Friday, June 18, 2010

The Skinny on Real Milk
Oregon dairyman sells cow shares in order to give customers raw milk

Two guys who know cows: Mike Duggan (on the left) raises cattle on 100 percent grass for beef on 200 acres at D&D Ranch in Terrabonne, a beautiful place close to Smith Rock State Park near Bend, Oregon. Beside him stands Bill Sieburg, the dairyman from Central Oregon Jersey Farm in La Pine who sells cow shares in order to offer locals raw, unpasteurized milk.

A cow looks up from grazing on grass near Mike Duggan's farm, with a view of Smith Rock in the background.

(Mike also sells this yummy honey produced by bees on his ranch.)

I spent a week in Bend, Oregon searching for "real" food and discovered what I think is one of the region's food gems: "real" milk. Pasture-fed, unprocessed and full-fat milk produced by purebred jersey cows from Central Oregon Jersey Farm. Billy Sieburg, the dairyman there, sells milk to people who come to the farm in La Pine and delivers the milk to CSA's in Redmond and Bend. I met Billy at the Agricultural Connections CSA created by Andrew Adams (in photo below:)

Andrew, above, sells produces and milk from the Bend CSA he created, that offers Bend locals food from a 100-mile radius from the West, down in the Willamette Valley all the way to Madras in the Northeast.

In Oregon it's illegal to sell raw milk, (the FDA is concerned about the risk of the milk carrying pathogens that cause disease) so the only way you can get it is to buy a cow and drink milk your cow produces. That's why the farmers at Central Oregon Jersey's Farm sells cow shares, enabling consumers to BUY A COW on their farm, allowing them to own a share of the herd.

Most commercial milk comes from breeds of modern holsteins bred so that they can produce three times as much milk as the old-fashioned cows. Basically, we've created a kind of Franken-cow that produces lots more milk to keep up with our consumption. But the milk is lower quality and the cows also tend to get sicker more easily (with mastititis, etc.)

Sieburg says he sells his buttery milk to people who are lactose intolerant. He says he's found that these folks can tolerate raw milk. He's a part of a movement that try to bring "real milk" back to the people. For more info, visit this Website dedicated to education about real milk. Local Bend or La Pine residents can contact Billy Sieburg at (541) 420-9599 or
email hims at
If you look closely at Sieberg's milk, you can see that a third of it is CREAM. YUM! Sign me up! One guy at the CSA where it was sold said it tastes like honey has been whipped into it.

There's a debate about the health of pasteurized verses unpasteurized milk, but some studies have linked pasteurized milk with lactose intolerance, allergies, asthma, frequent ear infections, gastro-Intestinal problems, diabetes, auto-Immune disease, attention deficit disorder and constipation, among other problems.

I'm a fan of raw milk. I've been off commercial cow's milk for ten years when I discovered I had a life-long allergy to milk, cheese and dairy products (something I'd suffered from since I was a child). The allergy caused me to feel like I had a constant sinus infection and after eating lots of milk, I'd even get vertigo. I now only eat goat's milk and sheep's milk and cheese or yogurt and feel great! But I have yet to try unpasteurized cow's milk myself. I'll have to try it and report back.