Raw Milk: Buy It in Arizona, But Buyer Beware

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While it may sound foreign to some, the sale and consumption of raw, unpasteurized milk is going on right under your nose. 

Well, maybe not that close -- but definitely in our fair city. 

Call this The Guide to Most Everything You Wanted to Know About Raw Milk But Didn't Begin to Know to Ask. 

We'll tell you everything from where to buy the stuff to why you might want to drink it -- to why you might not want to drink it. 

You may have heard the latest story NPR did on the subject this week. Big debate. And even though it's perfectly legal to sell and consume the stuff in Arizona, the controversy over its safety still impacts not only consumers, but independent farmers, large scale dairy manufacturers, and even politicians. 
(learn more -- including the Ick Factor -- after the jump)

According to realmilk.com, a website dedicated entirely to informing the public about raw milk, its benefits, and where to procure it, raw milk is different from other milk in several ways.

Firstly, the cows are pasture-fed. Next, the milk is unprocessed and not homogenized. Typically before milk is processed, several batches of milk from different herds, and potentially different dairies, are mixed together in order to provide some sort of homogenized consistency among the batch. With raw milk, this is not done.

Raw milk also contains large amounts of butterfat. For whole milk to pass through government standards, it only needs to have 3.25% fat. While our society is quite obsessed with counting calories and staying lean and trim, proponents of raw milk argue that with the added fat and calories come important vitamins like A and D that are essential to the body. Taking out the fat therefore also takes out the nutrition.

But that's not the most controversial element. 

Raw milk is not pasteurized.

The pasteurization process heats the milk in order to kill micro-organisms like yeast, mold, and bacteria. The problem with that, according to some experts, is that certain bacteria are important to your health. They can help you build your immunity, and they provide your body with probiotics which actually keep you healthy.

It sounds like it should just be a matter of preference, but here's the problem: The sale and consumption of raw milk is not legal in all states. And the people who are firm believers in it have been known to break the law, and smuggle milk from other states into their own, both for their own consumption and for the consumption of others in their communities.

The sale of raw milk happens to be legal in Arizona, though it's rather difficult to procure. The Real Milk website provides a list of places where one can obtain raw milk in each state. For Arizona, there are ten sources listed, though it's actually a bit more complicated than just picking out the closest one and driving home with a gallon. These farms are small and independently owned, and in order to get more information about buying the product, you call one of the farm owners directly.

Of these ten listings, four are located in the Phoenix metro area. Three of these had information about purchasing farm shares, but did not advertise the sale of milk. (One specifically said that they don't sell it.) 

So the solitary farm we found selling raw milk in Phoenix is Save Your Dairy, in Queen Creek.  

Aside from buying the milk straight off the farm, the milk from this Queen Creek dairy can be purchased at one store, and one store only. Whole Foods confirmed that they don't sell any raw milk in the state of Arizona, but Healthy Habit, located on 7th St. and Bethany Home Rd., carries the product. Even with that info in hand, you might have trouble finding the raw milk, which is held in the back -- speakeasy style.

Check back later this week to see what happened when our writer actually drank raw milk.

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