We love milk dribbled in our coffee, poured over cereal or in a chilled glass waiting for a good cookie-dunking. We believe a glass of this creamy, refreshing beverage does a body good... does raw milk make it even better?
Why choose raw milk?
We asked ourselves ‘why would we recommend folks buy raw milk over pasteurized milk?” A few things we considered: nutrition, animal welfare and [less] processing. Milk is sterile when initially formed in the udder, but there’s significant potential for contamination from ‘milking’ to consumption. Milk can be contaminated during milking if a cow has mastitis or is ill, or if the exterior of the udder, milking equipment or storage containers are not clean. All farmers must be diligent with cleanliness and animal health - pasteurizing milk is an additional way to ensure bacteria are killed (in the event milk was contaminated in that process).
Pasteurization does alter the milk, including nutritional properties (some believe it decreases milk’s natural balance). Pasteurizing milk denatures enzymes, reduces bioactivity of vitamin B6 and destroys vitamin C. While scientific studies have yet to reveal why, numerous folks unable to tolerate pasteurized milk (i.e. allergies, lactose intolerance) have no issues drinking raw milk.
Barn2Door supports the sale of raw milk and milk products.
Is Raw Milk Safe?
As this is controversial, we recommend you draw your own, informed conclusions.
For all of time milk was ‘raw’ until the mid 1800’s - when confined animals and unsanitary conditions resulted in contaminated milk and increased death(s). Great efforts were made to change this tide (read: raw milk through history). According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), 2,384 illnesses were reported from 1998 through 2011 (due to consumption of raw milk or raw milk products). For some context, during that same timeframe, 26,831 illnesses were reported due to the number one source of reported outbreaks: leafy greens.
Is Raw Milk Legal?
Retail sales are currently legal in 10 states, including Washington. On-farm sales are legal in 15 states. Raw milk sold as ‘pet food’ is legal in 4 additional states. On the flip side, raw milk sales are illegal and punishable in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Farms that sell raw milk are required to have proper licenses and undergo periodic inspections. Raw milk is regularly tested for bacteria counts, to ensure low levels.
Does all milk taste the same?
Most agree, raw milk presents a more complex flavor and texture compared to its pasteurized and homogenized cousin - think of it as the ‘terroir’ of milk - the flavor and characteristics change due to seasons, various forage, grasses & location. Raw milk can also vary in color from yellowish to cream-colored as opposed to the perfectly white and standard consistency of conventional milk.
What Dairy do you Drink From?
Ultimately, you have to trust your dairy farmer when buying raw milk. Trust they are raising healthy cows and following proper sanitation procedures during milking, bottling and storage. Ask questions, learn their philosophy or visit the farm. This is easier to achieve with smaller herds.
It is the way folks ran farms for years and still do - cleanly and carefully, with care for the animals, and no pasteurization. Funny, instead of raw milk - for hundreds of years it was just called milk.