Where have you been all my life, raw milk?
Drinking milk in adulthood is not a common practice in most of the world. Americans love their milk, however, and I am no exception. Venturing to the store presents a dizzying array of options, ranging from whole to skim, and a host of milk substitutes and artificial milks thrown in for good measure. One thing almost all of the milk in the grocery store had in common was the distance from the real, fresh product.
Pasteurized milk is cooked in an effort to preserve and purify. This doesn’t come without a steep cost. From realmilk.com:
If we are to be compelled to drink pasteurized milk, we should at least understand what pasteurization means. It set out to accomplish two things: Destruction of certain disease-carrying germs and the prevention of souring milk. These results are obtained by keeping the milk at a temperature of 145 degrees to 150 degrees F. for half an hour, at least, and then reducing the temperature to not more than 55 degrees F.”
It is undoubtedly beneficial to destroy dangerous germs, but pasteurization does more than this-it kills off harmless and useful germs alike, and by subjecting the milk to high temperatures, destroys some nutritious constituents.
Ughh. This sounds eerily similar to the food processing routine in which our whole foods are stripped of their most beneficial qualities along the way. I stay away from packaged foods for this very reason and have been preaching the same to you. From nourishedkitchen.com:
“As a living food, raw milk is rich in beneficial bacteria. These bacteria are critical to your health; indeed, beneficial bacteria are so critical to human health that you cannot live without them. These bacteria are responsible for stimulating and training your immune system to function correctly. They also work in conjunction with your immune system to keep pathogenic bacteria at bay.
So I’m sold on the value of raw versus pasteurized, but you know me, taste is king. I couldn’t help but think that I was going to have a tough time adjusting to the taste and consistency of raw. I found myself hypothesizing that it must be like trying whole wheat pasta after eating the fully enriched stuff (I don’t eat either these days, by the way).
It has been unseasonably warm here in Socal (sorry, Boston) so when I drove by Sprouts, one of the only outlets carrying raw milk in these parts, I popped in to see if they had a container to quench my thirst. Boo ya.
Ice cold and straight from the carton, this raw, whole, sweet creaminess was far superior to any milk product I’d experienced.
I’m wondering if I just got California’s best batch or something. The stuff is downstairs in my fridge, and I can’t wait for tomorrow to take a big gulp. Could this stuff really be good for me?
I found so much positive data out there I could have shared a book. Here’s another nugget from Chris Kresser:
There is substantial epidemiological evidence from studies in Europe that consumption of raw milk during childhood may protect against asthma, allergies and other immune-mediated diseases. A large cross-sectional study demonstrated a significant inverse association between “farm milk” consumption and childhood asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, sensitization to pollen and other allergens. (9) While we must always remember that correlation does not prove causation, the findings were consistent across children from farming and non-farming environments, indicating that farm milk consumption may have had an independent effect on allergy development.
So are there any other arguments for buying the stuff off the grocery store shelf? Apparently the homogenization process distributes the natural cream evenly throughout the milk for drinking. Guess what else does this quite well? Shaking it. No mechanical process needed.
Data and research aside, raw milk fits comfortably into my philosophy around food. I want it in its original form, as nature intended it, whenever possible. When our consumption includes products that have been processed, in this case pasteurized and homogenized, our bodies don’t recognize it as well and can’t utilize its nutrients as efficiently.
Case in point, leave pasteurized, homogenized milk out too long, and you’ll notice it spoils and stinks. The raw milk will transform into a probiotic-rich, yogurt like food. Ahhhh, nature’s tricks.
Give it a shot,