I keep reading about so-called A1 and A2 milk. I haven’t read The Devil in the Milk, but have read enough about it to get the main idea. (According to Amazon’s description of the book, “Milk that contains A1 beta-casein is commonly known as A1 milk; milk that does not is called A2.”) A1 milk leads to chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, while A2 milk promotes good health, goes the hypothesis.
It all makes a lot of sense on paper, and from various reviews, I gather The Devil in the Milk makes a compelling case for dairies to convert their herds to being A2 producers. There are some problems with this neat approach, though. Perhaps most serious, dairy farmers say there is apparently no way for them to test out their milk, because the test is proprietary, and isn’t currently being offered in the U.S.
The chiropractor, Joseph Mercola, advises consumers to seek out farmers producing A2 milk. That seems to be exactly what they’re doing. Pam Robinson, a Massachusetts raw milk producer, say she’s getting calls about what her milk is. She says she doesn’t know, so people ask about the breed of her cows. They are mostly Holsteins, a breed commonly identified with producing A1 milk. That’s leading to lost sales.
It’s an unfortunate situation. You have people seeking a certain type of milk no one can identify for certain, that may be healthier than another type of milk that could be dangerous. (The New Zealand Food Safety Authority has an interesting FAQ, which suggests that the evidence about the differences isn’t yet conclusive.)
I mean, as an American raw milk consumer, you’re doing well simply to find a regular and reliable supplier of raw milk. Now you’re supposed to figure which raw dairy suppliers are producing A1 and which are producing A2? Sorry, that’s not going to work.
I guess you can seek out dairies with Guernseys or Jerseys, which tend to produce A2 milk, but you still have no guarantee. I say, just leave it go until we learn more, or at least until farmers can easily test their herds.
New England barns are supposed to look a certain way—you know, triangular red-wood structures that are sturdier than anything else on the farm (see photo below).
I was back at Cedar Mountain Farm in Vermont on Friday—the publisher of my upcoming book wanted to film an interview with me, and what better place to do it than on a dairy farm producing raw milk? Kerry Gawalt and Stephen Leslie, who own the farm, were most hospitable.
While waiting to do the video, I had trouble taking my eyes off the farm’s new barn. It doesn’t look anything like a barn—more like an airplane hangar than anything else. But it’s apparently the newest thing in barns, light, airy, and highly energy efficient (see photo below).
Apparently the several dozen residents of the cohousing enclave that shares the land of Cedar Mountain Farm debated for many months before approving the barn. Many residents wanted the old-fashioned New England barn. No matter that such barns are much less energy efficient, they wanted a barn that blended into the landscape, was more a traditional barn.
The modernists eventually won out, and the cows and calves now enjoy the latest in barn technology. I suppose green isn’t always beautiful, but then, looks aren’t everything. Given the financial pressure on farms, they should be making barn choices based heavily on economics rather than appearances.