So, here’s how a conversation with a good friend started this weekend: “Our raw milk farmer’s operation was just shut down—but we’ve already found a new one to take his place!”
She and her husband own a part of a cow in Pennsylvania—an awesome concept to me, always in search of ways to live naturally—from which they get fresh, raw milk and cheese products each month. As a co-op arrangement, several people support a local farmer, who in turn provides many households with clean, non-pasteurized dairy items from pasture-fed cows. Where can you find real raw milk sources near you? Here’s a good start...
When you drop the words “raw milk” or “kefir” in some circles, often people raise an eyebrow and make comments about how civilized you are. When, in fact, this is how many cultures have survived (and even thrived) for centuries, by consuming cultured or fermented dairy products. Only in the West is milk treated in a non-fermented way, which often strips it of its core nutrients.
So, what’s the big hype? I go first to my Weston Price Foundation resources—namely, a great cookbook by Sally Fallon that is filled with great introductory chapters and back-stories to the various food-types and recipes within, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition & the Diet Dictocrats (revised second edition, Washington, DC: New Trends Publishing, Inc., 2001).
Here, she outlines the main health benefits of these products.
“Before the age of industrialization, Europeans consumed milk as yoghurt, cheese … or curds and whey—without pasteurization or refrigeration, milk sours and separates spontaneously,” notes Fallon (p. 80). She then dives into the interesting history of how various cultures have made yoghurt and kefir over the years.
“Like the process of sprouting grains, fermentation of milk results in numerous beneficial changes. Fermentation breaks down casein, or milk protein, one of the most difficult proteins to digest … [also,] both the Vitamin B and C content of milk increase during fermentation” (Fallon, p. 81).
Other key benefits of cultured milk products:
- Lowers cholesterol.
- Protects against bone loss.
- Provides beneficial bacteria and lactic acid to digestive tract.
- Breaks down 30 to 40 percent of lactose.
- Provides essential protection against infectious disease.
All pretty good reasons why you should have this as a core element in your diet!
And, if you’re not into the cow co-op thing, I love the raw milk Gruyere cheese I find at Trader Joe’s or what Whole Foods has to offer. Better still, check out the Bethesda Co-op for a ton of options.
More resources on this movement from the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund: “defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient-dense foods.”