Raw Milk Access Helps Family to Choose Vacation Destination


Killer Whales in Seaworld, San Diego

I Wish All States Could Be Like California Where Buying Fresh Milk Is Easy

by Guest Blogger Joseph Heckman

My family just returned from vacation in California. Besides wanting to go somewhere warm and sunny one consideration was where can we buy raw milk? We also wanted to take my daughter to SEAWORLD to celebrate her birthday. Of course Florida has SEAWORLD too, but California allows sales of raw milk. So California won our business. When we arrived in San Diego we needed milk. I had already heard that Whole Foods had discontinued selling raw milk so I needed to find another store. Surprisingly, the very first person I asked told me exactly where to go – Henry’s Farm Market – and it was only a few blocks away. How convenient!


Raw Milk in Henry's Dairy Case

So we drive over to Henry’s and there it is prominently on display front and center in the dairy case; Grade A Raw Whole Milk from Organic Pastures. In this instance I also happen to know the farmer since I once hosted Mark McAfee as a seminar speaker.

Now to appreciate my excitement in finding it so easy to buy the milk of my choice, the reader needs to know that I live in New Jersey where sales of raw milk are illegal. New Jersey is known as the Garden State. Although it is the most densely populated state in the nation, it also naturally has great direct market potential for organic vegetables and pasture raised foods. The roadways passing by New Jersey farms are clogged with potential customers. In 1990, when I settled in New Jersey, there were reported to be 250 dairy farms, but by 2010 there are less than 100.

Like a lot of people from New Jersey, I travel over to Pennsylvania to purchase fresh milk directly from a farm. Of course I would much prefer to buy raw milk from a local New Jersey farmer, but that cannot happen unless current law is changed. Plus, round trip travel to the farm in Pennsylvania means driving about 90 miles and takes about 3 hours.

One of the pleasures of buying directly from the farm is a chance to see the cows on pasture and meeting the dairy farmer. I also occasionally purchased raw milk from Connecticut and Massachusetts dairy farms when I am traveling in New England. Travel time and distance are of course practical considerations.

New Jersey has some excellent organic grass based livestock farms that do sell raw milk cheese and also want to sell raw milk. Unfortunately these local farms are placed at a marketing disadvantage because once people make a special trip to Pennsylvania; they are naturally inclined to also buy any meat, eggs, fruit or vegetables available from the same farm. About half of the other customers I meet on the dairy farm over in Pennsylvania, turn out to be from New Jersey. It is always interesting to listen to their stories about why they are so committed to raw milk, but that a story for another time.

If unpasteurized milk sales were permitted in New Jersey, direct farm-to-consumer market opportunities would likely expand for all local farm products. Milk, more than any other food, has the potential to bring shoppers to market. For example, once I found my source for raw milk at Henry’s Farm Market in California, I had no reason to shop anywhere else for all of the other organic foods I wanted. A few days after my first jug of creamy delicious Organic Pastures Raw Milk was gone; I went back for more milk and purchased other foods as well.


Feeding the Dolphins at Seaworld

Near the end of our vacation, we had part of a jug of milk left as we were checking out of our hotel. Upon checking out, our hotel agreed to store it for us as we intended to spend to the day at SeaWorld. When we returned to picked it up, the concierge was very excited that the milk was raw, and told us how much he loves raw milk. We of course told him it was available at Henry’s – just a few minutes away from where he worked.


Raw Milk Hearing in Trenton, NJ

Some day in the future, I hope to be able to purchase raw milk from a local New Jersey farmer. Legislation in New Jersey could make that possible. In summary, what my experience illustrates is that when a state makes sales or distribution of a particular food illegal, it has economic consequences. My case shows that the economic wave even extends beyond agriculture. Finally, I wish to express my appreciation to Mark McAfee of California and the dairy farmers of Pennsylvania and other states who are committed to pasture based organic dairy farming to supply us with this very special food we enjoy called raw milk.


Dr. Joseph Heckman

Dr. Joseph Heckman is a soil scientist with the Rutgers New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station. He grew up on an organic dairy farm, and has helped to organize the Rutgers Raw Milk Seminars. Heckman has written a number of articles on organic farming for Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal published by the Weston A. Price Foundation. See his recent blog post about his trip to India.

Another article by Joseph Heckman is In Defense of Living Organic, published in That Natural Farmer.


  1. Dr. Joe Heckman,

    It is always a pleasure to read your words and even more a pleasure to know we were able to nourish your family while on vacation in CA.

    You may find it funny but in the past, we have had families decide to move back to California after leaving for some raw milk illegal location because of our raw milk and their childrens health. We have had military commanders demand that they be supplied raw milk as part of their deployment contracts ( a commander sent to Turkey ). The same thing happened with government contractors in Quajalene Island in the South Pacific. They would not go unless they could have their raw milk sent to them.

    What an interesting world.

    We have grown 12% in the last 12 months even in this horrible economy. That just goes to show that food matters when it heals and prevents disease. This inspite of the FDA stating that raw milk has no value and that it should never be consumed by anyone for any reason. As you know raw milk is highly enzyme rich, highly biodiverse and contains good fats when pasture grazed….it has it all for the human immune system. It is “Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Food”….unprocessed and whole.

    Yes…this is the same FDA that has effectively disconnected farmers from their consumers and interposed drugs as the sole remedy for disease….when for all time it was wholefood that healed and cured disease. Raw milk and fermented raw milks being the most essential of all the healing wholefoods.

    Next time in CA come visit the dairy…we would love to have you stay with us. I have a plane now and we can fly you arround and show you the sights from the air. That includes CAFO Cow Concentation Camps verses Green and Clean Pastures…what a clear difference.

    All the best,

    Mark McAfee
    Founder OPDC

  2. Jill Cruz says:

    This is great!!
    Last summer I spent 3 weeks in Europe. We knew we would fully enjoy our vacation because we would have full access to all of the raw dairy our hearts desired. What joy! Every other day we went to the farm (when we were in Germany, which was most of our trip) down the road and got a few liters of super fresh biodynamic milk!!

    We also stayed at a biodynamic farm in France that specializes in making Chevre. We drank fresh, warm goats milk 3 times a day and ate plenty of Chevre. Oh, if only it were that easy here in Illinois!

  3. What a great idea to emphasize the economic impacts raw milk availability has on a state in terms of attracting holiday makers, residents and just discerning people generally. Over time, the effect could become more marked. Perhaps raw milk availability is one of the factors that has contributed to California becoming the wild and wonderful alternative-health mecca that it is now!
    .-= the Bovine´s last blog ..Elizabeth Walling’s 23-day raw milk fast =-.

  4. I think it is fantastic that people from states of complete raw-milk-prohibition can enjoy the freedom of buying raw milk while on vacation in California; however, the statement that raw milk is easy to obtain in California as a state is misleading. I live in Humboldt County, where large-acre dairy farms line almost every stretch of highway from north to south, east to west. Yet the sale of raw milk in our county is illegal. There is a county ordinance against its sale. My family and I find this situation not just inconvenient–as it forces us to drive over 2 hours to the next county (Mendocino) to purchase milk at over $17.00 per gallon–but it’s also emotionally draining. It takes a lot of work, planning, and remembering (that it’s worth it all) to just obtain raw dairy for us and our 1-year-old daughter.

    The cows here thrive on thousands and thousands of acres of lush green fields nestled in our Redwood rain forest. Many of the farmers raise their cows organically and without any hormones. Yet the milk still goes through the dairy where it’s pasteurized and homogenized before even being considered “fit” for sale.

    My one request: Please make a special note about Humboldt County when making statements regarding the “ease” of obtaining raw milk in California. Our county as a prohibitive one needs as much attention as it can get so we can turn things around. Thank you!!

  5. Joseph Heckman says:


    Thanks so much for commenting. I always enjoy reading your commentary over at The Complete Patient.

    When I was in CA, I happened to pick up for reading a copy of Agrarian Dreams, The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, by Julie Guthman. From this book I am coming to a better understanding of how California agriculture – organic or conventional – is rather different than Eastern US agriculture – especially farm size.

  6. Joseph Heckman says:


    I was unaware of the situation in Humboldt County. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

    Some of the counties in California must be about as large as New Jersey itself. So traveling outside your county must be similar to the way it is for us in New Jersey to drive across state lines. I feel just as frustrated about being prohibited from shopping locally from grass fed organic dairy farms as I drive over to Pennsylvania.

    May be that map – Raw Milk Nation – recently posted over at Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, could be corrected to illustrate that exception for Humboldt County.

  7. Nice weblog, just looking close to some blogs, seems a fairly nice platform you’re using. I am presently using WordPress for a couple of of my websites but looking to change one of them over to a platform comparable to yours as a trial operate. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I like this post so much. A different aspects is explained in the post which i don’t even think. Raw milk is must for many things. Hope you had great joy and adventure at Sea world. Thanks for sharing travel experience.
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  1. […] Dr. Joseph Heckman is a soil scientist with the Rutgers New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station. He grew up on an organic dairy farm, and has helped to organize the Rutgers Raw Milk Seminars. Heckman has written a number of articles on organic farming for Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal published by the Weston A. Price Foundation. See his recent blog post about his trip to India and Raw Milk Access Helps Family Choose Vacation Destination […]

  2. […] a result of my publicly stated personal preference for raw milk, I have fielded numerous inquiries about how to find a good farmer. Raw milk drinkers are naturally […]

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