Raw milk and raw milk products have gotten a bad reputation as dangerous since the mid-1800s. However, they are making a resurgence as we learn more about their benefits. Raw milk products provide many essential nutrients for the human diet and the taste is delicious!
As with any food, it is extremely important to know the source and quality of the raw milk you are drinking. Below we will explore the history of milk, the qualities that make it so nutrient dense and a great source of nutrition, and how you can find it using a raw milk locator tools.
History Of Milk
I was personally stunned when hearing about the series of events that led to the pasteurization of milk and why the transition was made from raw to pasteurized milk.
In the 1850s, there was a struggle to get fresh milk to people living in New York city. As a result, they brought dairy cattle into the city. However, there wasn’t the same access to lush green grass for them to feed on, so their diets were supplemented with leftover mash from a local whiskey distillery. This sickened the cattle and produced a poor quality of milk. Additionally, the tight confines of city life prevented proper cleaning in the barns and stalls where the cows were kept as well as the milking process itself.
As a tragic result, nearly 8000 babies and young children died after becoming sick from this horrible quality of milk. Unfortunately, rather than reconsidering the feeding and cleaning procedures, they discovered that heating the milk would kill off the dangerous bacteria. This not only permitted dairy farmers to be less stringent about cleaning, but also allowed for milk to be shipped greater distances. Like much of our food system, the milk retrieval and distribution process became industrialized. The industrialization and pasteurization of milk has stripped it of so many fantastic health and nutrient properties.
Benefits of Raw Milk
Rich Nutrient Profile
Raw milk is often celebrated for its nutrient-rich composition. Unlike pasteurized milk, which may lose some of its nutritional value during the pasteurization process, raw milk is a nutritionally powerhouse. It retains essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, calcium, and B vitamins. These nutrients are vital for bone and teeth health, immune function, and overall well-being.
Raw milk is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids the body needs for optimal functioning. These amino acids are essential for building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and supporting immune function.
One of the standout features of raw milk is its abundance of beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics. These live microorganisms can support a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome has been linked to improved digestion, better nutrient absorption, and even a stronger immune system. Reduced incidence of allergies has been shown in those who drink raw milk. Raw milk provides a natural source of these friendly bacteria, potentially contributing to better gut health. Additionally, it contains enzymes like lactase and lipase that help break down lactose and fats, making it easier for some individuals to digest.
Individuals with lactose intolerance often find that they can tolerate raw milk more easily than pasteurized milk. Raw milk contains a lactase-producing bacteria. Lactase is the enzyme that is needed to digest the lactose in milk. For this reason, many people who struggle with lactose intolerance are able to enjoy raw milk without issue. In fact, there is some evidence out there to indicate that up to 80% of people with lactose intolerance can tolerate raw milk. This is certainly not a guarantee, but starting with small amounts of milk or trying an even lower lactose product like raw milk kefir or yogurt can make dairy more digestible for those lactose intolerant to traditionally pasteurized milk.
Enhanced Flavor & Texture
There is nothing like the sweet and creamy flavor of a fresh glass of raw milk! Raw milk’s full-bodied taste is attributed to its unaltered fat content and a wide range of flavor-enhancing compounds that are preserved during processing. For those who appreciate the rich, creamy goodness of milk, raw milk is simply delightful!
Raw milk enthusiasts often claim that the full-fat content of raw milk can contribute to satiety and potentially support weight management efforts. The natural fats in raw milk are not only satisfying but also provide a source of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s, which are known for their health benefits.
Supports Healthy Skin
The vitamins and minerals found in raw milk, such as vitamin A and zinc, are essential for maintaining healthy skin. Some people even use raw milk topically as a natural skincare remedy, citing its potential to soothe dry skin, reduce inflammation, and improve overall skin appearance.
Better Bone Health
Raw milk is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, all of which are crucial for strong bones and preventing conditions like osteoporosis. Not only are these nutrients found in abundance in raw milk, but they are also more easily absorbed in a natural whole food than when taken in synthetic pill form. The combination of these nutrients in their natural form makes raw milk a valuable asset for maintaining bone health.
Sustainable & Ethical Farming
Choosing raw milk often means supporting small-scale, sustainable, and ethical farming practices. Many raw milk producers prioritize the humane treatment of animals and sustainable land management. By opting for raw milk, consumers can contribute to the promotion of eco-friendly and socially responsible farming methods.
Local Food Movement
Consuming raw milk often aligns with the principles of the local food movement. Raw milk, with a few exceptions, is almost always available directly from local farms, allowing consumers to establish a closer connection with the source of their food. This fosters a sense of community and encourages the support of nearby farmers. If you love to be able to shake your farmer’s hand, raw milk is for you!
Raw Milk Locator
One of the biggest challenges for us when we started drinking raw milk was figuring out where to get it! It can be difficult to find without the right resources. However, there are a couple of online resources that make it much easier. The first is the one we had the most success with.
- The Weston A. Price Foundation has chapters all over the country. Reach out to the contact for your nearest chapter. They will connect you with local farmers that provide raw milk.
- Realmilk.com is another great resource for finding raw milk near you.
- The final option which I discovered after we found our raw milk is Facebook. There are groups for different states and areas that will help you locate raw milk.
Still Nervous About Starting With Raw Milk?
For some people, the transition to raw milk can be a bit challenging. I had mild stomach discomfort for a couple hours, but my husband had no issues at all. It is best to take it slow when introducing raw milk. The nutrient density can be an adjustment for some. Start with ¼ cup at a time and slowly add more.
As with any food, there are risks associated with consumption. I would recommend a trip to the farm you plan to source your raw milk from. Ask them about what the animals are fed (make sure it’s grass fed), if and what types of antibiotics are used, cleanliness practices, and the milking process itself. Many of them will even show you their facilities and walk you through the process.
Many raw milk farmers pride themselves on their practices and know business is directly related to them. As a result, they take special care of their animals and very few illnesses are caused by raw milk. In fact, you are more likely to get sick from store bought fruits and vegetables such as spinach, melons, and even peanut butter.