By Shannon Keirnan
Goat’s milk, which has been enjoyed for thousands of years, and is still a staple in many parts of the world, somehow only accounts for 2% of the milk consumption in the United States. This, despite Journal of American Medicine stating, "Goat's milk is the most complete food known."
Raw goat’s milk is especially nourishing, and, better yet, contains a host of healthful benefits you may never expect.
Beyond the fact that it is higher in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, electrolytes, enzymes, proteins, and fatty acids that are more easily and quickly absorbed into the body than cow’s milk, goat’s milk lacks allergens like lactose that its counterpart is known for (and I have personally developed a sensitivity to over the years).
It is also an anti-inflammatory and acid buffer, which soothes the digestive tract, and has been used to treat stomach ulcers.
It alkalizes the digestive system, increases the ph level in the blood stream. Some claim it acts as an overall boost to the immune system, helping to cure auto-immune issues, respiratory problems, allergies, and skin conditions like eczema, especially in children.
Raising goats for milk is also more environmentally friendly and efficient (3 goats can occupy the space every cow would utilize, and make more effective use of the land), so the real question is, why aren’t we drinking more goat milk and less cow milk?
Possibly the answer is availability. Goat’s milk can be found in supermarkets (if you look!) and health food stores… but in Michigan, where I’m located, it’s illegal to sell the more healthful raw milk… only milk that has been pasteurized and robbed of many of its essential benefits can be retailed.
One way to get around this law is to own your goat… or, for those of you not able to conveniently keep a goat on your property, to purchase a share and pay for “boarding.”
After reading into all the benefits of goat's milk, especially raw, I wanted to learn more about my options for raw goat's milk.
In West Michigan, one great choice is Country Wind Farms, located in Zeeland. I’ve known about Country Winds for a while now. They sell their rich chevre—a key component in Lindsey’s avocado spread, which I love—at the Holland Farmer’s Market and local health food stores. Along with Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery, they're my go-to when I want delicious, smooth goat cheese from a source I trust.
I scheduled a tour with Country Winds Farms, and brought my family along for the experience.
Mary Windemuller, who owns the farm with husband John, is more than happy to tell you more about the perks of raw goat’s milk as she shows you around the farm. Dogs and baby goats alike (the stoic Boxer named Bridget and the wobbly but adorable Oscar) greet you as you take the tour.
Plan on making time to pet all the super friendly goats as Mary shows you around the fields where the animals roam free and graze organic alfalfa, the nursery, the barn, and the creamery where John is separating whey from curds of what will become fresh feta cheese.
Country Winds Farms, of course, offers raw milk to its clients, who pay a one-time purchase fee of $50 for their share, and monthly payments dependent on how much milk they need (a half or whole gallon, or more, per week). The system is self-serve and easy, and the heavy gallon jars of milk lining the refrigerator awaiting pick-up look creamy and delicious!
Country Winds also sells varieties of cheese like sun dried tomato and pumpkin cinnamon, raw, organic honey (though free-range bees, Mary reminds, may pick up pollen from non-organic fields), beef when available, seasonal garden vegetables, chicken and eggs from a free-range “chicken tractor,” and luxurious soaps made with organic ingredients, goat’s milk, and essential oils.
I bought a small bar of the lavender and oatmeal, and have been using it on my extremely sensitive skin to great results and no irritation!
Mary is happy to answer any questions you may have while touring the farm and sampling the milk, and can refer to any of her goats by name. The care and love she and her husband pour into their farm is evident, and reflects in a great product sadly overlooked by many who prefer the simplicity of the supermarket.
So how does the milk taste? If you've ever had goat cheese, it won't come as a surprise that the milk retains that vaguely grassy, tangy aftertaste, but is otherwise very similar (albeit thinner, as it has less fat content) than cow's milk.
"Do it!" urged a client as she dropped by to pick up her weekly gallon. Mary informed us that her young son, who had many health issues like respiratory problems including asthma, and an auto-immune disorder, was responding positively to the goat's milk where medication had made no impact.
My visit was a good reminder that eating well may not be as difficult as we think, if we just put in a little time and effort. The farm was a mere 15 minutes from my home, yet, before I looked into it, I had no idea it was so close, convenient, and affordable.
Do the research—find things like raw goats milk near you, learn where your food comes from and how to acquire it, and how it benefits your body. Small things can make a difference in your health, so pay attention to your body, and do what it takes to ensure that it has all that it needs!