There is a slowly increasing campaign across the United States, a campaign to find and drink raw milk straight from the cow just as our ancestors did for hundreds of years. People are willing to risk illness and death (so says the FDA) to find this elixir. Demand is booming in a huge way.
Drinkers of this milk praise it for being more healthy and nutritious as well as simply tasting better than its pasteurized and homogenized counterpart. Some drink it strictly for the health benefits, while some simply enjoy the creamy fresh taste. Whatever their reason, many people have jumped on the bandwagon and are clamoring for states to make it legal to buy and sell. Currently it varies from state to state, but few states allow the sale of raw milk to humans, while more allow it to be sold for animal consumption only. At the time of this writing, only 8 states allow sales in stores. Still others ban sales entirely, forcing people who wish to buy to go "underground" in order to purchase.
Other ways people get around the varying laws are to buy a share in a cow and then simply pay a portion of the upkeep of the cow. Since they then technically are part owner of the cow, they may legally drink the milk.
But why make everyone jump through hoops like this? The accepted public health wisdom is this milk is a dangerous source of bacteria, but what is not said is that if it is obtained from a healthy grass-fed cow, the risk is no more than consuming, say, a tomato from your local grocery store. It may be less risky, as a matter of fact. Studies have shown that children who drink raw milk have lower rates of allergies and asthma.
Once people begin to drink real milk and start to experience the huge health benefits, there's just no going back. The flavor is rich and complex, and the health advantages abound. Those who were lactose intolerant often find they have no problems, digestive issues clear up, energy increases, immune systems strengthen, and people feel overall better. Persons with such things as Crohn's disease have come forward with testimonials on how unpasteurized milk has alleviated their symptoms completely. Some doctors have praised it as one of the healthiest foods you can consume.
What makes raw milk better? Pasteurization, the process where the milk is heated, kills the beneficial bacteria, healthy enzymes, and proteins. Once these are gone you are drinking "dead" liquid and it is of no benefit, and might actually cause more harm than do any good to those who drink it.
The growing number of advocates of unpasteurized milk simply ask that they be allowed the make their own choices of what foods they will consume.
Some people may think it's just a fad, but the truth is drinking raw milk has many health benefits.
First, what is it anyway? It is very basically milk straight from the cow or goat, not pasteurized, not homogenized. The milk you buy in the grocery store has been heated (pasteurized) and sometimes heated even further (ultra pasteurized) to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, this also kills the friendly bacteria and other nutrients and enzymes that would naturally be in the milk.
Now, why should you drink it? And is it safe? If you obtain your raw milk from a healthy grass-fed cow it is very safe to drink. Think about what people drank hundreds of years ago. They would never think to heat up their milk, just drank it straight from the cow.
The benefits are numerous and plenty. First, it is very rich in enzymes and actually contains all of the 22 essential amino acids. This includes phosphate, which is important for the absorption of calcium. And forget about all the synthetic calcium supplements out there, raw milk is truly the best source of calcium available.
It is also a great source of vitamins, in particular vitamin B12, which is an important vitamin that is hard to find in non-meat sources. It also contains the enzyme IgG and vitamins A, B, and C.
Research shows that it also contains enzymes and antibodies that actually render milk less susceptible to bacteria. Lipase is also present which aids in the digestion of fats.
Another great benefit is that it also contains CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, which has been noted to fight cancer.
But with all these benefits, does it actually taste good?
It does. In fact, it tastes wonderful, much better than store-bought milk. Even if you don't care for the taste of the stuff in the stores, you may find that you enjoy the taste of real milk. It's creamier and fresher tasting. Surprisingly, it also tends to last quite a long time in the refrigerator if you keep it nice and cold (meaning you aren't constantly opening the door every few minutes to remove things from the fridge).
And, although some people have digestive issues with the store-bought kind, that most likely won't happen with raw milk. With all these wonderful benefits, why not find a local family-owned dairy farm and start enjoying this very healthful, nutritious, and beneficial drink.
Raw Milk Health Benefits
Raw milk straight from the cow or goat is chock full of the benefits of wonderfully healthy bacteria, vitamins, and enzymes that you simply will not get from store-bought milk.
Milk you find on your supermarket shelf is flawed for many reasons. One reason is the big commercial dairies do not feed their cows grass and hay which is what they are supposed to eat, but rather their cows exist in small feedlots being fed large amounts of grain which is actually not something a cow was meant to eat.
As a result, these cows must be fed antibiotics which in turn are going into your milk. Bleach is also often added to make sure your carton of milk is as white as can be. Scary, isn't it?
But even if this were not the case, commercially available milk is pasteurized (heated) and homogenized (process that breaks down butterfat), and you can be sure that all those beneficial enzymes and healthy bacteria are long gone by the time it reaches the grocery shelf. What you have left is simply dead liquid which can possibly cause more harm than good due to the growth hormones and antibiotics (among other things) given to the unhealthy commercial-dairy cow.
Many people will argue that drinking milk straight from the cow is not healthy, and that pasteurization is necessary to kill off things like E coli. The fact is that milk collected hygienically from a healthy grass-fed cow on a small family-owned farm is very safe, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. You'd be statistically much more likely to contract E coli from your local produce department than from that farmer's cow.
The source of the majority of our commercial milk is the modern Holstein dairy cow which has been bred specifically for quantity in order to produce large amounts of milk far beyond what a cow was ever meant to produce. Since she is fed so much grain (remember this is unhealthy for a cow), she requires antibiotics to keep her healthy. Growth hormones also end up in that milk you're pouring over your breakfast cereal every morning.
The most healthy and best-tasting raw milk will come from the "old" breeds of dairy cows such as the Jersey, Guernsey, Ayrshire, or Brown Swiss, or the older lines of Holstein which were not bred to produce obscene amounts of milk. The average butterfat of these old breeds of cows back at the turn of the century was 4%. Today's butterfat normally comprises less than 3%. There is also the misleading notion that skim and low-fat milk is good for you. Full-fat milk is awesomely healthy as the butterfat contains the vitamins A and D which are needed for the absorption of calcium, and is also rich in the short- and medium-chain fatty acids that protect us against disease. You get no health benefit at all from drinking low-fat or no-fat milk, and you might as well just have a glass of water instead. That would actually be far more healthy.
Many are jumping on the raw milk bandwagon, and many more will climb on board in the coming years as people educate themselves about what is actually going into our food through the commercial processes.
If you have a small dairy farm near you, drop by and sample some real milk and see what you have been missing.