The shortest answer to the question, “Is raw milk good for you?” is yes, it is. If you are new to the raw milk world or are facing some questions from confused friends about your dairy habits, this is the blog for you! We will explore the health benefits of raw milk, some misconceptions about it, and how to get your hands on some.
What is Raw Milk?
Raw milk is milk that comes straight from the cow. It has not been pasteurized, homogenized, or processed in any other way. Raw milk is also grass fed, free of any hormones, and typically raised on smaller family farms. Raw milk is sort of a weird, gross-sounding term, so some people call it “living milk”. They call it living milk as opposed to the “dead milk” produced by large-scale pasteurization and homogenization. Because living milk is unprocessed, you can make raw butter, kefir, whipped cream, and so much more!
Is raw milk safe to drink?
During the industrial revolution, cities were growing rapidly and were not very clean places for fresh raw dairy. Additionally, as the population grew, milk was produced on a larger scale and farmers fed cows spent grains from urban distilleries (to save money) which made the cows very sick. Many people died from drinking this milk that was infected with harmful pathogens from sick cows.
At this time the milk industry was vast and something had to change to reduce the milk mortality rate. Instead of addressing the issues inside large-scale factory farming, it was more economical for the milk industry to begin pasteurizing and homogenizing dairy. By the 1950s, pasteurization was standard practice for most cow’s milk.
The introduction of these standard practices served several purposes:
- It demonized raw milk as the problem, which kept consumers from looking very closely at large-scale factory farm practices.
- It reduced the responsibility of farmers to maintain clean, safe facilities because regardless of how they treated the cows, they could pasteurize the milk to “kill” off any hormones or bacteria.
- It resulted in milk that has very reduced nutritional value, is void of healthy bacteria, vitamins, and minerals, and is much more difficult for your stomach to break down.
Is raw milk dangerous now?
Drinking raw milk is not nearly as risky as it once was. Because we now have refrigeration and testing technology, raw milk is safe to drink. If you are drinking milk from a local farm whose practices you know and trust, raw milk is very safe to drink. I would even argue that raw milk is safer than processed milk because it contains all the original bacteria and probiotics of natural organic milk which means that it is safe to drink at room temperature and after fermenting. If you leave processed milk at room temperature, however, it becomes harmful to our bodies.
Additionally, research has shown that you are far more likely to become sick from eating chicken cooked in your own kitchen than from drinking raw milk.
Is raw milk good for you?
Raw milk is extremely healthy for you. It contains a variety of natural enzymes that support the immune system and the gut microbiome. It is a probiotic with a high degree of bioavailable vitamins and minerals which means that our body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in raw milk is much higher than that of processed milk.
Numerous studies have revealed the correlation between drinking raw milk and an increased immune response to allergies, eczema, asthma, respiratory infections, and more!
You can learn more about the health benefits of raw milk here.
Where can I buy raw milk?
I have found that raw milk often hides in plain sight. In some states, buying raw dairy for human consumption is illegal or heavily restricted so farmers need to keep their operations on the down low. This means you probably won’t find raw milk advertised in your grocery store coupon book, or on the shelves of the nearby Whole Foods.
The best way to find raw milk is by asking around your community. When I was new to this area, I went on a full hunt for raw milk in the following ways:
- Ask around at your local farmer’s market
- Chat with a specialist at a health foods store
- As any friends who are into traditional foods/holistic health
- Search for nearby Jersey dairy farms
- Drive around the countryside looking for dairy cows
- You can also check out the search function on realmilk.com