Raw Milk Sales Rise Amid Pandemic
Andrew Ferry milks 50 cows at his Pine Hill Dairy farm in Westport. He sells most of that milk to Garelick Farms, where it’s pasteurized (to kill bacteria) then distributed to grocery stores. But Ferry also sells raw, unpasteurized milk directly from his farm.
Since the start of the pandemic, his raw milk sales have jumped by about 25%.
“When the grocery stores were closed or people didn’t know where to buy food, it’s like an instinct to go to the farms,” said Ferry. “And it just so happens it’s something I specialize in.”
Other dairy farms in the state report a similar increase in sales.
In Massachusetts, raw milk cannot be sold in grocery stores. Consumers can only buy raw milk directly on one of the state’s 26 dairy farms licensed to sell the product.
The strict regulations are due to raw milk’s potential health risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that consuming unpasteurized milk can cause bacterial infection. The sale of raw milk is banned in 20 states.
Ferry said he’s a lifelong raw milk drinker and that it can be done safely with a few precautions. “You want to make sure it’s certified and it’s clean,” he said. “And if you’re not a raw milk drinker, you might want to start off slow. Don’t go drink a 16-ounce glass with ten Oreos the first time.”
He also emphasized the importance of keeping raw milk cold—below 40 degrees Fahrenheit—at all stages of handling.
The extra effort is worth it, according to Ferry, thanks to the taste. Compared to store-bought pasteurized milk, raw milk is “a little sweeter and a little creamier,” said Ferry, “and a lot more delicious with all the natural enzymes and fats in it.”
Pine Hill Dairy is one of two South Coast farms licensed to sell raw milk. The second is Paskamansett Farms in Dartmouth.