There was a time where there was just "milk". Not whole milk, skim milk, fat free milk, pasturized milk or raw milk... Just milk. It was fresh from that morning, strained, the cream skimmed off for butter and ready to go for breakfast. Now, what we call raw milk (unpasteurized) is quite the controversial subject. So how did we go from milk fresh from the cow to being afraid and even outlawing raw milk? Originally, pasteurization (or at the time, heating/scalding on the stove) was suggested to extend the shelf life of milk from 7-10 days to 2-3 weeks by killing the microbial bacteria that would cause the milk to sour. Ultra-pasteurization (using even higher temperatures) extends the life up to a couple of months. As milk became a widely distributed product from less than sanitary farms, it became necessary to pasteurize to prevent echoli and other food born illnesses from infecting consumers. Makes sense right?
However, when looking at smaller, local farms, this is very rarely the case. For example, the farm we choose to purchase milk from keeps everything very clean and all the cows are grass fed and humanely treated as they should be. We have been there many times, know the farmer and have seen first hand the excellent care the cows (and our milk) receive. In these situations, it is not necessary to kill all of the "bad" bacteria, consequently completely destroying any nutrients that would have benefited you. You see, milk from the store, even organic, contains almost nothing. Sure, it helps with calcium and they normally add Vit D, so you are getting a little of that. Unfortunately, that is about it.
For me, it really just comes down to complete nutrition Many people don't know that milk is a "whole food". It contains everything you need, no additives necessary. There are so many vitamins, minerals, proteins and more that it can actually fill in a lot of diet gaps. Some research even suggests that if you had to, you could live off of fresh, raw milk only (from raw-milk-facts.com). That is pretty amazing and is one of the tid-bits of information that really pushed me forward in learning about raw milk.
I am also lactose intolerant. I learned that when milk is pasteurized it actually kills the natural enzymes produced in milk that help you digest it properly. Many, many people who switch to raw milk notice after a period of time that they no longer have problems with dairy. I am one of these people and I am so glad! Milk is delicious! I learned that aside from the dangers of getting raw milk from dirty, poorly attended dairy farms (which is a very real concern), there is no real reason to feed the fear surrounding raw milk. It is only beneficial. Is it possible to get sick? Yes. Is it likely if you have carefully chosen a farmer who knows clean practices? No. It is my belief that we as individuals should be provided with all of the facts so that we can weigh the pro's and con's. Then and only then can we make a truly informed decision.
Believe it or not, this isn't a post about why YOU should drink raw milk. It is simply a post on why our family chooses it. At most, I hope you will walk away asking questions about your milk sources and at the least, I hope simply to make raw milk drinkers not look like crazy risk takers. For more information on raw milk visit www.raw-milk-facts.com. They have a ton of information and links to more indepth studies.
What are your thoughts on raw milk? Do you drink it, why or why not?
Disclaimer: This post is in no way intended to provide you with all of the information I have obtained. It is a quick and light over-view of the things that I researched. Obviously, I believe that raw milk is a healthy and good food source for my family. I am not suggesting that you go out and purchase raw milk. I am however suggesting that, if you are curious, you look into the matter for yourself and come to the best choice for your family.
Written by Happily Domestic blog contributor: Brittney Thompson