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milk bottle showing cream at the top

Raw Milk in a recyclable glass bottle.

For most of my life, I hated milk. I stopped drinking it at a very young age (basically as soon as I could be stubborn enough that my mother realized that it was a lost battle). As I grew older, I realized that I’m lactose intolerant. How did I figure this out if I stopped drinking milk? Mainly because like all kids, I liked ice cream. I didn’t realize until I was an adult that ice cream gave me tummy issues. Fermented dairy seemed to be fine for me though (as did heavy cream). As I embarked on my low carb diet, cheese took the place of sweets.

As I’ve embarked on adding more local and seasonal foods to my diet, I searched and searched for a source for raw milk. Despite data from the government (CDC) detailing the fact that drinking raw milk or eating raw milk cheeses is safe, neither the CDC or the FDA will admit that raw milk is safe. Consequently, trying to find a source for raw milk is difficult. Luckily for me, raw milk is legal to sell in Pennsylvania and I’m about 35 miles from the border. So yes, its a haul to get it, but its worth it.

There is a petition up on the WhiteHouse Web Site that is asking the Federal Government to legalize the sale of raw milk.  Whether you choose to drink raw milk or not, after reading this post, please consider signing it so that those of us who do choose to do so, can do so. The petition needs 5000 votes to go forward.  Thank you.

I first wanted to use raw milk as a source for making my yogurt. I’ve had some challenges working with it because the milk is so different than pasteurized milk. I also decided to experiment on myself. I had read that raw milk was easier to digest than pasteurized since pasteurization kills enzymes in the milk. So I got brave and drank a cup. I kept waiting for my digestive issues to arrive and they didn’t. I ended up drinking 8-16 ounces of raw milk for a week and never had a problem. It was amazing. Plus it tasted amazing. Rich (since its whole milk), creamy and slightly sweet. Its a really refreshing drink.

What I have issues with is how difficult our government makes it for those who want to find a healthy source of raw milk. From the research I have done, pasteurization came about because the government didn’t want to increase inspection of the “distillery dairies” around the turn of the century. Many dairies ended up near distilleries since the cows could be fed the slop from the whiskey distilleries. The dairies were filthy, the cows were diseased and rather than regulate the industry, it was easier to simply mandate pasteurization. Heating the milk up mostly kills bacteria from unclean handling, but it also destroys beneficial enzymes (like those which help absorption of calcium and iron) as well.

Let me be clear. I totally support the idea of pasteurization if dairies can’t be trusted. If you don’t know the farm or the farmer then you can’t trust the way they handle their milk. I can drive to the farm I get my milk from, talk to the farmer and observe the process. I’m lucky that I can do that.

The FDA and the CDC have come out against raw milk. Despite the fact that raw milk laws are on a state by state basis, the FDA has conducted raids on raw milk producers in both Pennsylvania and California (where the sale of raw milk is legal). In Pennsylvania, the FDA conducted a sting operation on an Amish farmer who was bringing milk into a milk club in the DC area. All the participants knew what they were doing, no one was being forced to buy or drink this product. In California, the FDA raided a local food club that provided raw milk. In this raid, they not only destroyed the milk, but also various meats and vegetables that were legal to sell.

I don’t understand why the FDA is so against Raw Milk. The only thing that makes sense is that they are trying to protect the status quo of the dairy industry. If you really think the FDA exists to make sure we have a clean food supply, take a look at the news. Listeria in cantaloupe, salmonella in peanuts. The majority of food borne illness outbreaks exists in the very industrial food supply the FDA supports.

The data out there only supports the fact that raw milk, from raw milk producers who follow clean, healthy procedures is safe. If you can’t get raw milk, at least try to find a local farm that only does the minimal amount of pasteurization and is not homogenized.

There are a number of issues with the milk that comes from the industrialized milk industry. All milk that is from an industrialized dairy is first separated into cream and skim milk. This means that none of the milk you buy at a grocery supermarket (or WalMart) is actually a milk in its natural form. Once the milk is separated, different types are made by adding quantities of cream into the skim milk.

Homogenized milk actually forces the molecules to be split, which exposes more of the milk to oxidization. So homogenized milk means the cream doesn’t rise to the top. How hard is it to shake the bottle before you pour? Homogenized milk contains oxidized fats. Studies are showing that oxidized cholesterol (and milk contains cholesterol) can lead to atherosclerosis.

Raw milk doesn’t have these issues. Raw milk (especially from grass fed cows) have a lot of health benefits. Raw milk and raw milk products contain CLA, a beneficial fat which prevents heart disease, and aids weight loss. There is also some evidence (though not enough) that CLA helps lower the risk of breast cancer. Raw milk will not contain rBGH (a synthetic hormone that farmers who don’t use it are forbidden by law to say so). rBGH milk contains higher levels of IGF-1, a growth hormone that is linked to reproductive cancers. Also cows who are injected with rBGH also tend to get sick more often which increases the need for antibiotics which (surprise) also end up in the milk you drink. (Raw milk producers will only use an antibiotic on their cow as a last resort and tend to take those cows out of milk production until the antibiotics have cleared their system.

I actually plan on doing the milk diet (using raw milk of course) this winter. Due to my schedule, I won’t be able to do this until January or March, but I’ve read of a lot of benefits to doing this (Yes, this means that all I will be having for 1-2 weeks is raw milk). Its something I’m looking forward to trying and I’ll be blogging about it real time.

If you can find a source for raw milk, try it. You will be amazed at the difference.  And again, if you’ve gone through this post and found it thought provoking, please sign the petition at whitehouse.gov

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4 Responses to “Thoughts on Raw Milk and a plea.”

  1. Amber says:

    You might want to edit your article as it is incorrect – lactase is never found in raw cow’s milk. Lactase is the digestive enzyme that humans produce in the intestine to break down milk sugar (lactose). So unfortunately, to say that pasteurisation destroys lactase in milk is not correct, although it does destroy other enzymes. You might find this link useful as it has PhD-supported research in it as well. http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=349312

    • Sandra Clark says:

      Thanks I did some more research and it seems there is controversy. I’ve edited the post to make sure it refers to “non controversial enzymes”. I appreciate your feedback and thank you for reading.

      • Amber says:

        Thanks and you’re welcome. Proof that it can’t contain lactase is that the sugars would already be broken down before it came out of the cow 🙂

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