Here’s the next installment in my “”Raw Milk Reasons series. From comments and questions that I’ve received from my readers and Facebook friends, the BIG FEAR surrounding raw milk is the belief that it’s not safe. I’m hoping to share some info about why milk got to the point of even needing to be pasteurized and why there are other options today. Future posts in this series will touch on the health benefits of raw milk versus pasteurized milk, as well as addressing specific concerns including where to find raw milk, cost, how to know if a farm is safe, etc. If you missed Part 1, click here to read it first.
The History of Raw Milk
For thousands of years, mankind has figured out how to enjoy dairy from animals. Prior to modern civilization, this would have given dairy-consuming folks an advantage over hunter-gatherer types. Why? Well, for one, they had a sustainable source of good fats and calories (from the dairy) and rather than wondering where food was going to come from or searching around for it, they could do other things. In fact over at Raw Milk Facts, the author writes:
With a readily available food supply at hand, members of societies were freed up to pursue more productive things like making babies, building permanent communities, conquering their neighbors and everything else that comes with not having to spend energy hunting for food.
A lot of us raw milk drinkers have come to the conclusion that if raw milk was so dangerous and deadly, these people groups would have gotten sick and died off, right? Pasteurization has been around for only about 150 years….humans likely started drinking raw milk (from either cows, goats, sheep, or other mammals) around the time animals started to be domesticated, probabably about 10,000 years ago.
That is a pretty b i g g a p.
I do think it is immensely helpful for us to go back and learn WHY pasteurization came into the picture. It was useful then, but now that we have the science of bacteria/enzymes/nutrients at our fingertips (along with clean, fresh milk), pasteurization, in my opinion, is not necessary – but only IF you are drinking milk from organic, grassfed, pastured animals. *Note: pasteurization of contemporary feedlot cow milk IS necessary or it would make you very sick. But, I also wouldn’t recommend drinking this milk either.
First of all, Real Milk is milk that comes from cows (or other mammals) who are eating what were created to eat. For cows, at least, that means eating grasses and other perennial crops. Cows are ruminants, which means their digestive systems are designed to eat just that. They can digest fiber and cellulose and can survive on grass and leaves alone.
Most cows today are not only spending most of their time crammed into a dirty, crowded barn without seeing the light of day, but are also eating feed which includes, in part, corn and soy. In order for a cow not to get sick eating those things, they need to be given antibiotics. ……this stuff affects not only the health of the cow, but the health of the milk.
Raw milk is also not pasteurized. Pasteurization involves heating the milk to a certain temperature, successfully killing any bacteria (good and bad). Pasteurization also extends the shelf life of the milk. Have you SEEN how long the shelf life of store-bought milk is? It’s important to remember that store-bought, pasteurized milk will ROT and raw milk does not – it sours (and when it sours, it’s actually not dangerous to consume).
Long story short, pasteurization of milk became necessary after some
really smart people decided to put cows next to distillaries and feed them the leftover “slop” from the making of alcohol. What resulted was watery, bluish-tinted milk with virtually no nutrients – and sick cows. Infants and others being fed this milk also started getting sick and dying. Pasteurization of this milk became necessary.
The thing about pasteurization is that it kills the bad bacteria AND the good stuff. And there is a LOT of good stuff in fresh, raw milk. Enzymes, Vitamins A and D, Vitamin K2, beneficial bacteria (much like yogurt), protein, calcium, Vitamins B6 and B12. A lot of the good stuff in raw milk is either killed off or depleted during the pasteurization process. More on the health benefit comparison in an upcoming post in the series.
Another interesting fact? It has been estimated that 80% of people who have been diagnosed as “lactose” intolerant are able to drink raw milk with no problem. Why? The enzyme to digest the lactose (lactase) is still present in raw milk.
Now, remember back to the beginning where I mentioned that humans have been consuming raw dairy for thousands of years? Certainly cows that are eating what they are supposed to and who are healthy are going to have milk that is healthy – assuming that raw milk is handled with care. More on how to find a safe source of raw milk in another upcoming post.
What About Homogenization?
Raw Milk is also not homogenized. Homogenization is a process of making the milk appear uniform (non of that wonderful cream on top of the milk). When it is homogenized, the milk is forced through a small screen to burst the fat molecules. This makes the milk look nice, but can our bodies even recognize the busted-up fat molecules???
There is some information out there suggesting that homogenization of milk COULD be a factor in heart disease. Is it coincidence that around the time milk started to become homogenized (1930’s-1940’s) there was also the emergence of atheroschlerosis? Now, a lot of food started becoming processed during that time so I’m guessing that homogenization of milk ins’t the sole facter in this. It DOES provide more proof (at least in my mind, as I reason things out) that we shouldn’t be messing with a good thing.
This is only a bit of the info related to pasteurization and homogenization. To read more about it in detail, please visit the sources below. I think the BEST thing you can do is to fully educate yourself on the aspects of raw milk (or any food for that matter!) so you can make an educated decision for your family!
This was shared at: Real Food Wednesdays