Raw Pastured vs Conventional Dairy

…there were pockets of extremely healthy, long-lived people scattered about the earth who used dairy products in various forms as the staple of their diets — further evidence that milk and its by-products were amongst the most healthful foods man has ever encountered.

-Tom Cowan, MD, Raw Milk

Guernsey cow. Credit: Wikipedia

Do you ever wonder if weaned humans are supposed to drink milk? Or if we should even drink non-human milk at all? I used to.

All baby mammals produce the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to break down milk sugars, but the production of this enzyme declines or disappears after weaning. An estimated 30-40% of the world’s population produces the enzyme lactase  in adulthood. That means that up 70% of people are lactose intolerant. It kind of makes you think that maybe we aren’t supposed to drink milk, right? At least not if we are one of the 60-70% that don’t produce lactase…right? Not necessarily so, and I’ll explain why this logic doesn’t work with raw milk.

Several years ago I read an article about the problems of pasteurized milk. Up until then, I thought that only a few people had problems with milk. I decided that milk was really an “optional” part of diet, since clearly not everyone could have it, and there were other ways to get the needed nutrients. I loved milk, hadn’t ever noticed problems with it (except for ice cream sometimes), so I kept drinking it. But when I became pregnant with my son, my belly expanded painfully whenever I had milk, and this clued me in that I was indeed intolerant of milk–I just had never noticed before. I started to restrict my dairy intake, but loved it too much to completely eliminate. At one time I noticed when I had too much dairy, I got brain fog. Another time I noticed my acne would flare up. Yet another time I noticed I felt the need to shower more when I had a lot of dairy. Dairy does not like me, I thought.

But I love dairy, and after reading about the benefits of raw dairy several months ago, I decided I was finally willing to pay the extra cost for it. And it’s a fairly hefty price tag compared to store-bought milk (perhaps due to the strict regulations on it?). For example, I was paying between $2.50 and $3 for store brand RBST-free milk and up to $5 a gallon for organic milk. I wasn’t willing to pay more than $5 a gallon for milk, and most the time I would get the $3 milk. Raw milk, on the other hand, goes for anywhere between $7 and $20 per gallon. Mine happens to be $9 a gallon, three times the price I was paying for store-bought milk, plus all the extra mileage to go out to the farm and get it (it’s not exactly just down the road like my grocery store). Husband wasn’t thrilled about my getting raw milk. In fact, he won’t drink it, I think because he thinks it costs too much (though I did the math, and it’s actually very cost-effective considering the nutrition it packs).

So why pay all the extra money and take all the extra time to get raw milk, instead of just dropping it from my diet? Milk may not be a superfood for everyone, but I believe it is for me. This may be due to my Northern European heritage and/or other factors. It is also extremely helpful in feeding my little boy a balanced diet, since he can’t have much fruit or vegetable (raw milk is his main source of enzymes). I’ll explain more about the benefits of raw milk below.

Problems with conventional milk

Now before you can say that you are one that cannot have milk, first consider a few things:

…the milk in your supermarket is bad for everybody, partly because the modern cow is a freak of nature. A century or two ago cows produced two or three gallons a day; today’s Holsteins routinely give three or four times as much. This is accomplished by selective breeding to produce cows with abnormally active pituitary glands and by high-protein feeding… Excessive pituitary hormones are also associated with tumor formation, and some studies link milk consumption with cancer. The freak-pituitary cow is prone to many diseases. She almost always secretes pus into her milk and needs frequent doses of antibiotics.

Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions

Is that not scary and disgusting? The hormones aren’t the only problem: Cows need to eat grass, but they are being fed soybean meal to increase milk production. Fallon suspects the abnormal protein diet may contribute the the milk protein allergies seen in people today. It also leads to terrible health problems in the cows, and a shorter life-span. Non-pastured cow milk also does not contain important nutrients like the Price Factor and CLA, and contains fewer vitamins and minerals.

Then there is pasteurization. Pasteurization is meant to kill harmful bacteria, but is also kills many many nutrients in milk. I would agree that it’s necessary when dealing with large factory farms, where farmers are unable or unwilling to follow the proper protocols for milking cows in a way that prevents contamination. However, pasteurized milk simply is not the same food as raw milk. It does take strict milking protocols to ensure that milk collected from a cow is clean, but if you take clean raw milk and clean pasteurized milk, and allowed a contaminant to get in, only raw milk has a way of defending itself from the invader.

Raw milk contains lactic-acid-producing bacteria that protect against pathogens. Pasteurization destroys these helpful organisms, leaving the finished product devoid of any protective mechanism should undesirable bacteria inadvertently contaminate the supply.

Nourishing Traditions

Heat alters the amino acids in milk making all of the proteins less available, promotes rancidity of unsaturated fats, slaughters vitamins by 50-80% (depending on the type of vitamin), and reduces the availability of the important minerals in milk. Raw milk comes ready with all the enzymes necessary to digest it: pasteurization destroys every last one. Lastly, conventional milk is then subjected to the completely unnecessary process of homogenation,  which has been linked to heart disease. Some brands of milk are even further assaulted by treatment of chemicals (I knew some brands of milk tasted like chemicals!) and some have powdered milk added (powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol, which is harmful). All brands of commercial milk have synthetic vitamin D added–sometimes it’s vitamin D2, which is toxic (naturally sourced D3 is the only kind helpful to our bodies).

Needless to say, conventional milk is not very nourishing for anyone!

Why raw milk is better

Vitamins are intact, and minerals are bioavailable in raw milk

For some reason, Fallon doesn’t discuss the benefits of raw milk nearly as much as she talks about the wondrous benefits of butter. However, everything that’s in butter is in the butterfat of whole raw milk. Whole milk contains contains a plethora of nutrients: vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, K, and the minerals folate, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, iodine and others. They are easily absorbed from raw milk.

All raw animal fats contain the Wulzen Factor, which prevents degenerative arthritis, hardening of arteries, cataracts, and calcification of the pineal gland. It is destroyed by heat, and therefore not present in pasteurized milk.

Raw milk contains it’s natural enzymes and probiotics

Raw milk contains many enzymes as well as probiotics. Both of these are beneficial to digestion and the probiotics prevent the milk from going bad. When soured or cultured, raw milk actually increases in nutritional value and becomes more digestible. Raw milk comes with various enzymes, including lactase which is needed to digest lactose. The probiotics in raw milk actually predigest lactose and casein (casein is a protein that humans have trouble digesting without the enzymes and probiotics in the raw form of milk). So if you are of the 60-70% of people who have an intolerance to lactose, you may be able to drink raw milk.  If you don’t tolerate lactose or casein well at all, you may be able to have cultured milk products, such as yogurt, since the enzyme content of cultured dairy is increased, while the lactose and casein gets predigested by the probiotics. Unfortunately, if you have a true milk allergy, you might not be able to drink even raw milk:

While a valuable food, dairy products, raw or otherwise, are not everyone’s cup of tea. Milk allergies are very real and serious threats today- just ask any pediatrician. Barring the small percentage of folks allergic to all forms of the milk protein casein, you might be able to tolerate raw milk with its self-digesting food enzymes intact. Again, fermented dairy products may be better tolerated by some individuals.

Source

Some people are probably allergic to milk simply because they consume the denatured, pasteurized form, in which case the allergy may be reversed. However, some milk allergies may be caused by other factors. Use caution if you are allergic to milk.

Type of cow matters

Many raw milk farmers understand that milk from Jersey, Asian, African or Guernsey (especially Guernsey) cows is the safest and most beneficial . This is partly because Holstein cows (and some other bovine breeds) have a genetic mutation that allow a small protein called BCM 7 to become liberated in the GI tract of animals and humans who drink their milk. (The cows with this genetic mutation are called A1.)

BCM 7 has been shown to cause neurological impairment in animals and people exposed to it, especially autistic and schizophrenic changes. BCM 7 interferes with the immune response, and injecting BCM 7 in animal models has been shown to provoke type 1 diabetes. [There is] research showing a direct correlation between a population’s exposure to A1 cow’s milk and incidence of autoimmune disease, heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia.

BCM 7 isn’t a problem for everyone, but some individuals cannot efficiently get it out of their bodies, so it builds up and causes developmental delays in babies, and illness in people of all ages. It’s important to remember that BCM7 can come in either raw or pasteurized milk; it just happens that commercial dairy farmers generally use Holstein cows (A1 cows) because of their high yield, and most raw dairy farmers understand that A2 ( Asian, African, Jersey, Guernsey) milk is better. So when you choose raw, you are most likely also choosing A2 and avoiding BCM 7 (but I would ask your raw milk farmer just to be sure).

Raising method matters

The best quality milk comes from cows allowed to feed on pastures, especially the fast growing grass of spring and fall. Hay is fine when the grass isn’t growing enough, such as in winter. Cows raised in confinement and fed animal feeds that contain grain do not produce good quality milk. It will have fewer nutrients and may be lacking entirely of some nutrients such as the Price Factor (discovered and named “Activator X” by Weston Price which is now believed to be vitamin K2) which acts as a catalyst in absorbing vitamins A and D. Pastured cows are also much healthier, as they are eating their natural diet, being allowed to exercise, and not being crammed into close quarters with too many other cows (and the waste they produce) which encourages the spread of disease. Naturally, healthier cows produce safer, more nutritious milk.

Milking protocols matter

It’s extremely important to buy raw milk from a farmer that practices strict milking protocols to avoid contamination of the milk. I will be writing more about this later.

It’s a real food

Raw milk is completely natural, and if it comes from the right kind of properly raised cow, and is handled properly, it’s completely safe. We all have different bodies, so milk may not be an excellent food for everyone, but for those whose bodies do like milk, it’s amazing. It contains digestible protein, nutrient-rich fat, and healthy carbohydrates at a very balanced ratio. It has enough nutrients that one could almost live off of it alone–in fact, one group of traditional people, called the Masai, do live off of mostly dairy.

I used to wonder if it was true that weaned humans should not consume milk, and that no humans should consume the milk of another animal, which is a belief held by some natural health gurus. One can philosophize for or against this idea, but the fact is that many of the healthy traditional groups of people that Weston Price studied did consume dairy, and it was evident that doing so contributed to their good health.

It’s more than just a food

Raw milk is a healing food, and is sometimes called “white blood” or “raw medicine” or even “liquid gold.”

The 60 or so enzymes in raw milk are very beneficial for our digestion. Most Americans do not get enough enzymes in their food, and we need to consume enzymes with every meal for optimum digestion. When we don’t consume enough enzymes it taxes our body, which can only make so much of its own enzymes. Enzymes are absolutely essential for breaking down food. Because there are such a variety of enzymes in milk, it can truly help heal digestive issues. The probiotics also help improve digestion. It can help the whole digestive tract, including bowel movements.

There are many raw milk advocates that say raw milk promotes healthy teeth, including Weston Price (the dentist/scientist who studied isolated groups of people in order to discover the cause of tooth decay), Ramiel Nagel (author of Cure Tooth Decay), and many raw milk consumers who have never had any cavities. People who switch to raw milk have noticed their teeth becoming stronger, even stopping cavities and having their teeth remineralize. It is believed to promote healthy skin, and that switching to raw may clear up eczema . Some studies suggest it may prevent asthma or help with seasonal allergies.

Raw milk has been used as a therapy in folk medicine — and even in the Mayo Clinic — for centuries. It has been used in the pre-insulin days to treat diabetes (I’ve tried it — it works), as well as eczema, intestinal worms, allergies, and arthritis, all for reasons which can be understood when we realize just what is in milk — such as the cortisone-like factor for allergies and eczema.

-Tom Cowan, Raw Milk

Just imagine, you could avoid having your teeth drilled or taking various medications or supplements just because you drink good old-fashioned raw milk. When milk is part of a balanced, whole foods diet, it may help thwart common modern-day ailments:

In these experiments Dr. Pottenger fed one group of cats a diet consisting of raw milk, raw meat and cod liver oil. Other groups were given pasteurized milk, evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk instead of raw milk. … Those that ate raw milk and raw meat did well and lived long, happy, active lives free of any signs of degenerative disease. Those cats on pasteurized milk suffered from acute illnesses (vomiting, diarrhea) and succumbed to every degenerative disease now flourishing in our population, even though they were also getting raw meat and cod liver oil. By the 3rd generation a vast majority of the cats were infertile and exhibited “anti-social” behavior — in short, they were like modern Americans.

Scientists are discovering the many powerful healing properties of human breastmilk. Turns out that bovine milk also has healing properties, which were known in the early 1900’s, maybe even earlier. Back then, a protocol called the “milk cure” was practiced:

When sick people are limited to a diet containing an excess of vitamins and all the elements necessary to growth and maintenance, which are available in milk, they recover rapidly without the use of drugs and without bringing to bear all the complicated weapons of modern medicine.

…The results have been so regularly satisfactory that I have naturally become enthusiastic and interested in this method of treating disease. We used good Guernsey milk…

…The improvement in tuberculosis or nephritis is equally interesting but there is no similarity in these diseases. I once heard a very distinguished medical man discussing a case of psoriasis. He said, “This was the worst case of psoriasis I have ever seen. This boy was literally covered from head to foot with scales. We put this boy on a milk diet and in less than a month he had a skin like a baby’s.”

The colostrum of bovine milk has some interesting properties you can read about here.

…helps to restore and reset the immune system, speeds healing of surgical wounds, burns, and skin injuries, alleviates asthma and other inflammatory diseases, boosts athletic performance and protects against numerous disease-causing pathogens.

If you are knowledgeable about breastfeeding, you probably know that breastfeeding a baby is the best way to protect it from disease. If the mother has an illness such as the cold or flu, her body will make antibodies in her milk which pass to the baby. If it’s the baby that is sick, the contact of the baby’s mouth on the mother’s nipple also encourages production of antibodies in her milk. Apparently cows work the same way:

As if colostrum’s healing powers weren’t amazing enough, nature takes things one giant step further. It turns out, the cow’s udder is, for want of a better comparison, an honest-to-gosh biochemical laboratory! Researchers discovered that injecting a pregnant cow’s udder with pathogens or allergens caused the manufacture of antibodies to those substances which were then expressed in her colostrum, creating what’s known as immune milk or hyperimmune bovine colostrum.

Think of it. We have the technology to make a customized injectable vaccine that is completely safe and free of side effects, that is so inexpensive to manufacture it could be available to all, that jump starts the immune system and protects against bacteria, viruses, protozoans, fungi and allergens, and that is backed up by numerous studies attesting to its safety and efficacy. One’s heart must ache at the thought of all the unnecessary suffering caused by the suppression of this amazing substance.

Apparently creating “immune milk” for humans is illegal in the United States. Surprised? Neither am I.

But do you need dairy?

Based on what I’ve learned about food, and what I’ve read in Nourishing Traditions, the only food we truly need is animals (especially for the protein and fat, but organs and bones are also fantastic for us). The amount of animal we need to eat depends on our constitution and what else we eat. A person could eat just animals, as long as he was sure to eat the organs, bone marrow, and consume bone broth. Or a person can eat a varied diet, including fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fermented grains, in addition to smaller amounts of animal flesh. The nutrients found in these varied foods can also be found in raw animal meat, organs, fat, and bones. Some people seem to even thrive on just raw vegetable matter, although it’s up for debate whether that can be sustained long term.

But what of dairy? Dairy contains many valuable nutrients, and it’s one of the two sources of calcium that are most bioavailable to humans. The other one is bones. So if you aren’t going to consume dairy, you would be wise to consume plenty of bone broth. Butterfat is also an important source of vitamins A, D, and K. There are other ways to get these nutrients, but consuming plenty of butter or drinking whole raw milk is a really easy way to get them, especially for Americans. If you can’t or don’t want to consume dairy, not even butter, then I recommend looking into a paleo diet, as I really can’t tell you exactly how to fulfill all nutritional requirements without dairy.

How to best consume dairy

Obviously, the first thing you want to do is make sure it’s raw. It would be better to switch to a paleo diet than to consume conventional milk. Cultured pasteurized dairy may be acceptable, because the probiotics increase it’s nutritional value.

Secondly, you want to make sure it’s whole. Skim milk may still have calcium and protein, but it’s completely lacking in the most nutritional part of milk–the butterfat! Drink whole milk, and eat plenty of butter and cream. If you really feel like you need to throw out part of your milk, make sure it’s the skim part, not the fat. (You can clabber the skim milk and give it to your chickens for protein, if you want). If you have fat phobia like many Americans do, I will calm your fears by assuring you that the USDA highly underestimates our need for fat, especially saturated fat, and overestimates our need for carbohydrates. Also, the fat from pastured animals is very, very good for you.

Next, you should consider culturing your dairy, especially if you have issues with casein or lactose. I can drink it fresh from the cow without any problem, so I don’t consider culturing necessary. However, culturing does increase its nutritional content, pretty much turning it into a superfood (as if it wasn’t already super with all its healing properties). Culturing increases enzymes and probiotics, as well as other nutrients. Americans need to consume more foods with high enzyme content as well as probiotics. Pasteurized cultured dairy does not usually contain enzymes (especially not the 60 or so found in raw milk), but it does contain probiotics. Since probiotics are seriously lacking in the American diet, it would be better to have cultured pasteurized dairy, such as yogurt or kefir, than to have no probiotic foods at all; but of course, raw cultured dairy is king.

Raw milk is my hero

Raw milk is my enzymes. Sometimes I still take my enzyme supplement because my digestion is so weak, but having milk with all my meals helps a lot. I struggle with getting fresh produce into every single meal, but since I love milk, it’s easy just to have a glass. It’s also my probiotic, along with my store-bought Greek yogurt that I can’t seem to give up (it’s SO good). Sometimes I drink a glass of milk when my energy is low or I feel hungry for a snack but I don’t know what, or I finished a meal and feel like I still need a little something–it’s got so many nutrients and such a good balance of macronutrients, that it’s bound to cover whatever my body needs. It is also great for helping my little three year old eat in a balanced way.

When I started to drink raw milk only about five or six months ago, I secretly hoped it would work wonders for me. Well, not really. I was realistic enough to know I needed to make a lot of changes, not just one. However, I could tell a difference right away from the milk. My digestion was better, I had a little more energy, and I just felt more alive. Raw milk does not give me the problems that pasteurized milk does. My seasonal allergies disappeared over the summer. Yes, as far as I can tell, my hay fever is essentially cured; if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know how HUGE this is! Apparently it’s really good for kidneys, too…I’m seriously thinking I should be drinking more of this stuff.

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23 Comments Add yours

  1. Cassie says:

    Great post. I still like the argument that cow milk isn’t for humans. And I do think you can do with out. But raw milk is a heck of a lot easier than making bone broth or eating organs.

    1. Lisa C says:

      Yeah, you just say that because you don’t like milk 😉

      I’d rather look at the proof of various healthy groups of people who consumed dairy rather than rely on a theory. But you truly can live without it. It’s definitely optional. But it’s like optional gold. 🙂

  2. Cassie says:

    Oh there’s no doubt raw milk is good for you. I’m just saying it’s possible to do without and still be healthy. It is a little weird we drink cow milk…. I mean if you think really hard about it. But a lot of things we do don’t make sense but are healthy!
    I sent this to my dad and grandma so they can read about why we buy the milk.

    1. Lisa C says:

      Well, maybe the cow isn’t making the milk for humans, but neither are bees making honey for us…or for honey bears. And chickens don’t lay eggs for us…or for other animals to eat. Let’s face it, animals steal from other animals. It’s just what we do. 🙂

      1. Cassie says:

        It’s true. The argument is better suited for why you should breastfeed after 1 😉
        And I’ve thought of the chicken eggs too. It’s weird too. But good!!

  3. Urban Weeds says:

    I believe humans are omnivores. I eat animals and plants and animal products like RAW milk, farm eggs, and RAW honey. Humans have been eating these for ages. Love your article Lisa!!!! Well done!

    1. Lisa C says:

      Thanks Lisa! 😀

      No doubt we are omnivores. You just have to look at our biology (not to mention what we’ve been eating for the last several thousand years).

  4. Brenda says:

    I completely agree that there’s absolutely no point in drinking commercial milk, but I think it’s important to remember there is a middle ground here: Home Pasteurization. While it does destroy some of the enzymes, a gentle home pasteurization of farm bought milk is good way to avoid some of the dangers of raw milk. You may not know it, but this statement:

    “All outbreaks of salmonella from contaminated milk in recent decades–and there have been many–have occurred in pasteurized milk… Raw milk contains lactic-acid-producing bacteria that protect against pathogens. Pasteurization destroys these helpful organisms, leaving the finished product devoid of any protective mechanism should undesirable bacteria inadvertently contaminate the supply.”

    is completely false. One only has to go to the CDC website to find information on recent outbreaks of, not only salmonella, but also e.coli, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and other diseases. While a little more scare-tatic-ish in nature than I generally prefer, you can find the same info in an easier to access format http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com and also read recent stories of people who have suffered very serious illness from drinking raw milk. A simple google search for “raw milk contamination” and “raw milk recall” bring up current cases of raw milk contamination, more if you search through the google archives.

    I believe it is important to give people accurate information, and while I know you were quoting someone else, that quote really gives people a false sense of security. You can get sick from raw milk. People have been for centuries, that’s how pasteurization came about. Now, I know there were lots of other non-food related politics going on when commercial pasteurization was developed, but the catalyst was people were getting sick. Louis Pasture wasn’t just board one day so he decided to start boiling milk.

    I will agree that, theoretically, sanitation standards are much higher than they were in the past, and so outbreaks are less likely to happen. I, myself, was raised on raw milk. I do eat, and occasionally make, raw cheeses now (I just think milk is creepy.). I just think when we write articles like this, we should try to give accurate information. People’s health is important.

    It is also important to note that many raw milk advocates (Please understand I don’t mean you personally. I understand you are just synthesizing what you’ve read for you blog) often skew and twist research to support their advocacy of raw milk. For instance, the claim that raw milk cures asthma is taken completely out of context. That study, originally published in the British magazine The Lancet (I think), was not just studying raw milk consumption in children. It was studying raw milk consumption AND early exposure to a farm environment. Basically, it was a farm kids vs. city kids study. The did find that only 1% of the farm kids had asthma/allergies in comparison to (If I remember correctly) around 15% of the city kids. The study noted that EARLY EXPOSURE TO A STABLE environment (stable as in animal stable) was key to kids have less instances of asthma/allergies. For some reason the raw milk advocacy groups don’t mention that. Could raw milk have helped these kids? Probably, but the study found without early exposure to a stable, children had only slightly lower instances of allergy/asthma (11% for raw milk/no stable). This makes complete sense as allergies and asthma are both autoimmune diseases. Hence, early exposure in an environment with lots of micro-organisms, like a stable, promotes a well-developed immune system. Raw milk is hardly “the cure” here.

    I’m not trying to change your mind (not that I could), but just trying to give a balanced view. Home-pasteurization is a viable and healthier (than commercial milk) option for those that don’t want to be exposed to the health risks associated with raw milk.

    I could go on, but I have homework and my friend Amy has already done it better than I could anyway. I would suggest you read her blog articles on raw milk at http://www.mysuburbanhomestead.com/. There is a link to them at the top of the page. Again, not to change your mind, but maybe to get a more balanced view. After all, moderation is the key to everything.

    1. Lisa C says:

      Hi Brenda: Thank you for your comment and your concern. Writing from the perspective that nearly everybody thinks raw milk is dangerous, I did not think to include information about the potential risks in consuming raw milk. This was by no means to be my last post on raw milk, but considering it may be of influence to someone, I think you are right that I should at least say something about the risk. It is my opinion, however, that the risk in consuming properly raised and handled raw milk is safer than drinking commercial milk. There is also risk in consuming meat, seafood, and produce, especially if you do not use good food handling techniques and especially if you are trusting the preparation of your food to someone else, such as eating out.

      As for the list of possible health benefits to raw dairy, I got the information in various places, and now I realize that I did not cite my references. The claim that it can cure asthma that I was referring to was actually made by the doctor who practiced the “milk cure” in the early 1900s, although I have heard the claim elsewhere. However, the study you mention is interesting…it’s one of the reasons I try to expose my son to fresh air and animals (and keep him away from toxins and don’t “over-clean” my house–as if I had time to). This was actually advice given to us by my son’s neonatal doctor.

      Anyway, I will make a couple of edits to my post and when I get a chance I will check out the websites you listed and write a follow-up post.

      1. Brenda says:

        “There is also risk in consuming meat, seafood, and produce, especially if you do not use good food handling techniques and especially if you are trusting the preparation of your food to someone else, such as eating out.”

        This is true and a key if you are going consume raw milk. I think a lot of families who are hearing about the benefits are not being educated on how to pick a farmer. That’s a big deal. I know we all want to trust that farmer’s who are selling raw milk are on the up and up with regards to their sanitation process, but the fact some people are in it because its profitable. As with many movements, there are some people who are just in it for the money. Rarely do I see a raw milk advocacy article that educates potential consumers on how to tour a farm, what to look for, what are warning signs of a “bad” farm, and what questions to ask the farmer.

        I know some people who pay $10 per half gallon for raw milk. If you’re a farmer and you have a bucket with four gallons in it ($80 worth) and a cow gets uppity and kicks in a few pieces of bedding straw (which will have had contact with feces, cows aren’t particular about that sort of thing) do you dump out the milk, or pick out the straw? If the straw is picked out, there’s a lot higher risk of contamination. If they’re using a mechanical milking system, are they sanitizing the milker/udder part between cows? Cleaning each cow right before attaching it? Safe handling is paramount and is the average person really educated enough to see a “dangerous” farm when it comes in the guise of your friendly neighborhood farmer?

        As I said to Cassie, one has to remember that a cows mammary glands are right next ti it’s anus, hence why no one ever talks about pasturing breast milk. We don’t poop where we eat.

      2. Lisa C says:

        You make an excellent point, Brenda. I’m going to do just that. This really is important. I am a big advocate of proper food handling, and knowing where your food comes from. The point of the article was to compare raw pastured and commercial milk, and as you can see it was already super long. I did touch on the safety issue (I said pasteurization isn’t necessary when “milk production, milking, and packaging are all done the right way”–I just didn’t expound on what the “right” way was. It definitely deserves a post of its own, and then I will link this post to the safety post.

    2. It’s an interesting point you’re trying to make – about the risks of raw milk. There are risks in EVERYTHING that we do. There is bacteria EVERYWHERE. You have strep bacteria on you right now, there is E.coli everywhere, Listeria, etc. If you don’t believe me, just start taking cultures of everything, from everywhere and see what you find out for yourself. What is more important that even the “sanitation” of farmers, is YOUR own terrain. This is why everyone in a family can be exposed to the latest bout of flu, and yet not everyone in the family with get it. Your immune systems are different. Hence your reference to the kids who are exposed to animals (stables) having a better immune system! Home pasteurization is going to kill off good as well as bad bacteria.Your reference to Louis Pastuer boiling milk… well he was trying to kill off ALL bacteria. He believed in sterilizing the world, getting rid of all the “germs” so no one would get sick. That just isn’t how things work! That’s why we now have so many bacteria that are resistant to anti-biotics. Yes, it did solve some problems that were inherent to bringing dairies into city basements, but it was a band-aid, not solving the source of the problem.

      1. Lisa C says:

        I agree with you that having our own healthy microbes is protective. We live in a world of microbes, there are more bacteria cells in our bodies than human cells! Just gotta keep enough of the good guys in and on us to fight fight off the pathogenic ones. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Cassie says:

    Brenda,
    People actually do pasturize breastmilk. Because just like the cows milk, it *could* get contaminated during the packaging (hands handling it, pump not clean, improper storage, ect)

    1. Brenda says:

      Cassie,

      I guess that means if I am ever Blessed with children I’ll have to stop keeping raw meat in my cleavage? Ah, shucks.

  6. Rodrick says:

    This is a great post, Lisa. Congratulations on the beginning of your journey with real milk! Many people are really waking up to the astounding benefits of raw milk. It’s amazing that even health professionals and Medical Doctors are becoming more friendly to raw milk.

    Just two weeks ago a lady who had a severe case of Crohn’s came into our farm store and told me that she was sent here to our farm by her GI specialist at John Hopkins. Her GI specialist sent her specifically to get raw milk and raw milk kefir. The really interesting detail was that our farm was the only farm her GI specialist would approve of for her to get raw milk.

    And the reason she approved our farm was the fact that we do a lot of “above and beyond” pathogen safety testing. We are trying our best to do it the “right way” and our customers love us for it. You can read about our safety protocol here: http://www.yourfamilycow.com/faq.html

    You will definitely still face opposition from the bacteriophobes (above) but the factual evidence on the safety of raw milk in comparison with other foods is completely overwhelming. The bias is clear: Why don’t we have entire websites declaring that no one should ever eat cantaloupe? Imagine if this was raw milk: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/10/two-more-succumb-in-listeria-outbreak-expands-to-26-states/

    Anyway, I must get to bed soon cause I need to get up at 4:00 to bottle more milk. I would recommend these websites for more info:
    http://www.raw-milk-facts.com
    http://www.realmilk.com

    All the best of food and blessings,
    Rodrick

    ~5th generation on the farm
    http://www.yourfamilycow.com

    1. Lisa C says:

      Thank you for your comment Rodrick! That is very exciting that a GI specialist recommended your farm! Our milk farmer’s wife has leukemia and he has another cancer patient as a customer, and they are both doing better than their doctors think they should. 🙂

      Thank you for the links, especially the one on your safety protocol, as I need to write up a post on that topic. I believe you are right about the bias…I was looking at the Real Raw Milk Facts site, and they are very biased and clearly do not believe in the benefits of raw milk at all. It makes it hard to trust the information when such a strong bias is clearly present.

  7. aman says:

    Great article. Looking forward to the second part about Safety protocol and ways to select a safe milk provider

    1. Lisa C says:

      Hi Aman! Thanks for your comment. It will motivate me to get that post written!

  8. Great post, Lisa – just found your wonderful blog after you commented on mine. Owning a raw milk dairy has shown me many different perspectives of the idea of raw vs. conventional. If you want tips from my perspective on how to find a safe raw milk provider to support your next blog, I’d love to share 🙂

    1. Lisa C says:

      Hi Charlotte! Thanks for visiting my blog! Yes, I would love to get your perspective on finding a safe raw milk provider!

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