“The food industry actually believes that feeding your children Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs, and Mountain Dew is safe, but drinking raw milk and eating compost grown tomatoes is dangerous.” – Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm, Inc.
When it comes to real foods, milk is one of the hottest topics around. Nothing else seems to draw controversy like raw milk. Some are sure it is life-threatening while others know it is life-giving. Wars are being waged in capitols across America between those who want raw milk banned forever, and those who have been healed by it. Meanwhile, milk allergies are on the rise, and concentration-camp-style feedlots are growing; while the small farm, once so critical to the American way of life, is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
In Genesis 1:31, the Bible tells us that God saw all that he created and it was good. When I hear about a natural food being vilified, I remember this verse. God created good things for us to eat; foods that will nourish and bring health. Repeatedly, throughout the Bible, milk is referenced in good ways. The Promised Land was flowing with milk and honey, and heaven will be too. If milk were dangerous, then it wouldn’t make a good description for heaven, would it?
But there is no denying that many people have become sick, and even died, from drinking raw milk. On the other hand, it is also well documented that many cultures have not only thrived on raw milk, but many people have been cured of disease by simply drinking raw milk. How could this be? The obvious conclusion here is that there is more to this story than most people know.
Raw Milk refers to milk that has come straight from the cow without having anything done to it. Raw milk is considered a “whole” food; it is in its original state, nothing is missing, nothing has been added.
Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a high temperature in order to kill any bacteria or pathogens that may be in the milk. This is a picture of a milk pasteurization plant with its miles of stainless steel tubes and tanks:
Homogenization is the process of using extreme pressure to break apart the fat cells of the cream into such tiny globules that they can no longer re-form and rise to the top of the milk. This is a picture of a milk homogenizer:
Most milk sold in grocery stores has been pasteurized and homogenized. This milk is not a whole food because it has been dramatically changed from its original state. Some milk sold in health food stores has been pasteurized but not homogenized, so this milk will show a “cream line” where the cream has separated from the milk and raised to the top of the jug.
Milk History 101
From the beginning of time until the 1900s all milk was raw milk. Milk was considered necessary for survival, and cultures world-wide depended on it. In fact, it was shipments of heifers that kept both the Jamestown and Plymouth colonies from starving. The fresh milk, butter and cheese were not only nourishing but economical. For nearly 200 years dairying was a way of life in America. Small, homestead farms, where the cows and other animals grazed on pasture, dotted the landscape.
But by the 1800s, as people left the farms to take jobs in the cities, dairy cows were moved from the farm to the city, where they were kept crowded together in small lots. The people wanted their fresh milk, but had no means of keeping or caring for a cow. Thus began the conventional feedlot: many cows kept in one small area, overseen by a few people, and fed as cheaply as possible. These cows were often housed next to the local distillery and fed run-off from the grain fermentation process. While this was economical and convenient, the cows were sick, malnourished, and dying because they were not receiving proper care or feed. They were still producing large quantities of milk, but it was thin and watery. In some places, the dairymen were adding chalk and other thickeners to the milk to make it look healthier. In addition, the people handling these cows were also sick with highly contagious diseases such as TB. As they milked, they coughed into the pails, spreading their disease through the milk. There was no sanitation, no proper cleaning, no stainless steel equipment, no refrigeration, and no proper sewage control for the animals or humans. This was the milk being fed to the masses. Is it any surprise that people were sick and dying? The infant mortality rate back then was about 50%! Sanitation conditions were already poor, especially in cities; combine poor sanitation with contaminated foods and you have a major health crisis.
Pasteurization was the answer to this real problem. It killed the pathogens in the filthy milk so people could drink it without dying. The dairy industry quickly realized another benefit to pasteurization: pasteurized milk lasted longer. Un-pasteurized milk would sour in about a week but pasteurized milk would last several weeks. Big businesses began investing money in facilities designed to pasteurize milk, and created a lobby to push for mandatory pasteurization of all milk. Some of these people, having experienced great losses of loved ones themselves, were truly concerned for the people’s welfare. Others saw profits. A type of “smear campaign” against raw milk was developed. It was apparently quite successful, considering the controversy going on today regarding milk. In fact, it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in nearly half of all 50 states today.
Homogenization goes hand in hand with pasteurization. There are no health benefits to homogenization; it began simply as a convenience. Healthy, nutritious milk is loaded with cream which naturally rises to the top.
The milk must be shaken in order to mix the cream back in. When the milk man traveled long distances, he was repeatedly shaking the milk so each customer would receive rich, creamy milk. If he didn’t keep it mixed, one customer would receive all cream while the rest would receive skimmed milk. In addition, when the milk began to sour, the cream would become clumpy. Homogenization, which began around 1899, solved this problem. However, it took a long time for customers to accept homogenized milk because they liked seeing how much cream was in their milk. The quality of milk was determined by the amount of cream on top. A lot of cream meant high quality milk; clumpy cream meant older milk; little cream meant low quality milk. Smart consumers knew better than to spend their hard-earned money on low quality, watery milk. But the producers were persistent. Homogenization was much more convenient for them. And, they realized that they could make even more money by skimming off a majority of that cream, selling it for a high profit to be made into butter and cheese (and later ice cream), and homogenizing what was left and selling it to the consumer who was none the wiser. Whole milk from the store today is really partially skimmed milk, but thanks to homogenization the consumer has no way of knowing they are not getting the real thing. So pasteurization and homogenization became inseparable buddies; the producers could now make lower quality milk appear fresher, last longer, and make more money. In the good name of Public Health, of course.
While people in the cities were dying from drinking raw milk, others were thriving on raw milk. Country farmers were still keeping their cows on pasture, in the sunshine, eating fresh grass. These cows were producing rich, creamy milk. This milk was not only nourishing the farmer and his family, but it was also healing the sick. In Rochester, Minnesota, in 1929 raw milk was actively and successfully used by physicians at the Mayo Foundation (pre-cursor to the Mayo Clinic) to treat tuberculosis, cardiac disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and many other diseases. The patients started with about 4 quarts of rich, raw milk per day and gradually increased to as much as ten quarts per day. This work is documented by J.E. Crewe, MD, one of the founders of the Mayo Foundation. Many city people were going to great lengths to buy this wonderful milk. This good quality, nourishing, and delicious milk became known as “country milk.” It was simply fresh, raw milk from healthy cows.
Life-Giving, Living, and Active
Have you heard about Heifer International, the non-profit organization that helps people in poverty-stricken countries around the globe? They give impoverished families cows, teaching the families to care for and milk them. They aren’t sending the milk away to processing plants for pasteurization; they are drinking it raw and it is making them healthy.
On the website you can see a video testimonial from Alice, who has AIDS, and says that drinking the milk eliminates the side effects of her medications and makes her feel better. She says the milk is keeping her family healthy, and they are also making money by selling milk to others.
Raw milk is nourishing people today just like it has throughout history. Doctors from the earliest times, including Pliny and Hippocrates, have documented the importance of milk in healing disease. Raw milk didn’t make people sick, people weren’t allergic to it, and nobody died from drinking it. In fact, in his article titled, “Raw Milk Heals Many Diseases,” Dr. Crewe describes milk as having “…an excess of vitamins and all the elements necessary to growth and maintenance.” This is the milk that has nourished humanity for generations: raw milk, from healthy cows.
Dr. Crewe’s description of raw milk is right on. Let me say it again: raw milk has “…an excess of vitamins and all the elements necessary to growth and maintenance.” Mothers, this should catch your attention. Are you responsible for nurturing growing children, who depend on you to help them grow up strong? This is information you need to know.
Raw milk is a living and active food:
- it is loaded with enzymes that kill pathogens
- it is loaded with beneficial bacteria and enzymes that help your digestion
- it forms the specific enzymes your body needs to digest it
- it is loaded with the critical fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
- it contains the entire B complex of vitamins, and vitamin C
- it contains many minerals, including calcium, in forms that are ready-to-absorb so that your body does not have to work hard to assimilate them
- it contains Phosphatase, the key enzyme for calcium absorption
As you mull over the above list, consider our God, our Creator, who uniquely designed raw milk to have so many life-giving and healing properties. These properties work together, one relying on the other, to nourish us and our children. It does no good to consume calcium if we can’t absorb it, yet God included the living enzyme Phosphatase in raw milk to do that work. If we can’t digest raw milk, then it will make us sick; yet God designed raw milk with living enzymes to aid our digestion. And as we digest this amazing food, we are quietly nourished with vitamins and minerals critical to good health. God is good!
Another point that needs emphasizing is that raw milk is loaded with enzymes that kill pathogens. This is very important because “big dairy”, most physicians, most nutritionists, and most lawmakers will tell you that milk must be pasteurized to kill pathogens that are in it. That is the whole reason for pasteurization. First of all, healthy milk doesn’t have pathogens! Consider Organic Pastures Dairy in California. In an effort to prove the safety of raw milk, owner Mark McAfee had deadly pathogens such as e-coli injected into samples of their milk, then at the end of the day had the samples tested. You can read the documentation on their website, and I have heard him tell about it in person. The results: no pathogens remained. The milk was clean; it healed itself! God created milk with its own safety net. If raw milk kills pathogens, imagine what good things it can do inside your gut.
Contrary to what you’ve heard from conventional science, saturated fat is actually good for you. This is not the same thing as trans fats, which are very dangerous to your health. Saturated fat performs many functions in your body, such as: maintaining a strong cardiovascular system, maintaining strong bones, maintaining healthy lungs, assisting in liver function and protection, proper brain function, strengthening immunities, proper nerve stimulation that affects metabolism and insulin production, cancer prevention, and proper cholesterol levels.
Milk is full of saturated fat and it assists your body in all the ways mentioned above. In addition, God designed the saturated fat in milk to aid your body in metabolizing and assimilating the vitamins and minerals in the other foods we eat. Remember the fat-soluble vitamins mentioned earlier? Your body cannot absorb them without healthy fat. And milk-fat is specially designed just for that. If you are drinking skim milk, then your body is having trouble digesting most everything you eat. Your body needs animal fats. Fresh, raw butter is an excellent way to enjoy the health benefits of milk’s saturated fat.
Have you heard of fatty-acids? There are omega 6 fatty acids, and omega 3 fatty acids. Our bodies need a special balance of each. When a cow grazes on pasture, then her milk will have exceptional fatty acid ratios. This means that raw milk helps prevent obesity, diabetes, cancer, depression, and more.
Raw milk also has high CLA values. Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a healthy fat that, among other things, is a potent cancer fighter. Raw milk from a pastured cow has 3 to 5 times more CLA’s than a grain-fed cow, and a cow kept in confinement (as most conventional dairy cows are) will have zero CLA’s. Raw milk from a pastured cow who grazed when the grass was actively growing, such as in the spring, is so healthy it is considered a “super food.” You can even see the difference, as this milk is actually a darker cream color.
There are many important health benefits just in the fat of raw milk. The fat is in the cream. Remember, in the days prior to homogenization, consumers judged the quality of milk by the amount of cream on top. People innately knew, without having the science to back it up, that they needed this important fat for good health.
But Wait, There’s More!
- children who drink raw milk have healthier immune systems and are less susceptible to the flu
- raw milk prevents tooth decay
- raw milk promotes proper palate formation and tooth development
- children who drink raw milk have less asthma than those who drink pasteurized milk
- children who drink raw milk have fewer skin problems than those who drink pasteurized milk
- raw milk promotes calcium absorption and prevents arthritis
- raw milk has successfully cured TB, edema, heart failure, high blood pressure, prostate disease, urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney disease, chronic fatigue, and obesity.
The Great Provider
People are in awe over the way our God forms a baby in a mother’s womb, and gives her alone the ability to sustain it; people are struck with the complexity and vastness of the solar system, and the ocean. When will people praise God for the way he made ordinary things totally extraordinary? Don’t you see that his awesome power, might, and love for you is also evidenced in the way he provides your food? He created us, and he uniquely created food to nurture us…good, safe food.
“And God saw all that he created, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31
**This is part one of a three part series about raw milk…Coming soon: Pasteurization — What’s REALLY in the Milk?**