There is a great deal of escalating controversy between drinking raw and pasteurized milk. Advocates of pasteurized milk say that it’s safer and that raw milk can cause serious illness. Raw milk supporters are adamant that raw milk is safe and better for your health because pasteurization destroys vital nutrients in the milk.
So what is raw milk and how does it differ from conventional milk?
Raw milk refers to unprocessed milk; meaning it has not been pasteurised or homogenised.
Pasteurisation – The process involves heating milk and then rapidly cooling it to destroy any potentially dangerous pathogens that may cause illness. This process also extends the shelf life of the milk, prolonging the stages before it sours.
Homogonisation – Natural, raw milk will separate if left to sit, the cream floating to the top. To make milk more ‘appealing’ to consumers, it’s homogenized so its consistency remains whilst sitting in the supermarket shelf and in our fridges. First the milk is put in a large barrel that is spun at high speeds and because warm fat molecules disintegrate more easily than cold ones, heat is often applied. The turbulence caused by the agitation starts breaking down the fat molecules. Next, the milk is forced through a microscopic sieve so the fats break apart further. Some techniques can reduce fat molecules by a factor of nearly 500.
Raw milk consists mainly of a combination of fats, protein and water with a whole bunch of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and antibodies. Raw milk is linked to:
- Healthy skin, hair and nails
- A strong immune system
- Reduced allergies
- Increased bone density
- Strong memory
- Strong, lean muscles
- Healthy sleeping patterns
It’s a pretty enticing list right? Well, the thing is, to see the benefits listed above, it’s extremely important that the animals were raised properly; on pasture. This means they were roaming freely, eating a diet of grasses/plants and they had full access to the elements (ie SUNSHINE!). Animals raised in sheds or fed on a diet of grain, will NOT produce high quality milk. They may in fact produce milk that contains higher amounts of the pathogens that pasteurisation is used to kill. See what I’m getting at here?
Picture this: Today’s modern dairy industry is massive. There is a HUGE demand for milk in Australia and the world over. So, naturally, businesses look at ways to increase milk production and keep costs low. This, sadly, lead to cows being raised in new modern, less than ideal ways, and therefore, they produce milk that is also less than ideal. But wait! Let’s pasteurise the milk to make it safe again…problem solved right? We can keep our high output (read high profit) and still produce safe milk for the public…. Problem is, these modern processing reduce the nutrient content of our milk greatly, and it also raises what I feel is an extremely important topic, animal rights. But I think that’s a topic for another day.
The difference in nutrient content
The below table shows how pasteurization dramatically reduces the nutrient content of our milk:
|Nutrient and Immune Factors||Pasteurized Milk||Raw Milk|
|Vitamin A||35% Reduction||100% Active|
|Vitamin C||25 to 77% Reduction||100% Active|
|Vitamin E||14% Reduction||100% Active|
|Iron||66% Reduction||100% Active|
|Zinc||70% Reduction||100% Active|
|B-Complex Vitamins||38% Reduction||100% Active|
|Calcium||21% Reduction||100% Active|
|Enzymes||100% Destroyed||100% Active|
|Whey Protein||Denatured||100% Active|
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, a 2007 survey of milk consumers in Michigan revealed that over 80% of people diagnosed with lactose intolerance can drink raw milk without any symptoms.
Freedom to choose
There is a group called the Australia Alliance for Raw Milk which is a group of farmers and consumers who believe they should have the freedom to choose what food or drink they consume, specifically raw milk. They are a great place to start if you want to remain up to date with the raw-milk-dealings in Aus.
Petition to legalise the sale of raw dairy in Australia
I advocate raw milk, raw butter, raw cream and raw cheese but sadly in Australia it is illegal to purchase them or if you are a farmer, its illegal to sell them. This Petition States; “We the undersigned, call on FSANZ to make the appropriate amendments to the national Food Standards act relating to Dairy Products, allowing its sale directly from farmer to consumer – legally.
I think its a petition worth signing, because we deserve the choice. You can sign it here