Amish smugglers’ raw milk run

In January, The Daily rode along on a raw milk smuggling run. Excerpts below.

Wearing a black-brimmed country hat, suspenders and an Amish beard, "Samuel" unloaded his contraband from an unmarked white truck on a busy block in Manhattan (New York, not Kansas).

He was at the tail end of a long smuggling run that had begun before dawn at his Pennsylvania farm. As he wearily stacked brown cardboard boxes on the sidewalk, a few upscale clients in the Chelsea neighborhood lurked nearby, eyeing the new shipment hungrily.??Clearly, they couldn’t wait to get a taste.??

Samuel is part of a shadowy community of outlaw Amish and Mennonite dairy farmers who risk fines, loss of equipment and product, and even imprisonment to transport raw milk across state lines and satisfy a burgeoning appetite for illegal raw milk in places like New York.

Samuel has more than 140 customers waiting for him, ready to pay $6 a gallon. ??Samuel’s smuggling run started in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, where his family farm is located. As Amish doctrine prohibits him from operating an automobile, he paid a non-Amish person to drive. ??The final destination was an unmarked converted factory on the eastern edge of Chelsea.

Churning out the product??In mid-January, I paid a visit to Amish country to explore the roots of the raw milk supply chain. The dairy farm I visited was run by Isaac, an Amish raw milk black-marketer who, like Samuel, agreed to discuss his operation on the condition that his identity was concealed.??

Isaac, wearing traditional Amish clothing and an Amish beard, nodded in agreement. ??Maurer dismissed the FDA’s findings on raw milk, saying he’s never heard of anyone getting more than a bellyache from the stuff. ??For Isaac, the issues are cultural. When it comes to dairy farming, becoming a smuggler was the only way to maintain a pure, Amish way of life.“

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time