Health Benefits of Raw Milk
Controversy surrounds the subject of raw milk: is it healthy or risky? Pasteurization was an important development in the past, but unnecessary when proper sanitation practices and animal care are utilized. If cows are pastured, raised on grass, and milked in clean areas, raw milk contains vital nutrients that are lacking in the pasteurized variety.
Raw milk includes 120 to 150 strains of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, as well as the prebiotics that feed them. Foods that are processed and preserved–like the refined products found on the shelves of your local supermarket–don’t support the production of probiotics. Many of today’s common health problems occur because of depleted gut flora, which leads to autoimmunity, poor immune function, and digestive problems.
Milk Pasteurization Helped Stop the Spread of Disease
In the late 1800s, cows were brought into cities and placed into confinement. Most of the cows’ diets consisted of by-products created by alcohol production. They were sick and produced poor quality milk that was low in butterfat and protein.
Sanitation practices were especially poor. Dirty barns and sick farmers, along with a lack of plumbing and hand washing, contaminated milk and caused the spread of disease. A merchant named Nathan Straus introduced the par boiler for milk pasteurization, slowing the rate of dairy poisonings.
Dr. Henry Leber Coit helped to establish a certification process for the safe distribution of raw milk. Dr. Coit was a children’s disease specialist who, along with other doctors at the time, believed that raw milk from pastured cows was an important part of a healthy diet.
Cases of Food Poisoning From Dairy Consumption are Few
Today, an average of 24,000 food-borne illnesses are reported each year, but only about 315 cases stem from dairy consumption. Most involve pasteurized milk.
For example, in 2007, illnesses linked to pasteurized cheese contaminated with e. coli struck 135 people. Three died from pasteurized milk tainted with listeria. In 1985, over 16,000 cases of Salmonella were caused by pasteurized dairy.
Pasteurization Produces an Unhealthy Product
Dairy from conventionally raised cows must be pasteurized. Cows are fed antibiotics, which kill the healthy bacteria that protects consumers from illness. These products should be avoided, especially since pasteurization isn’t a perfect process.
Pasteurized milk is the most allergenic food in America. Enzymes and beneficial bacteria that are included in raw milk make it hypoallergenic and compatible with the human gut.
Raw Unpasteurized Milk Safety Tips
There is no guarantee of safety in any food that you eat. Food poisoning outbreaks have occurred from the contaminated dairy products, but they have also been the result of tainted cantaloupe or spinach.
According to David Getoff, vice president of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, there are several steps to finding the best quality raw milk for your family. First, visit the dairy farm and ask for testing data to make sure the farmer is performing regular inspections. Ask about how the cows are fed: antibiotics shouldn’t be used and grain feeding should be kept to a minimum.
Notice the conditions. The area and machines should be sanitary. Those who are milking should clean and dry the utter consistently since wetness introduces bacteria.
Other consumers’ opinions should also be considered. Does the farm have a good reputation in the community? Farmers with integrity are proud of their commitment to excellence and will welcome your inquiries.
Unlike the pasteurized variety, raw milk’s active nutrients strengthen bones and promote a healthy immune system. Choose a farm that follows safe milking practices and enjoy the many benefits that raw milk provides.