Sunday, April 13, 2008

Raw Milk

I have been reading up lately on the pros and cons of raw milk. It seems there is a great deal of conflicting information out there on the subject and, being who I am, I have to throw my two cents in.

Raw milk is cow squeezin's that have not been treated with heat, subjected to homogenization, or have anything added to it. It is literally, well, raw. All of the commercially produced milk is pasteurized within an inch of it's life, stirred until it is practically beaten to keep the cream from separating, and has added vitamins to replace those destroyed by the above mentioned treatments. Those processes kill harmful bacteria and help to keep the milk fresher longer on the store shelves. Those same processes also happen to destroy a good number of amino acids, lipids, and naturally occurring enzymes.

All of that being said, raw milk has had nothing done to it except being put into containers. Straight from the cow, so to speak. It has the exact same nutritional components that are necessary to feed a baby, well a baby cow anyway. It has naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids, amino acids, etc, that mammals need to survive. I have even read studies that indicate that raw milk can reverse the progression of childhood asthma and digestive disorders.

Now, don't get me wrong, but aren't we supposed to be eating foods that have all of these natural enzymes and lipids and stuff in them as a part of a healthier lifestyle? Then why in the world is the Federal government going out of it's way to try to shut down small dairies that sell raw milk to consumers?

My guess is that the big business that is dairy farming does not want the general consumer to believe that raw milk is actually healthier for them that the product they over process, hormone inject, and and over-vaccinate. After all, if the general consumer starts to realize that the milk they bring home from their local Mega-Mart is not as healthy as something they could get for just about the same money at the farm down the road, Big Dairy will lose money. Can't have that, now can we?

There are some things to keep in mind about raw milk. It doesn't have an expiration date listed as two weeks from now plainly on the bottle. The reason for that is most of the time, you will have consumed it long before it will go south on you. Store bought milk has to have that expiration date so the minimum wage guy that works in the cooler of your favorite grocery store will know when he has to pull that bottle off of the shelf. Is it bad milk? Not really. Since it has been all but sterilized by heat treating and who-knows-what-else, that is just the date that the government mandates the stores must sell it by. There is no telling just how long it has been since that milk was removed from the cow anyway. What you might think is fresh milk could actually be a couple of weeks old. Raw milk will keep a good long time as long as it is kept cold.

Raw milk will also have a separation problem. The cream, which is actually the butterfat, will float to the top of the container just like any other suspended fat. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want to look at it. When I was growing up, we had raw milk. We swapped eggs for it. I thought for a long time that milk came in a pickle jar. Before we could dip out milk for our morning cereal( yes, with a ladle), you had to shake it up. That was just the way it was. Or if we wanted to make ice cream, we got an extra gallon and let it sit for a day or two in the fridge and scooped the cream off of the top. We made ice cream, butter, whipped cream, whatever we needed at the time with the cream from our pickle jar. Every now and then, we had to pick a cow hair out of the jar, but you know what, none of us ever got sick from it.

I think the Raw vs. Pasteurized debate just simply comes down to big business lobbies. People in Europe don't panic if their milk isn't pasteurized. They actually prefer that it isn't. And you don't see them dying in droves from E.Coli or salmonella. Odds are that that special imported French cheese that you pay $20 a ounce for is not made with pasteurized milk. And you know the holes in the Swiss and gruyere cheese is actually made by bacteria breathing. And, shock of shock!, blue cheese is mouldy! Geesh, get a grip.

All the government has to do to panic people away from eating something is to tell them what is actually in it. We used cow manure in the garden. Did we ever get sick from it? Nope. We had to wash the chicken poo off of the eggs when we brought them in. Did we get sick? Nope. We actually butchered our own meat in the winter and left it hanging in the shop overnight to chill. No Salmonella there either.

I think the government has tied itself so tightly to big business that it simply can't tell us the truth about food anymore. Small farms and personal gardens are way healthier that buying all of your food.

After all, people lived for thousands of years without preservatives and added vitamins, and lived healthier lives for it.

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