I drink real milk: fresh, raw, local and full of fat.

I drink raw milk.

I drink fresh, raw milkReally fresh, really raw and always in season. In essence, I drink real milk.  I’ve waxed poetic about my love of fresh cream before, but now it’s milk’s turn.

My milk is fresh, in season, grass-fed, full-fat and locally produced.  It is rich, and luscious and creamy and it is a living food, teeming with beneficial bacteria, food enzymes and naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.  It is not fortified; it doesn’t need to be – for every mineral, every vitamin contained in that cool glass of frothy white milk was placed there by nature as it is in all truly whole and unrefined foods.  Real milk – raw milk – doesn’t need fortification as vitamins, minerals and enzymes remain intact instead of broken, denatured and destroyed through heat processing by standard pasteurization or, worse yet, the extreme temperatures reached through ultra-high-temperature (UHT) pasteurization.

Raw milk is a living food. It is dense in food enzymes and beneficial bacteria – two components of traditional diets that are severely lacking in the standard American diet in which foods have been subject to irradiation, pasteurization and other treatment.  Raw milk, like any raw food, contains food enzymes – notably amylase, catalase, lactoperoxidase, lipase and phosphatase1. These food enzymes play important physiological functions in the human body; notably, they help our bodies to better digest our foods.  Amylase helps our bodies to digest carbohydrates, while lipase helps us to digest fats. Lactase, though not an actual component of milk itself, but a result of the presence of beneficial bacteria in raw milk, helps to digest lactose, or milk sugar.  Raw milk is also a good source of beneficial bacteria – which are critical to human health (learn more about beneficial bacteria and lactic acid fermentation).

I drink milk in season.

We don’t often think of milk as a seasonal food, but it is.  The value of fresh milk and is at its height in spring, when grasses are green and lush and cows grazing on these fresh grasses produce cream particularly dense in naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins – particularly vitamin A and E, though it also contains vitamins D and K2 in smaller quantities1.  Moreover, the milk and cream of cows grazing on fresh pasture is extraordinarily rich in conjugated linoleic acid, a substance linked to reduced risk of cancer2, 3, 4. In traditional dairy-consuming societies, the milk of cows grazing on fresh, spring grasses was particularly well-prized5.  Such milk, fresh and in season, is rich in flavor and that flavor changes, ever so slightly as the season progresses.  Come winter, the cows go dry and we wait a few months for fresh milk once more – increasing our enjoyment once it arrives again in spring.  There is nothing quite as charming and quaint as fresh strawberries paired with fresh cream when both hit their peak season in early spring.

I drink whole milk.

I drink whole milk, with its fat content fully intact – shaking the half-gallon mason jar until the cream that has naturally risen to the top combines with the milk.  Real food is full-fat. Traditional societies consumed meat with accompanying fat, and milk with its full complement of wholesome, nourishing fats including vaccenic acid – a fatty acid with health benefits that could outweigh those of conjugated linoleic acid alone6. Despite what you may have heard to the contrary, fat – particularly dairy fat – may also play a role in protecting cardiovascular health; indeed, a recent study indicates that while fruit and vegetable consumption helped to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, they only did so when combined with full fat dairy7.  Moreover, studies analyzing the role of dietary fat and human reproduction indicate that women consuming skim and low-fat dairy products experienced greater risk of anovulatory infertility while the consumption of full-fat dairy products actually decreased the risk of infertility8.  And, despite current recommendations that children should consume low-fat and skim milk products as opposed to whole milk, evidence indicates that doing so does not decrease the risk of overweight in preschoolers9.

I drink local milk.

I drink locally produced milk, from people I trust and people I know care for their herd. Doing so ensures that the money I spend for the food I feed my family stays within my community and supports the very people actually producing the food I consume rather than the people marketing the food I consume.  My decision to support my locally owned family-run farm means the continued viability of local agriculture within my community; moreover, it ensures that I can easily visit the farm, see the cows that my family owns through our cow share program and watch how they’ve been cared for.  This system establishes trust, supports the local economy and continues to maintain the viability of time-honored traditions in agriculture.  There’s a great deal of relief in knowing exactly where your food comes from, being able to ask questions and see firsthand how the cow was treated, what she was fed and how she was milked.  There’s a great deal of relief in this system.

drinking raw milk

1. Raw-milk-facts.com (Accessed. Sunday, April 18, 2010) 2. Belury. Inhibition of carcinogenesis by conjugated linoleic acid: Potential mechanisms of action. Journal of Nutrition. October, 2002. 3. Bocca et al. CLA reduces breast cancer cell growth and invasion through ERalpha and PI3K/Akt pathways. Chemical-biological interactions. January, 2010. 4. O’Shea, et al. Milk fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) inhibits growth of human mammary MCF-7 cancer cells. Anti-cancer Research. September – October, 2000. 5. Price. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. 6. Field, et al. Human health benefits of vaccenic acid. Applied physiology, nutrition and metabolism. October, 2009. 7. Holmberg et al. Food Choices and Coronary Heart Disease: A Population Based Cohort Study of Rural Swedish Men with 12 Years of Follow-up. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. October 2009. 8. Chavarro et al. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Human Reproduction. May, 2007. 9. Huh, et al. Prospective association between milk intake and adiposity in preschool-aged children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

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What people are saying

  1. Monique Verdin says

    I looked up this post in regard to the new data that just came out of Harvard regarding the high levels of estrogen found in pregnant cows that are 33 times higher than normal with links to breast and testicular cancers. The hormone is estrone sulfate. My dad told me about this yesterday, but I have not seen anything on any of the Weston Price blogs about it yet.

    • Jenny says

      Actually, I addressed this on facebook several weeks ago. I recommend purchasing milk from farms practicing traditional dairying techniques and from seasonal dairies that don’t milk their cows in late pregnancy.

    • Carolyn says

      I read this article too. It was concerning. The idea is we should not drink milk from late pregnancy to while their young nurse. I am concerned about this as well.

      • Jenny says

        No – there’s not an issue with drinking milk while the young nurse. The issue is hormones in milk late in pregnancy – and the solution is easy, by farm-direct from seasonal dairies who don’t milk their cows late in pregnancy.

  2. says

    Hi there. I’m not convinced that raw milk is the way to go. But I’m going to review your information step by step and hope that you might be interested in discussing this with me. Please note that for the most part I totally enjoy your blog, and have for many years. But I am concerned about the hospitalizations that are on the rise from people drinking raw milk. So, I’d like to have a thorough discussion with you on why you are recommending raw milk so heavily to people.

    • ZoeB says

      I read in a book years ago that mentioned a study feeding new calves “dead” aka pasturized milk. Not only did the calves fail to thrive, but eventually died. I am nearly certain I read this in a book by Gary Null, “The New Vegetarian”.

    • Denise says

      This is not true. There is no rise in hospitalizations from raw milk. There are very few cases of illness from raw milk. More people fall ill and (sometimes) die from pasteurized milk than raw. Not to mention the fact that the prime sources of bacteria they say cause illness from drinking raw milk are supermarket delis and salad bars. Should we ban them?

      I have done the “milk cure”. Four months on just raw milk, water, and homemade kombucha. The results were nothing short of amazing. It is a real food, a gift, and amazing.

      • tslateone says

        Care to share the problems that were rectified and results of your 4 months, also what quantities of each you drank and any other information. The milk cure is just milk plus enemas, so not sure if you did that or just drank the milk and kombucha as well as eat something too. I’m sure many would be interested to hear.

    • epiphany says

      Yes, there are potential health issues with raw milk. There are also potential health concerns with pasturised milk, shelfish, salad from the supermarket, cooked chicken, etc etc etc. No food is 100% safe & this is why it’s very important to only obtain raw milk from a farmer who is using high standards of hygiene, pasture feeding (not feeding grain), testing regularly, etc. Just as it’s important to handle it correctly once it arrives at your house. The pool that pasturised milk comes from relies on dilution as a line of defense…in other words, if something is wrong with a cow, the impact on consumer’s health is lessened because not only is it going into a large pool of milk (so exposure is technically lessened) but pasturisation is relied on a means of preventing illness. There is a very interesting discussion about illness in the US from raw vs pasturised milk at http://tinyurl.com/7gk8vcu There is also a link there to the CDC page, so you can see illness rates yourself. Looking at them, I’d be more worried about pre-prepared salad than I would be about raw milk.

      Nutrition aside, raw milk is also about reducing food miles, building community, providing a fair go for farmers (they get more money for their product & the product is often cheaper or on par with commercial milk for consumers…especially if you’re using it to make other dairy products), supporting sustainable farming practises (lower stocking & milking rates, no use of antibiotics or hormones, etc, pasture fed cattle, & I know my farm doesn’t practise calf infanticide), & supporting a better environment for the cows. It’s simply another facet of nourishing community, rather than lining supermarket owner’s pockets.

  3. says

    I see that the first enzyme you list is amylase. Amylase is an enzyme that is present in human saliva and is produced in the pancreas. Tell me, since this is an enzyme that is produced naturally in the body, why do you feel that this enzyme is an important component of milk? How do you know that amylase is actually deactivated during pasteurization? Is it inactivated during the lower temperature pasteurization techniques? If it is so heat-sensitive does it actually survive during refrigeration?

  4. says

    lactoperoxidase: I see that this particular enzyme is helpful in reducing bacteria. Do we know if this bacteria is selective, or does it break down all bacteria including beneficial? How do we know that it is effective at preventing bacterial growth… are there studies and sources? What temperature is this particular enzyme active? Does the addition of acidity (such as in making yogurt or cheese) deactivate it?

    • epiphany says

      Phosphatase assists in accessing phosphorus & calcium from milk. It hydrolises phosphate esters in milk to produce phosphorus ions and assists osteoblast cells to absorb calcium. Phosphatase is denatured as part of the pasturisation process. We know it’s denatured because the test they use to make sure pasturisation is successful (& to test if raw milk has somehow got back into pasturised milk) is to check for the inactivity/absence of phosphatase, as it’s heat sensitive.

  5. says

    Re: vitamin D, are you saying that the vitamin D is destroyed during the pasteurization process?

    Re: vitamin A, I understand that this vitamin is destroyed, but have read that the amount is negligible anyway. What are your thoughts on this?

  6. Kendra says

    I personaly super creeped out by My Suburban Homestead. They just get on several Raw Milk articles and just bash them NO positive at all seems to me like a bug of some sort. They also have a clever way of filing up the whole page weird!! Why and who would be planting raw milk bashers? Who knows?! Just makes me LOVE raw milk more knowing they actualy pay people to bash it. SUPER Creepy!!!!!

  7. Mary McGonigle-Martin says

    Kendra, if you want to be really creeped out again, you should visit http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com. I would suggest watching all 5 videos. All of these people were supporting their local farmer by purchasing raw milk and the almost killed themselves or their children. Someone forgot to inform them that if cow/goat shit contaminates the milk, serious illnesses could result. It is the other side of raw milk that no one wants to talk about.

    • Denise says

      What about all the people who have died from deli meats, canteloupe, salad bars, (spinach) and other foods? People get sick from food all the time. Do we outlaw everything that has resulted in sickness? We don’t deny that some illness can result if cleanliness is not observed. More illness results from pasteurized milk than raw – CDC’s own statistics.

      This site is fear-mongering at it’s worst. A great resource to see how the government is trying to phase out the small farmer is Farmageddon – free to view on youtube. David Gumpert’s book Raw Milk Revolution deals with many of the cases where raw milk was assumed to have cause illness and it was shown there was NO evidence that that was the case.

      What we do demand is the right to decide for ourselves if we will purchase raw milk.

    • Andi says

      I asked the WAPF about this and they pointed me to the cites, the research that is supposed to support the claims in the video. Click on the websites own links/”proof” and read the information for yourself. The videos are pure propoganda. The only people sickened by raw milk got it from dairies not certified as clean enough to sell raw milk. Much of the research actually proves the opposite of what the videos claim. It is laughable how poor the science is.
      We’ve been drinking raw milk and following WAPF recomendations for two years and are in the best health of our lives. We no longer have to take prescriptions for blood pressure or diabetes and my sons no longer have the severe eczema that once plagued them. My advice is to ignore the spin doctors. Do your own research. Make your own conclusions. WAPF was a godsend for us and I will be forever grateful for their advice.

  8. Brenda A says

    Thank you for this! I’m working on broadening my horizons… and I’ve recently become a convert to juicing and whatnot, and ran across a site talking about raw milk. Today at my farmers market I saw a sign, “raw milk for pets.” I jumped at it, and bought it, the smallest size: half gallon.
    My husband said he hoped it was good… and for me-I felt like I purchased something illegal! Thanks again!

  9. says

    I love this! I drink raw, real, whole milk in season, too! I’m so happy that you’re writing beautiful poetic prose about it. It’s such an inspiration. I’ll share with you that until I learned about raw milk I did not drink milk. As a teenager, though, I added water to my skim milk in my cereal! Can’t believe it. I no longer eat cereal, and will never touch processed pasteurized milk again.
    Thanks for your inspiration!

  10. Michelle says

    What about someone with a suppressed immune system? My son has been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. I’m changing our diet to be as “Real” as possible in hopes of healing his gut. The docs want to put him on methotrexate and Humira which will suppress his immune system. I’m want to give him raw milk but am afraid.

    • Claudia says

      I have a compromised immune system, 20 years with chronic Lyme disease and other confections. I have been drinking raw milk for over three years now, and have seen my level of health gradually improve significantly. I know my agisters (herd caretakers) personally, and visit the farm weekly. I have friends who also were concerned upon beginning to drink raw milk due to similar immune dysfuction, and they have also thrived on raw milk. We make our own kefir, filjmolk, creme friache, yogurt, etc. which further ferment the valuable probiotic value of milk. If I miss my morning smoothie made with my homemade kefir, I FEEL it. I would never again choose to drink pasteurized, homogenized milk from the market, it is much too scary, knowing what I do about what can happen to it. In the 1980’s I acquired a nasty food borne illness from a bad batch of grocery store milk in Oregon. I lost 15 lbs. and was extremely ill until antibiotics were administered. Know your agisters, inspect the farm and their practices, do your due diligence. By far, you are miles ahead choosing safe, raw milk over pasteurized, dead milk.

    • Schelli N. says

      I have Schmidt’s syndrome, and my autoimmune system is trying to slowly take my entire endocrine system out. I have severe immune suppression issues, and am usually hospitalized at least once per year over something stupid like a regular cold.
      I have been drinking raw milk this Winter, and this time when cold season came around, I caught the bug, but DIDN’T end up in the hospital..first time in my life. I attribute this to the raw milk, addition of fermented foods in to my diet, and elimination of wheat (in that order). My inflammation markers have gone down after adding raw milk alone. If the juvenile arthritis is autoimmune (most often it is) then real milk has a strong possibility of helping to heal the damage. For the first time in my adult life (I have had this condition since I was young) I feel like there is hope and actual LIFE out there for me, and it is a good feeling. I wish I would have known earlier..but at least I have the now.

  11. Jill T says

    I also have been a huge proponent of the benefits of raw milk. During my research I felt that the benefits of raw milk outweighed the potential risks. In light of this, we started our 1-year old son ona local farmers raw milk a few weeks ago. He tolerated it very well for a couple of weeks until a little over a week ago he began experiencing extreme diarrhea, vomiting, blood in his stools, temperature, and a lack of appetite. After a visit to our doctor and a stool sample my worst nightmare in regards to raw milk came true…E Coli. In all honesty, the past 1+ week has been terrible for our son and our family. I still believe in the beneficial effects of raw milk, but with what our family has gone through the last 1+ week…it hasn’t been worth it for us.

  12. April says

    What about raw milk during pregnancy? Can you point me to any good sources about whether or not it’s okay?

  13. Melissa says

    What about raw cheeses? I live in Wisconsin, and surprisingly it’s illegal to sell raw milk here. I would do anything to get my hands on some, though. All I can find is raw cheese :(

  14. Jodi Taylor says

    I love raw milk! It actually cures my spring time allergies. Last winter I gained many pounds that I contribute to raw milk. My farmer tells me she finds this odd, that it is easier to digest. She has heard from some they actually lose weight while drinking it. I don’t know. My farmer may be a great salesperson. But as far as milk goes, if you taste the “real stuff” you will never go back!

  15. says

    Great post & interesting comments. Finally found a co-op with reasonable raw milk prices and am switching all our milk over to it vs. the 1 gal. A week I’ve been getting!!

  16. Ona says

    My raw milk split and has a layer of whey on top. Is the whey bad to use? Also how old is to old to use raw milk for yogurt?

  17. Donna says

    My husband has been drinking raw milk from our dairy for 10 yrs. He has never been sick from his milk. Its all about how you handle the cows before you milk them. They have to be cleaned before, during and after you milk them. He loves his cows and their milk!

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