Milk is something I’ve enjoyed for as long I can remember. Milk has some wonderful nutrients on top of being wonderful. I can’t think of eating some pie or anything sweet for that matter without some milk. I especially enjoy many of the products that come from milk like cheese and cream. Cream has been the base for so many sauces or butter and we all know that butter makes pretty much everything better.
Processed milk has been the standard for many, many years. In fact that’s what I grew up on. Skim, 1%, 2% and homogenized was the only world I knew. Whole milk was thick stuff and I didn’t even know people used to drink milk straight from the farm. I heard stories from older folks from time to time that when they were kids that farm fresh milk used to be the norm and they would skim the cream off the top for all kinds of cooking.
These stories got me asking myself, why the change? When I found out that I live really close to a dairy that sells milk from cows that ate grass year round and the amazing testimonials that people gave of the quality I had to check it out for myself.
The first time I had that raw milk I thought I’d gone to heaven. It was smooth, creamy and delicious. I’ve been drinking raw and whole milk from the Pure Eire Dairy here in Othello WA for a couple of years now and I have to say that anytime we get other milk I cry a little inside because it’s just not the same. There is some other good quality brands around, but for me nothing has compared to that yellow goodness, and yes I said yellow.
So why did I make the switch to raw milk and pasteurized unhomongenized grass fed milk beside both being amazingly wonderful? Because there are some benefits that I couldn’t immediately overlook.
Some minerals like iron and copper are decreased slightly with pasteurization and any time the milk is dried into a powder all the minerals that are present in raw milk are significantly decreased.
Grass fed raw milk has some great fat in it. Omega-3 (n-3) is in higher amounts compared to non-grass fed milk.  These typically come in the form of ALA or alpha linoleic acid, as well as EPA and linolenic acid. The ratio for omega-6 (n-6) and n-3 is around 2:1 to 3:1 which is around where it should be, not the 15:1 in a standard american diet.
Cows fed other feeds like corn have CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) levels that are 5 times lower than grass fed.  CLA has shown in animal studies to prevent fatty acid streaks by changing macrophage lipid metabolism. CLA has antioxidant activity as well.
Pasteurized milk loses its iodine content. The amount varies from around 25%  to only a few percent.  Milk is an important source of iodine for many people
Homogenization is a process in which the milk is essentially forced through very small holes under pressure to create a liquid where the fat globules don’t separate out from the water phase. This actually destroys the structure of some of the proteins of the milk, namely the casein micelle complexes get busted up and exposed to calcium. This is bad news for the protein and your gut. [7,8]
When the complex gets exposed to the calcium it forms a calcium soap of sorts, called a saponin. Saponin reduces availability of calcium and can make your gut leaky, thus causing problems with absorption of nutrients and along with high temperature effects of pasteurization can cause immune responses as the body sees some of those proteins as foreign.
Is milk or dairy in general a necessity for good health? Not really. You can get a long fine without it. Some people don’t tolerate regular dairy well because of the protein issue listed above. Others don’t tolerate dairy because they are unable to process the lactose. If you have intolerance, an unprocessed milk may be the option for you. It is generally tolerated much better than homogenized milk and especially high heat pasteurization. One survey worth mentioning is from Michigan that showed that people with lactose intolerance actually did fine on raw milk. It can be accessed here:
What To Look For
When purchasing milk from dairies ask to visit their facilities and see what kind of condition the cows are in. What is their diet? Do the facilities look clean? Ask others about the quality of the milk.
The Pure Eire Dairy has the kind of milk with these wonderful properties and that’s why I continue to buy from them. And no I don’t receive any form of reimbursement or sponsorship or anything like that. I just really like their milk. I know they aren’t the only ones in this great country that sell milk of this quality, I’m just blessed to live so close to a dairy like them.
eatwild.com is a website where you can find local dairies and other farm products of quality. Check them out to find dairies like Pure Eire near you.
On a legal note, some states don’t allow the for the sale of raw milk, though they should. Here is a map for those who don’t know about their local laws. I personally think there should be more of a push for complete legalization in all states. Here’s the map:
In the next article we’ll discuss the safety of raw milk.
1.Zurera-Cosano, G., R. Moreno-Rojas, and M. Amaro-Lopez. “Effect of processing on contents and relationships of mineral elements of milk.” Food chemistry 51.1 (1994): 75-78.
2.Hebeisen, Dorothea F., et al. “Increased concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in milk and platelet rich plasma of grass-fed cows.” International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin-und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition 63.3 (1992): 229-233.
3.Dhiman, T. R., et al. “Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets.” Journal of Dairy Science 82.10 (1999): 2146-2156.
4.Weldon, Sinéad, et al. “Conjugated linoleic acid and atherosclerosis: no effect on molecular markers of cholesterol homeostasis in THP-1 macrophages.” Atherosclerosis 174.2 (2004): 261-273.
5.Norouzian, M. A. “Iodine in raw and pasteurized milk of dairy cows fed different amounts of potassium iodide.” Biological trace element research 139.2 (2011): 160-167.
6.Wheeler, Sally M., G. H. Fleet, and R. J. Ashley. “Effect of processing upon concentration and distribution of natural and lodophor-derived iodine in milk.” Journal of dairy science 66.2 (1983): 187-195.
7.Francis, George, et al. “The biological action of saponins in animal systems: a review.” British journal of nutrition 88.06 (2002): 587-605.
8.Gee, J. M., et al. “Effects of saponins and glycoalkaloids on the permeability and viability of mammalian intestinal cells and on the integrity of tissue preparations< i> in vitro</i>.” Toxicology in vitro 10.2 (1996): 117-128.
Disclaimer: All info on this website is for education purposes only. Any dietary or lifestyle changes that readers want to make should be done with the guidance of a competent medical practitioner. The author assumes no responsibility nor liability for the use or dissemination of this information. Anyone who chooses to apply this information for their own personal use does so at their own risk.