What the right hook-up can get you

raw milk x macleans.ca

Shopping for duck eggs, raw-milk cream and summer sausage on the foodie black market

By Sarah Elton

The customers arrived one by one on a rainy Saturday morning at the secret meeting spot, a parking lot tucked behind a video store in a suburb of Toronto. There were 30 families in all: the mother of six, wearing a hijab, who made the three-hour round trip in her minivan to collect 30 litres of milk ($60 plus $20 for delivery), the middle-aged man in a red Nissan Versa, a couple of young urbanites who rose at 7:30 to get there in time. They’d made the trek, as they do every other week, for the big glass jars of raw milk—and whatever other illegal treats their supplier might have for them that day.

The farmer selling the contraband, a woman in her 30s wearing purple nail polish and a jean jacket with rhinestones, brings the milk in the bed of her pickup truck, along with small jars of raw-milk cream, unpasteurized cheese curdled in her kitchen and un-graded eggs she sells on a neighbour’s behalf.

The Saturday morning transactions are just one scene from a thriving black market in Canada for borderline illegal, locally produced foods. A desire to buy directly from growers and connect more with what we eat has foodies searching for hard-to-find delectables—even if, or perhaps especially if, they haven’t been inspected by the authorities and are technically illegal. The right social network is indispensable and, for some, may be part of the thrill. Those with friends in the right places can buy unpasteurized milk on Vancouver Island. There is at least one hidden on-farm store in Ontario that people in the know can access. And some vendors at farmers’ markets will sell you more than just fresh carrots and lettuce; an Ontario market manager has seen eggs, sausages and even raw sheep’s milk change hands under the table. Especially prized are eggs straight from the coop—that is, not transported en masse to a provincially-run facility where they are washed, inspected and graded before being trucked to the store.

Read the full article, and comments, at Macleans.ca.


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