Dave and I have been getting some raw milk. Direct from farm, of course. It is illegal for farmers to sell raw milk off of the farm that produced it. It is also illegal to advertise it, so I think I have to be careful here. Can just writing about it on a blog constitute advertisement? I don’t know. I might seem paranoid, but you’d be surprised by the swiftness, and harshness, of prosecution if rules regarding raw milk aren’t closely followed. I’m not going to go into the trials and tribulations of the real dairy farmer right now, since it’s a topic that I am still researching. What I am going to do is write a little about how much raw milk rocks.
I am tempted to go into why dairy is actually good for us, overall. However, I am still learning about that, too. So, for now I’ll leave it to a simple comparison of pasteurized and raw dairy; since we obviously consume a ton of dairy in the U.S.. First, a lot of people who think that they are lactose intolerant are actually only intolerant of pasteurized milk. This is because the pasteurization process kills the enzymes that exist in milk that our bodies can use to help process it. People have varying levels of enzymes already in their guts (based on genetic predisposition). True lactose intolerance is the inability to produce the enzyme lactase . This is common in cultures that did not descend from dairy consumers (duh – makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?). People of northern European descent are more likely to produce lactase beyond childhood (everyone produces it as babies, since we need it to digest our own mothers’ breast milk) than those of southern European, African, or Asian descent. A lot of people who do produce lactase just don’t produce enough to handle pasteurized milk because it makes the body work so hard to digest it. Or, a lot of people that think that they are lactose intolerant are actually allergic to milk because of the difficulty of digesting pasteurized product. I’m an example of this myself – pasteurized milk causes stomach and sinus problems for me. Raw milk does not. We’ve tried this out on a couple “lactose intolerant” friends, neither of whom reported any problems.
The second awesome thing about raw milk is how quickly the body absorbs the nutrients in it. It is insane. Dave and I joke about how it’s an elixir. But it’s really no joke. I tend to be calcium deficient, which can lead to muscle spasms as well as cramping. When we first started buying raw milk, I could drink a glass of raw milk when these symptoms set in, and they would literally go away within minutes. It is insane! Since I’ve been drinking it regularly, my problems have disappeared. I don’t take a calcium supplement, either. Pasteurization makes it harder for the body to absorb nutrients from the milk (again, because the heating process basically kills it; kind of like putting vegetables in the microwave kills a lot of the vitamins in them).
The third awesome thing is that, unless they are extremely ethically challenged, raw dairy farmers follow very stringent guidelines on the living conditions of their animals. The cows and their living environments need to be extremely clean and drug-free to guarantee the safety of the product without heating it. Furthermore, most farmers that care enough not to take nutrients out of the milk, also care enough about the nutrients that are going into the milk. This means that the cows are commonly pastured for as long as they can be, and are fed organic straw in the winter. The cows that my milk comes from are treated like pets. They have names. They are handled gently. And when new calves are born the farmer sends out birth announcements like a proud mama! It feels good to be guaranteed cruelty-free product.
Finally, it’s just delicious. Plain and simple. Which is why people have such a hard time giving up dairy (ahem, for those of us that have tried to be vegan!) in the first place!= )