I went to the farm today to buy our milk. We’ve been using raw milk for about two months now. Why? Well, the decision was not an easy one. I was reading through several books on eating real (unprocessed, natural) food and they all recommended drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows. I could list the numerous the benefits of raw milk and rant about the problems with pasteurization, but what fun is that? You should look it up yourself (if you want more reasons than the ones listed below)!
I admit I was pretty skeptical of drinking raw milk- I would even label myself as paranoid about it. It took me about two to three months after researching it, to make the switch to drinking raw milk. I read all the perks about drinking raw, but I felt so awkward going to a farm to buy our milk. Plus, in my mind, raw milk seemed dirty and unclean. I had never had milk straight from a cow and that was scary to me. I guess I always thought of the pasteurization process as protecting me from harmful substances in milk (which to some extent it does, but it also removes a significant portion of the beneficial things in milk), not as a process to extend the shelf life of milk so that it is more easily transported and can sit in a supermarket’s back room for an extended amount of time (please note: this is a brief summary of the reasons for pasteurization, for a more detailed analysis, please research for yourself). Don’t get me wrong, back in the day when there was not widespread knowledge of safe farming practices, pasteurization may have been a good thing (although, I’m not sure why we decided to push pasteurization at that point and not safe farming practices, but anyways…). But, today most small farms go above and beyond practicing safe milking procedures, and if they are offering raw milk to the public, they go to great lengths to ensure the health and happiness of their cows. Subsequently, the milk they provide to the public is quite safe and sanitary.
After researching it, I realized that raw milk (if I got it from a farm that is practicing sanitary farming procedures) is actually safer for you to drink. So, in sum, here are some of the reasons we decided to switch. First (and, in my mind, most important), it tastes better. It’s fresh and I see the cows where my milk is coming from (at least where I buy my milk from)- they are usually grazing away in a field when I pull into the farm to get my milk. I enjoy going to the farm to get milk and usually greet the cows and tell my daughter all about them while we are pulling into the farm store. I’m sure she will love seeing them too when she is old enough. I also know that there is nothing added to my milk to extend its shelf life, and I know I don’t have to worry about growth hormones. We realized from our reading, that pasteurization kills a significant portion of the good things in milk, like vitamin C (among many other vitamins), minerals and enzymes (that help your body digest and allow your body to incorporate significantly more of the healthy things milk provides, like calcium). Finally, I realized that I could do so much more with raw milk than I could do with pasteurized milk. This was a huge revelation to me! When pasteurized milk gets old, it turns rancid- putrid- you can not and should not drink it. When raw milk ages, it turns into to other things- like yogurt or cheese. Here are some of the things that I have made with our raw milk: Butter, buttermilk, yogurt, whey and cream cheese. We are trying to become more self-sufficient and the fewer trips I have to make to the grocery store, the happier I am, so this last benefit of raw milk was significant.
We do pay a bit more for our milk than most, it is $5.00 a gallon, but in our minds, it is well worth the extra cost. Plus, now we get to go see what I call, “our happy cows.” Hopefully in the next few weeks, I’ll be venturing into the world of cheesemaking (we eat a lot of cheese so if we make it ourselves, that would be wonderful!). I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. Feel free to send any suggestions or recipes you may have for cheesemaking!
To find out if there are any farms in your area where you can buy raw milk, click here.