Raw Milk: Dangerous Health Risk or Miracle Healing Food?


Is raw milk dangerous or does it offer health benefits?

Both sides have their proponents. Detractors say drinking raw milk is an unacceptable health risk linked to outbreaks of listeria and e-coli. Champions counter that raw milk produced in pristine dairies from cows fed on their natural diet, grass, is a food with many healthy properties. It’s also argued that pasteurization destroys most of milk’s natural nutrients, including lactase-producing bacteria. (Lactase is the substance that helps people digest lactose.) Many lactose-intolerant people find they can tolerate raw milk.

The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in the middle. Raw milk was standard until urban dairies began to feed cows distillery slop, which made them sick and caused deadly illnesses in people. Outbreaks of diseases may have been traced to raw milk recently, but they’ve also been traced to pasteurized dairy products, lettuce, and hamburgers.

I check the farmer’s practices before deciding. A dairy called Organic Pastures produces the raw milk I drink, which I’m lucky enough to be able to buy at the grocery store in my state of California. Raw milk sales are legal in about half of the states in the US, but not generally in stores. In fact, there’s a growing movement toward cow shares that allow people to buy the milk directly from the dairy, which is another way to support family farmers.

Would you go raw?

Further Reading:

Boston Globe Online
Where to find raw milk near you!

Image: hans s

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.