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The Raw Milk Debate Reaches the New York Times and the Washington Post

September 01, 2007 | 94,075 views
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The demand for raw, unpasteurized milk is booming. According to Sally Fallon, president for the Weston A. Price Foundation, the number of raw milk drinkers is now at about half a million people across the United States -- many of them willingly breaking the law, purchasing their milk from “underground black markets,” and other creative setups.

Twenty years ago, the Food and Drug Administration banned interstate sales of unpasteurized milk, but individual states determine how raw milk is allowed to be bought and sold within their borders. The sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal in 15 states, whereas 26 allow it with restrictions. Only a handful of states, including Washington and California, allow it to be sold in stores.

Gregory Miller, vice president of the National Dairy Council, claims drinking raw milk is like playing Russian roulette, asking, “Why would you take that risk?”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tested raw milk from 861 farms in 21 states in July 2007. Their report came back claiming nearly a quarter of the samples contained illness-causing bacteria, including five percent with listeria, three percent with salmonella, and four percent with less dangerous types of E. coli.

Raw-milk proponents claim it contains more nutritional value, and more antibodies and healthful enzymes than pasteurized milk. “What proponents of raw milk call ‘life forces,’ we call bacteria,” says Ted Elkin, deputy director of Maryland’s Office of Food Protection and Consumer Health Services.

But Sally Fallon points out that tainted dairy is only a problem when the milk comes from typical conventional dairy facilities. “That milk could pose a danger,” she says, “But milk from cows fed on pastures actually has [it‘s] own antimicrobial components that keep it safe.”

New York Times August 8, 2007

Washington Post August 7, 2007

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It's both grimly sad and a bit humorous, if you're on the satirical side, that "health protection agencies" are so quick to want to ban and limit foods that carry fairly minor health risks -- but lots of health benefits -- while leaving toxic, synthetic food additives and all sorts of junk foods by, claiming those chemical substances carry no health risk…  

You couldn't possibly convince me that eating fast food every day carries less of a health risk than drinking raw milk. I think they’re simply counting on your ignorance. 

Fortunately, you have access to a massive amount of information on this site, which is designed to give you the tools to create better health for yourself, instead of letting Big Business or government agencies make these decisions for you. 

If you've read this newsletter for a while, you know I am a strong advocate for raw milk. In my opinion, pasteurized milk is just simply not designed for your best long-term health interests and will invariably cause you problems if you drink it long enough.  

Could Your Health Benefit From Raw Milk? 

Many of my patients have gotten enormous benefit from raw milk, and I strongly recommend you consider it for a number of reasons: 

  • Raw milk still contains all of the valuable enzymes that are destroyed during pasteurization. Without them, milk is very difficult to digest. So if you have a lactose intolerance, it sill simply disappear once you start consuming raw dairy products.

  • Raw milk is an outstanding source of healthy, "good" bacteria and micronutrients, including lactobacillus, acidophilus, and vitamins, which are virtually eliminated by the pasteurization process of commercial milk. It is an outstanding nutrient to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestine.

  • Raw milk still contains natural butterfat, which is homogenized or removed in commercial milk. Without butterfat, the body cannot absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals in the water fraction of the milk. Butterfat is also the best source of preformed vitamin A, and contains re-arranged acids with strong anti-carcinogenic properties.

  • Raw milk does not contain synthetic vitamin D, which is known to be toxic to the liver, yet is still added to most commercial milk.

  • Raw milk contains healthy cholesterol.  

Pasteurizing milk destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamins, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, and promotes pathogens.

From my perspective, there’s simply no rational justification to ever drink pasteurized milk, even organic pasteurized milk.  

Once you heat milk, you distort the configuration -- the shape -- of the fragile milk protein, turning it from something good into something bad that will actually cause allergies and other autoimmune dysfunction. So, even if you start with organic milk from grass-fed cows, once you heat it the milk is ruined and should not be consumed.

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, raw-milk drinkers also rave about these additional benefits:

  • You feel the health benefits: Raw milk is not associated with any of the health problems surrounding pasteurized milk, such as rheumatoid arthritis, skin rashes, diarrhea, and cramps. Even people who have been allergic to pasteurized milk for many years can typically tolerate and even thrive on raw milk.
  • It tastes better: As with any food, fresher is always better and this applies to milk as well. Fresh raw milk is creamier and better tasting than pasteurized milk that has a shelf life of several weeks.

Are You Playing Russian Roulette if You Drink Raw Milk?

Dirty milk, of course, does carry its health risks. But Certified Grade A milk, produced under government supervision and guaranteed absolutely clean, is available practically all over the country and is the dairy farmer's answer to the pasteurization zealots.

You can also ask to see your farmer's bacteria count of the dairy for that week. Most will be happy you asked and proud to show you the quality of their dairy. As Sally Fallon notes, grass-fed cows, rather than those stuck in pens eating corn, are your healthiest, pathogen-free sources for raw milk.

Remember this though: just as with all other food recommendations, raw milk may not necessarily be a wonder food for everyone.

Listen to your body when you consume dairy -- if it doesn't agree with you, don't drink it. Simple as that. Your body will always give you the feedback you need to make the most optimal, health-promoting choices for you.

Where to Buy Raw Milk

Fortunately, no matter how far public health officials will go to discredit the benefits of raw milk, a growing number of Americans are choosing natural dairy sources, even though they may be breaking the law in some states.

If you're unable to find a local source for raw milk, visit the Real Milk site to find a provider close to you. You can also review this link for raw milk availability and restrictions by state. The Weston Price Foundation is an amazing resource to help you locate and secure raw milk. I’m on their advisory board and would encourage you to consider joining their organization.  One of the most practical options is forming a "cow share" program where you actually pay the farmer to own a part of his cow and then pay him to milk the cow for you as it is legal for anyone who owns a cow to drink raw milk. The only challenge is selling it, unless of course you live in California, where selling raw milk is perfectly legal.

Despite opponents' smear campaigns, designed to scare you away from one of the healthiest foods out there, I'm still encouraged, because this is a great example of how public demand forces changes for the better.   

Consumers voting with their dollars do have incredible power, so keep pressing for positive change, using your wallet!


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