I have long been an avid dairy drinker. Right up until a couple of months I was consuming over a gallon a week of milk, sometimes close to two. This was a pretty big problem.
Of course, I didn’t originally see it as a problem. I loved milk, and since I wasn’t lactose intolerant, what could be better to drink (if I wasn’t drinking water) than organic milk?
Did I mention organic skim milk? Yeah, and that was just one of the problems….
Eventually, through the suggestions of a few peers well-versed in the health department and various bits of research online, I eventually decided it was time I give raw milk, or real milk, a try.
Once I’d made the decision to pursue this, getting off of skim milk was the first step, and relatively easily accomplished by switching what I was buying at the grocery store while I search for a local raw milk producer.
That second step was a bit trickier though.
Unfortunately, somehow in this country of people filled to the brim with prescription drugs and the legal addictive substances that are available in every convenience mart and corner bar, raw milk is considered one step from contraband in many states. Stories abound of farmers who have had their livestock and goods seized, some even who have been prosecuted, for distributing a natural & healthy product that was commonplace less than a century ago.
Of course, those who do successfully distribute it do so at great risk to their livelihoods, and must sadly jump through hoop after hoop to find a workaround so that they can sell their wholesome goods.
It’s a strange world we live in sometimes.
But ahh, the wonders of modern-day technology…luckily thanks to the internet I was able to find a reliable source for digging up some raw milk close to me. I made contact with the farmer and arranged to come meet her and buy some milk, along with a few other farm fresh goodies such as eggs and a whole chicken. That was when the real adventure began.
I’d never been on a true livestock farm, only those growing vegetables or my old college advisor’s “ranch” (a term I use very loosely, as the only livestock she had were chickens and horses). For someone who has spent most of her life in suburbia, my first step into the barn was an assault on the senses for sure, but simultaneously exhilarating, the richness of earth and pungency of animals enveloping me. I was immediately comfortable.
The animals who called this place their home were a hoot, chickens waddling around, squawking at the passing barn cats who were gathering to be scratched on the head. The farmer herself was someone I took a liking to right off the bat, chatty and down to earth, and with a plethora of knowledge I find in few individuals these days. She immediately schooled me on milk, a few of the most important points being:
- Skim milk is incredibly bad for you (ok, this wasn’t entirely new information as I’d already begun to suspected that).
- The pasteurization of milk destroys most of the built-in virtues of milk, from immune boosters to good bacteria, negating all the benefits we hear in those cutesy “Got Milk?” commercials.
- Different kinds of milk come from different kinds of cows. Large-scale milking operations use Holstein, or A1 cows, which provide a lot of milk but, due to the breeding they have been through to make them the milk monsters they are, do not deliver proteins and nutrient in the same way. The structures within their milk have actually changed over time, meaning us humans are not able to properly absorb the nutrients from their milk. Meanwhile, A2 cows, with names such as “Jersey,” provide a milk that is not only creamier but more capable of delivering nutrients to the human system. This is why raw milk makes you feel more satiated.
So if raw milk is so great, why all the controversy?
Granted, as with any animal product, processed or not, there is always the risk of contamination. That being said, raw milk has by far been considerably less responsible for sickness than anything originating in the processed sector. Small-scale and local farmers make their entire living on word of mouth and, therefore, are exponentially more meticulous with their production than you will ever find with any large-scale operation.
Despite all of that, official government bodies like the CDC still rally against it. Sadly, as with most things political and governmental, they do so for their own reasons, usually trending towards the selfish & sinister.
If you’re really interested in the nitty-gritty details, I highly recommend the Real Milk website for a plethora of information from both sides. The UK’s Telegraph also did a nice piece on the subject that came out relatively unbiased.
The bottom line in my personal experiment? After only a few short month of consuming raw milk, I’m a believer. It took a quick minute to become accustomed to, as raw milk is not like the watery, nondescript substance we’re used to acquiring in grocery stores. More so it is a delicacy that differs by season, farm, and cow, an experience that is different with every jar I bring home.
I absolutely feel the satiation difference of raw milk, and while I still enjoy milk, I don’t have the mad cravings for it of a person consuming something that isn’t delivering to her body what it’s supposed to be. I’ve learned to love all the bonuses of raw milk - namely, the homemade goodies you can easily create, like butter, cheese, and sour cream.
I also have to admit that I look forward to my farm visit every week to see the goats, cows, horses, ducks, chickens, turkeys, dogs, and cats that call the lively place their home, as well as the wonderful conversations I share while I’m there with the farmer, someone I have already come to call my friend.
A farmer named Jonathan Crickmore hits the nail on the head when he says, “ “We have lived in the age of mass, low-quality food production for too long.” I couldn’t agree with him more and I’m working every day to change my lifestyle in accordance.