Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Getting Raw

Some like it raw.

I know that there are many people out there that think that raw is the way to go. Raw, as in eating food as unprocessed and uncooked as possible. Leaving food as is to get the best health benefits possible. Now whether or not that is always true is another can of worms. 

I am allergic to many raw foods (oral allergy syndrome) and so eating a lot of foods that way is not always an option for me. I can't have raw soy, nuts and several raw vegetables. My body interprets them as a pollen and my mouth starts to itch and swell. Yet, even briefly cooking any of those foods negates any of the reactions I have to them. So, I enjoy foods in the best way I can. 

The raw food I want to talk about today is dairy. I have been buying local, pastured eggs for several years now. Since moving to Texas, I have started buying raw dairy products. I place a weekly order with a co-op that purchases milk from Jersey grass-fed cows on native and forage grass diets grown without chemicals. The milk is really fantastic and I love it. The taste is so much more flavorful than any other milk I have had. I also love their homemade feta cheese, buttermilk and cream cheese (which they have since stopped making- oh, blast).

I will note that this is not my first encounter with raw milk. Drinking it now takes me back to the raw milk I would have at my grandparents' house when I was a child visiting their home and dairy in northern California. They kept it in a huge bucket in the fridge, freshly-tapped from the tanks in the dairy, prior to being pumped into the Darigold tanks and to be taken for pasteurization and packaging. My mom grew up on the stuff.

I am lucky because it isn't so difficult to get raw milk in Texas, in some states it is much more difficult. In Texas you can buy it only from the farm directly. I pay for mine online and pick up from the co-op a short distance from my home in my city. If you are interested in finding fresh, local milk in your area check here.

The difference between this, raw milk, and more-widely available supermarket organics is pasteurization. Most grocery stores, Costco and the like sell ultra-pasteurized milk. A few offer pasteurized milk, I know of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. I see these three types of milk as a good, better, best thing. Wikipedia tells me that:  

Pasteurization is typically associated with milk; pasteurization of milk was first suggested by Franz von Soxhlet in 1886.[5] It is the main reason for milk's extended shelf life. High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurized milk typically has a refrigerated shelf life of two to three weeks, whereas ultra pasteurized milk can last much longer, sometimes two to three months. When ultra heat treatment (UHT) is combined with sterile handling and container technology (such as aseptic packaging), it can even be stored unrefrigerated for 6–9 months.

I think it is noteworthy, that milk is not pasteurized because it is unclean or dirty- but to extend shelf life. So if your milk is coming from a clean, healthy cow eating a healthy natural diet, you will have milk of the same variety. It is when the cow is raised in less than ideal ways is when milk is more likely to have problems where that kind of processing is necessary. While I can see the need for pasteurization in some instances, storage, less than ideal milk, or inaccessibly of raw milk, there are beneficial microbes that are killed off in pasteurization. 

There is a lot more here, but I am just not enough of an expert to take this on and I am not a one way or no way about milk. I know that a lot of people can't drink milk due to lactose intolerance, but are able to drink raw milk. I also believe that less milk is a good thing. I don't think animal products are the "staff of life," that category is firmly food from the earth for me. 

I know a lot of people go for milk alternatives, and I don't condemn any of them-- except maybe sugared milks posing as health food. Yes, almond milk with chocolate is delicious, just know it is candy. Enjoy it as such. 

What are your thoughts on milk? Do you go raw, organic, alternative or no? And why?


  1. As a family, we consume Almond milk only for baking/cooking needs. I do buy raw goat's milk that I make into keifer (a probitoic) and the family drinks it every day as a smoothie. If you'd like to read some excellent scientific nutritional research on milk, I recomend the book, "The China Study" it fabulous. Personally, I think people drink way too mucg milk and dairy products and don;t even realize how much they consume. Dairy products provide minimal nutrition to the body compared to what the body has to do to asimulate it. I think dairy comsumption has more to do with tradition than anything.

  2. I think raw is the way to go. We only get it a few times a year because it is a 30 minute drive to get it and 7 dollars a gallon, but I think it is much better for you. Homogenization is almost as big of a problem as pastuerization. Fat is not supposed to be suspended in milk like that. Another good reason to breast feed babies.

  3. Thanks for sharing your feelings. I am not totally sold on the China Study- but there is a lot of information there worth discussing.

    If want to read more check this out.(

    Darya, someone I knew in from my time in San Francisco, is the person I trust most to lay out the facts on these things. She also provides lots of links to others who know even more.

    The other thing I wonder about, is Europe and the middle east. These regions and people that still consume a traditional diet (rich in raw dairy products- many of them fermented [kefir, yogurt and cheeses]) also have a lower rate of heart failure and cancer than America-

    I think the key thing here is eating things in a more natural state. The more you do that- they better off you are.

  4. I drank raw milk on my mission because there were many dairy farms. Since then, I've only had it once because of the price. I wish I could drink it all the time!


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