(Homesteading.news) Raw milk is gaining in popularity among people who are looking to eat a more natural and less processed diet. Although there is a large amount of variation in raw milk, true raw milk is milk from organic grass-fed cows that is cooled to 36-38 degrees Fahrenheit and then bottled for consumption. No homogenization, pasteurization, or filtering is part of the process. Raw milk that adheres to this definition is a complete and balanced food with healing properties and many health benefits.
Pasteurization has been used since the 1890`s to kill bacteria in milk including salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, e.coli, and brucella. However, in addition to the killing of the “bad” bacteria such as these, pasteurization also kills “good” bacteria such as lactobacillus. These good bacteria actually kill the bad bacteria that can contaminate milk and make people sick. Cows that are fed fresh grass are consuming the nutrients necessary to produce milk with a healthy amount of good bacteria thereby producing milk that is safe without pasteurization and full of health benefits.
Besides reducing the risk of food-borne illness, the good bacteria found in raw milk is beneficial (especially after the fermentation process that turns milk into yogurt or kefir) for the digestive tract because they produce enzymes which help break down protein. This can be especially beneficial for people with digestive issues that are related to medication, illness, or age. Other types of good bacteria found in raw milk work to change lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid. Lactic acid increases absorption of iron, phosphorus, and calcium.
Another benefit of raw milk is the high amount of conjugated linoleum acid (CLA). CLA is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid found in milk from grass-fed cows and is known to boost metabolism, reduce insulin resistance, strengthen the immune system, reduce allergic reactions to food, build muscle, and reduce abdominal fat. Grass fed cows are known to have three to five times more CLA than cows that are grain fed.
Since raw milk is not available commercially in the U.S., except some rare stores in New Mexico, California, and Connecticut, it takes some research to find a supplier. When deciding upon a supplier for raw milk it is imperative to be educated about the diet of the cows. The safety and health benefits of raw milk vary greatly based on diet. The milk from grain fed cows affects fat levels, nutrient levels, and must be tested more often than milk from grass-fed cows for safety. Ideally, cows should be fed organic fresh grass if possible. Homesteaders can, of course, have their own supply of raw milk, either from cows or goats, but you’ll have to have the space for them. This site recommends 2-5 acres for each milk cow, which can run anywhere from $1,000-$3,000.
That said, the health benefits of raw milk are numerous. Good bacteria and CLA make raw milk an excellent choice for consumers who choose to include dairy in their diet.
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