy who is very enthusiastic about what he does. We talked milk and cheese for a while.
    His daughter is a hoot as well. She is one of my fencers.
    I’ll let you know about how it makes into a cheese soon.
    Yea for the small creamery, death to the UHP process! Milk should not equal a polymer!

    -=Bryian=-

    Comment by Bryian — December 13, 2007 #

  4. Let me know when you go to do the interview, and maybe I can come along and grab some video of the process, and post it to Tigers and Strawberries, (if Warren is OK with that.)

    Just a thought!

    -Dan

    Comment by Dan — December 13, 2007 #

  5. I have to admit, that I am thoroughly jealous of everything Athens seems to offer locally! For my area of Florida, it still seems like “farmer’s market” equates to selling whatever they purchased from the wholesaler that week (and we trucked in from who knows where).

    I’ve been looking for local dairy that didn’t force me to drive several hours for over two years now. I lucked out *once* in our local Wild Oats, but not that Whole Foods has stepped in, alas it is no more.

    If only the computer industry was stronger there, I’d move to Athens!

    Comment by Jennifer — December 13, 2007 #

  6. barbara, if they sell cultured butter, try turning it into ghee. it tastes more authentic than ghee made from non-cultured butter.

    Comment by bee — December 13, 2007 #

  7. Oh, I’m jealous.

    I don’t think I can get local cow’s milk here. I don’t think dairy cows can thrive on Texas ranges. We have beef cattle and dairy goats, but not dairy cattle.

    So I have to go with Horizon. At least I don’t know what I’m missing.

    Comment by Neohippie — December 13, 2007 #

  8. Barbara, I have a herdshare here in Cincinnati. I pick up completely unprocessed milk once a week at the farm. This is legal because I’ve purchased 3/25ths of a cow and each month pay 3/25ths of that cow’s room and board. In return, I pick up 3 gallons of milk each Friday. It’s more expensive than buying milk at the store. I’m wondering how Snowville Creamery does it for a comparable price to the mass-produced crap — what I keep hearing from local farmers is that they need to be able to get ~$5 per gallon in order to make a living from pastured cows. (I’m actually quite happy to spend that much, as 100% of it goes to the farmer.)

    Val

    Comment by valereee — December 14, 2007 #

  9. Well, Val–as to the question of cow shares, as I understand it, that is a loophole in the Ohio law that some legislators want to close, and are working towards closing. Which is bad for everyone who wants legally obtained raw milk in Ohio. You might want to look into the issue and lobby against the closing of the loophole.

    I do know that Warren Taylor, the owner of Snowville Creamery, is a drinker of raw milk himself, and would prefer to sell raw milk–and so he has been lobbying to have it legalized in Ohio–but it is an uphill battle. The legislation which makes selling raw milk for human consumption illegal in most states in the US was actually put into place with good reason–lots of unscrupulous dairies in urban areas were selling infected milk–and people were getting sick. Tuberculosis was one big illness that was spread via raw milk.

    So the dairy laws were enacted with good reason and to good purpose–which makes them hard to repeal or change now, even though at this point, they are not so much protecting the interests of consumers, but instead are protecting the interests of corporate dairy farmers and milk processors.

    How does Warren make his product so inexpensive compared to most organic milks? I don’t know, exactly–that is why I want to interview he, Victoria, and their friends who own the dairy farm which provides the milk! I want to find out how it is working, and see how they have worked to bring their dream of a truly local dairy to fruition. I know it has been a long-term project, and I know that they have had to fight regulators the whole way. I am just glad they made it, and their product is so good that I really hope they stick around in the marketplace–because I don’t want to go back to drinking ultra-pasteurized milk again.

    As for pasteurization–I am on the fence about raw milk. I don’t mind minimal pasteurization–it seems to promote food safety (food safety being something that is beaten into every culinary school graduate’s head, mind you) while still delivering a delicious, healthful product. I think that raw milk should be legally available in the US–but I think that the regulations necessary to insure safety should be very draconian and there should be at least twice yearly inspections of farms and bottling facilities which produce raw milk–and the fact is–our government will not spend that kind of money to ensure consumer safety.

    I am all for knowing my farmer and trusting him or her–but not everyone has the luxury of living near farms. They would just have to trust that their raw milk was uncontaminated–and let’s just look at how consumer trust in the safety of the general meat supply has been eroded by all of the beef recalls in the past year. The FDA doesn’t have the budget and staff to implement the already excellent laws on the books to ensure safe meat–do you really think that they would be able to police raw milk dairies well enough to ensure safety?

    I doubt it.

    In the ideal world, we would have raw milk available everywhere in the US that was safe, and we would have pasteurized milk that was safe, and our meat supply would be safe, too. But until our government cares enough to pay enough inspectors to do their jobs and enforce the laws already on the books, and any future laws–this will not happen.

    And personally–even though most of the food safety issues with milk have come from already pasteurized milk which got tainted at the bottling plant–I would rather have minimal pasteurization in place than trust a governmental agency to adequately regulate raw milk dairies in order to assure food safety standards.

    But that is me.

    Personally, I want to taste raw milk myself–and see if it is really that great in comparison to the Snowville Creamery barely processed milk. In fact, if I get a chance to, I might write a post about that, too….

    Comment by Barbara — December 14, 2007 #

  10. Hi Barbara,

    I’m glad you found a farmer who provides you with the best milk you have ever tasted. Can’t Warren Taylor even GIVE you a glass of fresh, pure raw milk to taste in Ohio? I’m really getting sick of the citizens-are-prisoners mentality in this country!

    My vote for the best milk I have ever tasted came from a farm in my native Nebraska. It was grade A state-certified RAW milk from Jersey cows grazing on rapidly-growing wild native Nebraska grasses in June–the very type of raw dairy that Dr. Weston A. Price studied! It might be a slight exaggeration–but only slight–that this grass-fed Jersey raw milk was so rich and sweet that it had a flavor approaching that of liquid ice cream…

    The lactation that saved my life from Crohn’s disease, however, was grass-fed Raw Colostrum from the Organic Pastures Dairy Company in Fresno, California. (www.organicpastures.com). Organic Pastures tests every single batch of raw milk for E. coli O157:H7 before it ever leaves their creamery. I am a big fan of testing for pathogens. Even my raw eggs brand (Frenzs) are tested for Salmonella and other serious pathogens. Grass-fed, clean, and tested for pathogens really is the way to go for commercial raw animal foods products production.

    Anyway, from both a health-giving AND gourmet culinary standpoint, I’ll bet you would enjoy doing your research on raw dairy. The Weston A. Price Foundation is an excellent starting point. Enjoy!

    http://www.westonaprice.org/

    Comment by Diane Reifschneider — December 15, 2007 #

  11. Raw milk can still make you sick. Washington State has just issued an alert about contaminated raw milk. See details at my blog: http://efoodalert.blogspot.com/2007/12/why-drinking-raw-milk-can-be-risky.html

    Comment by Phyllis Entis — December 18, 2007 #

  12. Phyllis–I agree with you–raw milk can make you sick.

    However, so can pasteurized milk if it is contaminated at the processing plant post pasteurization.

    Since I don’t trust large meat packers to be clean, or large fresh vegetable packers to be clean–as evidenced by recent meat recalls and recent contamination of fresh produce with e coli–I cannot help but be less than sanguine about trusting large milk processors, especially the ones who use milk from cows pumped up on antibiotics which are given, not just to cure an illness, but as a matter of course to prevent illness, and artificial hormones in order to stimulate unnaturally large milk supplies.

    So, while I appreciate that raw milk has its dangers–which is why I am not as much of a wholehearted raw milk supporter as I could be–I don’t think that it should be banned as a matter of course.

    Comment by Barbara — December 18, 2007 #

  13. Just wanted to say I am 2 weeks into a completely raw milk diet and loving every moment of it! For anyone outside of California you can order raw milk from Organic Pastures Dairy Co
    http://www.organicpastures.com
    They sell 1/2 gallons for $5.00 of mixed Jersey + Holstein organic raw milk. Shipping might seem to high, depending where you are , but the taste & the benefits might keep you coming back for more.
    I’ve been drinking their milk for 3-4 years and talk about total health it gives. A must read is Ron Schmidts “Untold Story of Raw Milk”
    445 pages of detail including humans who have lived on raw milk for 5-50+ years!
    To Your Health!

    Comment by Allen — March 29, 2008 #

  14. Snowville milk is not organic and does not claim to be. They do use antibiotics (more than likely in a responsible manner) and non-organic grain as feed. They are grassfed meaning pastured and given hay but each cow is given a bucket of conventional grain feed every day during milking. There is some concern about the feed being conventional and the possibility of GMO soy or corn being included in that mix. I would sugest putting pressure on the local market through verbal feedback and suggestion to demand assurance of non-GMO feed for the cattle. GMO’s have been shown to have the capability to assimilate into the gut bacteria of animals and humans eating the modified foods; meaning, the modified genetic code can possibly be tranferred to bodily fluids of the cow like milk, and then onto your own gut bacteria.
    Now, that is all not to say we don’t adore Snowville Creamery their product and their mission. The milk is the bomb! As consumers, it is our responsibility to vote with our dollars. Organic standards for dairy do need to be rethought but in the meantime, the organic certification model will be the market that pushes biotech foods out of existence. And, it is the vote done with your dollar that will cause it to happen.
    Ohio Family Farms also uses low temperature pasturization like Snowville and is a better choice over Horizon, most assuredly, but it is still a toss up between them and Snowville in our household.

    Comment by Greg — April 6, 2008 #

  15. FYI
    I’ve just discovered that Snowville does not exclusively bottle milk from Bill and Stacey’s farm (the farmers featured on the label of the carton). This year anyway, I hear from area farmers and milk haulers they were getting milk from another conventional farm in Gallia county. Also, I know for a fact that Bill and Stacey’s cows stand in mud up almost to their udders during winter and early spring because their pastures aren’t large enough and I can’t help wonder how the cows are soley pasture grazed when they don’t have enough green grass even in summer? I surely hope their labels aren’t implying that. I can understand if they are feeding them hay but I am beginning to wonder about how truthful their labeling is.

    Comment by Greg — April 11, 2008 #

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