Raw milk gets a terrible reception in the media – at times it seems to be blamed for all the health problems in the USA. Is it really the devil in disguise or is something else going on? Quite possibly, you have seen or heard the recent attacks on Millers Farm in this regard. The short answer is that like most real food, your choice comes down to source and processing, with a little bit of big business chiming in.
Let’s tackle processing first because it’s an easy one when it comes to raw milk: there is none. Go figure…. full marks for Farmers vs. slim profits for Big Food and Big Pharma there. In general, the less a food is messed with, the more nutrients (in this case enzymes) it contains. The enzymes in raw milk are what make it so much better for us: evidence shows that raw milk may improve lactose tolerance, prevent the development of asthma and allergies, and may be more digestible than pasteurized milk for people who have difficulty digesting fat.
Raw milk contains lactic acid, vitamins and enzymes necessary for health, but fermented or 'soured' dairy products like kefir and yogurt are even more rich in these nutrients. Enzymes found in fermented dairy actually aid in the breaking down of proteins so the body can better use the important nutrients found in these foods. This boosts absorption of minerals calcium, iron and phosphorus, breaks down protein such as casein into smaller pieces, and helps eliminate harmful bacteria that would make us sick.
When dairy foods go through the process of fermentation, several strains of bacteria naturally present or added later (such as Lactobacillus, Leuconostocand Pediococcus,
On the other hand, pasteurization decreases the content of iron, copper, manganese, and iodine in milk, and may diminish the bio-availability of calcium and phosphorus. It causes major losses of biological activity for vitamin C and folate, substantial losses for vitamin B6, and may have similar effects for other vitamins. The lack of these may actually trigger severe eczema, asthma, allergies, auto-immune conditions, and food sensitivities.
The available data for the prevalence of food-borne illnesses associated with specific foods are extremely poor in quality and rich in bias.
Now let’s talk source: almost all fresh-farmed raw milk producers are small, family owned and operated farms. And as with most other foods, small family farmers are much more likely to take pride in what they are farming: their cows will be better cared for, eating what cows were designed to eat – roaming pastures of grass complete with a free choice smorgasbord of minerals to maintain their own healthy balanced diet so that we can too - and the milk will be treated with the upmost of care. Those of you who are fortunate to have been able to visit Miller’s Farm, will attest to this without hesitation. Those of you who have not yet made a trip to Bird in Hand, here is a little write up by our friend, Liz Reitzig:
You can also see pictures shared by other HFC Members on our public Facebook Page:
and our private HFC Facebook Group (you must be an active HFC Member to be approved):
Big business and source are intertwined. Big business creates factory farms, which are run with profitability as the driving force. Hired farm hands work with huge volumes of cows that are not being optimally treated or optimally fed. The large-scale production makes attention to detail and pride in your produce very hard to control. And when you’re dealing with cows that are not at the peak of health you need a fail-safe. That fail-safe is pasteurization… which itself is not a panacea for food safety, but that’s a whole other article.
You’ve all heard the age-old adage, you are what eat, but it would seem we are also what we eat eats! So as you can see raw milk isn’t the devil it’s a simple food that is undoubtedly better for us, but only when we make sure it comes from people who care about their product.
Wishing you and Healthy and Happy 2020!
In Health, Miller's Organic Farm Team