When I explain my real foods diet to an unwitting victim, the first thing I explain (other than that I’ve turned into a hippie) is drinking whole, raw milk. First question people ask is always, “Is raw milk safe?”
Because it’s so ingrained into our conventional wisdom that whole milk is one of the major contributors to heart disease and obesity, I love to throw them a curveball from the start.
Rock the boat a little, ya get what I’m saying?
When I began explaining real foods to my mom, the first question I got was “Is raw milk safe?”
I have two responses that I lean on most to get my point across. They’re mostly logic, with a little science thrown in. Call them Cameron’s pseudo-scientific logic rants.
1. Didn’t people drink raw milk for thousands of years before Mr. Pasteur invented pasteurization? And it wasn’t until we began cheating on raw milk with its pale, watered-down cousin that heart disease began to rise exponentially.
2. The reason we have to pasteurize milk is because of how sickly commercial dairy cows are. It’s so common for these cows to drip pus into their milk that each state has to have an allowable limit per gallon (it’s usually near half a billion cells).
Not to mention that these cows get inadequate nutrition from improper food, live in their own filth, and are injected with a number of chemicals, such as antibiotics and growth hormones (rBGH) proven to accelerate the growth of cancer (possibly even after undergoing pasteurization)
So… which sounds more appetizing?
- Healthy cows receiving proper nutrition producing milk that doesn’t need to be cooked to kill prodigious amounts of bacteria (because, you know, healthy cows don’t naturally ooze pus into their milk).
- Milk that has to be pasteurized or it wouldn’t even be remotely suitable for human consumption and may contain carcinogens that survive pasteurization?
Well, at least we as Americans rarely drink milk. Oh wait, we consume about 5 billion gallons per year in the U.S. alone.
That sucks. You get why I wanted to start a blog about this stuff??
But Isn’t Raw Milk a Breeding Ground For Bacteria?
If you’re perceptive, you’ve noticed I still haven’t really answered the “is raw milk safe?” question.
I’ve only managed to offend skim milk drinkers so far. Hold on, and I’ll completely convert you to the cause (or manage to offend another demographic, as usual).
Let’s start with the argument against raw milk. Raw milk has the potential to harbor E. Coli, as well as a number of other bacteria that can cause severe illness and even death. In fact, that’s the reason raw milk is still banned in many states, despite the U.S. boasting over 9 million drinkers of the stuff.
There’s a little annoying credo anti-raw-milkers like to throw around that says raw milk is more likely to cause illness than pasteurized milk.
The actual statistic is 9 times more likely. And it’s true.
However, the vast, vast majority of those “illnesses” involve stuff you don’t even drive to the hospital for, like an upset stomach or diarrhea.
In fact, between 2000 and 2007, raw milk caused 12 hospitalizations. Total. Like, not 12 per month or even 12 per year.
1.4 people per year in the U.S. go to the hospital because of raw milk. There hasn’t been a death since the mid-80’s. Now, some people create their own cheeses (queso fresco is usually the culprit) at home, moonshine style, and don’t properly prepare it. That has led to a few more deaths and outbreaks, but because I aint brewing queso fresco in my bathtub anytime soon, I’m not including those numbers.
The point is that you should probably be more concerned about a Kodiak bear mauling you to death at an Arby’s in downtown New York City.
In fact, you’re 750 times more likely to die in a car crash than even be hospitalized by raw milk.
(BTW I got most of these AWESOME statistics from this great post at ChrisKresser.com) .
Why Raw, Full-Fat Milk is Actually Good For You
I’ve talked in the past about why fat is actually good for you – including the usually vilified saturated fat and cholesterol package deal.
The fat in raw milk isn’t going to kill you… in fact the opposite is true. The overblown fat scare that has gripped America has led to manufacturers removing all the fat from milk.
Now think about this for a minute… no matter what you feel about fats, you have to agree that they’re sure tasty. A fatty piece of prime rib, bacon, butter, whipped cream – those are some of the most delicious things on Earth.
So how do manufacturers make low-fat milk taste good if they’ve taken all the delicious stuff out? They throw in some good ol’ powdered milk… which is unfortunately terribly unhealthy for you.
You see, while dietary cholesterol (from good sources) doesn’t actually influence your cholesterol level and doesn’t increase your risk for heart attack, what does block your arteries is oxidized cholesterol. Your body can handle (and actually needs) natural cholesterol from healthy sources. It’s the stuff that we manufacture and add to our foods that causes the problems.
And… powdered milk is chock full of oxidized cholesterol (veggie oils have it too). Lovely. Most people think I’m kidding when I say to drink whole milk. Trust me, I’m not.
Furthermore, milk is a good source of 3 of the 4 nutrients that the USDA claims is most under-consumed by Americans.
To sum it up, low-fat milk causes heart attacks (among other things), pasteurized milk is floating with dead carcinogens, viruses, and pus cells (well, we hope they’re dead), and milk in general contains some of the nutrients Americans need most.
The natural conclusion? The only answer is to drink raw milk… or, if you can’t afford it or find it, at least switch to whole milk to avoid the nasty oxidized cholesterol. Remember, fat is actually good for you!
It’s time to quit balking at raw milk because the food companies trying to protect their low-fat, pasteurized cash cow are feeding us information that just isn’t true.
Join the 9 million+ strong and drink healthy milk!
Why did you start drinking raw milk? Do you think raw milk is safe? Tell us below.