This whole issue of raw milk becomes simple if you just break it down, look at the facts, and think objectively about it.
Here was my first epiphany:
Human breastmilk is raw.
Why is it safe?
Because it is clean. It is pure. It has not been contaminated. You trust that the source (mother) is healthy as well.
Even if you pump and then store it in a container in the freezer or fridge, you don’t pasteurize it (heat it) before giving it to your baby. Why? Because you know where it came from, and trust that it didn’t come into contact with anything that would cause it to be unsafe for your baby. It also contains good bacteria that protects it from becoming overrun by a pathogen, should it get in there. (This good bacteria is killed during the pasteurization process.)
This is the same reason that raw milk, when sourced from clean, reputable farms, is just as safe for you as the breastmilk you give your baby, and I would argue, is safer for you than conventional and even organic grocery-store milk.
However, my goal here is simply to inform you of the research I have done, and my own personal opinions. As with any health issue, it is important to do your own research and decide what is best for your family.
After being safely consumed, and used to effectively treat illnesses, for thousands of years raw, why did milk suddenly need to be pasteurized? Until recently milk was produced on small family farms, or at homes where the family had their own cow. The farmers know their cows, they can quickly identify if one is ill. Nearly every other culture in the world consumes raw animal products as an essential part of their diet. France, who is statistically the healthiest nation, embraces raw milk as a superfood, and even provides the public with raw-milk vending machines in some areas.
Pasteurization is the solution to unsanitary practices and unhealthy cows. I will touch more on this in a future post in this series.
Because that good bacteria in raw milk is still alive, it can deal with harmful contaminants like as e-coli, listeria, salmonella, and campylobacter. There is a farm in California that routinely introduces samples of their raw milk with these pathogens. Within 24 hours these pathogens are gone. Completely destroyed by the good bacteria in the raw milk. Not floating around in there dead…but consumed and eliminated. Here is their website: www.organicpastures.com. it’s pretty fascinating stuff.
Raw milk is a complete superfood, that is actually completely life-sustaining. It has been used in our history as a cure for numerous illnesses and diseases. It is rich in proteins, beneficial carbohydrates, good saturated fats (yes, that’s right…more on that later), CLS (Omega-6 fatty acid), vitamins, minerals, cholesterol (yes, that’s right…more on this later), and beneficial bacteria. Heating milk higher than 110 degrees greatly damages the vitamins, minerals, and proteins in milk, and destroys the enzymes that make it digestible.
For my delicious raw milk smoothie recipe click HERE.
Issues such as asthma, allergies, and eczema are being cured when one switches from pasteurized to raw milk.
I have seen the health of my entire family improve since we started incorporating it into our diet. My husband becomes very congested with pasteurized milk, but not with raw. My son only gets earaches from drinking pasteurized milk. We have several friends who have been considered “lactose intolerant” who are symptom free with raw milk.
Cows who are grass-fed as opposed to grain fed are 6 times less likely to carry dangerous strains of bacteria in their systems, thus making their milk much safer and healthier to consume. Most conventional and large commercial organic farms use grain (or candy and trash) instead of grass to feed their herds.
What does raw milk taste like? SO good in my opinion. It is much “earthier” and you can taste the different herbs and grasses in it. I once got a gallon that tasted very strong, and a bit strange, not rancid, just different. I asked my farmer about it and she explained that some wild onions were sprouting up in the fields where the cows roam all day, and they had been eating them, which was affecting the taste of the milk. Amazing.
I have only once encountered a gallon of raw milk that was not good. It was lumpy, and looked extremely weird and smelled rancid. From everything I have researched, raw milk that is unsafe will be very obvious. It will smell, look, and taste bad. If you want to test your raw milk, simply set a half cup out and let it “clabber”. Good, healthy milk will smell sour after sitting out (think yogurt or sour cream) but not rotten.
Any food can become contaminated. Remember the “bagged spinach” outbreak? and the “jalapeno” one? and the more recent “peanut butter” scare? These affected thousands of people. But we are all still eating spinach, jalapenos, and peanut butter. A batch of steroids tainted with meningitis was being injected into people’s spines recently, but I can assure you, those steroids will not be demonized, just the folks responsible for the contamination.
I am so used to the fresh purity of raw milk, that pasteurized milk actually tastes rancid or sour to me now. I’ll tell you why in my future posts!
What’s so amazing about it is that if you were to leave a glass of raw milk out for a few days, you could safely consume it. It will taste sour because all of the lactose (the sugar in milk that makes it “sweet”) will have been consumed, but it will not be unsafe. This is especially helpful with little children, as they seem to always find that god-knows-how-old sippy cup of milk that was stashed in the couch cushions!
If you are trying raw milk for the first time, try only a teaspoon or so at first. As with any live food containing a lot of good bacteria, your system may need a little adjusting. Especially if you have an over-sanitized body from the use of antibiotics, or are not used to good bacteria because of poor diet.
So, where can you buy raw milk? It differs from state to state in a few categories: Retail Sale Legal, Farm Sale Legal, Herd Shares Legal, No Law on Herd Shares, Legal as Pet Food, and Illegal.
Start asking around at farmer’s markets and health food stores in your area! Just remember, it is important to buy it from small farms that routinely test their milk, whose cows have free access to sunlight and pasture, are fed grass and hay, and are not given antibiotics, hormones or steroids. Good farms will always allow you to come and visit them, take pictures and video; and some even require it before allowing you to purchase from them.
Like I’ve said in the past, a good farmer will have nothing to hide.