Why Raw Milk
If you have been on social media for the past three years, you’ve likely seen some case made for raw milk. The resurgence of raw milk popularity comes at a time when consumers are demanding a better food system, one that offers transparency and natural products.
Raw milk is one such product that is natural and full of nutrients.
Raw Milk and a (very) Brief History
Raw milk is milk that has not been heated to any degree. In our case, it means the milk comes straight from the cow’s udder, into our stainless-steel bulk tank, cooled to 43 degrees and then filtered and bottled. Prior to the building of the milk barn the milk came straight from udder to stainless steel bucket, to bottle, and it really doesn’t get much more old school than that. This is the way our ancestors always consumed milk (beginning as early as 8,000 years ago) and all of America consumed it this way until about the 1890s. But it wasn’t until pasteurization became law, did the majority of Americans begin drinking pasteurized milk which began state-by-state in 1947.
Proponents of pasteurization point to Pasteur’s discovery of the germ theory (and yes, it is indeed a theory) which is the idea that certain diseases are caused by the invasion of the body by microorganisms, that can only be seen through a microscope. Because the milk is raw, and not heated, there is a risk in consuming the harmful bacteria that can cause disease, so they say.
In the 1850s the need for cows’ milk for baby consumption rose for many reasons mostly due to societal standards and poor standard of living. To meet the demand in cities (particularly in this case New York City), farmers began putting their cows on a solo diet of swill or leftover mash from nearby whiskey distilleries. This left the cows in a poor state nutritionally and thus, poor quality milk. To make the bule-tinted, cream-less milk more appealing to buyers, farmers added in chalk, flour, eggs, and Plaster-of-Paris to achieve a more natural looking color and consistency. It wasn’t long until many farmers across the U.S began thinning their milk with water and adding foreign substances to clean up the thinned milk’s appearance. This was primarily done to increase profits. Additionally, if the milk was threatening to sour, dairymen added formaldehyde, an embalming compound long used by funeral parlors, to stop the decomposition, also relying on its slightly sweet taste to improve the flavor. As you can imagine, these practices made babies and much of the population sick with numerous diseases. It was widely concluded that the diseases could easily be traced back to the poor quality and infected milk.
It wasn’t long after these incidences, that the discovery of salmonella occurred. Soon scientists realized that various pathogens could be killed by heating the milk to 120 to 140 degrees. Decades later, pasteurization became standard and most of the world forgot that raw milk even existed or – to their horror – that humans even used to drink it regularly.
The Missing Piece
What you might’ve gathered from the information thus far is that we need to kill bacteria for safe food consumption. And you would be correct if you were looking at a lot of milk from some of the dairy farms of the 1800s and 1900s. However, there is a critical piece of the puzzle we often bypass when talking about dangerous bacteria and germs. Causation.
Pierre Bechamp discovered – in living tissue – that there existed tiny bodies he named Microzyma. In healthy tissue, Bechamp discovered that these tiny bodies acted normally and served as constructive parts of the growing metabolism of the cell. However, in unhealthy tissue, the Microzyma evolved into bacteria! Bechamp went on to show in many experiments that the medium is what determines what bacteria is present, and that its origin begin within us, not externally. Of course, this is not what modern science is based upon, and you’ll likely not find much information on the topic, at least not much in comparison to the germ theory which is the foundation on which all modern medicine rests.
Scientists who have shown bacteria to cause certain diseases have not ever been able to show direct causation. Instead, they have seen a disease externally, looked internally on a microscopic level and see the bacteria or germ present. From this observation, they deduced that the bacteria or germ must be the cause of the disease. But based on Bechamp’s discovery, the bacteria simply became present after or as a result of the disease (ie the originally present Microzyma mutated into bacteria due to the unhealthy tissue).
In the case of the tainted raw milk of the1850s, knowing the history of the cows and how poorly they were fed and treated, it’s not hard to see why bacteria was present or how people became sick from such.
It's Not the Cow, but the How
In deciding whether raw milk is safe for your family or not, the most important factor that science, history, and common sense alike will ask you to consider is the source. What are the living conditions of the cow? What are the cows fed? How are the cows treated? How is the milk handled? Raw milk has been safely consumed for millenniums. It became unsafe when humans began to intervene and change the way nature works.
Why Raw Milk is Better
Even if you choose to forgo the germ theory and jump on Bechamp’s proven theories, you still may be asking why raw milk? Why take the chance and why inconvenience yourself to buy a product not offered at a regular grocery store?
The answer is in the bacteria – and the nutrients. Your body relies on essential bacteria to thrive. The bacteria in your gut functions as a way to filter toxins, break down nutrients to a useable form, and process waste. Where do these beneficial bacteria come from? The majority of your body’s bacterial makeup comes from your mother’s breast milk and what is passed to you during birth via the birth canal. This is the first beneficial bacteria to colonize in a baby’s (I hate the coldness of the term infant) intestinal tract, aka the first line of defense against the world’s foreign toxins. These important first bacteria set the stage for a human healthy and able to thrive in the world. After this, most humans in the modern world do not receive any more beneficial unadulterated bacteria, until they being to drink raw milk again.
The beneficial bacteria in raw milk is nature’s probiotic, one not manufactured in a lab, that offers many advantages. Children that are raised on raw milk have less allergies, eczema, asthma, and tend to be overall healthier. This is primarily due to the bacteria only found in raw milk. As we’ve learned, pasteurization kills all bacteria.
Naturally Occurring Nutrients
The other important difference in raw milk is that it is full of the nutrients that naturally occur based on the cow’s diet. Once again, pasteurization kills or significantly reduces these nutrients. Often to combat this, milk companies add back in artificial, or lab created “nutrients” to up the nutrition label, but these “nutrients” can only compare to real nutrients on a microscopic level. They are not beneficial to the body in the same way naturally occurring nutrients are. Raw milk is packed with probiotics, raw fats, B12, B6, carotenoids, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linolic acid and vitamin K.
One more final important aspect of raw milk is the presence of digestive enzymes. For many in the modern world, digesting dairy products puts a burden on their body. There is mounting evidence that this is due to digestive enzymes. ALL digestive enzymes are completely wiped out during the pasteurization process. These enzymes are microscopic proteins that break down food molecules and make digesting milk basically effortless by the human body (this is partly why breast milk is so easily digested in comparison to formula).
There is a reason (many, actually) consumers have changed their taste buds and have begun to question our food system. So many are tired of being sick and tired, are tired of mislabels and corrupt corporations. Many of us are wanting to get back to the basics in all areas of our life, beginning with our food. Small farms and gardening are having a moment, one that I hope extends well into the future. Drinking raw milk is a great start to getting back to the basics.
See you at the farm!
**References for this article are compiled in a separate document and are available upon request.