I have a secret. Something I haven’t shared with many people. I know it will be shocking to some, it make even make you gasp….. here goes……..we drink raw milk.
There, I said it……..
I was always been curious about raw milk but I got pregnant and figure that it wasn’t good to drink raw milk so I curbed my curiosity. Little did I know, raw milk would have actually been better for me than store-bought.
I think the word RAW in general scares people as if it’s a dirty four-letter word. One definition of raw according to dictionary.com is “uncooked, as articles of food.” This is how it applies to milk. You see milk that is “farm fresh” or “straight from the cow” is considered the raw form because it is not cooked or processed. Store bought milk goes through two processes that most people hear about but may not understand. Pasteurization and Homogenization. Let’s examine them:
Pasteurization cooks the milk. It is the process that very quickly heats milk from a chilled temperature to above boiling in as little as 2 seconds. It is meant to kill bacteria but it also kills the enzymes in the milk as well as reducing the vitamin content and denatures milk proteins which are fragile to start with. Before the 1920’s milk was not pasteurized. Cows fed grains (which are not a natural food for cows); living in confinement conditions that were unsanitary caused outbreaks of disease. Little or no use of stainless steel milk tanks and refrigerated storage tankers in that time also contributed to the problem. The solution seemed to be to boil the milk until the potential for E. coli and other bacteria were gone. The down side is that now milk has lost its nutritional value.
Homogenization is the process that breaks down the milk fat so that it does not separate and rise to the top of the milk. The term “homogenize” means to make uniform. A very simple explanation is that milk is passed through small tubes at extremely high pressure so as to break up the fat globules to prevent them from separating. This process is not new, first patented machine dates back to 1899 but it was not until after 1919 that sales of homogenized milk became popular and even after that it was not thought of as necessary. I asked my grandmother, who is in her late 80’s about milk that she drank as a child. Many her age and even slightly younger remember that milk quality was judged by cream line. In other words the thicker the cream line, the better quality the milk. It meant more nutrients and better quality cows. If you’re like me and you grew up on store-bought milk I’ll bet you have never heard of a cream line. That’s because homogenization eliminates the cream line by distributing the fat throughout the milk.
If you step back and think about “raw” consider what we hear about vegetables. Raw vegetables are better for us than steamed, boiled or baked. We eat apples, bananas, pears, peaches, spinach, lettuce, carrots all raw. The list goes on. So, if vegetables are better raw because they contain more nutrients, why wouldn’t the case be the same with milk or other dairy products? “But there’s no risk of illness with fruits and vegetables.” WRONG! I am not aware of any fruit issues (not saying there aren’t any) but what about the deaths from packaged spinach and packages salad mixes? And what did we find out? They were the result of sub-standard conditions as plants and farms. (The same as with milk and why we started to pasteurize in the first place.) Cows raised in pastures and reasonable clean conditions may have bacteria in their milk but it will not be over colonized and will is of little danger.
I know, you’re probably thinking that raw milk just doesn’t seem normal. Or you’re trying to wrap your head around how raw milk ok for us to drink raw milk yet you don’t see or hear many people talking about it. Or maybe you are thinking “what does it taste like?”
Let me answer the last question very simply – it tastes like milk. Like whole milk.
What about safety? Here’s just one way that raw milk is safe (and in my opinion proof that God knows what he’s doing.)
To paraphrase Sally Fallon, director of the Weston A. Price Foundation:
“Consider the calf who is born the muck and manure and the first thing it does is stand up and suckle on its mother’s manure covered teat.” How can that calf or any other mammal survive with such a filthy, non-FDA approved system? Because Mother Nature is smarter than the FDA.” You see milk has built-in safety features to protect against harmful bacteria. For example there is an enzyme, lactoperoxidase, in milk that produces hydrogen peroxide which seeks out bacteria to destroy it. It is present in the breast milk of all mammals, including humans. Another enzyme, lactoferrin, is now being sold as a supplement! Yet, we pasteurize our raw milk and eliminate or denature these enzymes!
Raw milk from healthy, grass-fed cows kept in reasonably clean conditions is far safer than pasteurized milk. But don’t take my word for it, do your own research. After all, we are all responsible for our own health and should not rely on the government, or any other one source for our information.
Here are a few places to get you started: Mark McAfee, founder of Organic Pastures has a great interview about raw milk. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s website, www.ftclf.com has great information as well as www.realmilk.com.
What is your perception of raw milk? Would you ever consider it? Why or why not?
Until next time,