|E. helping fill up gallon jugs with raw milk|
on a recent co-op run.
The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo started January 14. On Monday, Vanda, one of Mike's beautiful ladies, was named Grand Champion. The FWSSR is the oldest continually running livestock show and rodeo. It is also one of the largest, in 2007, over 900,000 folks visited the Stock Show and 22,000 animals participated in exhibitions, shows, and rodeos. As they say, "this thing is legendary!"
BY DAVID CASSTEVENS
FORT WORTH -- The grocery store dairy case is stocked full with every kind of milk. Whole milk. Reduced-fat milk. Low-fat milk. Skim milk. Buttermilk. Acidophilus milk.
Comedian Lewis Black rants that soy milk, another choice, isn't milk at all.
"They couldn't sell soy juice, so they call it soy milk," he says. "Because anytime you say 'soy juice' you actually" -- Black pauses, his throat working -- "start to gag."
That's the pulsating squirts of white liquid being pumped into tanks during hourly live milking demonstrations at the Stock Show.
Throughout each day, four or five cows are led into an enclosure, where they stand in stalls, end to end, like railroad cars. The teat cups of milking machines are attached to swollen udders and, voila, the magic begins.
Children gather behind a glass partition take in the educational experience with wide-eyed amazement.
"They think milk comes from the store," said Dennis Carr, an instructor with Southwest Dairy Farmers, the milking parlor sponsor.
Carr grew up on a dairy farm, where he routinely drank raw -- unpasteurized -- milk.
So did Mike Moyers, a 6-foot-4 dairyman who operates Sandy Creek Farm, in Bridgeport.
Moyers, 53, says that raw milk has never once made him sick and that drinking it obviously didn't stunt his growth.
He sells all the raw milk his 30 head of brown Swiss cows can produce. The unpasteurized product is available to consumers for $5 a gallon at his farm, the only place he can legally sell it.
In Texas consumers can buy raw milk only by going to the "point of production," i.e., the pasture-based farm and buying it directly from the farmer -- provided the farm has a Grade A Raw for Retail Milk Permit issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
House Bill 75 would legalize the sale of raw dairy products by licensed farmers at farmers markets and farm stands.
|Ethan Lott, right, showed Mike Moyers' Vanda, a 6-year-old brown Swiss. |
Vanda was named Grand Champion at the Stock Show on Monday.
The raw milk debate has been going on since pasteurization was instituted in the 1920s to combat tuberculosis, infant diarrhea and other diseases. The Texas Association of Dairymen opposes the bill, citing raw milk as a serious health risk. According to the U.S. Centers for Diseases and Prevention, more than 800 people in the U.S. have gotten sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk since 1998.
Raw milk advocates view raw milk as "nature's perfect food." Once milk is pasteurized, they say, it destroys the beneficial microorganisms.
"A lot of people are wanting to go back to all natural food sources," said a Wise County dairyman, who raises registered jersey cattle and sells raw milk to the public.
He asked that his name not be used because his small dairy already can't meet the booming demand. He charges $6 per gallon for raw milk. One customer, he said, drives 110 miles one way to his farm. It is not uncommon, he said, for customers to buy 30 gallons at a time.
It's rare after a Stock Show milking demonstration that someone -- child or adult -- doesn't ask:
"Can you drink that [raw] milk?"
"Yes," Carr tells them, "but it's not good for you."
Carr who is 68, smiles and politely removes his black cowboy hat.
"It turns your hair white."
David Casstevens, 817-390-7436