Yup. I did.
And it was worth it.
Some of you may be wondering, "But Amy! You're lactose intolerant! Why would you go through all this trouble for milk if you can't drink it?" Well, here's the thing. I can drink this milk.
"But Amy! How can this be?!?"
Alright, enough buildup. I'll spare you the rest of this quirky vignette and get to my point. The reason I drove 45 minutes for the only gallon of milk in the world I can apparently drink is because we are now getting raw milk straight from a local farm. It's an awesome setup because the milk comes from 100% grass fed Jersey, Guernsey, and Normande cows (all cows known for the high quality of their milk) and it costs no more than the store-bought organic milk we were purchasing previously.
Now before you bombard me with the dangers of drinking raw milk, let me just say that this was not a decision made on a whim. We weighed the risks and benefits thoroughly. The risks seem to be greatly exaggerated, and are far outweighed by the benefits:
- Raw cow's milk has all 20 of the standard amino acids.
- Raw milk contains lactoferrin, which is an iron-binding protein for improved absorption of iron and also anti-cancer properties.
- Contains CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acid which has many health benefits such as raising the metabolic rate, strengthening the immune system, lowering food allergy reactions, and is also a cancer-fighting agent among other things.
- Contains vitamins and minerals including calcium which has many benefits in itself including reduction in cancer, lower risk of osteoporosis, higher bone mineral density, strong teeth, and lowered risk of kidney stones.
- Sixty-plus fully intact and functional enzymes.
- Contains beneficial bacteria.
This is a rather simplified list that really just scratches the surface concerning the health benefits of drinking raw milk. Pasteurization destroys most of these factors or greatly diminishes their effectiveness. Enzymes are the best example. Raw milk contains phosphatase for calcium absorption, lipase for fat, lactase for lactose, and many others. One of the tests to confirm pasteurization was successful checks for the absence of these enzymes! Not to mention the loss of many of the heat-sensitive fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins: up to 66% for Vitamins A, D, E and F, 50% or more for Vitamin C, and the total destruction of Vitamins B6 and B12.
So if pasteurization is so bad, why is all our milk pasteurized? Simple. It allows conventional diary operations to continue producing thousands of gallons of milk daily. Without pasteurization these operations would have to change their farming practices drastically in order to assure the quality of their milk. As it stands right now, they don't have to worry about contamination or disease because their milk will be pasteurized anyway. Nevermind that pasteurization doesn't prevent contamination.
This is why, as is true for much of our food, it is so important to know where your food came from. If Horizon Organic started selling raw milk at Kroger (a highly unlikely event given the current food climate) I would most likely pass it up considering I have no idea how they feed and care for their cows, whether they are allowed to graze or kept in confinement, if they've been screened for tuberculosis and brucellosis, and how often they're milked. Which is why we're going to a local farm for our milk.
I can't tell you how excited I am about this! Before we committed ourselves to a cow share we were able to visit the farm and see where the cows are milked, housed, and grazed. As a matter of fact, the day we went was the first day the cows were sent out to graze, so we went out to the pasture to "meet" the cows. Two of the younger, more curious ones came trotting up to us to investigate. Dominic kind of just looked at them, non-plussed, and proceeded to stare at the ground (which was apparently far more interesting than the large ruminant sticking her nose in his face).
The owner introduced us to all the cows, including some cute tidbits about the temperaments of a few of them. They were all happily munching on some the greenest, most lush looking grass I'd seen in a while. As I told the owner, "This makes me wish I ate grass!"
After we saw the cows, we made our way to the other end of the pasture to see their herd of mama sheep and their brand new babies (squeeeee!!!!!!). The lambs stayed safely behind their mothers and most of the mothers kept their distance, but the owner was able to get one of them to come over so we could pet her. Nick was kind of obsessed with the one spotted lamb and kept trying to get a picture of her, but she kept hiding behind her mama. He ended up getting some cute ones though.
Then she took us to see the brand new calf and the milking stall. They only milk one cow at a time to minimize the likelihood of contamination. She showed us the stainless steel tank where they keep the milk chilled, explained how they sanitize the equipment (very thoroughly was my impression) and showed us where they keep the bottled milk for pickup.
...we got to taste the milk!
Think back to any time you've ever had a craving for something, let's say French fries (I craved them a lot during my pregnancy). In your mind they taste exactly as a French fry ought to taste: salty, starchy, with just the right ratio of crispy exterior to soft interior. Then, when you finally have a pile of fries in front of you, you're disappointed to find that they're too crispy/mushy, too salty/not salty enough, too thin/too thick, etc, etc. Your expectations find no match in reality. So you resign yourself to sub-par potatoes and hope dousing them in ketchup will make up for it.
That has been my experience with milk (and, really, all dairy products) up to this point. I would think about milk and imagine something creamy, slightly sweet, full bodied. I was always disappointed by the store-bought variety and had resigned myself to the fact that there was no such thing as what I was expecting.
This milk tastes exactly how I always thought milk should taste. It is divinely delicious, rich and creamy. We signed up for a share on the spot. Now, I get a craving for a glass of milk...and I have a glass of milk. It is extremely satisfying, especially since it is not only delicious, but also health promoting.
I highly suggest looking into finding fresh milk and trying it yourself. Make sure you're getting it from a good source, one that keeps healthy, disease-free cows (no hormones or antibiotics), feeds them an organic, grass-based diet, is meticulous about the cleanliness of their milk and has it tested for contamination regularly. Clean, raw milk is highly nutritious and just as safe, if not more so, as its pasteurized counterpart.
Raw milk. Does the body good (really).