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 continuous attacks on small organic farms 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 maybe 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 richer 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 utmost of care. Those of you who are fortunate to have been able to visit either of the Miller’s Farms will attest to this without hesitation. For those of you who have not yet made a trip to Bird in Hand, here are a few links where you can find out more
You can also see pictures shared by other HFC Members on our public Facebook Page and our Instagram:
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
Niki in tandem with Vanessa Green of www.FitbyNature.org
ABOUT VANESSA GREEN:
I have always prided myself on being extremely fit and healthy. Eating well, playing countless sports and running a lot. In fact a ran a New York City marathon qualifying half marathon time only two weeks before being about as sick as you can be.
On November 2, 2010 I was diagnosed with a tennis ball sized brain tumor, following next to no symptoms. My neurosurgeon said I should have arrived to the emergency room in a coma – not walking in and asking to see a doctor. He also later told me that he had concerns about me even making it to surgery with the sheer size of my tumor. Thankfully when my oncology came back, my tumor had stopped growing.
No matter the origin or cause of what happened to me, I know I am in the driving seat of my own health. I think a lot of us, especially us women, are running ourselves ragged trying to be all things to all people. Perhaps we feel we need to sacrifice our health to make everyone happy. But it shouldn’t take a health crisis to wake us up, to remind us how precious life is. I have never thought ‘why me’; instead this is why me. This is my mission.
When I finally was released from hospital I had a new goal for myself – to recover and rebuild myself even better than I was before. My years of study suddenly came into practice in the most practical way possible. After three years of eating, drinking, sleeping, thinking and moving well I have recovered in a way that my neuro-surgeon can hardly believe. Against all odds, I am now also a mother of a beautiful and healthy baby boy. And I feel it is time to spread the word.