By Teresa Starcher

"Raw milk". I stared at the term for I had never heard it before, even though I grew up on a farm. I wondered how one could constitute milk as being raw; for apparently I had suffered under the misapprehension that milk came from the cow fully processed. Yet here, in black and white print, our infinitesimally omniscient government in their baleful benevolence was informing me otherwise.

Yes, I am aware of my use of oxymora but they have dared to use raw as an adjective with milk for pity sakes. So are we to suppose that breastfeeding mothers nourish their babies with an unprocessed substance, how absurd. I feel compelled to get to the bottom of this so I reach for the dictionary. The definition for raw read: 1. not cooked. 2.not yet or not fully processed. 3. In its natural state. The latter, I would suppose, to be intended in the government's usage.

Yet in further research, I found the web site for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) which stated. "The sale of Raw Milk (unpasteurized) for humans or pets is prohibited under WV Regulation (DHHR office of General Council interpretation of 64 CSR 34)". The DHHR being the Dept. of Health and Human Resources and CSR is Code of State Rule, Title 64, Series 34; which deals with the selling of Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk. I found the CSR on the Secretary of State web page, in it was stated, "Vendor must have a valid Food Establishment Permit". And of course 64-30 was "Fees for Permit."

I then visited the web sites of the USDA and WV University Extension Service who in 1988 started the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE). Here I learned that the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) is the communication and outreach arm of SARE. These all contain info that would be useful to even a "Mom & Pop" farming operation. As for those unconcerned about milk one way or another, I would like for you to PC putter on the word homogenized and you can never think of it as wholesome again.

My major reason for this research was that I had heard it through the grapevine that several people had been admonished and even fined for selling their cow milk. I found this hard to believe for as long as I can remember it has been common place throughout the community. So in keeping with all these acronyms; then those now doing what was once a common practice, would be Secret Agricultural Products Smugglers ( SAPS). Call me one for truly believing that people were and still are conscientious, clean and take pride in their cattle and the dairy products from them.

Actually, my mother had strict criteria in her management of milk. Foremost the cow must have a clean bill of health and be sporting a rectangular, metal tag in its ear signifying that she had been tested for TB. Also the milk was kept as sterile as possible along with all utensils associated with it. The first thing Mother would do upon returning from milking was to strain the milk through sheer cloth to remove any foreign body. From then on all milk was kept in the refrigerator. Milk for the table was poured from a pitcher. While her allotment for making butter, was placed into a sandstone crock and covered up for the cream to rise, which she skimmed off for making butter.

Many times, while growing up, I helped her to make butter by churning the cream into a golden glob that she then pressed and paddled into a neat round patty. I remember the kitchen becoming steamy of evenings as she boiled and scalded everything. Oh and heaven forbid that any of us dare touch her "milk rags". She even tried to keep the cow pasture clean of weeds that she called filth, wild onions being especially offensive because all milk then went to the hogs.

The dairy products varied throughout our community by how much time and effort one wanted to put into making them i.e. butter, cottage cheese, cheese or even ice cream. And also the breed of cow one had. Mother once had a Holstein-Hereford mix and I swear that you couldn't tell the difference between that cow's milk and store bought. The Jerseys give milk rich in cream so good for butter, while the Holstein is hard to beat for sheer volume. So some neighbors would usually sell or barter among themselves while others used their surplus to help fatten their hogs.

Uncle Sam can be a slippery fellow and some state's laws can stealthily make their way into our daily lives until one day, selling our neighbor a gallon of milk has become a covert operation. Do we really need the government to tell us when to blow our noses? How did these laws become so constricting? Because we let them be.

According to the Secretary of State office, our code of state rules are made available to the public during the rule-making process to encourage public participation and comment. This comment period consists of two months when the proposed, new law will be published, as a notice, once in news papers in major cities of the state. Also most times in several counties a prominent meeting place will be designated along with the time in the notice. Yet, most people don't bother to attend or lend a voice.

We need to be more aware and assert ourselves when we feel it may be needful. Unless we do so. We will; in the true sense of the word, be SAPS.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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