Raw milk, you guys! It’s God’s gift to mankind AND one of agriculture’s best kept secrets. Seriously, a disclaimer if you will, I am a huge proponent of real, unadulterated, unpasteurized, pasture fed, raw milk from healthy, disease free cows and a farmer you trust. I’m not only a proponent, I’m a producer and have been for over 7 years, and a consumer for a year prior to that. We began drinking raw milk for the health benefits and then our dairy farmer decided to take the winter off! Horrors! We just couldn’t live without milk (pasteurized milk is not something we would put in our bodies these days!), so when he decided to quit dairying, we made the huge decision to buy cows and a milking machine and have never regretted it!
People everywhere go to extreme lengths to get raw milk. They drive almost an hour each way to the farm. They pay what seems like exorbitant prices per gallon because raw milk farmers have to be self-sustainable, no government handouts here, and quality grass fed cows on minimum grain produce fewer gallons per day than their industry counterparts and are more expensive to feed, since in our case, we feed certified organic grain at milking time. Why are people convinced that getting raw milk is worth the expense?
For one thing, people are willing to spend a little more on food to save a lot at the doctor’s. If you could hear the amazing health testimonials we hear. People have had their IBS cured. Arthritis, eczema, thyroid issues, asthma, allergies, autistic symptoms greatly relieved and in some cases, disappearing completely. You see, raw milk is a living superfood. It contains hundreds of proteins, enzymes, probiotics, healthy fats, vitamins and calcium completely bioavailable to your body. Conversely, those same benefits are denatured, altered and destroyed by the high heat of pasteurization, which actually renders them not only useless, but in some people, harmful as the body mounts a histamine defense against all the dead bacteria killed in pasteurization. One of the enzymes raw milk contains is alkaline phosphatase, which inhibits inflammation in the body. Raw cream contains the Wulzen Factor the anti-arthritic nutrient which protects against arthritis, and is said to relieve pain, swelling and stiffness. It’s worth repeating: Pasteurizing milk destroys the Wulzen Factor and denatures the proteins, and destroys the enzymes and other life giving, immune boosting qualities found in raw milk. Pasteurized milk is processed milk, “fortified” with many add-ins as a result. And pasteurized whole milk is more processed than skim. Many raw milk advocates truly believe that pasteurized milk is the most allergenic product on the market today. (Raw milk consumption is not recommended by the FDA, do your own research before taking my word for it!)
Some history regarding pasteurization of milk. Louis Pasteur developed the pasteurization process for wine. Raw milk had never been a common agent for illness until the end of the 19th century when distillery dairies were introduced to urban areas as the answer to sudden population growth, as well as a convenient way to dispose of the unwanted byproduct of making alcohol. People wanted milk, but lived too far from farms with healthy cows where they could get quality milk. Dairy cows were crowded into feedlots near the cities and fed distillery waste that acidified their rumens and made the cows sick and diseased. This poor environment and diet combined with bad sanitation practices introduced a time when raw milk was unsafe and pasteurizing it seemed to be the answer. Today’s pasteurized milk also needs a long shelf life. It comes from innumerable cows from large confinement dairies all over the country and has to be freighted to stores before finally being consumed–this kind of milk from large confinement operations should be pasteurized both for safety and long shelf life. Ironically, in the case of UHT milk (ultra high-temperature pasteurization) this “dead milk” doesn’t even need refrigerated. Alternatively, producing safe, clean raw milk is possible these days, thanks to stainless steel equipment, refrigeration, testing, and a better understanding of germs, sanitary dairy practices and bovine health. And even if the fresh taste of your raw milk lasts only 8-10 days, when raw milk turns sour, it is still good for so many uses so we don’t waste it!
There’s so much more to the raw vs. pasteurized debate. I haven’t even mentioned the A1/A2 milk, how different breeds, like Holsteins (the industry standard because they produce huge amounts of milk) are more likely to produce the harder-to-digest A1 milk while Guernseys and Jerseys are more likely to produce the health promoting A2 milk. Raw milk from our Guernsey and Jersey cows TASTES amazing. Fresh and wholesome, not “cooked” as so many describe pasteurized milk. It has a nice 3-4 inch band of cream per gallon which is absolutely delicious in coffee and tea. Ours has an 8-10 day shelf life but the great thing about raw milk is that even when it starts to taste a little sour, it can still be incredibly useful and good for you. All those good bacteria have gone crazy–at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Real Milk website they even share that science has shown that raw milk is anti-pathogenic! Cultured milk in the form of kefir, or clabbered milk (unpasteurized milk left on the counter to sour) are staples in homes all over the world. Sour milk makes great pancakes, smoothies, cottage cheese, and the sour cream at the top is delicious by the spoonful.
This is a ton of information, I know. But you will be hearing more and more about raw milk as it gains in popularity and continues to be legalized in more and more of the United States. Currently, it is legal in 43 U.S. states to buy raw milk straight from the farm, or as part of a cowshare/herdshare agreement, or labeled as pet milk. Whether you agree that drinking raw milk is a good thing or not, we should all be able to agree that food freedom is important. Do we really need governmental control of what goes into our mouths? Am I wrong or is this a fundamental right, something so basic as what we choose to eat, especially when it concerns a product like milk, that has been around since the beginning of humanity and is known for providing life-giving nutrition from birth. As rational thinking adults, look at the research, talk to raw milk drinkers, see the proof firsthand and pursue health as you see fit. As for me and mine, we’ll be drinking raw milk for life!