The Raw Milk Controversy

My family drinks raw milk. We have a family goat, Bonney, who gives us a daily supply of fresh, sweet, healthy milk. I firmly believe raw milk is the best milk. But according to the FDA, “Milk and milk products provide a wealth of nutrition benefits. But raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family.”

This week, the Weston A. Price Foundation posted a new Press Release concerning raw milk on their website.  I have emphasized a few of the facts in the following article rather than writing too much about it.

Bonney's raw milk with cream at the top: HEALTHIER than pasteurized milk.

GOVERNMENT DATA PROVES RAW MILK SAFE

Raw Milk Risk Extremely Small Compared to Risk of Other Foods

WASHINGTON, DC June 22, 2011:  Data gleaned from U.S. government websites and government-sanctioned reports on foodborne illnesses show that the risk of contracting foodborne illness by consuming raw milk is much smaller than the risk of becoming ill from other foods, according to research by Dr. Ted Beals, MD, appearing in the Summer, 2011 issue of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

“At last we have access to the numbers we need to determine the risk of consuming raw milk on a per-person basis,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation that provides information on the health benefits of raw, whole milk from pastured cows.

The key figure that permits a calculation of raw milk illnesses on a per-person basis comes from a 2007 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FoodNet survey, which found that 3.04 percent of the population consumes raw milk, or about 9.4 million people, based on the 2010 census. This number may in fact be larger in 2011 as raw milk is growing in popularity.  For example, sales of raw milk increased 25 percent in California in 2010, while sales of pasteurized milk declined 3 percent.

In addition, Dr. Beals has compiled published reports of illness attributed to raw milk from 1999 to 2010.  During the eleven-year period, illnesses attributed to raw milk averaged 42 per year.

“Using government figures for foodborne illness for the entire population, Dr. Beals has shown that you are about thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk,” says Fallon Morell. “And with good management practices in small grass-based dairies offering fresh unprocessed whole milk for direct human consumption, we may be able to reduce the risk even further.”

“It is irresponsible for senior national government officials to oppose raw milk, claiming that it is inherently hazardous,” says Dr. Beals. “There is no justification for opposing the sale of raw milk or warning against its inclusion in the diets of children and adults.”

According to Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, “Where raw milk is concerned, the FDA has an agenda apart from protecting the public health. The agency wants to restrict and discourage the sale of unprocessed dairy products. This will have the effect of denying freedom of choice.” (On another note: if I am denied the right to buy raw milk from a local farmer, what will I be denied next? Vegetables and fruit from a local stand because they may contain salmonella or some other bacteria? -Bethany)

“Every time there is a possible connection between illness and raw milk, government officials issue dire press releases and call for bans on raw milk sales,” says Fallon Morell. “However, these numbers fail to justify the government opposition and prove what we’ve known all along, that raw milk is a safe and healthy food.”

In June of this year, 16 people became ill after consuming raw milk at a school function in Wisconsin.  At first, the public was outraged. After all, everyone knows that raw milk is dangerous. Then more facts came out. The milk was taken from a bulk tank on a dairy farm. The milk was intended to be pasteurized. (Have you ever seen a dairy farm? Yuck.)

Raw milk from animals that are healthy, clean, and fed a natural diet is healthy.

If you are interested in purchasing a cow or goat “share” or raw milk, here are a few things I would recommend:

  1. Ask to see the milking process. Is the animal’s udder washed thoroughly? What is it washed with? (I use a tea tree oil, soap, and water mixture. More about that in another post!)Is the pail clean? Is the milk chilled soon afterwards? What is the milk stored in? (Glass is the only acceptable storage container for raw milk. Trust me. I’ve done the research.)
  2. How clean is the milk stand/parlor? How clean is the animal? Don’t expect a spotless stainless steel stand, but you don’t want to see a build up of a mud mixture on the stand. You also don’t want to see a disgustingly dirty cow or goat.
  3. What does the farm look like overall? Are the animals well fed? What are they fed? (Grass fed is best! Grain at milking time is okay.) Does the farm appear to be taken care of? If not, I would wonder if the cleanliness of the milking process was all because I was there watching.

It all comes down to this: know where your milk comes from and how it is treated. (Yes! How the milk is treated.) You want milk that hasn’t been contaminated by a hoof, dirty hands, or dirty equipment.

Raw milk can be found on Craig’s List, through a co-op, or in local classifieds. Many times, the milk will be sold as a “share” of the animal because most state laws prohibit the selling of raw milk. I’ve also seen milk sold “for animal use.” RealMilk.com lists how the sale of raw milk is regulated in the US.

Research! Raw milk IS good for you. Try it sometime!

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4 thoughts on “The Raw Milk Controversy”

  1. Good for you for entering the raw/pasteurized milk debate!

    I do prefer raw milk to the more commonly available forms. We have local raw cow and goat milk available to us in our progressive city. When we first made the switch it was hard to remember to shake the bottle before pouring.

    It is really surprising to me that I’ve discovered am not a fan of goat milk. It seems like something I would enjoy since I love goat cheese. I’m willing to entertain the idea that maybe I’m just getting it from the wrong goats, but goat milk always tastes decidedly… goaty to me. I’m weird right? haha

    Actually, all animal milk’s taste has made me feel a little creeped out lately. I’m extremely sensitive to tastes and smells (I think it is some sort of hereditary neurosis since my mother and great-grandmother are the same way.) – suddenly I’ve just started disliking the taste of animal milks and have switched to alternatives instead – oat milk is my very favorite right now! ❤

    Still super into cheese – for now! 🙂

  2. From what I’ve read, goat’s milk will have an “off” or “goaty” taste to it if a buck is in with the does. Ours definitely tastes different from cow’s milk, but in a good way. It’s very sweet- almost tastes like sugar has been added.

    Danny drank homemade almond milk for a while and loved it. I didn’t care for it, though. I’ve never had oat milk. Do you make it or buy it?

  3. I buy it. 🙂

    I like almond milk, but really don’t care for almonds. Though, I don’t go out of my way not to eat them if they are in or on something… I just think the taste is off. I feel the same way about celery. However, almond milk never tastes weird to me – just a little thin.

    Oat milk is really… well… milky! haha It has a thinkness (richness?) of consistency that most plant based milk alternatives really lack. Plus, it isn’t sweet – which makes me like it more. I don’t always want super sweet vanilla soy milk in everything – ya know?

    Hm well maybe that’s it then because it is very musky and I’m sensitive to it the smell/taste. Your goat’s milk sounds yummy – like I want to use it to make goat ice cream! mmm

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