Raw Milk Reasons: Part 2 – What is Raw Milk and Why Pasteurize it?

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.

What is Raw Milk and Why Drink it?

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).

Why Pasteurization?

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!

If you missed Part 1, read it here.

Part 3: Why We Drink Raw Milk (and a great visual on why raw milk is better) can be found here. 







This was shared at: Real Food Wednesdays

Photo 1 Source

Photo 2 Source

Disclaimer: cmp.ly/6


  1. Leave a Reply

    October 11, 2012

    yes that is what we drink.  there are many dairies around here and they are VERY safe.  although most dairies I would say feed lots of grass hay so they do get grass.  We live on a farm and in a farming community and it is amazing what is miscontsrued when one has actually not lived in/on a farm.  if they are sick (just like pasture fed can get sick too) they are given antibiotics but then the milk is ‘contaminated’ and it is not actually put with the milk-it is basically ‘pumped and dumped’ as those that nurse would say 😀  The milk is not pasteurized or homogonized and no hormones are used….

    • Leave a Reply

      October 11, 2012

      @JulieVanderPol That clarifies things a bit. I would not categorize the farm(s) you have mentioned as being ‘feedlot’ farms, so much of what I have written in my posts do not apply to the milk you are drinking. The HUGE corporation-type farms whose goal it is to get the most milk from cows as possible (therefore pumping them up with hormones to produce more milk, feeding them corn/soy grain feed to cause them to gain weight quickly or even in the case of a recent news story I read, feeding them CANDY to do this, and not allowing their cows to even see the light of day are the farms that I take issue with. There are plenty of good studies, evidence and proof that cows out on pasture eating grasses (which would include hay, as that is a grass!) produce milk (and meat) that has a greater nutritional value. I’m glad you see the value in that! Some of the links I provided in my posts have even better info.
      p.s. And just for the record, I grew up in the country surrounded by farms and currently work at our local farmers market for an organic farmer. While I’m not a farmer myself (yet) I do have a pretty good knowledge of farm practices. The organic farm where I get my raw milk from is awesome – and they let us come out whenever we’d like just to see the cows, chickens, pigs, etc. Thanks again for stopping by and for the civilized conversation! 🙂

      • Leave a Reply

        October 11, 2012

        @RealFoodEater no problem!  I came upon your blog actually looking for info on coconut oil…go figure!  which was recommended to me by Nancy Morren (Chelle Nienhuis’ mom) 😀  I would say this operation is pretty ‘corporation type’ where we get our milk.  I do not know one dairy around here that uses hormone (although I am SURE there is one somewhere!) and the milk is not homogonized or pasteurized until it is hauled away and processed in a  facility.  All these cattle do also get corn and soy-usually from the farmers own farm-but if they don’t have enough land they buy it (same w/ the hay).  They do def. see the light of day thouggh 🙂  although they do have large metal structres and buildings to protect them from the elements so they produce well.  and no one here has used Candy 🙂 well that I know of!  I know the dairy we get stuff from doesn’t!!!  We also have our own cattle (beef) and a large wean to finish hog farm (2400+ head of hogs) and are very confident in the methods we use and any antibiotics we use are well proven (and actually many of them are the same as humans may take!  such as amoxacillin!  yup-litterally-the same jar-pink and all!!) we do try out different things now and again-that is how improvements are made-but anything we try would not endanger anything!  it would maybe be uping a ration to see if they grow faster/slower or something like that.  grass fed hog is…yuck…the meat is not good 🙂  If you ever get out my way (timbucktoo-lol!) you are welcome for a visit!

        • Leave a Reply

          October 11, 2012

          @JulieVanderPol Can I ask where you live? feel free to email me at melissa@realfoodeater.com if you’d rather not say on here! Michelle is my sister in law (married to my brother). 🙂  Did you find the info you need on coconut oil? I usually get mine from http://secure.ttpurchase.com/B3AD91D4-1E0B-90B3-0E3176736E595307

  2. Leave a Reply

    October 11, 2012

    why do you say this?  “*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.”  this is the only milk we have access to and you will NOT get very sick!  It is SO delicious.  I think maybe you should also look into this a bit more.  no, it is probably not ‘as good’ as organic, pasture fed, but it is still better then store bought.  (like-lots better-lol!)  I am not understanding your reasoning for saying this or where your information is coming from to back up this statement. 
    and to be honest (just being honest here) I am not sure that pasture fed, organic is necessarily ‘better’ even (not saying it is worse-but not convinced this whole ‘organic’ movement is all necessarily ‘better’ either)….

    • Leave a Reply

      October 11, 2012

      Julie – thanks for stopping by and commenting. Please note I was talking about “feedlot” cow milk – as in cows that aren’t out on pasture, are stuck in a dirty barn all day eating feed filled with corn and soy, eating no grass.  Those are the cows that are sick, needing antibiotics and therefore producing milk that is not healthy or nutritious. Please see my Part 2 post here to read more about why pasteurization came into play.   Ultimately, cows are supposed to be eating grasses (pasture-fed). There are loads of studies showing this milk is healthier and full of more nutrients. Organic is super important to me due to all of the chemicals used in farming. These chemicals get in the food that the animals eat and then settle in their bodies – and if we eat them, we’re eating those chemicals. This is a choice I have made for my family and certainly you can make the decision you see fit for yours! Thanks for stopping by!

      • Leave a Reply

        October 11, 2012

        So Julie, just to clarify – you are drinking raw milk from feedlot cows? I just want to be sure I’m understanding you correctly.

      • Leave a Reply

        October 11, 2012

        @RealFoodEater sorry-also wanted to say-I am NOT saying you have never visited a farm!  after I re-read I thought that maybe came off wrong!  and you know with reading things it is hard to interpret what some one meant 🙂

  1. Raw Milk Reasons - Part 1: Intro - [...] Read Part 2 Here: What is Raw Milk and Why Pasteurize It? [...]
  2. Things I’ve Loved Lately: Chocolate Mouse, Mini Pies, Snow-White Horses and More! » Unmistakably Food | Unmistakably Food - [...] Raw Milk History by Real Food Eater. [...]
  3. Friday Happy Hour #13 - Oh Lardy! - [...] drink raw milk.  Wonder why?  Here’s an interesting look at raw milk history and how pasteurization came into the…
  4. More Raw Milk Alarmism « LewRockwell.com Blog - [...] 2 of the article is is here ,and Part 1 can be [...]
  5. Karen De Coster » More Raw Milk Alarmism - [...] 2 of the article is is here ,and Part 1 can be [...]
  6. Raw Milk Reasons - Part 3: Why We Drink it and a Great Visual on Why Raw Milk is Better - Real Food Eater - [...] – as I mentioned in Part 2 of this series, homogenization damages the fat cells in the milk, bursting…
  7. My Favorite Things from September - Real Food Eater - [...] AND, to go along with my recent post on Raw Milk Reasons – Part 2: What is Raw Milk…

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge