We started up with raw milk again last month. Selling raw milk is illegal in Montana (and I’ve since taken down the pictures in this post since the State of Montana has been visiting it), so we pay for the care and upkeep of part of the herd, and in turn we are able to drink the milk produced by our cows. We pick up the milk in town each Thursday, but last week we went to visit the dairy. We all drove an hour outside of town in time to watch part of the 6:00 p.m. milking, I love learning right alongside my children!
Why is raw milk better? It naturally contains ‘good’ bacteria, which keep the bad bacteria crowded out. Secondly, while the milk is sterile right after pasteurization, it doesn’t stay that way. Microbes are introduced in your kitchen, the supermarket, or in processing, and without the balance of good friendly bacteria and enzymes to keep the bad ones in check, pasteurized milk goes ‘bad’ and makes people sick.
When buying raw milk, we are going to take more care to make sure the cow’s diets are appropriate (they’re eating what they’re designed to eat- grass), the dairy is clean and the cows are in good health. In industrial farming, where commercial milk comes from, unfortunately too many dairies are too crowded, the cows are fed grain (which makes them sick) and less than sanitary living conditions exist, with the thought that everything will be killed during pasteurization so it’s okay. This isn’t true in all commercial dairies, I know that some commercial dairies are fine. The important thing is to know where your food comes from, and not to think that buying Horizon milk from Walmart is the same thing as vising the farm and seeing the cows. See more of this discussion on Traditional Simplicity.
What’s Wrong with Industrial Milk?
In addition to pasteurized milk often being lower quality to start with, and the good bacteria being wiped out, pasteurization kills enzymes. While our body can make enzymes on it’s own, we do better when we consume living food; food that still contains enzymes.
The unnaturally high heat of pasteurization destroys vitamin A in milk. Homogenization uses high pressure to keep the cream from rising to the top in milk, which is an unnatural and unnecessary process that damages the fats in the process. Milk from the grocery store is skimmed, which along with removing the fat which is needed by our bodies for optimal health, skimming also removes the fat soluble vitamins in the process, having to replace the vitamins that naturally are in milk with synthetic versions that humans weren’t designed to consume.
The mainstream health organizations are confused
Many of the same health organizations who promote breastfeeding (feeding an infant raw, unpasteurized milk) are adamantly opposed to humans consuming fresh cow milk, even from cows that are well taken care of. We were recently asked by a health professional (they were going off a safety checklist, on here they also asked if we owned a car seat) if my 19-month-old son consumed any unpasteurized milk, to which I proudly said that yes he did, the milk I produce for him is raw and unpasteurized, and it is the perfect food for him. They did a double take, which I found amusing. I find it interesting that these same health organizations who not only promote breastfeeding, but also say that pumping, storing, and feeding a child raw human milk from a bottle is preferable to feeding the child pasteurized formula, and they recommend that all children drink cow’s milk after they are weaned, can’t seem to just combine those two scenarios.
This is why we think it’s worth it to find a source of fresh milk for our family. I’ll have part 2 about how we’ve used milk in our family (drinking raw during pregnancy, milk allergies, giving raw milk to children, and any questions from the comments) up next week.
Are you having trouble finding real wholesome fresh milk in your area? RealMilk is a good place to start, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, try contacting your local Weston Price chapter.
An article about milk by Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions
Nourished Kitchen’s I Drink Milk: Fresh, Local, Raw, and Full Fat
Jocelyn’s raw milk story
Why Katie of Kitchen Stewardship drinks raw milk
Food Renegade has a beginner’s article on fresh milk
Ann Marie talks about what cows are intended to eat, vs what typical dairies feed them (in this case, cookies)
More about why pasteurization is harmful