Friday, January 14, 2011

Get milkóraw and in demand

Raw milk producers are smaller farmers

Express Staff Writer

Idahoís Bounty driver Lynea Newcomer delivers raw milk from south-central Idaho farmers to NourishMe in Ketchum. Photo by David N. Seelig

The availability of whole foods is important to residents and visitors of the Wood River Valley. Supporting a south-central Idaho farmers and food purveyors network, Idaho's Bounty, an online market, has stepped up to meet that demand.

"Our clientele are highly interested in good nutrition," said Lynea Newcomer, Idaho's Bounty driver. "From their own research, they find what is good for them."

Idaho's Bounty has added raw milk producers Treasured Sunrise Acres and Green Grass and Sunshine to its list of suppliers. Debra Jantzi, owner of Treasured Sunrise Acres in Fruitland, Idaho, produces raw cow and goat milk. Jantzi and her nine children operate the diary.

Gena Herzinger, owner of Green Grass and Sunshine in Buhl, Idaho, has been producing raw goat milk since April 2010. Both diaries have high standards of production, allowing their animals to graze naturally with pesticide-free food.

The dairies are Grade A producers of raw milk, according to the requirements of the Idaho Agriculture Department. In March 2010, the Idaho Department of Agriculture passed a "small-herd exemption" for raw milk producers, allowing them to sell raw milk. The small-herd exemption allows small dairies that cannot afford an investment of $250,000 or more for stainless-steel piping, brick and mortar buildings, specific drainage equipment and other necessities required a larger Grade, to compete in the marketplace.

"Raw milk dairies are held to a higher cleanliness than other dairies," Newcomer said. "These dairies are expanded rapidly. They are able to expand their operations and make a livelihood and not have raw milk just be a hobby."

Newcomer said the raw milk option offers people a choice. The argument on raw milk versus pasteurized milk is ongoing. Milk that has been pasteurized is heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit to kill potential harmful pathogens. Raw milk producers and consumers believe today's raw milk product is safe and better for people because, even though pasteurization kills potentially harmful bacteria, it also kills off wholesome enzymes, bacteria and minerals essential for a healthy body.

"Many people make food decisions on calories," Newcomer said. "One of the fascinating things about the molecular level of food is that you need to take in some fat so Vitamin D can be absorbed into your body."

Idaho's Bounty offers healthy and diverse selections of whole foods, and the nonprofit organization is trying to make it financially viable for everyone involved.

"It's a dialogue we want to have with consumers," Newcomer said. "Having a choice is the benefit of Idaho's Bounty. We have created a new food distribution network. We take care of the rapidly growing health needs of the public, as well as other interests."

Newcomer said it's incredible that a little farmer can make such a quality product and provide it to people so quickly, while making a living.

Julie Johnson, owner of NourishMe a health food store and café in Ketchum, said she cannot keep raw milk products in stock. Idaho's Bounty delivers to NourishMe to serve people seeking an option to ordering online and picking up at designated sites in the valley.

"It's the kinda food you want," Johnson said. "I love being in this business, because you are dealing with real people who are providing great food."

Johnson said when she lived in Europe for 12 years and came back to the U.S. she could not figure out the difference in how her body was reacting.

"The lactose enzyme in raw milk helps the digestion," Johnson said.

Johnson said she knew something was different because her daughter did not like milk or eggs when living in the U.S.

"In France, we were living at a high altitude and had lots of local food products," Johnson said. "When we came back to the U.S., it opened my eyes to food."

Johnson said she has visited many farms because she loves to see where food comes from and meet the people who provide it.

"These animals are eating grass," said Johnson. "This is where the omegas in the food come from."

Johnson was buying raw milk in Shoshone, and when Idaho's Bounty started to deliver to her store she was thrilled.

"It's just right." Johnson said. "Right as rain."

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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