Raw milk: some basic information

Milk. Low fat, reduced fat, full fat. Pasteurized, homogenized, ultra pasteurized?

cows

Several years ago I had a friend start talking scandalously about how villainous the dairy industry was and about the problems with pasteurized and homogenized milk that fill our supermarket shelves. Up till then I had been blithely clueless, happily buying milk by the gallons because “It does a body good”.

And do I really want something else to worry about?

But I listened, cause that’s what friends do and  while at this friends house, I tasted some of the raw milk she was purchasing through a co-op.

It was wonderful! It had flavor! It had ‘wow’ factor!

But it is expensive.

So I thought, ‘Well, that’s nice, but…”.

I went with this friend one day to a seminar by the Weston Price Foundation. The president, Sally Fallon, was giving a talk about Dr. Prices research and this friend of mine wanted to go, would I go along? I did. And they actually fed us after with fresh salads, breads with raw butter and other tasty tid-bits.

From that day forward I was on-board a long trip on the dairy express. It is now one of my soapbox issues. Mind you, I am not an authority on the subject. Most of my reading up until now has been one sided, the pro-raw milk side.  There are also warnings concerning raw milk. So let me tell you just what I have learned and then there are links to sites so you can do more research on your own.

But I will have to sum up.

First, this whole  “does a body good” campaign is just that, a campaign to get you to buy more milk. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cold cereal industry had a hand in it as well.  It turns out that milk it really not the best way to get your calcium. Vegetables are better. And many people believe that only babies should have milk at all. Many people give up milk altogether. But I could never give up cheese. How could anyone not allergic to it give up cheese? Seriously.

Milk is a natural food that has been ingested by children and adults since the beginning of time. Milk from cows, sheep,  reindeer, water buffalo, goats, who knows, maybe even elephants have fed native peoples and kept them healthy. Unpasteurized, it still has the enzymes in it that help you to digest it. They haven’t been cooked out of it.

Raw milk then, milk that has come from pasture grazing cows, even with hay supplement, (not from grain fed, factory farm cows) is a whole other animal than that stuff sold in cartons on the store shelves. Raw milk has enzymes that help with digestion. It aids in absorbing other nutrients. It goes bad faster, but sours and can be baked in other foods. (regular pasteurized milk should be thrown out by the time it goes bad.) You can get it in the form of raw butter, raw milk cheese, and raw milk yogurt.  Even some people who have been lactose intolerant have been able to digest raw milk and raw milk products.

Remember the days of milk deliveries? When the milk came in bottles with foil tops and the cream would rise to the top? You had to shake it up before pouring. My mom still tells me of those days and how angry she was at her brother. Seems he would go out early with a straw and suck out the cream from the bottles leaving only skim milk. Dang.

But there were problems with this system.

  • Bottles of milk might be left out too long sometimes, getting warm and souring faster. The milk was very perishable and had to be kept cold. I found it even made a difference if I put the milk in the door of my fridge compared to inside. It would sour faster if stored in the door. I guess it is warmer there.
  • Most dairies where not very clean and pathogens would grow in the not-so-chilled milk and get people sick. (or dead) Then there is the issue of sick cows, due, among other things, to poor living conditions, which is why they started adding a diet of antibiotics to them. Better to medicate them, just in case, instead of improving conditions I guess.

No wonder it was easier to just cook the milk, with pasteurization! People and the milk industry were very excited when pasteurization came around.  It became immensely  easier for the dairies to deliver the milk without it going bad. In fact now they could just put it in refrigerated store shelves, since it would last so long, which was more efficient, so goodby home deliveries. Just why would it last longer? Because the germs had been killed. As well as the other horrible things that can get into their milk.  But so had the good enzymes! The very stuff that made it worth drinking!

And now, here we are with ‘organic milk’. Now normally I am all about eating organic whenever you can. But I looked closely at this. What is this ‘ultra-pasteurized’ mean? And why is it I found a pallet of it once in a large store sitting on an end cap, not even chilled?

Ultra pasteurizing means the milk has been held at a higher heat level to make sure that all bad bacteria (and good enzymes) were destroyed. Why for organic milk? Are those dairies extra filthy? Is it because the cows aren’t given antibiotics? No, just because.  The label they use is UHT which stands for Ultra  High Temperature. So they basically cook this milk up to a temperature of 280 degrees! You can actually buy this organic milk and store it in the pantry. It does not need refrigeration and will last about 6 months. No way! Really??

There seems to be no real reason to use UHT on organic milk as opposed to ordinary milk. It is just another way for the dairy industry to ensure a stable product with a longer shelf life, in spite of the fact that is changes this product to a shadow of its former self. In spite of the fact that it no longer has flavor, healthy enzymes and you cannot even make cheese or yogurt out of it.

But its white.

And its liquid.

What more do we want?

So now the part of the article talking about the raw milk advocate group extraordinaire.

Back in the 1930’s there was a dentist, Weston Price. He noticed that it wasn’t until people were on the western diet of white flour, white sugar, processed milk, that cavities, crooked teeth and narrow jaws started becoming a problem. He was there, right at the time in history that was a  transition time for many cultures from a  native diet to a ‘modern’ western diet. And he was seeing the devastation wrought. He recorded it and wrote about it.

Years later it was picked back up again by Sally Fallon who started a whole foundation based on Dr. Prices research. She knew that this information was too important to lose in the annals of history and the principles applied so much more today than ever. We are in a time when we are seeing the problems our western diet has been doing to each successive generation. She talked about the strapping strong men that went over to Europe during WWll. How much taller they were than most Europeans, how healthy with broad smiles and broad shoulders.

Now we still have some broad shoulders, don’t get me wrong. But I see a lot more of our children born with narrow jaws, crooked teeth, autism, children having heart and obesity problems, attention and learning problems, children with allergies to all kinds of food. Wheat, eggs, dairy. The very foods that helped sustain us are making some of these children sick. What is up?

Some people have to give up on gluten, dairy and eggs. They go out of their way to establish good diets without those things making our children sick. And that is all fine. I bake gluten-free, dairy free and sometime egg free foods for my friends.

But why does it have to be this way? Why all of a sudden are we seeing in these generations, all these food related health issues?

What have people been doing to our food supply to make it cause us to be sick?

I have my own opinions, having to do with all the men that came back from WWll having too much time on their hands and experimenting with the growing of, distributing of, tinkering with and advertising of our food. But I think you should get the real scoop from the Weston Price Foundation itself. Below is a link to a 1 minute clip of Dr. Price himself. An old Movietone clip from the 30’s:

http://www.westonaprice.org/about-the-foundation/dr-price-movie

Here is a bit about the Dr. himself from the Foundation:

“Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948), a Cleveland dentist, has been called the “Isaac Newton of Nutrition.” In his search for the causes of dental decay and physical degeneration that he observed in his dental practice, he turned from test tubes and microscopes to unstudied evidence among human beings. Dr. Price sought the factors responsible for fine teeth among the people who had them–isolated non-industrialized people.

The world became his laboratory. As he traveled, his findings led him to the belief that dental caries and deformed dental arches resulting in crowded, crooked teeth and unattractive appearance were merely a sign of physical degeneration, resulting from what he had suspected–nutritional deficiencies.

Price traveled the world over in order to study isolated human groups, including sequestered villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos and Indians of North America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maori and the Indians of South America. Wherever he went, Dr. Price found that beautiful straight teeth, freedom from decay, stalwart bodies, resistance to disease and fine characters were typical of primitives on their traditional diets, rich in essential food factors.

The next clip is a kind of introduction to the Foundation from Sally Fallon. (I just realized I never did become a member. Just an advocate.)

http://www.westonaprice.org/about-the-foundation/welcome-from-sally-fallon-morell

Listen to her and visit their website if you want to learn more about how to get good healthy milk, the real food. Which here is an irony. Whole foods no longer sells the original whole food, raw milk! Their lawyers are afraid of being sued by someone getting sick from it.

Which does bring up this concern. A lot of people are worried about drinking raw milk, that it might make you sick. In 18 states the selling of raw milk is illegal. Selling raw milk is akin to selling heroin. Wholesome raw milk…illegal!

Here in California we have several certified raw milk dairies, so selling raw milk here is legal. Mind you these dairies are under intense scrutiny, undergoing public bacteria counts multiple times a day, posting them online. They are under far more regulations that a regular dairy because there is a risk with any wholesome food that it could carry a pathogen. Like E. coli or Salmonella.It’s rare, but it can happen. I personally have never known of anyone getting sick from drinking raw milk and I have been drinking it for years. But it can happen, just like you can get sick from other uncooked foods. I don’t see the government banning organic spinach because some were tainted with E.coli back when there was a breakout and a recall.  I believe several people were hospitalized that time, maybe even deaths involved, I don’t remember. You could potentially get sick from raw egg dishes and other greens. (We have our own chickens and eat raw cookie dough made with our eggs and are fearless. We have healthy chickens and get healthy eggs, but that’s for another story.)

People seem to feel very strongly one way or the other about raw milk. Either they are staunch defenders or unbelievers. There are about a zillion websites touting their opinions. Here are some of them.

renegade foods site

Weston Price Foundation

Organic Pastures

Claravale Farms

The Blaze

Real Milk

and just to stay fair and show both sides of the issue:

Mother Jones

Raw Milk Facts

and what the government has to say:

USDA   (According to them I should have been dead years ago, but who am I to question our government?)

These sites will lead to other sites and before you know it you will be lost in a time-warp and a week will have gone by without you even knowing it because you want to visit just ‘one more site’. Computers are like that. Read for yourself and decide for yourself. You may not even drink milk but might like to be informed on the topic.

There are no simple solutions. Most dairies are too large to take the proper care of their cows that would ensure healthier, cleaner milk. So they have to pasteurize it. (My son worked on a small dairy in New Zealand for a short bit and has seen how it works, under even good conditions. He no longer drinks milk. Enough said.) We could  have more smaller, pasture grazing dairies, but that would not be able to meet the needs that the dairy industry and its advertisers have created. Lets start by getting rid of cold cereal! Thats just garbage anyway. Then maybe the milk needs would regain their proper balance. Yes, I know I’m dreaming.

Personally, I cant afford raw milk all that often. It is expensive. About $8 per half gallon! And I have to drive miles to find a store that sells it. (Sprouts and Mothers). So I get is as a treat now and again and avoid milk most of the time. As for organic milk, the only way I will buy it is if it specifically not ultra-pasteurized. Trader Joes organic milk is good. Clover brand milk is good too.  In fact I just made some home made yogurt using that brand and it turned out wonderful.

IMG_1151 (765x1024)
This milk was wonderful. Organic, not homogenized but pasteurized (and not ultra pasteurized) and from pasture raised cows. It was the closest thing to tasting like raw milk I’ve ever tried. It was about half the price of raw with all the flavor. Yes, it does need shaking up before pouring.

And if you would like to read more on the topic, I recommend this book I read years ago:
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Amazon.com Widgetsabove is a book I liked on the subject of milk altogether.

 

Personally, I cant afford raw milk all that often. And I have to be drive miles to a store that sells it. So I get is as a treat now and again and avoid milk most of the time. As for organic milk, the only way I will buy it is if it specifically  not ultra-pasteurized. Trader Joes organic milk is good. Clover brand milk is good too.  In fact I just made some home made yogurt using that brand and it turned out wonderful.

So good luck with your own milk purchasing decisions. Be informed.
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