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Raw milk 

Living Springs Ranch stand at GreenMarket, 4814 Washington Avenue; 314-361-3114

Last fall we published a joyous ode to unhomogenized milk, the nearly from-the-teat nectar being offered at a few coffee shops. But it turns out you were misled when we stated that "it's illegal to sell non-pasteurized milk because of the danger of evil bacteria." We're delighted to report that Missouri has a relatively liberal statute regarding the sale of unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk. We can, in fact, legally drink raw milk -- milk straight from the teat.

The Living Springs Ranch in Iron County, Missouri, started selling their cow juice this spring at a couple different farmer's markets in the region, and owner Dan West can't keep it in stock. "I sold almost 50 gallons last week," he says.

We can confidently declare this: Once you go raw, you'll never go back. The only possible way to get any closer to the source is to wrap your lips around an udder. And after three weeks on raw, we're halfway tempted.

A majority of states flat-out ban the sale of unpasteurized milk, claiming that the dangers outweigh the benefits; others, like New York, require the product be sold only on the farm, a law that has spawned a raw-milk black market in Manhattan. In Missouri, explains West, "The statute allows people to buy, or have delivered to them, raw milk from a farm. We just can't sell it in grocery stores."

Why go raw?

"I believe in higher-quality food," says West, whose farm also sells free-range chicken and eggs, turkey, pork and beef. "[Pasteurization] kills what your body needs to digest it," he says. "A lot of people who are allergic to milk, or think they're allergic to milk, can actually drink raw milk."

"Pasteurization destroys enzymes," explains milk advocacy site www.realmilk .com, "diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer."

And raw milk is yummy, to boot. Comparing it with your basic Pevely whole milk is like comparing a first-growth Bordeaux to a fifth of Mad Dog. The depth of flavor of raw milk will transform your Fruit Loops into Dragonnes du Fruit. It'll turn chocolate milk into a liquid orgasm. Let it sit in the fridge (if kept at a cool temperature, it's got a shelf-life of three weeks), and a head of cream (delicious in coffee) rises to the top. And it's good for you!

West's father sells the farm's milk each Saturday at the Clayton Farmer's Market; the son sets up shop at our new favorite market, the GreenMarket on Washington Avenue in the Central West End. It's a humble affair, located in a parking lot, but inside you'll find stands selling some of the area's freshest organic produce: microgreens, sunflower chutes, eggs, mushrooms, fresh scones, fava beans (!), pies, cookies. Did we mention cookies? Raw milk and cookies! This is a beautiful, awesome world indeed.

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