We finally made the switch to raw milk last month and I cannot tell you how excited I was about it (and still am)! I had done a lot of research into it a little more than a year ago, after my first taste of raw milk at the Grand Blanc farmers' market (much of this post was actually written back then and has been sitting in my blog drafts until we actually made the switch). It is seriously the best tasting milk ever... so creamy and smooth and sweet... like milk is supposed to taste! I wish it would not have taken me more than a year to finally sign the papers to buy a couple cow shares. But life got in the way, as it often does, and other things took priority. Then I had my gall bladder attack in July and my entire focus on eating switched back to where it was a year ago, focusing in on the Nourishing Traditions and WAPF way of eating... only this time I have been more proactive at actually making the bigger changes.
We now own part of a cow. In Michigan, it is illegal to sell raw milk, so you must purchase shares in a cow herd. You also pay boarding fees. In exchange, you can pick up fresh milk every week or two. We have two shares, which provides us with two gallons of fresh, raw milk each week.
Like most people, I had a few apprehensions about raw milk when I first started looking into it. But the health benefits of drinking raw, grassfed milk are just so intriguing that I knew we had to try it. Here is why we've made the switch:
~ Our milk comes grassfed cows and nourishes our bodies!
Cows were made to eat grass... not grain. Our cows are pasture-fed as many months of the year as our seasons will allow. In the winter, when snow covers the pastures, they are fed organic hay that is grown right on the farm. They also eat probiotics, which have been shown to prevent potential contaminations with food-borne illness, as the probiotics keep the cows' gut healthy.
Grassfed cows milk contains the highest amounts of essential vitamins and nutrients needed to nourish our bodies. Our milk contains 4.5% - 5.7% butterfat. Butterfat contains the vitamins A and D, which are necessary to aid in the absorption of calcium and protein in milk. Butterfat also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to be a strong protector against cancer. Butterfat is also rich in short and long chain fatty acids, which protect against disease and stimulate the immune system.
We were hoping to see some health improvements - first and foremost with my joint inflammation and health... which I have already witnessed dramatic improvements. After only a couple of weeks drinking the raw milk, I am already noticing some big improvements in my joint health. My knees would have normally been very achey and sore this past weekend with the rain and cooler temperatures, but they were remarkably improved with very minimal pain! It was wonderful! Our next big test will be Kevin's seasonal allergies which should be striking him pretty soon as the seasons change here in Michigan.
~ Our milk is not pasteurized!
I can't say it any better than Real Milk.com... Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
~ Our milk contains no growth hormones or antibiotics!
Our milk comes from mostly Jersey cows (with a few Guernseys). These are old-fashioned, healthy breeds and they produce a nice, rich, creamy milk. Conventional milk is most often produced by Holstein cows, which are bred to produce crazy large quantities of milk and require special grain for feed and antibiotics to keep them healthy. Even when these cows are not given rBGH, their milk still contains high levels of growth hormones from the cows own pituitary gland... so don't be fooled by the claims of no growth hormones on the conventional milk!
~ Our milk is more affordable than organic milk!
Price was never really an issue for me, but it was for my husband. I had actually been spending more per gallon on organic, ultra high temperature pasteurized and homogenized milk for years. Although my husband could only focus on what I had been spending on MooVille pasteurized, non-homogenized CreamLine milk most recently. While our raw milk does cost more per gallon than the MooVille, it costs a good deal less than what I'd been spending on organic milk in years past. So I feel really good about price, actually. Its just something that I account for in our grocery budget. To me, its way more important to be drinking milk that tastes way better and is actually nourishing and healthy for our bodies, than it is to save a few bucks a week buying conventional milk.
~ Our cows are happy!
Our cows are free to roam the pastures and do what cows do. They are not kept in confinement or in pens. They are not fearful. And they are not hooked up to the milking machine in the parlor all hours of the day!
~ Our cows are healthy!
Our cows and farm are inspected regularly (every couple of months). Our cows test free of tuberculosis (TB) and brucellosis. Cows and farms that produce conventional milk are not inspected and many of the cows actually have TB and brucellosis. Yes, pasteurization will kill this, but it just disgusts me that farms are allowed to milk cows that are knowingly unwell.
~ Our chances of contracting a food-borne illness from our milk are much lower than from conventional milk!
The likelihood of getting sick from pasteurized milk is actually much higher than from raw milk. From 1980-2005, the CDC reports 19,531 illnesses from pasteurized milk... which is 10.7 times more than those attributed to raw milk. When you adjust for the bias of the number of people consuming pasteurized vs. raw, pasteurized milk is 5.54 times more dangerous than raw milk on a per-serving basis (see realmilk.com).
~ Our milk will not spoil!
Did you know that you can leave raw milk out on your counter for many days and then safely eat both the curds and whey without getting sick? Try that with pasteurized milk... your house will smell so terribly and you will not be able to eat the resulting curds and whey without getting sick. Raw milk sours naturally, but it will not spoil and do you harm if you ingest it like spoiled conventional milk will.
Raw milk should keep for at least 10 days, but most likely for a full two weeks, without souring. It is very important to keep your refrigerator at the proper temperature, as well as ensuring your milk is kept cool on the trip from the farm to home. If you don't keep it at the right temperatures, it will sour more quickly.
So those are our main reasons for making the switch to raw milk. Raw milk is a great thing for us and will be a part of our diet for a very long time. I urge you to do some research and determine whether it may be a good choice for you and your family, as well. You may find that it isn't, but you may also find that it is. You can read lots more information and can find a fantastic listing of sources for every state at RealMilk.com.