Raw milk can be hard to find. Unpasteurized and non-homogenized milk and other dairy products are regulated unfairly due to monopolistic market forces, ie well-financed food processing corporations and their hegemony, resulting in regulations that make raw milk production cost prohibitive.
Raw milk sales are outright banned in some places, thanks to government municipalities influenced by big business, obstructing informed and intentional consumers in their right to choose which foods they purchase.
Two examples of states that have outlawed all raw milk sales are Iowa and Wisconsin. When we think of Wisconsin, many people think of cheese. How could the cheese state not be permissive of raw milk from small family farms? For that same reason: the corporate dairy entities and conglomerates who produce conventional milk there are powerful. They use that power to force their competition off the market.
Nevertheless, you’re determined to get raw milk, here’s an ordered outline of options to get raw milk even in the most oppressive of states.
Search for raw milk online
Check GetRawMilk.com‘s search feature. Get Raw Milk was built to help you easily identify your nearest raw milk sources, including farm and retail locations.
Search by location (“city, state, country” or by zip code in the US) and Get Raw Milk’s system will display the options we’ve listed nearest you. Alternatively you can view the full map and zoom into the location you would like to inspect.
If you don’t find options on GetRawMilk.com, other listing websites exist; notably RealMilk.com our most prominent spiritual ancestor. Some countries/ regions also have location specific listing websites, notably: westonaprice.london for the UK, rawmilkireland.com for Ireland, milkmaps.com for Italy, and I’m sure there’s more. There are also a few websites out there for individual US states, this project was originally one of them.
You might also be able to find speadsheets or databases from local or state level municipalities, based on business licensing and registry data.
No options nearby? Identify your nearest option
Oh no! You don’t have several gallons of raw milk stocked and ready for casual purchase in grocery stores less than five minutes away like we do up here in the Inland Northwest… bummer, dude.
How far is your nearest raw milk option?
Are there any raw milk sources within 100 miles? Consider a day trip.
Are there any raw milk sources within 500 miles? Consider a weekend trip.
Are there any raw milk sources within 1000 miles? The answer to that question is: yes. Plan a little vacation for yourself, bring your family, bring some friends, or go it solo.
Make the trip
Gas is still relatively cheap, take advantage of this while you can. Going on a mission with a clear goal and accomplishing that goal, in this case getting raw milk, is a character building exercise. It’s also fun, set your mind to it and do it, you’ll find it rewarding beyond the material reward of good local food.
Now, that’s all well and good for one-offs, but you can’t do that on a regular basis… can you?
Yes, you can, or someone can.
Shipping bulk, drop points and milk runners
Many farms offer drop points where they deliver bulk orders to groups of people living near those drop locations, usually to service areas far away from the farm.
Common scenario is one passionate and/ or incentivized person with a big fridge who takes orders from each person on their roster, place the order directly to the farm, receive the delivered goods and hold it for each buyer to pick up.
Drop points may also be time sensitive and individually distributed, example scenario: everyone places their own order from the farmer, buyers are then expected to be at a specified place and receive their order within a window of time.
Hire your own milk runner, organize your own milk run
Got any friends who also want regular access to raw milk or other products available from the farm? Team work makes the dream work.
Identify who can make the trip and grab a bulk order. Pool your resources to cover fuel costs, maybe even pay the runner some cash for their time and vehicle use. Plan for once a week, or once every other week, or once a month; make it a regular routine.
The more people you get in on your group milk run, the more enticing it may become for your farmer to start a milk route. You might also be able to work out a delivery drop with your farmer from the get go if you’re buying enough to justify their time and energy expenses.
Somebody has to go first, someone has to put up an initial investment, and it doesn’t hurt to ask. Get more heads working on the problem and you’re bound to come up with something.
Crossing state lines
As far as I know, it’s perfectly legal for you to drive to another state to grab some milk. You’re in state X, you’re buying in state X, farmer is good to sell in state X, you’re good to go. That’s my understanding.
That being said, don’t make comments like “wow, it’s great I can get raw milk in this state. I’m about to transport this raw milk across state lines into a jurisdiction where raw milk sales have been outlawed.” It’s bad form, will make a lot of good people nervous, and it gives bad ideas to bad people.
Underground raw milk sources
People have cows, goats, sheep, and other animals in the countryside; it’s been like that for a long time. People milk those animals and may not be registered to do business since they’re not doing business, the only people consuming their milk is their family and perhaps a few close relations on cash based or bartering transactions. Maybe you can be one of those close relations.
Farmers that you have purchased eggs, meat, fruits, vegetables, and more from might be able to accommodate some low-key milk sales. They might know someone else who’s open to an arrangement.
If you find such an arrangement, remember: loose lips sink ships. Do not brag, do not leak any information that may lead back to your raw milk source (any amount of information stated through electronic means can do that). Use discretion when bringing others to the farm, ask your farmer first before offering access to a new person.
Getting your farmer into legal trouble is a betrayal. We have a responsibility to protect each other under hazardous circumstances and if your words or actions cause a farmer or fellow raw milk consumer to get in trouble, you have done them harm and you have betrayed us all. Don’t do that.
Buying your own cow, or other milk producing animals
This is another option that you can do yourself or pool resources with others to accomplish. You need a few things:
- Land/ Boarding
- Feed Sources
The land can belong to you, or someone else who’s willing to let you use some of their land for compensation. “Boarding” is the common term for hosting animals as a service.
The caretaker can be you, or someone you’ve joined forces with, or the people providing boarding services. Caretaking involves feeding, health management (animals get sick like we do), and a lot more. Get a good veterinarian, network and make sure you can pull advice from people with more experience than you.
Animals for sale can be found in any rural community, it’s a thing. If your level of interest has made it to this point you really should just make an effort to integrate yourself into these communities to some degree, make friends, and become a part of it. Even if you can pay for it all outright, it’s fulfilling to learn and experience what goes into farming and food production.
Idyllic scenario one, if you have plenty of time and resources: buy land, build infrastructure, buy animals, work it.
Idyllic scenario two, the hands-off approach: meet someone who will board, milk, and arrange for the acquisition of and caring for your animals in exchange for compensation.
Your experience will likely be a mix of hands on and help sought, so don’t be a stranger when it comes to finding others who can lend you a hand or advice. Have fun with it!
The self organized, make-your-own-milk option outlined in this section is a particularly good one since almost every place outside strictly-zoned cities have property available where animals can be raised. This also circumvents the multitude of regulations placed on businesses operating commercially, though you’ll have to research the regulations placed on home grown operations.
Farmers willing to ship milk
I recommend against ordering raw milk and dairy products across state lines. Just because you get away with it now doesn’t mean you haven’t opened yourself up to persecution in the future. Sometimes it takes the government a while to get around to rounding up dissidents.
When you circumvent regulatory agencies on a hand shake with local people, the risk is far less. Dealing outside of digital means will give you the opportunity to forego transmitting details over the internet or telecom lines, all of which will be written and stored on hard drives owned by establishment corporations and/ or the current government.
You also have an opportunity to build your local network when you go local, and that’s a far more sustainable path.
Any farming operation willing to ship nationwide will be interfered with and brought to an end eventually, it’s only a matter of time. Then you’ll be back at square one, looking for raw milk options locally, possibly under less advantageous conditions.
Consider greener pastures
If raw milk was a key ingredient to the survival of your ancestors, and the government has made it impossible for you to access raw milk: consider leaving. There are in fact greener pastures, and it’s easier to make a good situation better than it is to make a bad situation good.
A lot of people won’t have this option. If you can make it happen, consider it a blessing. Come to a place where access to raw milk has been secured and help us keep it that way, make it better, and increase access for everyone.
This article is meant to be an evergreen how-to article. Look forward to updated versions including links and examples, as well as supplemental articles on topics touched on here. Send questions or comments to email@example.com or find GetRawMilk on social media.