Perhaps you’ve heard about raw milk. Some people believe it’s a healthy, wholesome form of dairy. However, raw milk can contain harmful bacteria. That’s why it’s illegal for raw milk to be sold in retail outlets in Kansas, although farmers can sell raw milk directly on their farms. We love our Kansas farmers, and want to be sure families understand what goes into the food they eat. If you’re considering trying raw milk, here’s what you need to know.
What Is Raw Milk?
First off, what is it? Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process that involves rapidly heating then cooling milk to kill harmful bacteria. Pasteurization does inactivate certain enzymes and reduces trace nutrients. However, these changes are so slight, they have no significant effect on our health. Milk contains nine essential nutrients, and pasteurization doesn’t affect milk’s overall nutritional value. Pasteurization also has no effect on the taste of milk. But it does ensure milk is safe for your family to drink.
Both pasteurized and raw milk contain milk proteins and can affect people with lactose intolerance and dairy sensitivity.
Fun fact: Pasteurization is also used in producing certain beer and wines.
Homogenization is another process milk goes through before ending up on the grocery store shelf. Homogenization keeps cream from separating by breaking down the fat molecules to keep them evenly dispersed throughout the liquid. It improves the consistency and quality of milk, and doesn’t affect taste or nutrition.
Is Raw Milk Safe to Drink?
There are many risks in drinking raw milk because it can contain bacteria, including:
Before pasteurization was common, raw milk caused illnesses such as tuberculosis, typhoid fever and diphtheria. More recently, it’s been responsible for E. coli and campylobacteriosis outbreaks in the United States. In fact, the risk of an outbreak caused by raw milk is more than 150 times greater than that of pasteurized milk.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend drinking only pasteurized milk.
Do Farming Practices Affect the Safety of Raw Milk?
Gleaming elevators tower above the wheat fields at Stafford County Flour Mills. The silos are the same luxurious white color as the mill’s flour. The mill specializes in producing premium-quality flour for home bakers.
Located in the village of Hudson — population 100, counting dogs, cats and tumbleweeds — Stafford County Flour Mills may be the only remaining independently owned mill in the country.
Why Does a Flour Brand Have a Cow for a Logo?
It’s easy to spot the distinctive sack design of Hudson Cream Flour at the grocery. The logo features a golden Jersey cow standing in a green meadow by a bright blue stream. Why did they pick a cow?
As former president of the mill Al Brensing explained, “Many people believed the Jersey cow gave the richest milk and cream, so the Jersey cow was selected for the logo.”
The rich quality of the cow’s cream is symbolic of the rich quality of the mill’s flour. Hudson Cream is known as “the flour without a fault.”
The mill uses a minimum of 1.5 million bushels of wheat annually. More than 95 percent of the wheat milled there comes from approximately 80 farm families in Stafford County. Many of these same farm families have supplied Hudson Cream with wheat for generations.
In addition to the wheat suppliers, many of the employees at the mill live within a 12-mile radius. Like the early founders of the company, some of these employees have worked for the company for years and are proud of its rich milling heritage.
"The strength of the company remains its people," says Reuel Foote, the company’s current general manager and president. "From the beginning, everyone who's worked here believes in Hudson Cream Flour."
To make their signature flour, the mill typically uses a heavy-test-weight wheat — 60 pounds or more. The protein level must also test high — at least 12.5 percent. They use a “short-patent” milling process, which results in a more refined flour, with all of the lower quality flour removed in the milling process. What’s left is the very finest flour that comes from the wheat berry.
“The result is a flour that is smoother in texture and produces cookies, breads, pie crusts and other baked products that are consistently light and fluffy,” Reuel says.
Focus on Customers
Creating a quality product and selling it at a fair price has been the not-so-secret to the mill’s success for more than a century.
To address the trend toward healthier diets, Stafford County Flour Mills added whole-wheat flour to their product line more than 20 years ago. This line was added to fill a niche market of customers who wanted more fiber in their diets. A certified organic product is also available in grocery stores.
The mill is also unveiling two-pound bags to better serve home bakers around the country. Today’s hectic schedules — shuttling children everywhere, balancing work, and tending to numerous details — leaves little for baking from scratch. Having the two-pound bags will be more convenient.
“We’re banking on shoppers buying smaller quantities knowing they don’t bake as often, but when they do, they may use less flour and have less left over,” Reuel says. “And they can buy fresh product as needed.”
Two years ago, Stafford County Flour Mills erected an 850-kilowatt wind turbine south of the site in Hudson.
“As far as we know, we’re the only flour mill that has the physical capability to run on 100 percent sustainable energy,” Reuel says. “We strive to be good stewards of our resources just like the farmers who supply us and the customers who buy our flour.”
As Stafford County Flour Mills continues to evolve and grow, this privately owned company remains committed to customers, employees and producing high-quality flour.
“We take no one for granted,” Reuel says. Every customer is important and every sack of Hudson Cream Flour is the same as the next.”
Ah, summer. Backpacks and books make way for swimsuits and summer camp. It’s a great time of year. Unless you’re trying to figure out how to keep the kiddos entertained and their brains (at least somewhat) engaged. After all, we want them to relax and have fun, but we don’t want their minds to turn to mush. (Sheesh! When did I become my mother?!)
With harvests in full swing, summer can be a great time to introduce kids to agriculture. There are some really fun ways to get them involved and teach them healthy habits, without turning it into a character-building chore. (Not that there’s anything wrong with character. We approve.)
How? Enter My American Farm.
This initiative from American Farm Bureau has great ideas for families to bond over hands-on activities, as well as games to keep the information fresh and fun.
Here are just a few of their family-friendly activities:
Make a flower pen: Great for younger kids, this activity teaches them the parts of the flower while they make a festive pen in the process. (How about a sunflower?)
Create a rubber glove window box: This simple activity will give your little offshoots a front-row seat to watching seeds start their own shoots. Unlike planting in soil, this unique project will let them see the actual seed as it sprouts.
The website also features recipes the whole family can make—and enjoy—together.
Bonus—there’s a technology element. Sure, we’ve all felt a little guilty handing our kiddos a tablet to try to keep them engaged (or at least quiet!). We’re not bad parents—we swear! But if they’re playing educational games for a little while? See ya, techno-guilt.
From a farmer’s market challenge to a STEM-related game focused on farm equipment, there’s plenty to keep your kids occupied and learning. Best of all, when used with the hands-on activities, the games really help the information sink in. You can play online, or on their tablet app, available on the App store, Google Play and Amazon.