Floridians enjoy a special loop hole; buying it as commercial animal feed. Legally speaking, consumers are allowed to drink raw milk, it's just the access, distribution, and transfer of it that often receives a blow from the FDA police.
In Florida, however, there are actually a few farms officially registered to sell unpasteurized milk.
Raw milk demand grows; more Florida farms sell it as pet food
Florida calls it pet food, but people crave it and will go underground to get it.
Florida allows the sale of unpasteurized milk only as pet food, yet while a growing number of people want raw milk for themselves, the state turns a blind eye.
Nothing prohibits drinking raw milk. State officials acknowledge that there's an underground supply chain.
People say it's a creamier, purer and healthier alternative to pasteurized milk.
This year, about a dozen more farms statewide, a total of 46, registered to sell raw milk as “commercial feed.” There's no way to tell how much is bought for human consumption.
“It's legal to consume. It's not like a drug that you can get arrested for possession or distribution,” said Pete Kennedy, president and attorney for Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a national organization that advocates for the right to buy and consume raw milk. “The law is dysfunctional.”
Three farms in Palm Beach County are registered to sell unpasteurized goat and cow milk. None in Broward County is registered, but their suppliers are. At least one natural-foods store and a farm sell raw dairy products, including milk, butter and yogurt.
The state, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, warn that raw milk can be hazardous, not healthier, and that pasteurization is needed to avoid contamination such as E. coli and salmonella.
The Palm Beach County Health Department in recent years has had only one reported listeria case caused by raw cheese consumed in Mexico. Broward has no reports in the past two years.
Derek Friedman believes raw milk is harmless and that pasteurizing renders milk useless.
“Where's my freedom of choice to choose what I put in my mouth?” asked Friedman, a Boca Raton chiropractor who focuses on holistic health care and nutrition and has been drinking raw milk for a decade. “Let the consumer decide. Get the government out of my food.”
Those looking for a raw milk fix go to great lengths to find farms where transactions are quietly conducted and a de facto “don't ask, don't tell” policy is understood.
Chelsea Marando, owner of Marando Farms inFort Lauderdale, has raised her family on raw milk and now sells about 500 gallons a month, up from 100 gallons six months ago. She protects the identity of her supplier, she says.
“They watch us very closely. I don't know if they send spies, so to speak,” Marando said.
Layla Lopez, a licensed nutritionist at Delray Medical Center, said drinking raw milk is not worth the risk, especially for the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. Organic pasteurized milk is a healthier alternative, she said.
Jojo Milano, owner of Goodness Gracious Acres in Loxahatchee, breeds Nubian dairy goats and is “scared to death of the government” and a potential crackdown. So when someone calls asking for raw milk for their baby, she says no.
“I don't know if it's a ruse,” she says. “If you don't follow my rules, no, I'm not selling you milk.”
By Erika Pesantes, Sun Sentinel