There are a lot of milk choices out there today.
For the sake of clarification, I am talking about milk that comes from an animal. Alternative milks are a discussion for another day.
With so many choices there is a lot of confusion amongst consciousness moms and consumers like myself who want to provide their family with the best nutrition.
Today you can find:
- Conventional pasteurized homogenized milk.
- Organic pasteurized milk, non-homogenized (this is very hard to source).
- Organic pasteurized homogenized milk.
- Organic ultra-pasteurized homogenized milk.
And then there’s raw milk.
We are raw milk drinkers.It’s been a long progression from low-fat conventional milk to organic ultra-pasteurized whole milk to finally local farm fresh whole raw milk.
What is Raw Milk?
To put it simply, raw milk comes straight from the cow. You know, what the baby calves drink. It has not been heated to kill pathogens (simply those little organisms that can possibly cause disease). It’s not homogenized. Homogenization is:
a more recently invented process and it has been called “the worst thing that dairymen did to milk.” When milk is homogenized, it is pushed through a fine filter at pressures of 4,000 pounds per square inch. In this process, the fat globules are made smaller by a factor of ten times or more. Source
Raw milk is what generations before my grandparents drank. Milk in its pure unaltered state.
Alternatives to Raw Milk:
Most milk today is either pasteurized or ultra pasteurized.
Pasteurization: Pasteurization was invented by a man named Louis Pasteur in 1864. During this time, the Industrial Revolution, people began to move away from farms and country life embracing city life. Instead of milking cows from family farms people started relying more on milk from distributors and stores. As the need increased, profit flowed. Milk was driven by profit. Cows were taken off pastured grass, and were fed grains and cramped into pens. Traditional dairy breeds produced 3-4 gallons of milk a day, now were producing up to 4 times as much thanks to a “modern freak of nature” the Holstein cow. A cow that is selectively bred to produce abnormally active pituitary glands. This resulted in many problems.
Cramped conditions, overactive pituitary glands, and an abnormal diet brought about dirty milk filled with pus, sick cows needing frequent antibiotics due to sickness, and other health issues. Milk distributors also started to take short cuts in order to boost milk sales. It was during the 1800 reports began circulating of children dying due to dangerously-produced raw milk.
Instead of looking at the root of the problem and the fact that generations had consumed raw milk safely, in the 1930’s raw milk finally stopped being sold thanks to the big dairy producers pushing pasteurized milk. Instead of putting cows back on pasture in clean free roaming environments big business took the profit route. Cheap corn and grain, growth hormones to promote excessive milk production resulting in dirty milk, and cramped cow conditions all which produce harmful milk in need of pasteurization.
Pasteurization strips milk of helpful organisms, the good and the bad, leaving it unable to protect against undesired bacteria which can containment milk. Pasteurization also destroys the vitamins and minerals which make milk such a powerhouse of nutrients. Vitamins A and D are synthetically added back into pasteurized milk. The ultimate goal is the absence of enzymes which also destroys calcium and puts a large strain on the digestive system leaving many with problems digesting pasteurized milk. Check out this study to find out more on the digestive issues of pasteurized milk.
Ultra-pasteurization: This process takes milk and heats it to an extremely hot temperature (280º), killing literally everything. The results: dead milk! This milk literally retains nothing living and can not be cultured and processed into yogurt.
You may be buying what appears to be organic milk, however, you are getting nothing more than white liquid… an expensive white nutritionally-void, dead substance. In fact, chemicals can even be added into pasteurized (and ultra pasteurized) milk to help it retain the odor and taste of real fresh milk which is lost in the extreme heating. Yuck!
Why would companies, particularly, organic companies process the milk to such a dead state?
Simply because this process extends the shelf life of milk. When ultra pasteurization first came out, stores sold the boxed milk on the shelf as no refrigeration was needed for such a lifeless product. Consumers were hesitant of such milk, so today you will find most ultra pasteurized milk sold in the refrigerated section. This gives the appearance of fresh milk, however, it is much more of a marketing gimmick than necessity.
A giveaway milk is ultra pasteurized, is an expiration date lasting months from the purchase date. Since when did fresh milk last 6 months?
The Safety of Raw Milk:
First, for thousands of years people have been dependent on milk from cattle, sheep, goats, horses, water buffalo, or camels for protein and fat. Ask any great-great grandparent living today, and many will fondly share stories of drinking raw milk straight from the cow. Rawmilk.com shares a few of the safety features which are naturally built into raw milk.
Raw milk contains numerous components that assist in:
- Killing pathogens in the milk (lactoperoxidase, lactoferrin, leukocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, antibodies, medium chain fatty acids, lysozyme, B12 binding protein, bifidus factor, beneficial bacteria);
- Preventing pathogen absorption across the intestinal wall (polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, mucins, fibronectin, glycomacropeptides, bifidus factor, beneficial bacteria);
- Strengthening the Immune System (lymphocytes, immunoglobulins, antibodies, hormones and growth factors) (Scientific American, December 1995; British J of Nutrition, 2000:84(Suppl. 1):S3-S10, S75-S80, S81-S89).
Raw milk contains lactic-acid producing bacteria that protect against pathogens. Pasteurization destroys these helpful organisms… Raw milk turns pleasantly sour, while pasteurized milk, lacking any beneficial bacteria, will putrefy. Nourishing Traditions
Farms today utilize many modern techniques such as: refrigeration, herd disease testing, cleaning systems, and routine milk testing which result in even safer raw milk and eliminates the need for pasteurization.
Raw milk is also safest consumed in its whole form, whole milk, as it retains all the fats which fit against pathogens.
Health Benefits of Raw Milk:
First let me say, raw milk should always come from a clean source from a trusted local farm. Cows should be grazing on pasture and milked in clean conditions with clean sanitized equipment.
When produced on clean farms raw milk is very beneficial:
- a rich supply of perfectly balanced vitamins and minerals, in their whole unaltered state, such as vitamins A and D and calcium.
- cancer fighting CLAs
- many who are lactose intolerant can consume raw milk
- healthy, important saturated fat.
This article from Joy Hartley wonderfully describes in detail all the amazing health benefits of fresh raw grass fed milk.
Our family enjoys the many health benefits of fresh raw milk from pastured cows. The way God intended milk to be, from happy, clean cows grazing on grass, milked by farmers we trust and personally know.
Is your family ready to take the journey to raw milk? Find out more about where to find raw milk here.