What is raw milk? And why is raw milk illegal?

14 Jul

I ran across the term raw milk a couple days ago, and I started to wonder–what is raw milk? I have spent a little time reading about it on the internet to understand raw milk, and where I could find it in my local area.

I personally don’t drink milk (my husband does), but I really wanted to make my own cheese this summer. As I began to look into making cheese and butter, I really was pursuing the production for the health benefits. Naturally, I assumed I would start my cheesemaking adventure with organic milk. But after learning about raw milk, I wonder if that’s a better option…

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So ideally, the healthiest milk would come from one cow, who was grass fed, treated humanely without hormones or antibiotics. Doesn’t sound like alot to ask for, but apparently it is.

Yes, I said ONE COW.  Conventional milk (that you buy from the store, even organic) could come from hundreds, if not thousands of different cows.   It also has been exposed to either pasteurization, irradiation or other processes that kill all of the “bad” bacteria. If it’s not organic, it probably has hormones and antibiotics (not so fun fact:70% of drugs in the US go for livestock). I’ll do some research on raw milk and probiotics later….but here’s a little more about pasteurization if you’re curious.

If you own a cow, or live in a rural area, you may have  already had raw milk.  However, “back in the 20s, Americans could buy fresh raw whole milk, real clabber and buttermilk, luscious naturally yellow butter, fresh farm cheeses and cream in various colors and thicknesses.”

It’s a pretty simple concept, actually. Raw milk is milk that has not been processed. And yes, in case you didn’t know it (like I didn’t) all milk is processed if you paid for it.

That’s right, if you paid for it. What do you mean? Well, sale or purchase of raw milk is actually illegal in my state (Hawaii). Check if raw milk is illegal where you live. I’m not talking about illegal in the sense that its one of those silly, outdated law that are taken lightly. There are actually farmers who have been prosecuted for breaking the law–a cease and desist letter was  delivered to one of the two farms in the state of Hawaii, which scared the owner enough into no longer offering raw milk.

If you think all milk is created equal, think again…

So if it’s illegal in some states it must be bad–there has to be some reason why it is illegal, right? Well, from what I’ve read, the FDA thinks so–check out their identified “dangers” as of June 20.  But, to be honest, the FDA is stacked with those holding inside corporate interest, and I don’t really trust them.

The irony in the law is the fact that raw milk is actually really healthy.  Actually raw milk is consumed in many countries in Asia and Europe.  The French actually consider it high grade for cheese consumption. But the FDA makes it scary! Don’t get me wrong –there are always risks, but most of those risks really have to do with proper food handling.  For example, you can get eColi from meat or vegetables like sprouts (we did in March, actually), but raw sprouts aren’t illegal.

What are some benefits of raw milk? Here’s what I found:

  1. lactobacillus acidolphilus present (great for digestive health)
  2. more vitamins and enzymes
  3. not subject to pasteurization
  4. no hormones or anti-biotics
  5. lactose intolerant people can drink it without problems
  6. fresh and natural

You can read more about raw milk in these sources as well.

So as the saying goes “if you can get the milk without the cow” (I couldn’t resist)….it’s probably not as high quality of milk.  Will I be trying raw milk soon? Maybe–but I know that I can’t buy it.

Now how do I go about putting a cow in my small backyard….


3 Responses to “What is raw milk? And why is raw milk illegal?”

  1. Ariella July 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    It is illegal here in Colorado as well :( Some of the local farmers get away with selling it though by offering it as a “share” so you essentially are buying part of the cow. So you have an ownership to that cow so since you own the cow you can do what you wish with it which means drink raw milk.

    It is unfortunate that we live in a society that thinks factory farming is ok and antibiotics given to animals which all is incredibly damaging to planet and humans is ok BUT raw milk is not.

    I have read the stories about the farmers getting prosecuted as well. It is really incredibly unfortunate.

    • Nicole August 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

      I agree that prosecuting farmers is sad–reminds me of Monsanto suing farmers over seeds. I feel like if the public knew, no one would have a problem with raw milk. Living in an island state, I’m lucky to have a farm that does a “share.” From what I’ve learned, all the other islands don’t have the option.

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  1. Dairies in Hawaii | Natural Food Mama - February 17, 2013

    [...] year, I wrote about how raw milk is illegal in the state of Hawaii. So, not only can you NOT buy milk from a local farm legally, but you cannot buy ANY local organic [...]

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