FRESH MILK How you get raw milk depends on where you live, as laws vary by state. In Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, the retail sale of raw milk is not permitted. In those states, raw milk for drinking can be legally obtained through herd shares. Before seeking a herd share, do your homework. “Trust is an important factor of a herd share,” says Sarah Mancino of Farm Beach Bethel. “If anyone is interested in joining a herd share, they should go to their farm and get a sense of trusting the person that’s going to be doing the work.”
Highland Haven Farms shareholder Nancy Brogden agrees: “You should talk to the farmer. The farmer should be willing to let you come and see the farms or the herd. If there’s a hesitancy to have you come, then I would be hesitant to get a herd share.”
CHEESE The easiest way to enjoy raw milk is by buying raw milk cheese; found at many grocery stores. In the U.S, raw milk cheeses must be aged at least 60 days, so you won’t find raw milk cheese like Camembert, which is aged only two weeks.
Locally, cheesemaker Cecilia Garmendia of Lamp Post Cheese makes small-batch cheese using raw milk and sells it at farmers’ markets and events in Cincinnati. “For me it was really natural to want to make cheese with raw milk, because I’ve been eating raw milk cheeses all my life,” Garmendia says. Originally from Spain, Garmendia makes cheeses inspired by old-world European ones not readily available in the U.S. “Cheese made from raw milk usually has more flavor. I think it’s because most of the flavor comes from the bacteria and microorganisms that grow in the raw milk that we don’t control.”
Garmendia buys her milk from a licensed dairy, Swallow Hill Jersey Dairy in Bowersville, OH. “The cows are well treated and the milk is really good,” she says. It was important to her that the dairy was within driving distance, for practical and philosophical reasons; she wouldn’t be able to sell her cheese if she used milk from a herd share.
Sara is a chef and writer. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, her writing has appeared in Saveur, Best Food Writing 2014, and two Full Grown People anthologies. Her cookbook Tasting Ohio: Favorite Recipes from the Buckeye State is forthcoming from Farcountry Press. She lives in Marietta.