Supermarket milk makes some people so sick that they’re willing to flout federal law, snub “mainstream” health officials and go rogue.
Meet Hannah Springer of Bay Ridge: Public Enemy Number 1, at least as far as the study-pushing jack-booted scientists at the Food and Drug Administration would have you believe. Springer loves the taste of a cold glass of milk as much as the next woman, but her system can’t stomach it, so she’s gone underground — participating in a milk buying club that is so secret that she can’t even reveal its name.
“This goes beyond organic,” said Springer, whose purchase of unpasteurized, non-homogenized, farm fresh milk puts her and her fellow dairy renegades in a legal — and dietary — gray area.
Springer and her milk ilk meet at secret “drop-off points” throughout the city, where they pick up their bovine contraband from runners who have driven in from farms in Pennsylvania that are part of The Movement.
Not any old cow will do.
“We are very strict about which farmers we buy from,” she said, taking a brave personal risk just talking to a reporter. “A lot of investigation goes into the cleanliness, conditions and bottling.”
Springer became interested in the raw milk and the “locavore” movement as a whole after reading — take a guess — “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Soon after, she had complications during her pregnancy that led to the development of a thyroid disorder.
This led her to the Westin A. Price foundation, a group at the forefront of the fight for raw milk and local food. Through that organization, Springer was put in touch with “the milk club.”
Now, Springer has climbed the ranks within her clandestine group and brings in new members while weeding out the applicants who, she claims, “want to tear the group apart from the inside.”
The change in diet has produced amazing results.
“I no longer have to take thyroid meds, which every doctor said I would be on for the rest of my life,” Springer said. And Springer’s 18-month-old son, Oliver, sucks down the stuff like it was mother’s milk (which it is, for cows).
“He’s actually our main raw milk drinker,” she said. “He drinks two cups a day.”
Springer’s involvement doesn’t just end with her family; soon, she’ll control a “drop off” that will service Bay Ridge and Sunset Park.
“For people who are used to shopping at Whole Foods, it’s a good deal,” said Springer. “A gallon of (super-secret) raw milk is between $6 or $7. A half gallon of milk at Whole Foods costs around $5.”
And the club doesn’t just traffic in raw milk. It also hooks up buyers with grass-fed beef, “true-pastured eggs” and, according to Springer, the best bacon in the world.
Still, the bargains come at a steep price — according to the feds. Since 1987, the Food and Drug Administration has prohibited trucking raw milk across state lines and then selling it. Springer insists that her buyers club gets around this law by buying it in the state in which it is produced, and then merely bringing it home to distribute to others.
But even if the milk club beats the legal rap, federal authorities say that raw milkers are endangering their health.
“Raw milk is inherently dangerous and it should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any purpose,” said Michael Herndon, a spokesman for the FDA. “Raw milk may contain many pathogens … that may be especially problematic for infants, young children, the elderly.”
Springer scoffs at the FDA’s science, and has plenty of data to back up her own claims. Raw milk does cost a bit more than the low-grade stuff most supermarkets stock, but it’s worth it, she said.
“Basically, we spend a little more money on food so we don’t have to pay for the doctor.”
©2010 Community News Group
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