Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why We Love Raw Milk

When we found out we were moving to Oregon, one of the first things I did was start looking for a raw milk dairy near our new home.  In Oregon, just like in Colorado, it's illegal to sell raw milk, but you can own a share of a cow, and receive your own milk from a dairy that cares for your cow for you.  So our family owns 1/25th of a sweet Jersey cow who lives about 30 miles away (and they have a drop-off site in the nearest town!)

The kids and I went to go meet our cows on Saturday.  It was a perfect, sunny day (the last sunny day for a while, I think...), and we got to tromp around the farm, see the 8 cows rambling around in their pasture (they have names like Marla, Daisy, and Grandma - very cute!), visit the milking area, and see where the milk is bottled.  

You may be wondering, in this age of rampant pasteurization, why in the world would we want to drink raw milk?  Here are the basics:

1. It's from grassfed cows

Even the best organic milk generally has no guarantee of being grass-fed, for the simple reason that grain is cheap (especially when it's subsidized by the government).  Since we know where our cows live, and we know their farmers personally, we know exactly what they're eating, and we're happy with it.  Also, the hay that they're fed during the winter is all local, not grain shipped in from who knows where.  Research has shown that ruminants (cud-chewing animals) are healthier when they're fed grass, not grain.  That means their grass-fed milk will be healthier too.

2. It's alive! 

 Raw milk retains all kinds of beneficial enzymes and bacteria like lactobacilli (that pasteurization destroys).  These bacteria not only kill pathogens that could be present in the milk, they also help prevent pathogen absorption through the intestine wall and strengthen the immune system.

3.  It's easier to digest.  

Did you know that in the last 20 years, pasteurized milk sales have declined about 1% per year (in spite of rapidly rising population)?  More and more people are abandoning pasteurized milk because it's so difficult to digest and has been linked to all kinds of problems like lactose intolerance, asthma, allergies, frequent ear infections, gastro-intestinal problems, and constipation.  In contrast, raw milk still contains all the enzymes necessary for proper digestion (like lactase, which breaks down lactose).  In one survey, 80% of lactose intolerant patients could digest raw milk just fine!

4. It's fat-full.  

The cream in raw milk is full of fat-soluble vitamins and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is known for its cancer and body fat-fighting properties.  

5. It encourages responsible animal care.  

As opposed to the standard Holsteins, who have been bred over the decades to produce maximum amounts of milk, not necessarily for their own health, many raw milk dairies use other traditional dairy breeds like Jerseys, Ayrshire, Swiss, and Gurnsey.  This not only encourages genetic diversity in the dairy cow population, it also provides for excellent milk (Jerseys like ours are known for their milk's extra-high butterfat content...excellent!)  Also, obviously, if milk is not going to be pasteurized, it has to come from animals in excellent health in order to be safe.  Farmers have extra incentive to practice ideal herd-management techniques to keep their cows in peak health.

6. It's not as "risky" as we've been told.  

This was a key factor in our decision to switch to raw milk. Many of the stats for milk contamination come from testing of "factory-farmed" milk that was intended for pasteurization.  In contrast, milk from grass-fed animals, collected using the latest sterile milking and cleaning, herd testing, and refrigeration technology, is much less likely to be contaminated.  In fact, raw milk is 10 times less likely to cause illness than deli meats, per serving!  Just like any food, it can be contaminated if it is not handled correctly, but I've done enough investigation and statistics-reading to be convinced that raw milk is safe for my family.
    If you are at all interested in raw milk, are wondering about some of these claims, or would like to see some data for yourself, please visit RealMilk.com for pages and pages of extensive research, analysis, and statistics.


    1. Agree with all your points, it's why I drink raw milk. Even though we have to jump through hoops in Ohio, it's more than worth it. It's been about 2 years for me, and I'll never go back.

    2. I hope you are enjoying Oregon. It is so funny because I used to live there! It is like we are trading places. But, I am in full agreement on the milk thing. My oldest was at a college experience program this summer and was drinking 1% dead milk. I have to get the whole milk@college thing figured out before next August! Anyway, he came home and drank an entire half gallon! He said he could feel it in his body. Quite a testimonial.

      By the way, the cool silloutte (sp?) avatar is quite fetching!

    3. Thanks for sharing this information! We raise our own mini goats for dairy and I love it. Unfortunately government is trying hard to control whether or not we eat raw dairy. They should try shutting down the sales of fast food if they want to deal with a real health problem! I'm going to look at the rest of your site. Looks like you have chickens too!

    4. Hi, Andy,
      We're so thankful to have easy access to raw milk. Even if it were more of a hassle, though, I think we'd stick with it!

      Ubermom, we are loving Oregon! Good luck figuring out raw milk in college! That's a tough one. It sounds like your son has learned to listen to his body to determine what it needs though, so he's leaps and bounds ahead of most college kids nutritionally! Thanks, the silhouette and header needed a little freshening up recently!

      Hi, Free Range Mama,
      Having your own goats must be quite the experience, but I bet it's nice to have access to the milk! We did have chickens, but recently moved and are still figuring out the logistics of chickens at the new place! Thanks for visiting and looking around!

    5. Hells yeah! I heart raw milk too. I wrote an ode to it myself recently, if you feel like reading some more enthusistic banter on the subject. :) http://www.clickclackgorilla.com/2011/05/13/i-drink-raw-milk/

    6. that is so neat!!!do you use it to bake with as well? we have our own chickens but no goat or cow.....yet :0)

    7. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week! Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!


      If you have grain-free recipes please visit my Grain-Free Linky Carnival in support of my 28 day grain-free challenge! It will be open until November 2.


    8. I love raw milk. I actually have to cross the border into PA to get it, but it isn't too far and it is so worth it!

    9. Click clack gorilla, I loved your Ode to Raw Milk (and the rest of your blog!) Thanks for visiting.

      Georgia, I don't bake with raw milk (it is a bit more expensive than pasteurized, and cooking with it makes it no longer raw). I wish I could afford to drink only raw milk, and do everything with it, though! We had chickens for a while too, and I'm dreaming of goats someday. :)

      Hi, Jill, Thanks for hosting Fat Tuesday - I'll keep an eye out for grain-free recipes for your challenge.

      Suzyhomemaker, That is true raw milk dedication, going all the way to another state! It is SO worth it!

    10. I am able to get a quart of raw milk a week as part of my CSA basket, and that is just about enough for me since I am single and not a milk drinker. I put it in my iced coffee and my yogurt smoothie in the morning. What's amazing about this is that I have had milk tolerance issues in the past. I thought that they were due to milk-fat, however I have no issues with yogurt. I decided to give raw milk a try because I was reading about soy, and it looked really scary. Turns out that, not only do I not have stomach issues on milk, I also have fewer issues with constipation. The stuff they put into yogurts like Activia? Yeah, if my milk is raw and whole, I don't need it.

    11. Velva,
      That's awesome that you're able to tolerate the raw milk just fine! It's true, all those "fancy" bacteria cultures in Activia and the like are found naturally in raw milk (and without all the sugar and added ingredients, too!). So glad you're able to enjoy it now!


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