Sunday, October 25, 2009

Natural Living: Raw/Real Milk

Here is part 2 of our natural living series (You can find Part 1, re: cloth diapers, here)

One of the more recent changes we have made in our lifestyle is that we have started drinking raw (or real) milk. This post is to answer some of your questions - I'm going to do the best I can to guess what they would be :)

What is Raw Milk?
Raw milk is unpasteurized, homogenized milk. (Basically it comes straight from the cow in it's most natural state).

What made you think about switching to raw milk?
Short answer: Tim.
Long answer: and I'll be completely hones heret, when Tim first mentioned switching to real milk I was like "gross, no way!" but then I started researching it and I realized what I thought my kids and I were drinking was in reality not at all what it was. Then I took into consideration that at Lexie's age she drinks a significant amount of milk, this further convinced me to give it a try, and once we did and it wasn't "gross" it was a done deal.

So what did you find in your research that convinced you to switch?
Funny enough, the one thing that had worried me the most about switching to raw milk ended up being the primary reason we did. Pasteurization.
Pasteurization: The short description of pasteurizing is to heat something up in order to kill off bacteria that may be contained in it. I never even really understood what pasteurization was until I got pregnant and I read somewhere (and heard from family) that you shouldn't drink anything that wasn't pasteurized, so I didn't. The fact is this is not necessarily true.
Once I really started to think about the process of pasteurization it reminded me of what I had always been told about eating raw vegetables and how they are better for you than cooked vegetables, and that the more natural state of a fruit or vegetable is the best state to eat it in. This is true for fruits and vegetables and it's also true for other foods - like milk.
Because this is not something I know alot about I'm going to quote people who know a little better than I do about what pasteurization is and what it does to your milk.
"Pasteurization was instituted in the 1920s to combat TB, infant diarrhea, undulant fever and other diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods. But times have changed and modern stainless steel tanks, milking machines, refrigerated trucks and inspection methods make pasteurization absolutely unnecessary for public protection. And pasteurization does not always kill the bacteria for Johne’s disease suspected of causing Crohn's disease in humans with which most confinement cows [the cows your milk more than likely comes from] are infected. Much commercial milk is now ultra-pasteurized to get rid of heat-resistant bacteria and give it a longer shelf life. Ultra-pasteurization is a violent process that takes milk from a chilled temperature to above the boiling point in less than two seconds."

"Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Calves fed pasteurized milk do poorly and many die before maturity. Raw milk sours naturally but pasteurized milk turns putrid [I can attest to this]" (found at

One of the other things I found in my research had to do with the process of homogenization.
Homogenization: is a process that breakdowns butterfat to prevent milk from separating and has been linked to heart disease. Most people think of lower fat milk being better for you (it is low-fat after all) but the truth is the skim milk and 1% milk comes from the lowest quality, higher production cows and the natural butter fats found in milk are actually really good for you.
"Butterfat contains vitamins A and D needed for assimilation of calcium and protein in the water fraction of the milk. Without them protein and calcium are more difficult to utilize and possibly toxic." (

Does raw milk taste any different?
I am positive that there are people out there who would tell you that the difference in taste between raw milk and processed milk is HUGE, but I'm not one of them. Raw milk, depending on how long it has sat and if the cream is real thick on top and you don't shake it, can be a little thicker, but this doesn't happen very often in our family (first of all milk doesn't "sit" that long and we also shake the milk if it is thicker) so it has not bothered us at all.

A Little Disclaimer
I guess at this point I'm out of questions so I just want to add a little disclaimer statement here. I am NOT a medical professional nor an expert in this area at all. I will be the first to tell you that there is a risk in drinking raw milk, in the same way there is also a risk and a level of trust you put into (someone) when you purchase processed milk from your local grocer. My only authority comes from being a wife and mom that wants to provide the best possible options for my family and is willing to take the information I have found and make the best possible decision for my family, to be honest it was a fairly easy decision for us, but it may not be for you (and that's okay). I also want to say that if you choose to obtain raw milk you should know the farmer where you will be getting your raw milk from as well as how he cares for his cows, what he feeds them and what his milk handling process includes.

Additional Information
I got this video of of MckMama's blog a while ago this may answer some of your questions as well. To be completely honest I don't know anything about Dr. Mercola, I only know what is on this clip. However, we have our own personal family chiropractor and nutritionist (who we also happen to be really good friends with) that we see and rely on exclusively for our medical and nutritional advice - we pass almost all of our health and food concerns in front of him before we make any decisions - including our consumption of raw milk. You can find Dr. Flynn on facebook or at his site is currently under construction so there isn't much there but he does have some incredible video clips posted on his site that I would highly recommend (including ones regarding the myth of soy and vaccines).

If you guys have any other questions regarding raw milk feel free to ask - if I don't know the answer I will do my best to find out for you!

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