The first thought I’d like you to ponder is: Why are we (humans) the ONLY mammal that continues to drink milk long after intended? Raw milk is produced by a mother to feed her baby, rich in nutrients needed for infant grow. The baby out grows the needs for nutrients in milk and needs the nutrients in solid food to support optimal growth, health and nutrition.
We actually take this one step further, by continuing to drink milk years after we should. When we stop drinking our mother’s raw milk, we start drinking pasteurized milk from a different mammal… Really think about that for a moment. Disease is up, and polluted foods has become so normal that real food has to be labeled “organic” instead of food being labeled with the toxins in contains.
The majority of milk today is pasteurized and very different then the raw milk our grandparents consumed. It is full of toxins and lacking the minerals, however there are nutrient rich options for those people who don’t want to give it up.
Back to The Basics – Raw Milk
If you’re like most people, you’ve been told from birth that drinking milk is essential to good health.
And, if you lived through the 1990s, you’re probably familiar with the California Fluid Milk Processing Board’s ad campaigns—“Got Milk?” and “Milk: It Does a Body Good”.
These slogans won multiple advertising awards and became catchphrases, but they did a lot more than that—they made a lot of factory farmers richer and a whole lot of people sicker.
Current government guidelines suggest that we should drink three glasses of milk per day (children under five are advised to drink three glasses). Milk is touted as making bones stronger and healthier, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and being a vital component of a balanced diet.
And yet, as a nation, we’re sicker than ever, with high rates of obesity, diabetes and cancer than any other country. The U.S. has the highest rates of obesity of any first-world nation. Nearly 1/3 of Americans over age 20 are obese and 2/3 are overweight.
Obesity has been directly linked to a number of deadly illnesses, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as arthritis. It’s also incredibly costly; in 2003, the American Cancer Society estimated that Americans spent an estimated $75B to treat obesity. The costs have risen steadily each year since.
So, what’s making us fat and sick? The Standard American Diet.
Americans consume a unique diet, compared to most of the world; we eat processed items marketed as food to be consumed, but these products according to the rest of the world are not food, and frequently banned.
The High Costs of Industrial Dairy
Dairy products from factory farmers, including fluid milk and cheese are subjected to cost-cutting methods that contribute to illness.
Unhealthy milk starts with unhealthy production. In the interest of producing huge quantities of milk, dairy cows are fed growth hormones–recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), specifically—to dramatically increase their milk production capabilities. To its dubious credit, rBGH does, in fact, increase the average rate of dairy production by 20%. While this has increased production, rBGH has also resulted in an 80% increase in mastitis, an infection of the udders due to over milking.
Mastitis contaminates milk with high levels of pus. To treat the infection, dairy cows are given antibiotics. Antibiotics, pus and rBGH wind up in the milk that the cows produce. Contaiminated milk isn’t disposed of, it’s packaged up with all of the other milk produced, packaged and shipped to groceries in every state, city and town in the U.S. This toxic milk goes directly into your body and you children’s bodies.
The Effects of Pasteurization
Factory farmed dairys rely on pasteurization to extend the shelf lives of packaged milk products. Pasteurization kills off the good bacteria that makes milk spoil faster, but it also kills off all of the enzymes, vitamins and minerals milk contains in the process, including the nutrients milk is prized for—calcium and vitamins A and D.
The high temperatures strip milk of these nutrients, making them insoluble. When nutrients are insoluble, the body can’t process them. Synthetic Vitamin A, C and calcium have to be added to milk after it’s pasteurized to create the illusion that it’s still good for you.
Pasteurization also strips milk of iodine—another one of milk’s essential nutrients.
But that’s not all pasteurization does…it also chemically alters the natural sugars in milk, transforming lactose (sugar) into beta-lactose. Beta-lactose is more soluble than lactose, so it’s absorbed into the body faster. The faster rate of absorption leads to insulin resistance much like sugar, contributing to obesity rates.
A Healthy Alternative
If you love your cow milk, there are still quality farmers producing nutrient dense raw milk.
Increasingly, whole, organic and raw foods are becoming more commonplace on grocery shelves. Food distribution itself is slowly shifting, with many restaurants in major cities favoring foods grown by local farms instead of relying on huge factory farms.
The “old ways” are slowly becoming the new ways, restaurants and grocery stores from New York to San Diego are locally sourcing ingredients and becoming increasingly common. The best secret… It tastes so much better then pasteurized milk, it is sweeter and creamer. Major Bonus!! It’s a easy switch, because like all quality food, it tastes so much better.
The Raw Deal
Milk has also gotten a little bit of a makeover with the increasing popularity of raw milk.
Raw milk is rich in the nutrients that pasteurization destroys, including:
• Amino acids
• Over 60 digestive enzymes
• Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K
• Phosphatase, which helps the bones absorb calcium
• Lipase, an enzyme which helps the body absorb fats
Raw milk is also easily soluble and rich in healthy bacteria. These good bacteria help aid in digestion as well as provide protection from disease-carrying organisms.
Raw milk isn’t always easy to come by as the large finances behind factory farming want all small ethical farming shut down, and go to great lengths to mislead the public.
Raw milk is sourced from healthy, grass-fed animals who are allowed to roam freely, it is far safer and healthier than factory farmed pasteurized counterpart. Raw milk doesn’t require pasteurization, since it’s not mass produced, there’s no need to boil away toxins, infections and of the nutrients to make it safe and shelf-stable.
Raw milk sold for human consumption is available commercially in some states, either by retail stores or by individual farmers and farm-owned stores. These states include California, Oregon, Washington, New York, Texas and Arizona. Raw milk sold for human consumption is illegal in 17 states, including Florida, New Jersey, Nevada, Georgia and Hawaii. (We have the multi-billion dollar factory farming industry to thank for limiting this nutrient dense safe milk from so many people).
The food advocacy group Farm to table Consumer Defense Fund was have been instrumental in educating the public about the benefits of raw milk and other locally-sourced, organic foods. They maintain an up-to-the-minute directory of how you can buy raw milk at Farm to Consumer.
While raw milk may do a body good, it’s where it comes from and how it’s produced plays a huge role in how good milk truly is. Locally-sourced raw milk is produced in cows who are feed grass, given room to move, and well cared for.
Factory farmed pasteurized milk is from cows who are grain fed, full inflammation, restricted movement, often sick, fighting some kind of infection, and on steroids and antibiotics, which all pass through straight to you.
Why would someone choose a food product so poor it mush be boiled to kill the diseases (and any nutrients) when they have the option to drink healthy, nutrient dense raw milk?
Ultimately, the availability of healthy alternatives rests with us, the consumers. Increasing awareness, supporting organizations committed to making sustainable farming available nationwide and not buying factory farmed products makes a difference in our choices, and our health.
While this article was focused on milk, this applies for all dairy; pasteurized and raw. You can find out more about our favorite dairy farmer at Organic Pastures.