Tip #7 –Buy raw dairy products from grassfed animals.
Drink whole, full-fat raw milk, not skim, 2%, or 1%. Avoid powdered and condensed Humpty-Dumpty milk. Again, be a holistic shopper. Whole raw milk in its original, unprocessed state has cofactors and enzymes that are necessary to digest it and absorb the nutrients in it. Milk fat is necessary for the absorption of vitamin D; and vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium; the enzyme lactase is needed to digest lactose (yes, there is already lactase in raw milk, which is denatured when milk is pasteurized).
Raw milk is legal in 37 states. Virginia is one of them. In Virginia, it is legal to drink raw milk, but it is illegal to buy or sell it. So in order to gain access to raw milk in Virginia, one must participate in a cow share or herd share program. By owning a share in a cow or a herd, you can drink the raw milk from your own animals.
Pasteurization was originally developed for distilleries, not for dairies. It was used to extend the shelf life of wine and prevent souring. An informative book on this subject is The Untold Story of Milk by Dr. Ron Schmid.
In the 1800’s, illnesses spread when cows were taken off pasture and brought into the city, fed swill (byproduct of the distilleries), and allowed to live in unsanitary conditions. Similarly today, commercial cows are kept on feedlots and are fed grains, expired food from supermarket shelves, byproducts of citrus processing, and other substances too obscene to mention. So you see, we’ve learned this lesson before: Dairy cows that are unhealthy and mistreated produce milk that is unsafe fort human consumption.
Louis Pasteur supposed that his process would work on milk in a similar way that it worked in the distillery. Although pasteurization made unsafe milk safe to drink, it also killed probiotics, denatured enzymes needed to digest it, and decreased vitamin and other nutrient content. Even worse, pasteurization became a requirement for safe milk from cows that were still being raised on pasture!
Here is a summary of some of the differences between raw milk and pasteurized milk.
Raw Milk and Pasteurized Milk Compared:
Raw Milk (Grassfed)
Cows eat grass.
No hormones given.
No antibiotics used.
Cows live 11 to 13 years.
Small herds (25 to 50 head)
Stirred gently in holding tank (no homogenization).
No pasteurization necessary.
Contains vitamins and minerals.
Contains enzymes and probiotics.
Shelf life is 10 to 14 days.
Pasteurized Milk (Conventional)
Cows eat grains and other substances.
rBGH used to increase milk production.
Liberal use of antibiotics.
Cows live 3 to 5 years.
Large herds (15,000 head)
Heat is used to pasteurize.
Vitamins and minerals added.
No enzymes or probiotics.
Shelf life 3 to 4 weeks.
Linked to allergies and intolerances.
The first important difference is that raw milk dairy cows are grassfed. Conventional dairy cows eat grains and other substances. We discussed the detriments of a grain diet, for both cows and humans, in tip #5 – Consume meats from grassfed livestock, and eat the fat along with the meat.
Raw milk dairy cows are not given hormones, as conventionally raised cows are. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) increases milk production by 5 to 7 times the norm. There is concern that rBGH may contribute to certain cancers and premature breast development in girls.
Antibiotics are rarely needed by raw milk dairy cows. Some farmers will use them only if an animal becomes ill. On a conventional farm, antibiotics are routinely used to control mastitis and other infections that are ubiquitous in concentrated animal feeding operations. Many of the cows get mastitis anyway, and they are still milked. This results in contamination due to pus from the infected teat.
There’s a significant difference in life expectancy between raw milk dairy cows and feed lot cows. Healthy cows raised on pasture live 2 to 3 times as long as feedlot cows.
There’s also a big difference in herd size – 25 to 50 head in raw milk herds vs. 15,000 head or more in conventional herds.
In pasteurization facilities, homogenization breaks down the fat into molecular units that remain suspended in solution. Homogenization is linked with heart disease. Rather than homogenize, raw milk is gently stirred by a rotating arm inside the raw milk holding tank, which keeps the cream from rising to the top.
Milk from conventionally raised cows is pasteurized. There are now strains of pathogens that can survive the heat of pasteurization (see the realmilk.com website for more details).
Microbiologist Dr. Ted Beals explains that beneficial bacteria in raw milk is so powerful that if you inoculate a sample of it with a pathogen and wait a few days, then test the milk for the pathogen, it will be gone. The beneficial bacteria attack and eliminate it.
Because it is not pasteurized, the vitamins and minerals in raw milk remain intact. Conventional milk, after pasteurization, is fortified with vitamins and minerals in an attempt to compensate for what was destroyed by the heat of pasteurization. The result is vastly inferior to the unprocessed.
Trying to put milk back together again is not effective, since enzymes, probiotics and co-factors are also diminished by pasteurization. Raw milk contains enzymes, co-enzymes and probiotics. The relationships among all of these components and co-factors is so complex that scientists have only a partial understanding of how they interact to nourish the body. Adding back a few nutrients to heat-treated milk is not enough to make Humpty-Dumpty milk digestible and useable to the body.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid is present in raw milk, because the animals were raised on pasture. CLA is absent in grain fed animals.
Raw milk stays fresh for about 2 weeks, then it will pleasantly sour as a result of the growth of beneficial bacteria. Because the bacteria are beneficial, you can still drink the soured milk, or use it to make sauces and salad dressings, cheese and other cultured dairy products.
Pasteurized milk has a longer shelf life, but it is already a week or two old before it makes its way to the supermarket shelf. So it lasts about the same amount of time from the date of purchase as raw milk lasts. After this time period, pasteurized milk putrefies. Drinking putrefied milk carries health risks.
Probiotics in raw milk and cultured raw dairy products boost your immune system. Most probiotics are transient — they must be ingested daily because they are eliminated through the digestive process. Native probiotics, on the other hand, colonize your gut and remain there for a longer time without being replenished daily. Kefir contains native probiotics. In addition to boosting immunity (85% of your immune system is in your gut), these probiotics help you to digest your food, and they actually create additional vitamins in the process which are absorbed by the intestine (B1, B2, B6, B12, K).
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar in milk. People who are lactose intolerant do not make lactase, the enzyme used to digest lactose. Raw milk contains the enzyme lactase. Pasteurized milk does not, because lactase is denatured by heat. Many people who are lactose intolerant to pasteurized milk would be able to drink raw milk because it contains the enzyme lactase.
Enzymes (such as lactase) are proteins. Proteins denature (loose their form and function) at 117 degrees F. This is the temperature at which when you touch a hot object the reflex reaction to burning is engaged – nature’s built-in mechanism for preventing your own protein from denaturing! In order for enzymes to remain functional, a food must not be heated to the point of burning one’s mouth when eating.
Those who have a true milk allergy are allergic to protein in the milk. The protein that causes most of the problem is casein. Two types of casein are A1 and A2. A1 casein is highly allergic. A2 casein is not. A1 casein is predominant in holstein cows. Commercial herds are comprised of holsteins.
A2 casein is found in Jersey, Guernsey, Dutch Belted, Belted Galloway, and other older breeds of cows. Raw milk herds are predominantly non-holstein breeds. Many people who are allergic to the A1 casein in pasteurized milk would be able to drink raw milk from cows that produce milk with only the non-allergic A2 casein.
Some farmers are very particular about this issue, and they strive for 100% A2 casein milk. They genetically test their cows (by tail hair analysis) for the A1 and A2 alleles, and then cull their herds so that all cows are A2A2. These farmers only accept sperm from A2A2 bulls. (Neither the A1 or the A2 allele is dominant, so if an animal has A1A2 casein, both proteins will be present in the milk. The presence of the A1 allele in the A1A2 protein may be enough to cause an allergic response.)
In conclusion, raw milk is safer, more nutritious, and less allergenic than pasteurized milk. For more information about the health benefits of whole raw milk, see http://www.realmilk.com and http://www.raw-milk-facts.com.