10 Reasons to Drink Your Milk Raw

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Reason to Drink Raw Milk #1:

Raw milk is a living food.

Unlike pasteurized and ultra-high-temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk, raw milk is a living food.   Several of milk’s natural components including beneficial bacteria, food enzymes, natural vitamins and immunoglobulins are heat-sensitive.   These health-promoting components of natural, raw milk are destroyed by heating and therefore not present in pasteurized or UHT milk.   Indeed, most foods – milk included – provide best nutrition when consumed in a raw or minimally cooked state.   While heating milk doesn’t change the mineral composition to any great degree, it does, however, change their bioavailability rendering all that lovely calcium less absorbable.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #2:

Raw milk is rich in beneficial bacteria.

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.     Indeed, they can be effective in the prevention and treatment of e. coli, rotavirus and salmonella infections.   By consuming foods rich in beneficial bacteria – like raw dairy products and naturally fermented foods – you can help to optimize the levels of beneficial bacteria present in your gut.   These bacterial allies are destroyed by pasteurization and are absent in pasteurized and UHT milk.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #3:

Raw milk is rich in food enzymes.

As a living food, raw milk is also rich in natural food enzymes: lactase, lipase and phosphatase number among many of these natural enzymes.   These enzymes help your body to better digest milk and better metabolize its vital nutrients.   Without these vital enzymes, the milk’s natural sugars, fats and proteins can cause reactions in individuals prone to food intolerances.   Enzymes like phosphatase help the body to better absorb milk’s calcium while other enzymes like amylase and lactase help you digest the sugars present in milk.   Lactoperoxidase, another enzyme found in raw milk, offers antimicrobial properties which, again, helps to keep potential pathogens at bay.   These enzymes are painfully delicate and very heat-sensitive, pasteurizing milk destroys them and the benefits they convey to you.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #4

Raw milk is rich in natural vitamins.

The butterfat present in raw milk is rich in natural fat-soluble soluble vitamins, particularly preformed vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin E.   (Learn more about fat soluble vitamins: vitamin a, d, e and k.) Raw milk is also rich in water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.   A quart of raw milk from grassfed cows contains approximately 50% more vitamin E and 7% more folate than pasteurized milk.   Moreover, fresh raw milk naturally contains vitamin C which is completely absent from pasteurized milk.   Vitamins, like food enzymes, are delicate and are largely destroyed by heat; therefore, pasteurized milks are fortified with vitamins – and those fortifying vitamins are synthetic, laboratory-created versions of naturally-occuring vitamins.   They are not treated the same way as natural vitamins by your body.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #5:

Raw butterfat is rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid.

Meat and milk from grass-fed animals is rich in fatty compound called Conjugated Linoleic Acid or CLA.   Actually classified as a trans-fatty acid (but a good transfat!), CLA offers myriad myriad positive effects for those who consume it.   Indeed, research indicates that this substance is known to fight cancer (particularly breast, intestinal and bone cancers), hypertension and adipose obesity.   If you’re sourcing your raw milk well, you’re only sourcing it from grass-fed cows which means you’re consuming this important fatty acid – something that’s missing from that factory-farmed, pasteurized and skimmed milk at the grocery store (and yes, organic milk drinkers – there’s plenty of factory farming in the organic industry too!)

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #6:

Raw milk supports small farmers, not feedlots.

Pastuerization of milk was born out of necessity – as unhealthy cows from concentrated animal feed operations produce unhealthy milk.   Cows sickened by confinement and an unnatural diet of grain and mash produce lackluster, thin milk   poor in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and rich in pathogenic bacteria.   Sick milk from sick cows makes for sick people.   Pasteurization kills pathogenic bacteria just as it kills beneficial bacteria.   Rather than tackle unsanitary practices and concentrated feed operations as the root cause of food illness caused by raw dairy products, government officials instead mandated pasteurization.   Such action allows industrial dairies to continue operating in a way that sickens their cattle.   When you purchase pasteurized milk at the store – unless you’re careful about your brand – you’re purchasing it from industrial farms that promote poor health among their herd.

By contrast, raw milk is not produced on a massive, concentrated scale.   Instead, raw milk producers operate small operations with fewer cattle spread out over a larger amount of space.   Cows aren’t fed on feedlot grain; rather, their given space on fresh pasture and spend their time outside with access to shelter when they need it – as in the case of inclement weather.   By choosing to drink raw milk and eschew pasteurized milk, you’re supporting small, local farmers who value both their customers and their herd.   You’re supporting sustainable agricultural operations not the dairy mega-industry.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #7:

Raw milk is not homogenized.

Raw milk is not homogenized; rather, the beautiful fresh raw cream rises to the top to produce a lovely creamline.     You can skim this cream for use in making butter or a beautiful panna cotta, or just shake the jar up to evenly distribute the cream into the milk for drinking.   This cream and butterfat is in its whole state; it hasn’t been homogenized.   Homogenization is an intense process that forcefully breaks up the fat molecules present in butterfat thus allowing them to be suspended in rather than separated from the liquid milk itself.   This forceful and intense process leaves these delicate fats subject to oxidization.   Oxidized fats contribute to heart disease, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.   Homogenization spells bad news for your heart and your body as a whole.   Fresh, raw milk is not homogenized and so the fat molecules remain intact – wholesome and healthy.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #8:

Raw milk is easier to digest.

Fresh, raw milk is easier on your stomach and digestive tract.   Components naturally present in raw milk, but killed by pasteurization, enable you to digest raw milk better than cooked, pasteurized milk.   Lipase, lactase and amylase – each enzymes mentioned above – work in conjunction with macronutrients present in milk – helping you to better digest the milk as a whole food.   Pasteurization, by contrast, renders milk hard to digest.   This is particularly true of the proteins present in milk which are denatured by high heat.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #9:

Raw milk clabbers.

Leave a carton of pasteurized milk out on the counter for a day, and you’ll end up with a putrid, stinking glop.   By contrast, raw milk will clabber as its beneficial lactic-acid producing bacteria proliferate and turn raw milk into a probiotic-rich, yogurt-like food.   Bonny clabber is a traditional food originally from Scotland, though most peoples across the globe enjoy similarly clabbered milks through their traditional food heritage.   Clabbered raw milk is not only edible, but particularly healthful as its sugars have been metabolized by lactic-acid producing bacteria and continue to proliferate.   Since these bacteria have been killed by heat in pasteurized milk, such milk won’t clabber; rather, molds and yeasts will rot the milk.   Moreover, milk that has been subject to pasteurization at ultra-high temperatures isn’t even suitable for cheesemaking.

Reason to Drink Raw Milk #10.

Raw milk supports your local economy.

Raw milk is a delicate food and is not suited to traveling long distance, nor is it shelf-stable at room temperature.   Pasteurized milks and UHT milks in particular can and do travel long distances before arriving from the dairy to your door.   These milks are often mixed with the milks of several dairies prior to pasteurization so you, as a consumer, lose the opportunity to question your dairy farmer about the milk you serve your family.   Further, the money you spend on such milk is divied between your grocery store, the broker/supplier, the branded dairy and, lastly, the farmer.   By purchasing raw milk locally and farmer-direct, 100% of the money you spend on your milk stays in your farmers pocket and in your local economy.

For more information about raw milk, check out this post: How to Choose an Organic Raw Milk Dairy.

Cross-posted at Real Food Wednesdays.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    Succinct and compelling article, Jenny! No kidding, I am sending this link to every member of my family the second I hit the Submit Comment button.

    Brilliant! Thank you!

  2. says

    I’ve been fully convinced for awhile now, but raw milk is illegal in our state. I’d have to travel 2 states away to find a place where it is legal to purchase…

    • Lydia says

      Tara, here in Washington State it is illegal to privately sell raw milk for drinking without a permit…which means inspections, regulations, fees, taxes, etc. Something about liability? However, if the buyer does not disclose their uses, or just says it’s for their pets, then they should not hold the seller responsible, and as long as the government is not involved….hehehe

      As long as you trust your source, there should be no danger to you, and there is also no need to pay full price for an “illegal substance.” Just saying. Also, you might be able to find raw milk dairies in your state that have gone through the red tape and jumped through hoops to be able to sell their milk raw. I have found atleast one in Washington, so I’m assuming it’s a valid option anywhere in the USA.

  3. says

    Excellent post! I will link to it next time I have a pertinent post. But right now, I am off to the farm to get our 3 gallons.

  4. Karen says

    Raw milk sounded scary to me before, but now I might give it a try. What you’ve said about raw milk being alive and the cream rising to the top makes sense to me now that I’ve had the experience of pumping breastmilk for my baby. Breastmilk is also alive and should not be shaken hard, and the fat rises to the top when stored.

  5. Jenny says

    Nicci –
    I can’t speak for everyone, but were I to get pregnant again I would have no hesitation in continuing to drink raw milk throughout my pregnancy.

    The concern about drinking raw milk during pregnancy is listeriosis. Listeriosis is a pathogen that can be found in foods like dairy products and cold cuts. Most listeriosis contamination actually occurs after pasteurization / cooking during packing ready-to-eat items. Listeriosis infection can cause miscarriage, premature delivery and infection in the newborn. As scary as that might seem the actual incidence of listeriosis in pregnancy is only about 0.01%.

    Bottom line for me: healthy cows produce healthy milk so know your source. Raw milk – particularly raw cream – is very rich in natural fat soluble vitamins as well as folate and those goodies are precisely what an expectant mama needs to grow a healthy baby.

  6. says

    Great post! I had to share it. I’m a big raw milk fan. Raw goat milk from our own goats changed our lives. Two of my kids had allergies and asthma and were on lots of medications and restrictions. We got goats for the raw milk and now they have no restrcitions and better yet- no medications!

  7. Juanita says

    I grew up on a dairy farm and never drank anything but raw milk until I left home. When we adopted our children I started buy milk from a local dairy farmer for them. They were always really healthy I believe because of the raw milk. I would encourage anyone to use raw milk but like Jenny please know the person. My granddaughter can’t drink cow’s milk so she is drinking raw goat’s milk. Doing great on it.

  8. Melanie says

    Thank you for the article. It’s nice to see so much good information in one place. My wife and I have been drinking raw milk when we can find it. As some have stated above it is illegal in most states, but there’s always a way. We are in contact with a local farm that provides it through delivery at a private home. It’d very convenient and we know it’s good. You can even taste the grassy taste with the first sip.

  9. says

    Very interesting article, Jenny – thanks for posting. We often had raw milk growing up – the experience of going out to the small dairy farm was probably as important to us as the nutritional benefits.

  10. says

    Thank You! Articles like this bring awareness and truth to people. I appreciate every effort made to bringing people information about raw milk. I hope that with more information less people will think I’m crazy for owning my own cow.

  11. Anita says

    No wonder they call raw milk “White Gold” !
    Michelle@Find Your Balance- I always call my raw milk- WHOLE milk, ’cause this puts it back on them- why aren’t they drinking their milk WHOLE?

    I think No. 2 & 3 are most important to me- good bacteria & digestive enzymes. Then No. 7 & 9.
    I kefir & clabber most of my milk anyway.

    • says

      Is clabbering the same as making crème fraîche/buttermilk? Also, when you make kefir, do you leave out the cream? I am having problems kefir-ing the raw milk for some reason. I think it’s clabbering and kefiring at the same time?

  12. -lg says

    Seven reasons I love raw milk:

    1) It makes my skin looks better than ever! I used to spend loads of $$$$ on face creams and facials! Now I confidently just rinse my face with water and a little “soap.” Everyone also comments on how great my daughter’s skin looks too.

    2) My eczema has completely cleared up! My skin has never been this smooth without any dry patches, even when I take lots of probiotics and eat cultured veggies. When I travel and am not drinking raw milk, the eczema always returns.

    3) Blood sugar stabilizer. It must be the lipase or lapase ? enzyme, but this is the only food so far that I can take to stabilize my blood sugar and curb chocolate and carb cravings.

    4) It bolsters my daughter’s immune system (she is 3 years). She never gets colds when she drinks this. I nursed for two years and she would still get an occasional cold when we would travel, but since she has been drinking raw milk (since she was two), her immune system is even better – very strong. So is mine – and I no longer have post nasal drippy nose that I have has my whole life.

    5) Tastes so delicious.

    6) It does not go bad! I can make whey, buttermilk, etc with it instead of throwing it away. It never gets thrown away or wasted.

    7) I’m supporting my local farmers, rather than the grocery store. It is also cheaper when I buy milk from the farm: .50 per liter verses 1.75 euro per liter! We fill our own bottles from the tank.

    When we move back to U.S. (we live in Europe now) we will chose a location based on the ease of accessibility of raw milk for our family. In London, you can order raw milk online to be delivered fresh to your door and it is also sold at farmer’s markets in the city.

  13. says

    The government has good intentions for making raw milk illegal. In the current factory-farming way of producing milk, raw milk would not be safe for human consumption. It is easier for them to make it illegal so that they make sure raw milk not suitable for human consumption is not sold. I would be VERY careful if I was to drink raw milk. Know the farmer and their practices very well, I’d suggest.

  14. Beth says

    Besides finding a reputable source, what would your advice be to raw milk “newbies”?

    I live in a state where I cannot purchase legally, but close enough to the border of a state where I can. Just recently, I found that my most trusted source for raw milk cheese also makes raw milk available in certain locations near that state border and I will be able to get raw milk somewhat regularly.

    So asssuming that the milk is fresh (less than one day old), how long can I expect it to keep under normal refrigeration. How long will it keep cultured? Do I need to culture it fresh or is it OK to do so as it approaches no longer being “fresh”. Is there a common procedure for removing the cream, or is it as simple as a ladle-ing it off? How long will raw butter keep, and does culturing the butter extend that shelf life?

    I just have so much to learn! I am excited, but also anxious since the price is steep and I’d like to avoid waste.

  15. Jeremy says

    As a small dairy farmer I know a lot about raw milk. Your article brings up some good points, but also has several “facts” that just are not correct. I would like to see a more factual article!

    • Jenny says

      Perhaps you could point out which facts are just not correct? And small is relative, how small is your small dairy? Is it a grass-fed dairy?

      • Jeremy says

        70 Brown Swiss and Holsteins, 1 Milking Shorthorn. Family owned, family run, no outside employees. Yes we graze in the summer. All of the land we own is in pasture. All other feed is purchased. We did not inherit anything, we have to work for it.

      • Jeremy says

        There are many factors that affect CLA in milk, grazing is one of them. Pastuerization does not affect CLA in milk. Genetics and breed have a far greater impact than nutrition. Also for instance our milk is currently 4.0% Butterfat and 3.5% true Protein, compare that to standardized store milk which is 3.25% butterfat and about 2.9% protein. It is not even comparing the same product! #2 above, well that is just plain disgusting, It is saying drinking contaminated raw milk is like protecting yourself from disease. I suppose If it doesn’t kill you it just makes you stronger, right?

        • Cecilia Long says

          Wow… Your answer about # 2 shows you pretty much know nothing about microbiology…. YEs. plese tell me whose milk you supply to so I can tell people to avoid it,.. Egads.

      • Jeremy says

        there are a lot of benefits of raw milk. There is also a lot of risks. I know of several people who have gotten sick. I also know lots of people who have not.

        • Teddy says

          Jeremy, so I’m guessing that you sell milk to be pasteurized? Would that be Organic Valley?

          The milk is not the risk, the risk is how it is derived and processed, including feed, facilities,etc. This has been proven endlessly. Besides that most cultures fermented the milk into kefir, yogurt or clabber which is another level of insurance. Other cultures like the swiss made a lot of aged raw cheese and drank the milk in the summer. Raw is the new bogeyman. Anyway I have never been sick from raw milk and it’s no accident. I know my dairy and I know my system. I and others should not be denied access to any food because someone is scared people with compromised immune systems might get sick or they are just afraid to fight back.

          I can get sick from many things but the law says that’s okay. Slap a warning on it, make it for sale to only 18 years old and above.

          You know what, let the processors pay factory farms $1.50/gallon to pasteurize it. Most US milk and dairy is crap anyway, except those selling raw milk. I would not drink or eat any dairy from a farm that was pasteurized. Crap in = crap out.

          Maybe instead of attacking raw milk drinkers and farms they should force all dairies to make high-quality milk that doesn’t need to be pasteurized instead of the swill they produce now. What they do to the cows to make them produce the high levels of milk that factory farms require to survive is disgusting. They should give the farm and animals to someone who cares, they don’t deserve it.

  16. stuart says

    an interesting article some good points but few patically point 3 that have bad science all those nice enzymes that raw milk contains are composed of amino acid chains (protien) the body does not recognise and use them it digest’s them cleaveing the peptide bonds breaking them down into there consitiuant parts (amino acids) like every other protien source it encounters, some of the other points however contain some intrest

  17. Debbie says

    I recently saw the movie Knives over Forks, which talks about the strong relation of casein in dairy products to cancer. I currently drink raw milk from a great source, but I am of course willing to cut it out if there any health risks. Do you have any information about this? I don’t know if the protein itself changes when pasturized/homoginized.

    • Marc says

      Yes!!! there are MANY health risks to drink ANY KIND OF MILK!!! (even if its from your own garden organic Raw cow).
      quick analogy: if you made your own organic jam with organic sugar, does it mean you can eat loads of it ??? the answer is a BIG Definitely Not !!

      the pro’s: if the milk is raw,, then yes,, there will be some nice beneficial things in there (enzymes, etc), so thats the good part… and some debatable calcium.

      the con’s: MILK IS STILL MILK !!!! no matter what way you look at it.
      it is for infants to develop their infant bodies.
      once they can eat fruit and vegetables, then they dont need milk anymore.
      look at nature to realize the blatantly obvious answer :)
      the protein in milk (Caesin) is linked DIRECTLY to tumor growth. umpteen studies have shown this direct correlation.
      then theres so many other issues!!

      and PS: you DO NOT NEED MILK FOR BONES!!!
      calcium in Green Vegetables is way more absorbable than calcium in milk! and far better quality too.
      you DO NOT NEED MILK !!!
      sure, have the odd glass here and there,, but DO NOT MAKE MILK DRINKING A REGULAR HABIT!!
      regard milk the same as coffee… its an evil and you need to kick the habbit.

      a few glasses here and there is fine.
      just go easy on it and try to reduce it.

      PPS: DONT DRINK SOY MILK EITHER!!!
      settle for rice milk or other milks (if you really crave something that looks white!!)
      other than that, GOOD QUALITY WATER is your best friend :)

  18. Dave Visse says

    Do NOT drink raw milk. E-coli and a destroyed kidney are not worth ANY perceived health gains of drinking raw milk. Today our good friends child is in the hospital clinging to life…..I blame websites like this one. See Wilsonville Oregon E-Coli outbreak. This is horrible and dangerous advice.

    • marica says

      All over Europe, you can get raw milk from a “kiosk” type machine. No signs of people dropping dead. How do you link raw milk to child’s disease? You have been brainwashed by the government! USA is the only “FREE” country where it is Illegal to buy or sell raw milk. That is not a free country in my book!

    • Marc says

      geez!!! sorry for your best friends child. but sorry, either he/she is EXTREMELY unlucky,, or its from something else.
      raw milk sickness is an EXTREMELY rare things.
      but more importantly,, drinking milk at all is DETRIMENTAL to the health of a child or adult.
      Milk is for INFANTS!!!! why doesnt anyone realize such a simple obvious fact !!!

  19. Caroline M. says

    Grt Article…….. I like my raw milk hot(?????)….. As soon as our milkman collects it from my cow I drink not less than 250 ml of it straight…….. first I had loose stool but that is not at all an issue with my constipation problem……….. whenever I get a wheez in the morning or evening I head start to my farm and have my raw milk HOT from cow…….. 5 minutes I am relieved of my breathing problem…….. I feel healthy the whole day…. I am frm India I have this option of owning a cow….. But Lately I got an info frm a friend cum Sportperson saying that he drinks milk raw to thicken his skin(!!!!!!!!!!!)……… Not so sure of it. as a Female in my late twenties I am trying hard to keep my skin as young as 16 yr old……. but does raw milk thicken my skin???

  20. Katherine says

    Just started buying raw milk from a local TX farm, and am loving it. I know exactly where my milk comes from, and I am having a ton of fun with kitchen experiments like making butter and kefir. Definitely want to try some bonny clabber next!

  21. Faisal says

    Unfortunately raw milk is not legal in Canada but do I buy mine from a farm that pasteurizes it on low temperatures and also leaves it unhomogenized. I can feel the difference so raw would be more of a punch.

  22. Dee Doanes says

    Great article Jenny. Thanks for spreading the word about the health benefits of raw milk. Many people that suffered from allergies and asthma had symptoms disappear after drinking raw milk. Do what works best for your body.

  23. Lana says

    Thank you for the fantastic article! I actually crave raw milk and nothing will satisfy me until I pour myself a nice tall glass. I’ve been drinking raw milk for years and now that I’m pregnant, I continue to drink it and never felt better! Just wish it wasn’t so pricey — I would rather have my raw milk than go to a salon for a mani/pedi haha!

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