- Does it scare you?
- Does it gross or weird you out?
- Do you think the idea is old fashioned?
- Do you think you will become sick or die from drinking it?
- Does its safety concern you?
- Why is there such a negative stigma surrounding raw dairy?
- What exactly is pasteurization and homogenization?
- What is the benefit to consuming raw dairy?
These are all questions and concerns I once had. I admit it was a bit of a shock when I woke up to seeing and trusting the value in purchasing and consuming raw dairy. I’ve kept it a secret for so long because it’s so countercultural and unconventional. I was worried about what others would think because my own family thought I was crazy when I made the switch. But I’m not going to keep this goodness to myself any longer. We are raw dairy consumers, and proud of it! Straight from the utter. It is a living substance, the way God designed it. It’s a superfood, and I praise God for its deep nutrition and rich benefit to nourishing our bodies.
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty and dissect some of these questions.
What is Raw Dairy?
It’s simple. It is milk straight from an animal. It is unpasteurized which means it is not heated at high temperatures. And it is not homogenized which means the fat/cream in the milk will naturally rise to the top. It is whole, fat milk and exactly the way God created it.
Let’s start with a History lesson of pasteurization.
In the early 1800’s cities began to grow. As more and more people moved to the cities, they took all their belongings with them. Back then that included their country animals. As you know there is not much room for civilians, let alone livestock within city limits. So cows started to no longer feast on their natural proper diet of pastured grass. This caused poor gut physiology for the cows. It became a problem for both people and cows and the cows became sick which affected their milk. And for a while people were dying from bacteria laden milk. It was a milk crisis that needed to be stopped.
Insert a man by the name of Louis Pasteur. Pasteur is known for inventing a technique to treat milk by heating it at high temperatures to stop bacterial contamination. Makes sense right, and now you know where pasteurization got its name 😉 This solved the issue for contaminated milk and people were no longer getting sick. Sounds great, right? In theory, yes. This was a band aid to cure the current crisis. But the story doesn’t stop. Distributors, sellers and government got involved. They realized they could sell “safe milk” with a longer shelf life and make more money. They could cram thousands of cows into small feedlots and it no longer mattered if cows milk was bacteria laden, because they could kill off all the bacteria through pasteurization. Once again, maybe this still sounds good to you. So I’m going to move on to the harm in this process.
What’s wrong with pasteurization?
As I stated above, pasteurization may sound good in theory. But let’s discuss what is actually happening. All milk starts out raw. It is living. When it is heated at high temperatures, all the bacteria and most of the nutrition dies. Now this is good for the bad bacteria, but we need to remember the good bacteria as well. If you take a look at our own microbiome we are made up of bacteria and dare I say it, germs! God designed us that way for a purpose. We are not designed to live in a sterile environment. We need good thriving living organisms around us. Our guts are thirsty for good bacteria. We can’t live disconnected from nature much longer. We need to get back to our roots and regain control of our health. We need to feed our bodies with real, living, nourishing food like raw dairy. The way God intended it!
I am a firm believer that *most* people who are dairy intolerant are actually pasteurization intolerant because the milk is completely altered and processed. Pasteurization destroys all the digestive enzymes that our body needs to digest milk. Hence why people can not tolerate conventional milk. Pasteurization also alters the healthy fats and proteins found in milk. It destroys the milk’s natural vitamins and probiotics and alters the calcium content. Essentially milk goes from ‘living’ whole milk, to denatured ‘dead’ milk. Does conventional milk still sound delicious? 😉
What is homogenization?
Homogenization is when the fat cells are treated at high temps and squeezed through small openings under intensely high pressure. The fat cells can no longer handle it and physically break down. The cell wall is no longer in its original form and can never return to its original shape. The result of all of this? White milk that no longer contains a cream separation.
This is completely unnecessary and further alters the milk after pasteurization, which alters and harms the milk’s nutrition that much more.
Let’s discuss the incredible Benefits to raw dairy.
Raw milk is never altered or denatured. Everything is left in its original form, designed by God and completely digestible to humans.
There are so many incredible benefits to raw dairy. I’m going to rattle off some of the goodness:
- Vitamins A, D, E and K
- Healthy bacteria
- Healthy Fats
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)
Like I stated above under Pasteurization, raw milk is living! It is whole. It is nourishing. The world would never say this but I will, “it is a superfood!”
Is it safe?
A resounding, Yes! Raw milk has been consumed since the beginning of time! Like anything else, you should do your homework. Raw dairy is safe when it comes from healthy animals in a healthy sanitary environment. In order for the animals to be healthy they need to be given space and organic pastures to graze and freely roam. Remember that phrase used several years ago, “Happy Cows make better milk”? It’s a true statement.
Questions I asked my farmer before purchase.
I wrote down a list of detailed questions that I needed straight and direct answers to before I purchased from our local farm. I had high standards because I researched Raw Farm in California and their practices. Come to find out, my local farm takes pride in mimicking a lot of the values of Raw Farm and has learned so much from Mark McAfee himself! My farmer told me that Mark flew out years back and advocated on their behalf when raw dairy farms were under attack in the Midwest. That was music to my ears and I knew the milk we were drinking was from a good source.
Here are some of my questions I asked my farmer:
- Are your cows grass fed? Do you supplement anything for them? For example, do you feed them any soy products? What is their food source in the winter when it snows?
- Is your farm a certified humane farm? And are your cows living in clean, ethical conditions?
- When milking, is it by hand or machine? And is the cow’s milk immediately chilled after it is expressed? Is the milk tested and then bottled?
- How often are your animals and mik tested for disease and pathogens? What measures are taken to ensure no harmful pathogens contaminate your milk?
- Would you consider your milk organic, raw and grass fed?
- What is the cost of your co-op?
- What is the cost of your raw dairy products?
- Do you give your cows any antibiotics?
- May I come and visit your farm with my children and see the milking process?
With integrity my farmer was able to answer all of my detailed questions. The last one was most important to me, and that was visiting his farm. I could hear my answered questions from his mouth but I wanted to see with my eyes. So I visited our dairy farm with my children. It was an incredible experience and one I think of often. They are an Organic Amish Dairy Farm that has been passed down through the generations. They are purely organic and his milking parlor was a small scale from Raw Farms milking parlor. I loved seeing this! The farm’s pastures were filled with the most beautiful pastured green grass I had ever seen. The Jersey cows were so gentle and friendly, even to my children. The farmer showed us everything and answered all of my questions easing my mind to any small concerns I may have still had. I am so thankful to purchase and support my local Amish farmer. They are doing amazing work and love what they do. What a gift to all their customers!
Why I chose it and first experience.
I questioned a lot. When I nursed my babies there were so many rules I needed to follow when it came to my milk. Don’t reheat it too much or you will kill all the good stuff. Don’t microwave or it alters the profile. Don’t freeze it for more than a few months. Don’t leave it out on the counter. On the contrary I was told how beautiful and healing my milk was just the way it was! So I questioned those same concepts with the conventional cows milk my kids were drinking.
When I first started to consider this option for my family, it was after extensive research and prayer. Honestly I believed the narrative that raw milk could hurt me and my kids. That fear was deep. I researched, talked to individuals who consumed it and prayed if it was the right decision for our family. Then it was a decision that had to be mutual for both me and my husband.
I remember him coming home from work one day and I was super awkward. He knew right away I had something on my mind. I told him I had to talk to him later when the kids went to bed. He sat down all weird because I was being weird–this is so funny to think back on. I showed him a video I found of Dr. Mercola and Mark McAfee discussing raw milk, its history and benefits. We watched it together. He looked at me and smiled. Then laughed and said, “Seriously, this is what you want to talk to me about? I thought it was something super serious! Yeah, we can try raw milk!” Oh my goodness, that was easy (thank you God!) I couldn’t believe how open he was to the idea. It settled my heart and answered my prayers.
The next week I picked up my first milk order. Jake and the kids were so excited when I came home. (We actually have a video of this 🙂 I tried it for the first time and was floored by the creaminess! It was SO GOOD and had so much flavor! It truly was love at first taste and we haven’t bought a conventional gallon since.
My kids have actually tried conventional milk at family dinners and say “ew, that’s gross. It doesn’t taste like anything”. SO TRUE! Once you try the creamy goodness of raw milk, you will find the store really does alter and defile the genuine taste and profile of God designed milk.
How can I find local raw dairy?
I found our local farm through raw milk.com. But there are a few other sites you can visit too.
The word is spreading and more and more people desire to drink the real stuff. These are great sources where you can find local raw dairy near you.
I hope you learned something new from this blog post. I appreciate you taking the time to read. Just a reminder that this is my family’s decision. It may not be for you, so please keep any negative comments to yourself.