Raw Milk Ohio: A Thrilling Tale of A Covert Operation, Part 1

Recently, as those who follow us on Facebook are already aware, Mr. Scrimp and I purchased an interest in a local dairy herd. We did this because we really wanted to start drinking raw milk. But, because Ohio raw milk laws prohibit sales of unpasteurized milk, we had to work pretty hard to find a safe, legal source.

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I am going to share the story of how we came to be investors in a cow (or group of cows), because I want everyone to know what we had to go through here in Ohio to exercise our rights to food choice and food freedom. Sadly, I will not be able to share the real names of anyone involved in this story, because even though no laws were broken, the ODA have still been known to open investigations that often end in the unjust arrests of farmers involved in providing raw milk here.

The whole thing felt like some sort of drug deal or espionage. And, although everything we did was legal, according to our state and federal governments, it sort of was.

Mr. Scrimp and I have been talking for a long time about switching to raw milk. We had done our due diligence with reading and research and were reasonably convinced, not that raw milk is without risk, but that the risk was worth it to us personally. However, we knew that sale of raw milk was illegal in Ohio, and so we put it on the back burner and made do with some delicious local milk that, while not raw, is grassfed and low-heat pasteurized.

Then, a friend read my post on the Federal raid on Rawesome and sent me a message to let me know that if I was interested in raw milk, we should talk sometime.

I asked Mr. Scrimp if he was as interested as I was, and we agreed that we'd like to look into it a little more closely, especially if we could find a good local source.

As it turns out, the sale of raw milk in Ohio is not legal, but herdshare agreements and the sale of live animals absolutely are. And, if you own a portion of a dairy herd, you are entitled, legally, to a portion of the milk they produce, raw or not. Fortunately, at least in this state, what we do with the milk once we have it is still entirely our own business.

So I contacted our friend, and she gave us a place, a name, and a description. She and her husband have been raw milk consumers for some time now, and assured us that they've been getting milk from this particular farm for some time with no ill effects, and that we'd be able to take a farm tour should we want one (we do, but we haven't been able to go yet).

What we had to do was go to a local market and ask for "Joshua" (not his real name), and tell him that these friends had sent us. They agreed to pave the way by letting Joshua know that we would be coming. There would be a discussion, a contract, and an initial investment made to actually buy our share in the herd, after which we would become responsible for paying a monthly fee to Joshua for the upkeep and room and board of our portion of cow.

At this point, it was beginning to feel like we were undercover agents, or perhaps applicants for membership in la grande resistance. All we wanted was some milk, and before we ever left our house in search of it there were already hushed conversations and careful instructions--where to go, when to arrive, who to meet.

Accordingly, on the appointed day, we got in the car to go to the market, nervous and excited, ready to look for Joshua and present ourselves for his approval.

This is a long story, so I'm breaking it down into smaller chunks. Be sure to come back for Part 2 soon!

For some more background on Ohio raw milk laws, you can visit Ohio Raw Milk, or The Ohio Alliance for Raw Milk.

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This blog post is linked up at the Living Well Blog Hop on Common Sense Homesteading.

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