Why I’m Not Rah-Rah for Raw Milk

I know some people who are rah-rah for raw milk.  Raw milk — meaning that it hasn’t been pasteurized by heating to 161 degrees F for 15 seconds — is a subject that often comes up when giving a tour of our dairy.  Some people believe that consuming raw milk has health benefits (such as believing it will strengthen the immune system or cure asthma).  Also, at a recent MOPS meeting, one mom expressed that she just didn’t like the government regulating such stuff.  Lastly, if dairy farmers drink it, why can’t everyone?

Here’s what I figure:

No study has ever proven milk is better for you if not pasteurized.  Lots of people have studied it, but there isn’t a single peer-reviewed and accepted study that shows it.  Conversely, the Centers for Disease Control has concluded that “pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk”.  Milk always provides 9 essential nutrients (calcium, Vitamin D, riboflavin, phosphorous, protein, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, and niacin).  Perhaps the strong advocates and believers are experiencing a placebo effect.  Perhaps I can’t convince the strong advocates that they should change their ways, but this statistic scares me enough that I thought I should share:  From 1998-2008, the CDC identified 86 outbreaks related to raw milk, accounting for 1,676 illnesses, 191 hospitalizations and 2 deaths.  I wonder how many people got sick and were too ashamed to admit it.  Check out this link (http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/) to meet some real people who suffered big time.

Now, let’s talk about the government regulating stuff.  Well, it happens.  I think I am blessed to live in the Unites States which has the safest food supply of anywhere in the world.  Pretty cheap, too.  Perhaps if we all had a chance to reside in a different area of the world for a few years we would appreciate the government caring for our safety more.

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Do you know a dairy farmer that drinks milk?  Well, you do know me!  Both my husband and I grew up drinking raw milk.  We get paid a lot less for our milk than what we are charged at the grocery store, and so it was simple economics.  (My mom says that when we were very young, she used to pasteurize it on the stove for us.)  Currently, my family drinks raw milk on occasion (when we have unexpected guests that drank all of our store-bought or a strange reason I can’t or didn’t buy any in town).  Does this make me a hypocrite?  I suppose it does.  We have never gotten sick from it and most dairy farmers will agree to this reasoning — we are exposed to these bacteria all the time.  Sometimes caring for animals involves getting dirty.  By dirty, I don’t mean dirt I mean manure.  Our kids climb on gates and the heifers lick their outstretched hands.  My kids pet the cat that was just meandering her way through the heifer yard (see above photo from last week).  We are just exposed to these bacteria all the time and have developed enough resistance.  Does that make any sense?

Thanks for reading!  I just worry about consumers that jump on bandwagons without doing their research first.  I’m not a cheerleader shouting rah-rah, but I do want to lead you to greater knowledge of your food!  For more info, check out these links:

http://www.midwestdairy.com/0t263p291/raw-milk-and-food-safety/

http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/

http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/footer/FAQ/food_safety/RawMilkFactSheet.pdf

Ah yes, my friends, I finally figured out how to do a link.  Yeehaw!

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One thought on “Why I’m Not Rah-Rah for Raw Milk

  1. Rita,
    I too try to make people aware of so many fallacies about nutrition. My big pet peeve is the hype about corn sugar. Your body can not tell the difference when it processes it. Those in agriculture need to be missionaries about nutritional truths. Thank you!

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