What is raw milk?
Raw milk comes from grass fed cows that typically have had access to wide open pasture and more natural environmental conditions than large scale industrial dairy cows. Raw milk is presented just as nature intended it, perfectly unprocessed, unpasteurized, and unhomogenized. Pasteurization is the process through which milk is heated up to 161.5 F (as per the law) for a brief 15 seconds and then very quickly cooled down. Through this method, the thought is that harmful bacteria is killed off and the lifespan of the milk is extended for to up to three weeks. This process was developed in 1863, and used in the modern commercial dairy industry.
Homogenization is a process within the commercial dairy industry that allows for precision in the mixing of various cow’s milk together to create uniformity, and the creation of specific milk fat percentages such as 2% and 1 % milk. Although traditionally cream and fat was simply separated and skimmed off the top of raw milk, this was not precise enough for the industry. Just like pasteurization, this process extends the life of the milk but is detrimental to the nutrient content and health benefits of unprocessed milk in its raw form.
These methods have become so widespread that they have basically excluded all alternatives from the market, which primarily includes the sale of raw milk. Raw milk contains all the fatty acids, nutrients and vitamins, and healthy enzymes that are removed from most milks you find in the grocery store. Because it is unpasteurized and unhomogenized it also has a much shorter shelf life. It is however an entirely raw, natural, and ‘complete’ food. Truly as wholesome as you would want your milk to be.
What are the health benefits?
Firstly, raw milk helps prevent allergies. It contains nutrients, probiotics, vitamin D and antibodies called immunoglobulins, which all help increase immunity. In commercial milks, these vital components are generally destroyed by the high temperatures. In countless studies done over the past century, it has been shown that children who regularly drink raw milk are much less likely to develop allergies later in life. The results were quite persuasive, up to 50 percent difference in allergies between children who drank raw milk and those who drank regular milk. Linked to this effect, children are also 41 percent less likely to develop asthma later in life. Both severe allergies and asthma are something which seems to be increasing in our modern world, possibly because children are not exposed to as many bacteria during their development (good, bad and neutral) as they were in the past.
Secondly, raw milk contains powerful probiotics. Probiotics exist in raw milk naturally, unlike many processed dairy foods which are advertised as being probiotic but are typically only additives. In raw milk, the probiotics are not destroyed through the manufacturing process and all raw milk products such as cheeses, yogurt and kefir are a great source to benefit your body. Probiotics are another immune booster, but instead they focus mainly on protecting you through your stomach lining. They protect you from dangerous microbes such as E.coli, parasites and other gastrointestinal issues.
Another reason why people turn to raw milk, is that they find drinking it helps improve some embarrassing and/or irritating skin conditions. Conditions like psoriasis, acne, and eczema have all been reported to be soothed through the consumption of raw milk. Raw milk contains many healthy fats like Omega-3 and saturated fats which hydrate the body inside and out. Some people even make their own natural skin care products such as face washes, soaps and moisturizers from raw milk to reap the benefits inside and out!
Is it Safe?
The modern day dairy industry, through their powerful government lobbies, have successfully created the fear of raw milk products throughout the western world. This is in spite of decades of research proving otherwise, and through time immortal where traditional cultures have been consuming milk in its purest state. Throughout many states, the sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal, however the trend is slowly changing and state by state the laws are being reversed.
The main accusation against raw milk is that it can contain harmful pathogens that infect the drinker with parasites and cause other bacteria induced digestive illnesses. However, studies have shown that you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than from raw milk. If handled correctly, raw milk is just as safe as other foods. If you think about it there are many common foods which people still consume despite the risks associated with it. For example, think about handling chicken, hamburger or bags of pre-washed spinach. All these foods are still consumed despite the fact that through improper processing and handling, they have all lead to outbreaks of E.coli and other severe gastrointestinal illnesses. Raw milk, if handled correctly is just as safe as pasteurized milk, plus much healthier, packed full of vitamins and minerals, and simply much tastier!