NYU Student Advocates for Raw Milk

The Revolution Will Not Be Pasteurized: Raw Milk and Food Rights in the 21st Century

By Alex Buchholz

Some think raw milk is one of those weird elitist trends – right up there with country clubs. Others think it’s downright dangerous. Since “raw” has become one of those confusing health-food terms, let me offer a definition: raw milk is not pasteurized or homogenized – it goes straight from the udder to the bottle. Seems pretty flawless, right? But, many people – most namely, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – see this udder-to-bottle pathway as a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria and pathogens. In fact, the USDA and FDA have made it illegal to sell raw milk across state lines. Many states have laws banning the sale of raw milk under any circumstance. Tough crowd. New York State, for example, only allows the sale of raw milk when purchased directly by the consumer on the farm where it was produced. Do a quick Google search of “raw milk,” and you’ll stumble upon pages of government-sanctioned horror stories and warning labels. But, you’ll also find health-food blogs oozing with raw-milk devotees praising the product for its health benefits. They claim it can heal asthma and allergies and contribute “good” bacteria to the body’s immune system. But, these two camps seem to disagree – pretty significantly. So, what’s the deal with all this raw milk stuff?

Before we go any further, let’s get it out: I drink raw milk. And I love it. But, this is relatively new for me; I was not raised on raw milk. I was raised in a typical suburban, east-coast household – a lifestyle that taught me every morning begins with a proper bowl of cereal with store-bought skim milk. Growing up, I never once questioned the safety or health of my food– especially not my ultra-pasteurized, fat-free milk. At every check-up, my pediatrician extolled me for drinking my milk. It just seemed right – my doctor told me so; my parents told me so; the government told me so. But, against the grain of government regulation and most conventional medicine, I want to propose in this article that raw milk isn’t so bad and, in fact, it’s pretty healthy stuff.

Up until the early 1900’s, what we now call “raw milk” was just called “milk.” Our pasteurization frenzy came with the rise of industrial, centralized agriculture because people started getting sick from the milk they were drinking. Coincidentally, Louis Pasteur’s “germ theory” (the theory that illness and disease are caused by microorganisms) was also developed and proposed around this time. Pasteur, as a leading scientist, recommended heating milk to kill any harmful, disease-causing bacteria — this, he thought, would solve all of our milk problems. Now, milk could be produced in an industrial, centralized system and people would not get sick. Fast forward a couple of decades: pasteurization is now strictly enforced by the USDA — requiring almost all milk sold in the U.S. to be pasteurized. For safety. But, I want to propose that in attempts to “clean up” milk, we’ve actually drifted far from a healthy product. The majority of milk today is produced in a confinement system – cows spend their entire lives in small stalls and standing in their own manure. They are fed a grain-based diet pumped with antibiotics and hormones. But, we can put all of these worries aside because we’ll just pasteurize the milk to make it safe to drink, right? Well, it’s not that easy…

If we look at nature (something we in the Western, science-driven, compartmentalized, capitalistic world hate to do), we see that cows move around, graze on grass, and fertilize the soil with their manure. In our modern dairy-farming model, we deny the cow all of her natural instincts by confining her to a small space, feeding her grain, and letting her manure pile up on the concrete floor of a confined operation. We revoke the cow’s ability to express her true identity. And with this comes a product that is nothing like nature had intended – milk now comes out of the udder with an ingredients list that is miles long (containing things like antibiotics, added hormones, and things we’ll never be able to pronounce). So, we heat it up to kill these pathogens and homogenize it to make it silky smooth. During the pasteurization process, some beneficial nutrients and bacteria as well as some fatty acids are destroyed – although, I’m sure you could find somebody from the USDA to argue against this point until the end of time. In addition to this, some scientists argue that the universal implementation of homogenization (the breaking up fat globules to make milk smooth and consistent in texture) actually sparked our modern allergy epidemic. But, to get to the point: couldn’t all of these issues be products of our industrial, confinement farming system? We didn’t see an epidemic of major health problems from raw milk until the rise of industrial dairy farming. And now we are seeing the consequences of that industrial system.

Some people, myself included, see the correlation between industrial agriculture and nutrient-lacking milk, and push back – craving nutrient-dense, unaltered milk. So, in order to get safe, healthy raw milk, some farmers retreat from modern, scientific farming standards – now putting cows out on pasture the way nature has always intended. No antibiotics, no pesticides, no GMOs… just grass. These cows regain their identity by grazing, mooing, and making milk – just as they have historically. (Please keep in mind that by grazing on pasture, the cow not only makes tastier, healthier milk, but plays a significant role in the carbon cycle as she facilitates carbon sequestration and future biomass accumulation in the grasses she mows during her breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By grazing and eating, she keeps grasses short and reduces the need for soil tillage. We need her.) Paradoxically, this initial retreat to normal farming gave birth to a radical movement – what I like to call The Food Revolution: a quest for the purest, most natural foods in existence. Raw milk consumers inundated blogs and books with anecdotes about raw milk’s healing effects on allergies, asthma, and even autism. And today, there is a wide desire for raw milk. Though this demand is small, it edifies the emergence of an industry.

But, as aforementioned, the federal government has taken such a strong stance on pasteurization that legally acquiring raw milk has become nearly impossible. With the rising demand for raw milk (in addition to most small-scale and local foods), came the emergence of what I consider to be a food police state. The USDA and FDA started to crack down on pasteurization regulation – all in the name of consumer safety. Unannounced, USDA officials along with state police officers raided (and continue to raid) countless dairies suspected of producing raw milk. Farmers were placed under arrest and taken to court. Products were seized for evidence. Livelihoods were lost. But, for our safety, right?

Let’s get the facts right. Raw-milk-induced illnesses are few and far between and typically only affect those with weakened immune systems. Most raw-milk-induced illnesses are caused by contamination or poor farming techniques and are very rare. In the 2009 book Raw Milk Revolution, author David E. Gumpert illuminates the ways by which the USDA and FDA have, on occasion, exaggerated or implied unsubstantiated cases of raw-milk-induced illness. (I highly recommend this book.)  Still, the USDA persists in the fight – swords drawn. As I stated above, a quick internet search will turn up dozens of government articles advising against the consumption of raw milk. But, countless people have shared their success stories and would do anything to acquire raw milk. Interestingly, there have been some large-scale cases of disease and illness caused by pasteurized (yes, pasteurized) milk. So, there must be something more to this whole USDA story. Protecting the consumer is starting to sound a lot like protecting friends, former USDA leaders, and future USDA leaders in the big dairy lobbies. Many scholars allude to a revolving door that exists between big agricultural companies and the United States government. And, as of April 2016, the retail sale of raw milk is only legal in ten states.

So, raw milk is starting to look like a nutrition-science debate and a political / legal nightmare. But, I want to offer that beyond all of this bureaucratic ridiculousness comes a pure connection to health and the natural world.

I am a firm believer in the health benefits of raw milk. I believe that it provides my body with some positive nutrients and the correct ratio of omego-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. I believe its microbial content helps strengthen my immune system – the stronger and more diverse my microbial community, the less susceptible I am to contract a disease or illness. I believe in raw milk’s purity – its connectedness to our earth and our ecosystem. And I also believe in the power of raw milk to change our agricultural regulation system. Oh, and it tastes good.

I am not advocating for a universal ban on pasteurization or universal consumption of raw milk because I am not sure if we could safely scale up raw-milk production to meet the demands of the entire nation. But, I am most certainly advocating for the right to choose. If I really want to, why can’t I buy milk that comes right out of the udder of a cow who has been on pasture participating in the carbon cycle and fertilizing the soil for future growth? Why can’t I have complete control over my health? I urge you to ask yourself the same questions – what does food accessibility really mean? Do we, in America, have the freedom to choose what foods we eat? This Food Revolution is as much about human health and environmental health as it is freeing foods from corporate and government control.

I recognize that I represent the lunatic side of modern food discourse, but I do so with passion and support. If raw milk isn’t your thing, that’s cool. If you feel compelled to dive into the world of raw milk, talk to your local farmer. Regardless of our individual preferences, we, as food consumers, deserve the right to choose what we put in our bodies. We must all play a part in this emerging Food Revolution. This revolution will not be pasteurized.

alex-buchholz

Alex Buchholz

Alex Buchholz is an undergraduate student at New York University studying English and Environmental Studies; he is focusing his writing on food policy and food-system reform. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, cooking, and rock climbing. He is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — where he keeps a backyard garden and raises chickens.

 

Share

The Many Benefits of Raw Milk

 

gallon_jug

Benefits of raw milk range from help with allergies to boosting the immune system

Most people who frequent this site will know some of the many benefits of raw milk. For those who are new to the idea or who would like additional information to pass along to family and friends, here are some resources and references.

Dr. Josh Axe runs a popular website about health and food as medicine. He has a few things to say on the topic of the benefits of raw milk.

In one section of the article, Dr. Axe mentions the benefits of raw milk for those who suffer from allergies

Raw Milk Benefits for Allergies

Studies are now proving that children who drink raw milk are 50 percent less likely to develop allergies and 41 percent less likely to develop asthma compared to other children.

This study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology was done on 8,000 children and the researchers believe that by drinking raw milk you are “naturally immunizing” the body the way God created.

Nutrients like probiotics, vitamin D and immunoglobulins (antibodies) found in raw milk naturally boost the immune system and reduce the risk of allergies in both children and adults.

Another proponent of the benefits of raw milk is Chris Kresser, acupuncturist and integrative health practitioner. He covers some of the benefits of raw milk on his popular health website

He has this to say about the nutrition of raw milk

Nutrition

Many consumers believe that raw milk is higher in nutritional content than conventional milk, which may have some merit. Raw milk comes from cows that graze on grass. Some evidence suggests that milk from these cows is likely to have higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients. Cows fed fresh green forage, especially those grazing grass, have been shown to have higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and essential fatty acids in their milk. (1,2)  Cows are natural herbivores and are healthiest when they eat grass, rather than the grain they are fed in confinement dairy operations.

The pasteurization process also reduces the nutritional quality of milk products. Research has shown a decrease in manganese, copper, and iron after heat treatment. (3) The FDA acknowledges that pasteurization destroys a substantial portion of the vitamin C in milk, and sterilization is also known to significantly impair the bioactivity of vitamin B6 contained in milk. (45) Beta-lactoglobulin, a heat-sensitive protein in milk that is destroyed by pasteurization, increases intestinal absorption of vitamin A, so the supplemental vitamin A in conventional milk may be harder to absorb. (6) While pasteurized milk does retain some level of nutritional value, it seems that unpasteurized milk is superior in vitamin and mineral content overall.”

Dr. Deborah has her own story about the benefits of raw milk. She includes stories about people who the wonderful beverage has helped.

Today, raw milk refers to unprocessed, untreated milk straight from the cow. The milk you buy from the local supermarket nowadays is a different substance altogether. It has been pasteurized, ultra-pasteurized, or homogenized. This liquid is not really milk. It is a chemically altered substance, heated to remove pathogens and bacteria and to prolong its shelf life. The resultant low-enzyme activity makes it difficult to digest, the altered fat content renders the vitamins and minerals difficult to absorb, and the residual drugs and antibiotics pose a threat to human health. On top of this, the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria have been destroyed.

The real issue is not whether raw milk obtained from grass-fed cows is safe. Rather, it’s that milk from commercially raised cows is actually dangerous to consume unless it is pasteurized. Factory-farmed animals are routinely fed an unnatural, high-protein soy- and corn-based diet and given shots of BGH (bovine growth hormone) to artificially increase milk production. This diet is so contrary to their biology that it causes severe illnesses that can only be combated by continually injecting the cows with antibiotics. These animals, kept in inhumane conditions far from their natural environment, are subject to enormous stresses. Drinking raw milk from these cows would be an exercise in stupidity.

Raw milk from healthy, grass-fed, and pasture-raised cows is in a league of its own. Organically raised cows are happy, fed on their natural diet of grass and other cow-friendly foods. They enjoy access to sunshine and pasture grazing in summer, and in winter they feast on nutritious hay or silage.

There are many Dr., nutritionists, healers, and people of all walks of life who recognize and support the wonderful role and benefits of raw milk. If you are interested in finding local fresh raw milk, you can look for farms and sources near you. Please pass along this valuable information to anyone else who is interested.

To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, visit westonaprice.org

Share

Raw Milk: The Latest Beauty Trend?

Drinking a daily glass of nutrient-dense raw milk can have many health benefits. Oftentimes, the same ingredients that are beneficial for our gut health also have benefits for our skin when applied topically. The Indian newspaper Odisha Samaya offers some ideas of how to use raw milk for at-home glowing beauty treatments:

-Raw Milk Purifying Mask: Mix 2-3 tablespoons of raw milk with 1-2 tablespoons of honey or lemon juice. Apply to face and let stiffen for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

-Raw Milk Exfoliating Scrub: Mix 1 cup of milk with 3 tablespoons of oatmeal and gently rub onto skin. Allow the mask to dry, then, rinse off with warm water while gently scrubbing around the face.

Support the Campaign for Real Milk, join the Weston A. Price Foundation, today! Learn more about raw milk at our annual International Raw Milk Symposium, being held in Anaheim, California on Monday, November 16, 2015, in conjunction with the International Wise Traditions Conference

Share

Finnish Fitness Gurus Say Processed Milk is Junk Food

Pasteurization and homogenization ruins the natural structure of milk, stripping it of many of its beneficial vitamins, fats, enzymes and bacteria. Thus the comparison that processed milk is junk food.

“Processed milk is liquid junk food. The natural structure of the milk is ruined during the processing and the body reacts to the change,” says Eeropekka Rislakki of the Eat & Joy Farmer’s Market chain in Finland. In his experience, many people whose bodies are intolerant of processed milk can drink unpasteurized milk without issue.

Finnish personal trainer Tomi Kokko is an active athlete and personal trainer used to drink up to ½ gallon of milk per day. Now that he is milk-free, he says he has more energy and gets sick less often. Kokko encourages his fitness clients to do a 2-week experiment without milk products. He claims that 95% of the people who try it don’t return to their old ways.

As in the United States, there are other nutritionists and health experts in Finland who disagree, claiming that studies show no clear evidence that raw milk is easier for the body to process than processed milk.

Whichever way you lean, it is safe to say that if you are going to drink processed milk, organic whole milk is the best option.

Realmilk.com is a consumer education project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. Visit their website, westonaprice.org.

Share

Evaluating the Risk of Raw Milk

Many raw milk advocates are clear in their belief that consumption of raw milk should be a personal choice – they don’t force others to drink raw milk but people shouldn’t force them to abstain from drinking raw milk either.

A thoughtful and well-written piece titled, “The Risk of Raw Milk,” discusses the risk of consuming unpasteurized dairy in systematic terms, including these first two:

  1. Risk Belongs to the Risk Taker: Assuming that there is a risk to drinking raw milk, the author asks, “Who are you to tell me that it is an unnecessary risk for me?  Should I tell you that eating the processed food in your cupboard is an unnecessary risk for you? Well, I am going to tell you that…but I am not going to make it law.”
  2. All Options Carry Risk in Some Form: Assuming that there is a risk to drinking raw milk, how are we to make the assumption that there is not also a risk to drinking industrialized, chemical-laden pasteurized milk? The FDA’s recall list also includes pasteurized dairy products and even apples. “In our modern food system, consider everything a risk,” the author writes.

Read additional arguments about the risk of raw milk here.

Realmilk.com is a consumer education project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. Visit their website, westonaprice.org.

Share

Is the FDA Falling Behind Other Countries in Raw Milk Run?

In July 2014, the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency released a report on raw milk that took into account the opinions of over 100 raw milk consumers. Their findings concluded that both consumers and producers “…hold a strong view…that there should be wider accessibility to raw drinking milk but this should still be managed and controlled.”

In exploring how they could take a more lenient approach to raw milk consumption in the United Kingdom, the FSA said it was open to allowing the sales of raw milk through vending machines – which would increase sales within a controlled environment.

David Gumpert, author of The Complete Patient blog, points out that this new report, in addition to New Zealand’s recent consideration of more lenient raw milk regulations, means that the FDA could quickly be becoming internationally isolated on the issue of raw milk.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit based in Washington, D.C. To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, attend one of the upcoming Wise Traditions conferences.

Share

How to Pick the Healthiest Cheeses

As one would imagine, raw milk cheese made from only a handful of basic, wholesome ingredients is superior in quality and health than pasteurized cheeses made with processed additives.

Those looking to buy only the highest quality cheeses should also keep an eye out for cheese made from pastured animals. According to a recent article, High Quality Raw Milk Cheese is Healthy, cheese made from grass-fed cows has the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio of 2:1 whereas pasteurized cheese has a 25:1 ratio, which is already excessive in Americans’ fatty diets. Furthermore, grass-fed cheese “…is considerably higher in calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, D and E.”

Gouda, Brie and Edam cheese are safe bets. Read it for more tips on how to pick out the healthiest cheeses.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit based in Washington, D.C. To learn more about raw milk and other nutrient dense foods, attend one of the upcoming Wise Traditions conferences.

Share

Op-Ed: The Absurdity of the Raw Milk Wars

In an op-ed piece published by the Ready Nutrition blog, Marcus Flores makes a strong, logical argument for why one’s decisions about one’s health should be one’s own.

“When my father visits, he enjoys slurping down raw oysters by the dozen. I assume he knows this habit is not without a minor chance of food poisoning. While I prefer my food cooked, I do wash it down with a few beers. That is also not without its health risks,” he begins.

Flores points out that alcohol plays a role in over 10,000 deaths per year due to drunk driving, yet no state legislature is banning alcohol based on the statistics alone. Flores writes that the types of foods, substances and activities that the US government chooses to ban makes for “an extremely bizarre moral line.”

He believes that Congressman Massie’s proposed bills offers an opportunity to correct this, and that politicians and members of the public should support the bills regardless of whether they’re Republican or Democrat. Why? Because Republicans “agree that the government should play little to no role in what we ingest” and Democrats who believe in the guardianship of the State cannot possibly take seriously a government that criminalizes cheese.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  westonaprice.org/lab

Share

Opinion: Slovenia has US Beat When It Comes to Raw Milk

Rebecca McCray, a writer and Fulbright fellow studying in Ljubljana, sheds light in a recent article about why she believes that Slovenia has the United States beat on how they sell raw milk – especially when it comes to utilizing vending machines to sell off the farm and technology to monitor the quality of their product.

McCray profiles two Slovenian farmers, a husband and wife duo, who run a small, family-owned dairy farm outside the country’s capital and sell raw milk to their community through vending machines. They change the milk in their vending machine daily, and he receives frequent text messages to his phone that alert him if the machine stops working or if the milk’s temperature rises above the temperature that has been designated as safe by the Slovenian Administration for Food Safety. “If this happens,” McCray writes, “the machine automatically stops vending, preventing the sales of unsafe milk.”

Raw milk vending machines is a growing business in Slovenia and its neighboring countries, and McCray can personally attest to the convenience and ease of which they provide fresh, local milk 24 hours per day. McCray first encountered a raw milk vending machine in Ljubljana’s outdoor central market and witnessed others bringing their own reusable bottles to fill with fresh milk from the machine. Since then, she has used these “mlekomats” to purchase the milk that she drinks.

Her portrayal of the system as a consumer and the glimpse she offers into how the farmers utilize technology to aid sales show that there is a real opportunity in the US and other countries to safely sell raw milk to those who want it.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

Share

“I Like to Eat Whole Foods:” Why Some Tennesseans Choose Raw Milk

Despite the health risks and state law, many Tennessee residents choose to drink raw milk. In a riveting radio segment from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, reporter Michael Edward Miller investigates why.

In Tennessee, the sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal – but consumers can legally obtain raw milk through herd shares. At one dairy farm, for example, customers pay $30 plus a monthly boarding fee to become co-owner of the farm’s five-cow herd. As co-owners they are allowed access to a share (one gallon per week) of the fresh milk.

In the segment, Miller looks at why Tennessee residents are willing to skirt the law or jump through hoops in order to have access to fresh, unpasteurized milk.

“I like to eat whole foods,” says one resident. “I like to buy my food at the farmer’s market, I like to grow my food. I am of the opinion that it’s healthier than what is provided to me by the industries.”

Raw milk drinkers emphasize the importance of knowing the cows from which they get their unpasteurized milk. Dairy farmers encourage customers to visit the farm to see how the cows graze, where they live, and the cleaning and safety measures behind the milking process. Both are quick to point out that while small, family-owned dairy farms are able to produce safe batches of unpasteurized milk, larger industrial dairies cannot. They agree with authorities that raw milk from large, commercial dairy farms is unsafe for human consumption and should not be allowed.

Listen to the complete broadcast here.

The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods.  http://www.westonaprice.org/lab

Share