When starting the real food journey all the new facts about healthy milk can get confusing. So we thought we would simplify some of them and get back to the basics here. How does one find Healthy Milk?
Before starting off with real food I really didn’t know what raw milk was. Basically raw milk is milk straight out of the cow. Most milk bought at the grocery store goes through a pasteurization process to kill pathogens and a is also homogenized so that the milk and cream don’t separate. Raw milk is what a baby calf drinks.
Is Raw milk Healthy Milk?
What are the qualifications for when you are searching for your source of raw milk:
- Ensure the Dairy or yourself practices good sanitation practices. If you are milking yourself follow these practices. (if you don’t have one already this is a great milk machine that helps keep it all contained and clean.)
- Clean the udder before milking: You want to wipe the udder down with hot water or bleach. Then squirt the first few squirts of milk onto the ground.
- Contain the milk: Either milk into a glass or stainless steel bucket or if you are using a machine it should do this automatically. We milk into a glass gallon jar.
- Strain your milk: If you are using an enclosed machine this may not be necessary. If your milking by hand you want to run the milk through a strainer or cheese cloth to strain out any straw or such that could have fallen into the milk.
- Cool it. You want it under 40 degrees as quickly as possible: Basically get it into the fridge asap after your are done milking. if you have a lot to milk it would be recommended to add an ice-pack to the bottom of your bucket to chill as it goes.
- Sanitize your equipment: Run your equipment under water then throw it in the dishwasher to sanitize it.
- Get Grass fed. Milk from cows that are grass-fed actually have a different composition of fats, vitamins, and minerals than conventional milk.
Many real food proponents advocate the great health benefits of raw milk including:
- Raw milk is believed to be more nutritious as it has not been pasteurized. This heating process destroys many nutrients naturally found in milk.
- It is easier on the stomach. Those with lactose intolerance can sometimes drink raw milk as opposed to pasteurized milk.
- An inverse relationship has been shown between raw milk consumption and the occurrence of childhood asthma, allergies, and rhino-conjunctivitis.
Many opposed to raw milk cite the dangers of pathogens that can be found in the milk.
- Raw milk does come with some risks. Depending on the cleaning process it can contain bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness.
Whole, Non-Homogenized, Pasteurized Milk, From Grass-fed Cows
This is essentially raw milk with a low-grade pasteurization. Many people may find they like this alternative to raw milk better as the low-grade pasteurization kills the bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness. Organic Valley sells this in Utah, where I live as “grassmilk”. More on that here.
One of the key factors here is that the milk comes from grass-fed cows. This increases the nutrients. the low-grade pasteurization decreases pathogens while still maintaining some nutrition.
Organic milk sounds great…and the organic part is, right? However organic milk does not have to be grass-fed. But another problem with the majority of organic milk sold in stores is that it has been ultra-high temperature pasteurized. Have you ever bought organic milk and thought it tasted burnt. This would be why. Over 80% of organic milk sold in stores is UHT pasteurized. UHT process is heating the milk at or above 280 degrees farenheit for 2 seconds. UHT milk doesn’t have to be refrigerated before opening, and will stay good for 6-9 months. Americans didn’t like buying our milk off aisle shelves so marketers just put it back in the refrigerator section although it doesn’t need to be there.
UHT milk often tastes and smells burnt so processors do many experiments to get it to taste right.
Processing milk at such high temperatures also can cause health problems associated with drinking milk.
According to Lee Dexter, microbiologist and owner of White Egret Farm goat dairy in Austin, Texas, ultra-pasteurization is an extremely harmful process to inflict on the fragile components of milk. Dexter explains that milk proteins are complex, three-dimensional molecules, like tinker toys. They are broken down and digested when special enzymes fit into the parts that stick out. Rapid heat treatments like pasteurization, and especially ultra-pasteurization, actually flatten the molecules so the enzymes cannot do their work. If such proteins pass into the bloodstream (a frequent occurrence in those suffering from “leaky gut,” a condition that can be brought on by drinking processed commercial milk), the body perceives them as foreign proteins and mounts an immune response. That means a chronically overstressed immune system and much less energy available for growth and repair. – source
That is scary. The UHT process changes the milk to the point that it can be harmful to our bodies. We see evidence of this as we notice how many more people around us seem to be intolerant or allergic to milk products.
The food industry has toted the benefits of low-fat for years now. Eat low-fat to lose weight right? Ironically obesity rates have only grown since the introduction of “low-fat guidelines”.
- a meta analysis of 16 studies found that a diet high in fat was inversely associated with body fat. In other words, people who ate the most high-fat dairy foods had the lowest risk for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. source
- Higher circulating levels of a certain fat found in dairy products is associated with healthy cholesterol levels. source
- Another study found that people who ate the most full-fat dairy had a 69% lower risk of cardiovascular death than those who ate the least. source
- This study concluded that women who consumed low-fat dairy products were 85% more like to be infertile. source
So according to numerous studies we can see that in many cases eating full fat dairy is associated with various health benefits. This is because of compounds found in high fat dairy products that have great beneficial effects including: butyrate, phytanic acid, trans palmitoleic acid, and conjugated linoleic acid. Dairy fat is also a good source of fat soluble vitamins.
Low fat milk has other problems, other than just not including all these great benefits. It also has many additives to make it taste good.
“To make dairy products low-fat, it’s not enough to remove the fat. You then have to go to great lengths to preserve the body or creamy texture by working in all kinds of food additives. In the case of low-fat or skim milk, that usually means adding powdered milk. But powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol, which scientists believe is much worse for your arteries than ordinary cholesterol, so food makers sometimes compensate by adding antioxidants, further complicating what had been a simple one-ingredient whole food. Also, removing the fat makes it that much harder for your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins that are one of the reasons to drink milk in the first place.” – Michael Pollan
Switching from low-fat to whole milk is an essential step in our journey to eat real food.