Thursday, August 27, 2009

Raw Milk Adventure!

For Matt and I, a week that we've skipped the farmer's market is a week that we feel vaguely off-kilter. It's really become a major part of the pattern of our lives, and the location of the bulk of our food shopping.

It's been a crazy time since our move, though, and we've slipped into a more sort of "normal" life, buying a lot of food and produce at the regular grocery store (and WalMart!) and not cooking nearly as much. Wondering what we'll have for dinner because there's nothing in the house we feel like eating, rather than wondering what to eat because there's so damned much that looks delicious and we can't choose.

Last week we went out to visit Matt's family (and drop his daughter off for a week with Grandma), and missed the farmer's market. This means no local meat and no local milk, though we did at least stop at a farmstand and get some produce. But it still left this week pretty blah, food-wise, until tonight.

That's when Matt remembered that Ballston Spa has a farmer's market. He hadn't remembered it being particularly good, but we thought it'd be better than no market at all (he has to make a return trip to his mom's this weekend, so no market then, either). And what a surprise! It was bigger than he'd remembered, but better than that, there were some folks up from Willow Marsh Farm.

You might recall me blogging about raw milk a while back. When I searched on the Campaign for Real Milk website, Willow Marsh was the closest farm it pulled up that sells raw milk. I kept it in mind for something to check out "sometime," and hadn't gotten to it yet.

What hadn't occurred to me, for some reason, was that they might have something other than milk to sell. At their table at the farmer's market, they had the only tomatoes I saw there today ("late blight" has come early this year, ruining tomato crops all over the region), plus corn, squash, beef, and veal. I asked the woman running the stand whether she had any of their raw milk there, but due to regulations, she can only sell at the site of the farm. She did say, though, to go over to the farm store, that it was open right now. "It's open all the time," she kept telling people.

I had no idea what she meant until we actually got there. It probably really is open all the time - the whole place is unmanned. Everything is labelled with its cost and there's a giant calculator sitting there for anyone that needs help with the math. A notebook sits waiting for you to mark down what you bought; sort of a receipt in reverse.

Inside they have all the produce that they carry to the market, but also two chest freezers and a standing refrigerator of meats and dairy products. Eggs in three sizes (and two colors!), varying cuts of beef and veal, and also pork from Locust Grove Farm. There were cheeses alongside the raw milk, and then other items like hand made goat's milk soap and Avon products.

Matt and I picked up some pork chops ($5 for two hefty ones), some ground beef ($4/lb., a bargain for grass-fed), and a half-gallon of milk (at $2.50, it's the same price we pay for a half-gallon from Battenkill).

Unfortunately, we promptly dropped the milk right onto the floor. It was a plastic container, but it sprung a leak. Matt was drafted to carry it upside down on the car ride home. There we poured it into an iced tea pitcher for safekeeping, and I sipped the last few drops to get a taste. Matt laughed at me as I shook the thing around trying to get more out. That's when I remembered that, as a human being, I had the technology of the drinking glass to come to my aid here. I'll tell you what, that stuff is even more delicious out of the glass.

Even better, our lives feel a little more on-kilter now. And, when we miss the farmer's market, we'll always know where we can go to get some great local meat and milk. It's not too far away, and after all, "it's open all the time."


  1. Hey, Joanne & I went to that farmer's market today too!!! Did you know there is a place right on Devils Lane that sells raw milk? I saw it in one of the local magazines, but Devils Lane is right around the corner, so you don't have to wait for the farmer's market!

  2. I thought we passed Devils Lane on the way out on Hop City Road where Willow Marsh is, but I may be mistaken.
    Last time I went to the Ballston Spa market, it was a rainy day earlier in the season and there didn't seem to be a whole lot there. I bought some strawberries then that were kind of disappointing, but we got potatoes, beans and squash from the same woman toady and they look very good. She also had an amusing lost cell phone situation with the owner's current and ex-boyfriends both calling concerned over the phone.

  3. I hate seeing people fight over the custody of cell phones. It's such an ugly scene, and that poor innocent piece of hardware is just stuck in the middle. :-(