You’ve heard of the recent raw foods craze, but have you heard of raw milk?
Raw milk comes from grass-fed cows, goats, or sheep and has not been pasteurized or processed in any way. It contains all the milk fat that occurs naturally and is unhomogenized. Raw milk consumption has long raised health safety concerns, but I took the risk. And it was delicious.
Pasteurization: A Brief History
Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a high enough temperature and for a long enough period of time to kill any harmful bacteria that may have contaminated the milk.
When did we start pasteurizing milk?
Routine pasteurization of milk began in the U.S. in the 1920’s and became the standard for milk processing 1950’s. Many health care and public health professionals consider pasteurization one of the most crucial food safety interventions. Organizations such as the CDC, FDA, and the American Veterinary Medical Association recommend that all milk is pasteurized prior to human consumption.
Benefits of Raw Milk
1. Raw milk is good for your digestive system.
It contains enzymes that encourage beneficial bacterial growth. These good-for-you bacteria contribute to healthy digestion and better nutrient absorption.
2. It’s good for people who struggle with dairy.
Because raw milk is unpasteurized and retains its enzymes, many people who suffer from lactose intolerance can digest raw milk.
3. Vitamins, galore.
Raw milk is higher in Vitamins C, B12, and B6. These are normally diminished by pasteurization.
4. It contains no additives such a sugar or synthetic ingredients.
(MANY conventional milks do)
5. It can be used to make raw probiotic foods like yogurt, cheese and kefir.
Because it’s still alive!
6. It boosts your immune system.
It’s immune boosting nutrients such as omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and antibodies help reduce allergies and improve skin health .
7. Purchasing raw milk supports family farms and promotes humane, pasture-based dairying.
Health Risks of Raw Milk
While it has a long list of pros, there are some potential cons.
The CDC reports that harmful bacteria that may contaminate raw milk can result in serious infections, hospitalization, or death. They also report that raw milk produced from healthy grass-fed animals milked under adherence to extreme hygienic practices can still be contaminated with harmful bacteria.
The risk of getting sick from raw milk is greatest for pregnant women, children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.
However, the risk is pretty small, compared to the risks of some other foods: out of 48 million annual food borne illnesses reported, 0.0005% are due to raw milk consumption. There is a far greater risk of becoming sick from eating other foods such as contaminated shellfish, poultry and eggs than from raw milk.
Where to Buy It
Raw milk can be legally sold in stores in 10 states, purchased on farms in 28 states, and can be sold as pet food not for human consumption in four states. It can be purchased online or often from a local farmers market.
What I Learned Drinking Raw Milk
I purchased raw goats milk from a local co-op and as someone who has been drinking non-dairy milk for the last 5 years due to lactose intolerance, I was amazed to have no issues digesting the raw milk. It was delicious and worth my roommates reaction to the label “This product is meant for consumption by orphaned animals.”
Weather or not you’re willing to try raw milk or you believe that its health benefits outweigh potential risks, at least we can all agree that this is the cutest milk-related gif on the internet.
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