It amazes me that a cup of milk causes such commotion. It’s milk, straight out of the cow. What is the big deal? The big deal, is that it is raw milk. RAW, as in unpasteurized, unhomogenized, the kind of milk you have to shake before drinking. If you listen to the FDA, it ranks right up there with terrorism. Ok, so that might be a slight exaggeration.
So what does the FDA have to say about this delicious beverage?
Milk and milk products provide a wealth of nutrition benefits. But raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family. According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1993 and 2006 more than 1500 people in the United States became sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk. In addition, CDC reported that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products.
And they’re right…but only partially. Raw milk can “harbor dangerous microorganisms” but there is one valuable piece of information they’re omitting. The way the cows are treated makes all the difference in the world. You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to go to a commercial dairy farm and drink a cup of raw milk. Did you know that more people become sick from drinking pasteurized milk than raw milk? It’s true! From 1993 to 2006, 203 people became sick from ingesting pasteurized dairy products. Only 112 were from raw milk products. How can that be?
Instead of eating grass as God intended, commercial dairy cows are fed a high protein diet to ramp up their milk supply. Corn, soy and animal by-products fill their feed troughs. This feed isn’t digested well and causes sickness which in turn requires antibiotic therapy. In addition to the extremely low quality feed, some dairy farms treat their cows with recombinant bovine growth hormone or rBGH. This hormone increases milk production to 10 times the amount that a calf requires. Milk production requires a good diet with lots of nutrients. The cows are already being fed an unnatural diet that isn’t easily digested. When rBGH is added to the mix, it places further demands on the already fragile cow. Calcium is pulled from their bones, eventually resulting in a “downed” cow with leg fractures who cannot stand on their own. Once this happens, the cow has to be put out of its misery, and all because the farmer or company who owned it did not treat it properly and the cow died without ever knowing what her life should have been.
Cows that graze openly, eat a diet of fresh grass and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine live much happier and healthier lives. These cows can digest their food properly, so illness is considerably less. They aren’t injected with hormones or antibiotics and they make a reasonable amount of milk each day. These cows produce healthy milk. It’s no wonder that milk from commercial dairy farms has to be pasteurized. It is full of bacteria and drinking it raw would have deadly consequences. Do you see how these two cannot even be compared. Milk from grass-fed, healthy cows isn’t the same as milk from commercial dairy farms, not by a long shot.
Raw milk contains enzymes that aren’t present once the milk is pasteurized. Phosphatase is an enzyme that helps our bodies absorb calcium. It is present in raw milk, but destroyed by pasteurization. Do you think this mgiht contribute to the prevalance of osteoporosis? Lactase is another enzyme in raw milk. It explains why many individuals, like myself, who are sensitive or intolerant to lactose, can drink raw milk with no problem. Raw milk contains all 8 essential amino acids and all 22 standard amino acids. Have you ever noticed that pasteurized milk is often fortified with vitamin D or other nutrients? Raw milk doesn’t have to be fortified with anything. It contains everything that you need and is a complete food.
I began buying raw milk for my family in 2010 when I was pregnant with my daughter. I read tons of research and decided that the benefits far outweighed the minimal risk. I found that raw milk tastes better than pasteurized. My stomach tolerates it without any problem at all. After reading about pasteurized milk and how the cows are treated, the decision was easy. My husband (who doesn’t drink any kind of milk at all) eats it in his cereal and my children love it. We buy our milk from Milky Way Farms, who raise Jersey cows. I go every other week and buy 5 gallons of whole milk and 1/2 gallon of raw cream that I use in coffee, oatmeal and to make homemade butter. In my state of South Carolina, selling raw milk for human consumption is legal. In North Carolina, it may only be sold for “pet consumption”. I can’t figure out why the government wants to regulate our food? What is the big deal. Plenty of things (like alcohol and cigarettes) cause much more serious health problems, ruin families and create addictions, but those things are legal.