There is a lot of news in the food industry right now on the health benefits and/or health risks of drinking raw milk. Once upon a time, this was the only kind of milk people drank. So, should you drink raw milk? Didn’t our ancestors survive just fine on it? Well, that question is a little bit complicated so here is some raw milk info you might need before you decide.
What is Raw Milk?
So, what is raw milk exactly? Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. It can come from any animal. In this post I am addressing only raw cow’s milk. Raw milk basically goes straight from udder to bottle. It is the way milk USED to be drank, back before humans discovered how to pasteurize things. For people on a raw food diet, this type of milk might be a better option than something that is pasteurized.
Should You Drink Raw Milk?
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Raw Milk Benefits and Risks
What are the risks and benefits of raw milk? Why should people consider drinking it at all? Well, while pasteurization was a great discovery, it does have a big drawback. The problem with pasteurization is that it kills EVERYTHING including all bacteria and enzyme activity. And, just to be clear, not ALL bacteria in raw milk are bad. There are over 60 active enzymes in raw milk, not to mention the amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc that are all destroyed by pasteurization. There are far too many health benefits to raw milk for me to list but there is a web site HERE that will explain it all! A quick summary is below:
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Benefits of Drinking Raw Milk:
- Raw milk is a living food including beneficial bacteria, food enzymes, natural vitamins and immunoglobulins that are heat-sensitive. These are destroyed in pasteurized milk. These ‘living’ ingredients in raw milk have amazing health benefits that may not be available elsewhere.
- Raw milk supports your local economy since you can only get it from small, local farms.
Health risks of raw milk:
- What are the dangers of raw milk? Basically, harmful bacteria is the number one and pretty much only risk of raw milk. Raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses. Certain cow vaccines can help improve milk safety but unless you really know your farmer well, you won’t have this information.
Why is Milk Pasteurized at all?
So, why do we pasteurize our milk? Because the way most dairy farmer raise their cattle today makes raw milk dangerous. Raw milk from cows that are grass fed and free roaming has been shown to have natural antibacterial properties. The milk itself helps inhibit the growth of dangerous bacteria. However, switch those cows to corn and soybeans and stick them in a crowded feedlot and the milk loses that ability. This allows pathogenic (harmful) bacteria to thrive. In Sweden, some farmers of grass fed cattle have shown that even their MANURE is free of pathogens!
Is Raw Milk Illegal?
Raw milk is regulated more heavily than drugs and alcohol in some areas. Is raw milk illegal? Well, it depends on where you live. If you are interested in learning more about raw milk and where you can find it, check out A Campaign for Real Milk. Here in Georgia (where I live), and a number of other states, it is currently ILLEGAL to sell raw milk for human consumption. Think about this, the milk that our ancestors walked out to the barn and drank straight out of the cow is ILLEGAL. We need to open the public’s eyes regarding the way cattle should be raised (in a field, not a feedlot!) in order to increase the safety of our milk supply. Pasteurization is not the only solution.
So, Should You Drink Raw Milk?
So, should you drink raw milk? Well, this is a tough question to answer. Educate yourself on the topic before deciding. You need to know how to drink raw milk safely if this is your choice. If you do not KNOW your farmer and how the animal is raised, then the answer is no. Are you immune compromised? The answer is also no. Don’t give it to a small child or an elderly person. You cannot keep raw milk long because it will go bad very quickly. Of course, these are just my own personal opinions on raw milk safety. I have drank raw milk with no issues, however, I no longer have a farmer who I know and trust to purchase it from. And without that information, I will not risk my health, or my families, by drinking raw milk.
What are your opinions on the raw milk debate?
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Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.