Raw milk may be one of the most controversial food products available in the US. In the course of my research I have tried to explore both sides of the argument, although it is difficult to distinguish between propaganda and true research.
According to the FDA;
“Milk and milk products provide a wealth of nutrition benefits. But raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family. According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 1993 and 2006 more than 1500 people in the United States became sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk. In addition, CDC reported that unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products.
Raw milk is milk from cows, sheep, or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses.
These harmful bacteria can seriously affect the health of anyone who drinks raw milk, or eats foods made from raw milk. However, the bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and children. In fact, the CDC analysis found that foodborne illness from raw milk especially affected children and teenagers.”
That definitely sounds scary, and after reading it I can’t imagine why someone would want to drink raw milk, but like anything else there is always another side of the story. Many proponents of raw milk believe that it contains all of its original vitamins, proteins, minerals and enzymes required for proper digestion. They claim that pasteurization kills most of the beneficial ingredients and then replaces them with synthetic versions. Furthermore most milk that you find at the grocery store comes from cows that are confined in tiny pens. Because of their cramped quarters they become ill more easily causing them to need more antibiotics which filter through their milk and into us, the consumer. They may be given genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormones (although I have yet to find a store-brand of milk sold near me that doesn’t claim to be RBGH free). What I find to be particularly ironic is that when the cream is taken out of the milk to create a lower fat content, they have to replace it with oxidized cholesterol to bring back the creamy texture. This is the bad cholesterol that you hear so much about in the news.
Well, now I’m torn. They both seem like compelling arguments. I don’t want to get sick but on the other hand I never realized how artificial and unnatural pasteurized milk can be. I certainly wouldn’t give unpasteurized milk to someone who is immune-compromised, but as a healthy adult trying to eliminate artificial products from my life perhaps I should give it a try. I think it’s time for a taste test.
I’ve prepared 2 glasses of milk (pictured above). On the left is a glass of raw milk, on the right Publix brand 1% milk that we traditionally purchase. A visual inspection reveals that the raw milk has a golden tint and a layer of froth on the surface. The Publix milk is pure white and has a slightly more watery appearance. There was also a distinct difference in taste. The raw milk had a richer, creamier texture and a slightly grassy taste. It isn’t unpleasant but it does bring to mind the flavor that certain foods acquire when they have been left too long next to produce in the refrigerator. Of course the processed milk tastes like your average 1% milk. Overall I think that the raw milk might take a little getting used to but with time I would probably find it preferable. Until then it certainly isn’t a difficult swap in my diet.