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No bull! Ridge woman is drinking milk straight from the cow!

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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.”

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Reader Feedback

Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Good for you Hannah - I hardly tust the federal government's standards for food safety considering that they think that animals which are basically tortured, pumped with chemicals, and kept in unsanitary and inhumane conditions are safe for consumption - where as clean and natrual milk, drunk the way it had been drunk for thousands of years up until industrialization is somehow less safe.
They can make whatever suggestions they feel are appropriate, but I refuse to follow the advice a body that approves such clearly uncosumable food and limits sustainable and healthy products.
March 1, 2010, 4:58 am
Josh from Dyker Heights says:
Raw milk is way healthier than the putrid stuff they sell in most grocery stores. The pasteurization kills good bacteria and makes the milk harder to digest, homogenization scars the blood vessels, rBGH boosts IGF-1 in the body which can lead to cancer (and mastitits in the cow, which is why the EU banned that stuff), the cows are physically weak and ill standing in their own feces all day (which is why they're pumped full of antibiotics).

When a cow is healthy, given pasture, and grass fed, they will produce a product that is clean and safe. An unhealthy cow that is fed gruel (grain, chicken feces, dead cows, whatever else that's cheap), not given pasture, and wallows in their own feces will of course produce a product that is not clean.

The FDA wouldn't know healthy if it hit them straight in the face.
March 1, 2010, 8:32 am
Hannah from Bay Ridge says:
For the record:
1) "regular" milk and dairy products do not make me sick, but the thought of how they're produced and what's in them does
2) I developed a thyroid disorder before becoming pregnant, due to use of hormonal contraceptives and consumption of soy foods; I had some issues during pregnancy relating to my vegetarian soy-heavy diet and residual nutrient deficiencies from the Pill.
3) raw milk is an excellent source of vitamin B6 which is largely absent from our overly cooked processed American diet -- again, B6 is depleted by hormonal contraception which in turn can harm the thyroid
4) there is no mention of the most important aspect of the raw milk we drink in this article: it is from cows on pasture! Cows are supposed to be eating green grass most of the year, and hay in the winter months. This is what makes the milk high in vitamin A; the fact that they are outdoors most of the time means the milk is rich in vitamin D. I would not drink milk from cows in confinement eating grains and would not recommend that anyone ever do this. Cows in this state are inherently unhealthy.
5) the people most interested in restricting access to safe, healthy foods from small family farms are the food corporations which stand to lose big profits
6) for a great presentation on raw milk (safety, legality, health, environment) come to the Subud Chelsea Center on Sat. Mar. 27 at 7pm -- tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/97887
March 1, 2010, 8:50 am
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
Raw Milk is the best. I once saw a place in Northern California sell raw milk in old style milk bottles. It was the best, the company that sold it also sold other raw milk products, like cream, butter and cheese. And it was also all Organic. Oh, boy do I miss that.
March 1, 2010, 1:34 pm
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
@Josh, when people still believe that High Fructose Corn Syrup is better than natural sugar, you know the FDA has to get to work.
March 1, 2010, 1:36 pm
Josh from Dyker Heights says:
@Fourth Estate: They're too busy making sure that milk labels say that "the FDA has found no significant difference between milk treated with rBGH and milk without" despite the fact that a study published in the 90's in the Journal of Endocrinology disproved the results of the FDA's own shoddy study.

I half expect the FDA to come out and say that HFCS is better than sugar.
March 1, 2010, 10:08 pm
Hannah Springer from Bay Ridge says:
My request for corrections to be made to the print edition were ignored, so I would like the opportunity to set the record straight since this article makes libelous claims about me. Please see my blog entry on this:
http://healthyfamilychronicles.blogspot.com/2010/03/midnight-rant.html
March 6, 2010, 9:37 am
Phil from Bay Ridge says:
Shame on Stephen Brown for twisting the facts and words for the purpose of a more salient article, shame on the Brooklyn Paper for not printing a correction.
March 11, 2010, 9:46 am
Erik L from Williamsburg says:
Hannah,

I just read this article and it really made me happy as I have been looking for raw milk in NYC for a while now...
After reading it and being apart of a community here in Williamsburg
Brooklyn that is a huge proponent of locavorism, I greatly believe in
the power of raw milk. It was until 3 years ago up in Hudson, New
York I first tried raw milk. I was immediately taken by the fact of
how easy it was to drink and how it helped my eczema after returning
to buy it on a monthly basis after that. Unfortunately, I cannot
manage anymore trips up the that farm as it becomes so expensive to
drive 3 hours each way (!!) and I cannot find it anywhere in New York.
I am writing in the hopes that
you or someone on this comment board can help me find someone who can help with my raw milk dilemma.
My wife and I are at our wits end trying to find someone who might
help us. Please get in touch via email at americandriftwood@gmail.com
March 26, 2010, 8:21 am
Mary Martin from California says:
You may want to view these videos before trying raw milk.

http://www.marlerblog.com/2010/01/articles/legal-cases/2006-e-coli-o157h7-outbreak-linked-to-organic-pastures-raw-milk-one-victims-story/

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2009/12/considering-drinking-raw-milk-read-this/
March 28, 2010, 10:30 am
rachel from park slope says:
this is a ridiculous take on a serious issue. it's great that you are publishing a story about raw milk, but it does not have to be spun in such a negative "outlaw" manner. the products that you get from such a buying group (to which i personally belong as well) are so far superior to that you can buy in a supermarket, even whole foods. maybe the author should do a little more journalistic research before writing such an article.
April 15, 2010, 4:05 pm
Jenn from Bay Ridge says:
I'm a native of Bay Ridge and I've heard of these drop off points that sell raw milk and other organic dairy, meats etc. But unable to obtain info on how I can become part of this "club" Ive been searching for months on how to get food like this. Can someone out there help me find out who to speak to about placing an order.
Jan. 7, 2011, 11:18 am
Jenn from Bay Ridge says:
OPPS! forgot to leave my information: Please email me at
jrdipalo@msn.com if someone out there can hook me up with info on how to purchase organic foods
Jan. 7, 2011, 11:21 am
blaine from bushwick says:
can someone please help me get in on this? I would just drive to a farm, but have no car. any info would be appreciated. It's total BS that this is even an issue.

Blaineyb@gmail.com
347-362-4044
May 6, 2011, 2:24 pm
sexy says:
oh wow my milks is tasty and breast
Nov. 28, 2011, 6:40 am

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