Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
20 May

Is Raw Milk Really Better?

raw milkI don’t drink much, if any, milk. A little cream in my morning coffee, good cheese regularly, some yogurt and kefir on occasion are about the extent of my dairy consumption. But milk? That pure white untouched fluid gushing from swollen udders? No, not really. Not anymore. It’s certainly a nutrient-dense food, don’t get me wrong, and I’m good at breaking down lactose. I just don’t see the need for it in my regular diet.

Ambivalence and lack of personal investment aside, I can’t ignore the bitter debate raging between raw milk advocates and raw milk skeptics. I may not have a personal dog in this fight (for what it’s worth, I seem to tolerate pasteurized milk just fine), and lots of Primal folks reading this are in the same boat, but many of my readers do drink milk — or would like to drink it if a healthier version existed. Raw milk may or may not be that version. Plus, it’s always interesting to wade into the fray to see whose claims are science-based and whose aren’t.

So let’s get to it.

What effects, if any, does pasteurization have on the nutritional content of raw milk?

It reduces the copper, iron, and manganese levels present in raw milk. Of course, raw milk is a fairly modest source of these minerals. You don’t drink milk for the iron or manganese, and a 1922 study, for example, found that the average content of copper in fresh (raw) milk was 0.53 mg/L (PDF).

It lowers vitamins B12, B1, B2, C, E, and folate concentrations. And it degrades beta lactoglobulin, a whey protein that increases intestinal vitamin A absorption, possibly reducing the amount of vitamin A/retinol we absorb from the milk.

What about dairy intolerance?

When a 2014 Stanford study concluded that raw milk has no beneficial effect on lactose intolerance, skeptics rejoiced. Before we grant them the victory, let’s look at the design of the study. Stanford researchers had put out a call for people who suffered from lactose intolerance when consuming pasteurized milk. 440 respondents showed up to the trial, all of whom had what they assumed to be lactose intolerance; in other words, they couldn’t drink pasteurized milk without stomach upset, diarrhea, and/or other acutely negative symptoms. After the screening, all but 16 were disqualified. How can this be? Were most of the volunteers lying? The researchers screened applicants using the hydrogen breath test, a method that detects the amount of hydrogen in a person’s breath following lactose consumption. If lactose is poorly digested by the host (you) and becomes food for gut bacteria, the gut bugs produce hydrogen which appears in your breath. A 10-20 ppm increase in breath hydrogen indicates clinical lactose malabsorption. The Stanford researchers admitted only those applicants who experienced lactose intolerance symptoms and whose breath hydrogen increased by at least 25 ppm after lactose ingestion. People who merely experienced symptoms were excluded.

Nail in the coffin? For clinical lactose intolerance, perhaps (setting aside the small sample size). If that sounds like a decisive “win” for the anti-raw milk crowd in general, though, I’m not convinced. Even though they may not necessarily have clinical lactose intolerance, many people still can’t tolerate milk. Sure enough, studies show that self-reported milk intolerance doesn’t help identify lactose malabsorption. One isn’t necessarily the other. They still have gastrointestinal issues with milk, even if it’s not the lactose. Millions of raw milk consumers, some of whom flout the law and pay exorbitant prices to obtain the stuff simple because they can’t tolerate pasteurized milk, report complete cessation of symptoms when drinking raw milk. Are they all lying or mistaken?

The focus on lactose, then, may be a red herring. The real problem could be some yet-to-be-elucidated effect of pasteurization.

What about immune health?

In 2010, Chris Masterjohn wrote a post extolling and, most importantly, explaining in great detail the “biochemical magic” of raw dairy proteins. The whey proteins beta-lactoglobulin and serum albumin in particular have a unique structure providing two thirds of the backbone required for making glutathione. So when animals — in this case, rats — consume raw whey, their glutathione levels increase because most of the work is already done. Undenatured whey proteins (which, since pasteurization denatured proteins, only comes from raw milk) are able to boost glutathione, the human body’s premier endogenous/homegrown antioxidant used to fight oxidative stress, improve immunity and prevent alcohol-related toxicity, but this effect is greatly reduced or even absent once the milk is heated.

That’s all well and good for lab rats, but does this increased glutathione production lead to any real-world benefits for human raw milk drinkers?

We know that improving glutathione status through other means, like supplementation, certainly helps.

Taking NAC improves glutathione status and protects against PUFA and alcohol-induced oxidative stress.

Taking curcumin (bioactive component of turmeric) improves glutathione status and also protects against PUFA and alcohol-induced oxidative stress.

Taking alpha lipoic acid improves glutathione status and the health of HIV patients.

According to Masterjohn’s calculations, the average 8 ounce glass of raw milk will help a person produce an additional 9.3 milligrams of glutathione, more than double the 4.5 milligrams a cup of pasteurized milk provides. To see if this might translate to benefits for raw milk consumers, let’s look at a pair of studies.

The first examined children from rural communities in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria habitually consuming fresh raw farm milk. After adjusting for farm status (whether they lived on farms), specific location, age, sex, breastfeeding history, family size, and the presence of asthma in the family tree, raw milk consumption was protective against asthma. Compared to children who exclusively consumed pasteurized milk, less-than-daily raw milk drinkers were 40% less likely to have asthma and daily raw milk drinkers were 50% less likely to have asthma. Again, this is after controlling for all other variables that might affect asthma status. Furthermore, if a family boiled raw milk before consuming it at home, the protective relationship between fresh farm milk and asthma was abolished.

Another study from last year found that consumption of unprocessed cow’s milk protects infants from common respiratory infections. Researchers tracked 983 infants from rural areas in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, and Switzerland through the first year of life, finding that raw milk consumption protected against rhinitis, otitis, fever, and respiratory tract infections. Raw milk-drinking babies also had lower C-reactive protein levels than other infants. Overall, raw milk consumption in the first year of life reduced the chance of fever and respiratory infections by 30%. Similar results were found among infants consuming raw milk boiled at home, but the associations were weaker than for untouched raw milk.

Neither study proves causation, but they’re both quite suggestive of real differences between raw milk and pasteurized milk when it comes to immune disorders, especially given what we know about the effect raw milk has on glutathione status — a major regulatory of immunity.

Is it safe?

Interestingly, raw milk is actually somewhat resistant to bacterial contamination and proliferation. As far back as 1929 (PDF), researchers considered it common knowledge that “fresh milk… will inhibit the growth of a variety of organisms, while when milk is heated at a temperature of 80 °C or more the inhibitory principle is destroyed.” But it’s not immune to pathogens, and those who drink raw milk are more still more likely to get sick from milk-borne pathogens than consumers of pasteurized milk. And when a person does get sick from drinking raw milk, however rare it may be, it can be serious. Take the four children from Oregon who ended up in the hospital after drinking milk contaminated with E. coli in 2012, or the Missouri outbreak that put two people in the hospital with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure caused by E. coli infection. No sugarcoating; it’s the simple truth that raw milk can be dangerous. However, the absolute risk of hospitalization from raw milk consumption is low: about 1 in a million. Most things we do and eat are “risky,” in that they carry some modicum of risk. But they can still be worth doing or eating, like real brie cheese or raw oysters on the half shell or tacos at midnight from a Puerto Vallarta side street cart.

Are there actually any documented differences in people drinking raw vs pasteurized milk?

Beside the epidemiological studies of the European farm kids mentioned earlier, there’s not much in the literature to go on. However, it’s well-known that unpasteurized human breastmilk is better for infants than the pasteurized stuff, with an extensive body of literature showing the former’s superiority:

Infants given raw expressed breastmilk gain more weight. They’re less susceptible to infections. Those are major documented differences between raw and pasteurized milk drinkers. Sure, they’re drinking human milk, not cow or goat or sheep milk, but the salient point is that pasteurization is altering the effects of consumed milk. Proof? No. But it makes all those millions of people shelling out $14 a gallon for raw milk because they can finally drink milk again seem a little less crazy and a bit more justified.

Should you drink raw milk? It’s tough to say. Most adults aren’t really missing out on much by not drinking raw milk. But if you are drinking milk, a good, clean source of raw milk might be worth trying. And you can always heat it up at home if you’re worried about contamination. The tricky part about all this is that the population who stands to gain the most from regular raw milk consumption — children, those tiny humans who are still developing their immune systems and are most likely to develop asthma and rhinitis and other immune disorders, which raw milk may protect against — is also the most susceptible to infectious raw-milk borne diseases.

The decision ultimately rests with you. Yes, you, the individual reading this post. That decision should remain yours to make. Not a government agent. Not the FDA. Not me.

I almost forgot. I will sometimes keep a little raw milk on hand. Not for me. For my dogs. Yeah, after a particularly hard hike or play session, I’ll occasionally give the furballs some raw cow or goat milk. They love it and nothing changes in their stool. Dog owners know: a dog’s poop is a direct conduit to his immediate physiological state. If they eat something that doesn’t agree with them, they’ll let you know in the backyard right away. Now pasteurized milk? Another story entirely. They only got it once, and on accident. Terrible, stinky diarrhea. Audible farts. Whining. That miserable hangdog look man’s best friend is so good at delivering.

What to make of this? Placebo effect’s out. Dogs are smart in their own way, but these are dogs we’re talking about. Milks were all full-fat. The pasteurized stuff was homogenized, which could have made a difference. All were organic. I’ve got to think it was the pasteurization.

This is a tough topic. There are definitely clear differences and some potential benefits to raw milk consumption, but there are also safety risks, however minimal and overblown. Raw milk might help your kid stave off asthma and optimize his immune function, but it could also land him in the hospital (if you’re one of the rare few).

The only person who can answer the titular question is you. So, let’s hear it down below:

Is raw milk worth it to you and your family? Do you notice differences when you drink raw milk? What about pasteurized?

Is raw milk really better, in your experience?

Thanks for reading, everyone.

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You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Imma stick to my almond milk …

    Erica wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Your almond milk SILK or the other is front loaded with CHALK and vitD2 man made -d2 is aspergillus mold , if your making your own –great –store your adding to the decline of your health

      ed wrote on May 21st, 2015
      • wow — thanks for this info Ed

        healthywings wrote on May 24th, 2015
  2. Tangent alert! Your blog reminds me of John Muir’s irritation with dairy lovers:

    “Bread without butter or coffee without milk is an awful calamity, as if everything before being put in our mouth must first be held under a cow.”

    Monikat wrote on May 20th, 2015
  3. I wonder if a mother drinking raw milk while breastfeeding would add any benefits to the infection protective qualities of her milk.

    Curious wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Anecdotally speaking, there are benefits. When my sister began drinking raw milk, my niece began showing improvement. She had a difficult birth and was not putting on weight. I think many of her issues were due to being given antibiotics shortly after birth and having to build up her gut from square zero. Anyhoo, once my sister switched from drinking organic pasteurized to organic raw milk, my niece stopped projectile vomiting immediately after nursing.

      alpacagirl wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • There are types of cow’s milk called “hyper-immune milk” where the cow’s are treated so their milk can have additional so-called “healthy” properties and passed on to those that consume it.

      inquisitor wrote on May 22nd, 2015
    • What about a mother drinking her own breast milk while breastfeeding?

      Tenacious wrote on June 3rd, 2015
  4. There has been a death in Australia and an ongoing debate.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-12/raw-milk-ruling-goes-against-sa-farmer/6460058

    and:
    The three-year-old child who died developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome, a rare bacterial illness that leads to kidney failure. The death is being investigated by the coroner.

    The other four children aged between one and five became seriously ill in recent weeks following infections linked to the milk, but have since recovered. Three of the children had haemolytic uraemic syndrome and two others had cryptosporidiosis, a parasitic infection that commonly presents as gastroenteritis with watery diarrhoea.

    Dr Lester said raw milk could contain dangerous bacteria and parasites and posed a heightened risk for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with underlying health problems.

    dave riley wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • So bottom line spinach is still killing WAY more peeps than raw milk, ya?

      Gino wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • None of the tests have confirmed the bacteria was present in any of the products sold.

      Chris wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • This is the problem – if you want to be safe, you almost have to get your own cow, otherwise you don’t really know how long the raw milk has been on the shelf, and where it’s been.

      Tribal Barbarian wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • I’ve been drinking raw milk for nearly 7 years, I love it, my wife and I were buying and consuming 6Lt per week for about 5 of those years.
        My daughter asked me how I could go through so much milk, what do I have it in, coffee? tea?… A glass I said.
        Getting back to your “problem”, I am more confident drinking raw milk from a farm that produces nothing but raw milk because I know the farmer has his staff checked for health issues every fortnight… and a vet checks his cows every week. If someone came to me and said I have my own cow and we have too much milk this week, do you want some? I think I’d pass.
        The milk I buy is “Bath Milk” as it is illegal to sell raw milk here for human consumption, it is dated with a use by. I’ve never experienced any to go “off”. Raw milk does not go rotten like pasteurised milk, it “Sours” and basicly becomes yoghurt… not very nice in your coffee but quite OK in a glass.
        I don’t use as much these days, my wife isn’t using much at all as it is very nutrient rich, she found it easier to keep her weight down without it.
        But I use 2Lt per week easily and sometimes get 4Lt just so I can guzzle it for a change.
        I must add that if I could no longer buy raw milk, I would go without milk altogether, pasteurised is poison as far as I’m concerned an tastes like cr*p as well when compared.

        Mark wrote on June 21st, 2016
    • If I’m reading the article correctly, the boy who died had consumed milk that was intended for bathing, not human consumption.

      brad wrote on May 21st, 2015
      • Any milk to be legally sold for human consumption (eating, drinking) in Aussie must be pasteurised.

        Non-pasteurised milk is sold in VERY few outlets but can not be sold as food – To get around this issue it’s labeled and sold as “bath” or “bathing” milk ( often with a note staying not for consumption)

        The seller knows it will be used as food, the buyer intends to use it as unpasteurised food – if directly asked, the seller will say it can’t be sold as food ( or “it’s not for human consumption”).

        Mitch wrote on May 21st, 2015
        • Raw goat milk is legal to sell in Australia for human consumption. It doesn’t have the same bacteria that cow’s milk has.

          sammi wrote on May 21st, 2015
      • See post above, It would have been “Bath Milk” as it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption here in Australia, NOT illegal to consume it, only to sell it.

        Mark wrote on June 21st, 2016
    • We, the Australian raw milk consumers, are all still awaiting the results of the coroner’s inquest on the little boy who passed away. The little boy consumed a small amount of raw milk approximately two months before falling ill with e-coli. It is very suspicious to say the least that Australian authorities attempted in any way to connect the e-coli infection that took place in this family with consumption of a food a full two months earlier. No doubt e-coli was the culprit, but I cannot see it ever being connected with the tragic death of that child.

      For those who think that a person CAN come down with an e-coli infection two months after consuming a food, I would suggest that at the very least, the effect of making raw milk illegal for sale for human consumption simply means it is not a regulated food. There are many people, myself amongst them, who consume raw milk daily, and it appears we are not being given our human right to make our own basic food choices, or the right as a tax-payer to expect a common and traditional food to be properly regulated.

      Aussie Sutra wrote on May 21st, 2015
    • Strangely enough this incident happened late last year, over 5 months ago now. Why is there no report from the coroner yet? I would have thought it would have been a high priority.

      Why not just regulate the raw milk industry so farmers don’t have to sell it for “cosmetic purposes”? It’s all about protecting someone’s profits I think…..and it’s not the farmers.

      IanB wrote on May 25th, 2015
  5. I wish you would have mentioned homogenization too. It is often difficult to find milk which has been pasteurized but NOT homogenized. The two tend to go hand-in-hand in milk production, and homogenization is a bigger threat than pasteurization. As my friend (who runs a raw goat milk dairy farm) says, “Pasteurization makes milk dead. Homogenization makes it DEADLY.”

    Tamara wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Just out of interest…. How?

      Lindsey wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Lindsey,
        Homogenization mutates the milk particles into tiny, microscopic particles. When consumed, these particles get into the blood stream and they cut up the arterial walls. Then your body sends cholesterol to the cuts in your arteries to patch them. This then causes clogs in your arteries. I believe the homogenization of dairy products is one of the leading culprits in our high percentage of heart disease related deaths. Chlorine and fluoride do the same thing.

        Brian Smith wrote on May 22nd, 2015
        • Sigh, it’s amazing how people continue to tout discredited ideas like Kurt Oster’s homogenization nonsense. Sounds real scientific too, but then you realize it’s all about “I believe” rather than solid evidence.

          zach wrote on May 22nd, 2015
    • There are two dairies in my state that produce grass-fed Jersey milk that’s lightly (lower-temp) pasteurized but not homogenized, and sell it in half-gallon glass bottles. Good stuff. There’s another that has non-homogenized Holstein milk, but I haven’t tried theirs.

      castlerobber wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Same in Minnesota

        Susan wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • In MN, you may be close enough to get the Kalona brand whole milk, which is vat pasteurized, but not homogenized. It’s from a co-op of small farms near Kalona, IA. We have it here in eastern SD. Organic Valley’s grassmilk is the same. Non-homogenized, cream top. My kids go through it pretty fast.
          Kalona’s cheese, heavy cream, and sour cream are always in my fridge. It’s great stuff. All grass-fed.

          His Dudeness wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Kalona Brand is SuperNatural? We get that in Denver.

          Cliff wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Yes, if your Hy-Vee doesn’t carry Kolona just ask for it. They will get it in asap.

          Karen wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Cow’s milk has rather large fat globules, the cream, which rises to the top. You will be hard put to make butter from goat’s milk because the fat globules are very small, rather like having been pre-homogenized by the goat, therefore the fat tends to stay in suspension. Goat’s milk is a natural colloidal suspension regarding the fat. Homogenized cow’s milk is a mechanically-made colloidal suspension. Still, there could be a health connection between naturally homogenized goat’s milk and mechanically induced homogenization of cow’s milk.

      By the way, to make butter from goat’s milk you have to let the milk sit in the refrigerator for 2-3 days then skim off the very thin layer of cream that eventually will rise to the top. Retain it, then repeat the process until you have enough cream to make butter.

      D. M. Mitchell wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Tamara is right that homogenization is one of the most important issues. While I will not defend or attack milk use, the homogenization process of cow’s milk is definitely an issue for many people. I have friends and several in-laws that have been medically diagnosed as lactose-intolerant, but when they have tried raw dairy milk or cheese, they do not have the lactose-intolerant symptoms/problems. The unnatural homogenization process is just another food manufacturer method of making something “presentable”, instead of useful or necessary. Just like other processed foods, avoid homogenized milk.

      Manfred wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Thanks for mentioning the homogenization fact. You are absolutely correct!

      andrew wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Organic Valley and Kalona dairy both now sell “Cream on Top” milk that is pasteurized but not homogenized.

      I love it. Raw would be even better, but Cream Top stuff is satisfying somehow. I also get a lot of raw cheese. If raw milk is aged enuf, somehow that handles the offensive germs as effectively as pasteurization. That is something well worth knowing about.

      Esther Cook wrote on May 20th, 2015
  6. I would love to give it a try; however, the sale of raw milk is banned in my state. If I wanted to go buy a pack of cigarettes and a 6-pack of beer though, no problem.
    I think the risk of raw milk is blown out of proportion in politics and find it really unfair that this is not a decision I’m allowed to make on my own. I’d also love to support my local farmers.

    gina wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Trust me it is not overblown.

      Todd Nelson wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • My family and I have been drinking raw milk for three years now. We have never been sick. I got to know the farm and her farmer and how it is processed, I buy the milk directly from him, on the farm. The farm that I buy from has never been linked to any E.Coli outbreaks or health problems. There has not been one outbreak of anything due to raw milk in my state for decades.

        My little boy was having serious nosebleeds, allergies, and all kinds of other health problems that went away after drinking raw milk. During weeks that I can’t make it to the farm and have to pick up some pasteurized milk, the nose bleeds come back and the allergies get worse.
        We limit dairy intake anyway, but we use the raw milk in cereal, tea, coffee, etc. The risk is overblown in the media, but you do have to be careful, I wouldn’t buy raw dairy products from anywhere else but this farmer unless I had time to do the research. It also sours more quickly and needs to be kept under 40 degrees, so I bring a cooler with me for the trip home.

        Tina wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • I’m curious if you’ve ever tried vat pasteurized milk and if so how he reacted to it?

          Erik wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • My grandparents (mother’s side) were born in Africa and drank raw milk their entire lives, no one ever got sick – My grandfather died at 94 and grandmother at 111. My parents drank raw milk until the 90s. My father died young (drinking, smoking, work killed him likely) but my mother is healthy at 80 and looks more like in her 50s. All except my father were vegetarians (not vegans) their entire lives.

          Amir wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • It is completely overblown. If you knew the science and politics behind it you would understand but apparently you do not.

        John wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • I agree, Todd. If I owned the milk cow and had total control over the milking process and cleanliness of the equipment used, I might drink raw milk. With commercial raw milk, there is total control over nothing; there is only blind faith in someone else’s ability and desire to get it right. IMO, the questionable benefits of commercial raw dairy simply aren’t worth the risks.

        Shary wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Right, because sickening your customer base is always good for business. I’m sure they don’t care about the cleanliness of their equipment. Why should they?

          Richie wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Sickening the customer base happens all the time, Richie, or do you not follow the news? It’s incredibly naive to think that any food is completely safe simply because it’s bad for business to sicken the buyers.

          Shary wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Meh. The risks are there, but I’d be more worried about being sickened by commercial raw spinach or melons, as they seem to be doing most of the sickening lately.
          I don’t drink milk personally, raw or otherwise. But it should be up to individuals whether they trust their sources.

          His Dudeness wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Companies will do what they can to ensure quality control – but its the odd cases when something unexpected happens – for example, cases in McDonalds where employees have spat in a hamburger and given it to customers for a laugh – we’ll they did say the sauce in a Big Mac is “special sauce”, at no point do they make a claim as to what the “special sauce” might be

          Tribal Barbarian wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Great, so they can go out of business AFTER I’m dead? Would you still say this if it were you or someone you loved who was sickened? Raw milk is just too risky. And for heaven’s sake, we’re PALEO, remember? We get our nutrients from meat and veggies. Milk is a flavor and texture comfort, not a vitamin pill.

          oxide wrote on May 21st, 2015
        • Raw milk is not commercialized. At least not in my state.
          Nor should it be. I don’t own the cow, but I know exactly what the farmer is doing. I see him every week when I go to buy my milk. I see the cows out eating grass in the field, I see the place where they are milked and how it is bottled.
          Raw milk is something that needs to be carefully thought about and bought from a farmer who knows what he is doing, it takes an educated consumer and educated farmer working together. It is not something that the industrialized food industry should ever take over, and that is why there is such a bunch of nonsense about it.

          Tina wrote on May 22nd, 2015
      • Hubby has been drinking raw milk almost every day for 10 years and has never gotten sick from it or anything else.

        Suzan wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • According to the people at Real Milk (http://www.realrawmilkfacts.com/PDFs/pasteurized-dairy-outbreak-table.pdf) who did an extensive search of illnesses caused by pasteurized milk, from 1998 to 2010 there were 2,200 fluid milk-related illnesses resulting in three deaths; 604 cheese-related illnesses (573 from non-Mexican style cheese and 31 from Mexican style queso fresco) resulting in one death (from the queso fresco); and 36 powdered milk-related illnesses.

        Then there is the recent listeria outbreak from Blue Bell company, which the CDC says to eat no Blue Bell products. (http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/ice-cream-03-15/) Three deaths have been confirmed.

        D. M. Mitchell wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • You had better explain yourself mate, after making such a curt reply! Obviously you are a milk hater?

        Jonathan wrote on May 20th, 2015
  7. You left out a confounding variable that might be particularly important regarding your dogs. Commercial milk is homogenized as well as pasteurized. Homogenization is the process that breaks apart the milk fat globules so they stay in suspension rather than separating out. I don’t have a ready source, but I have been led to believe that Homogenization is the bigger culprit in the digestablity issues of commercial milk.

    Jonathan Inskeep wrote on May 20th, 2015
  8. As with most things in life, I take what I think will benefit me personally from this blog and ignore the things that I might not agree with. This topic however has incited me to write a response. In life we all chose what level of risk we wish to take vs what the potential gain may be. Despite growing up on a dairy farm, I would never drink nor give my children unpasteurized milk or cider. The potential benefits simply do not outweigh the risks.

    Of course my judgement is clouded by the loss of an 18 month old daughter to E. coli and eventual H.U.S. Food borne bacteria is rampant in our food supply and we hold some responsibility in ensuring our family’s food is safe.

    Todd Nelson wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • So true, you only have to think at what end of the animal the udder is situated to appreciate the risks of contamination.

      Stefan wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • You have much more chance being killed in a car accident getting the raw milk from the shop, than dying from a raw milk pathegen

      Tribal Barbarian wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Having said that though, I agree, I drink pasturised, and don’t see the benefit versus the potential risks, its like people who follow raw vegan diets just to prove a point.

      Tribal Barbarian wrote on May 20th, 2015
  9. Being in Kentucky I have no idea where to find Raw Milk (since I guess it is illegal) But is also something I’m not that interested in anymore. I used to drink lots of milk, but it has honesty been decades since I have actually drank a class. Sometimes I use it on cooking, or maybe have a little cream. I do love cheese, and finding raw milk cheese or grass fed cheese is pretty easy. I’m not sure I would drink Raw milk even if it was easy to get, but both my wife and son drink Milk so I would love to see if become a thing.

    David Birney wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • In Kentucky we have J&D Country Milk available which is low temp pasteurized and non homogenized, sold in glass bottles returnable for deposit. It’s friggin awesome! If you’re interested you may want to try it.

      Tonya wrote on May 22nd, 2015
  10. I use raw milk to make my kefir. The grains love it. We have a cow share which is the legal way to obtain milk where it’s deemed illegal to sell. As an owner of the cow I can use the milk. The cows are grass-fed which I think adds more benefit to the milk as well.

    Cathy Melchiori wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Yes! You have just mentioned a very important aspect of good raw milk- that it come from GRASS FED cows! And if those pastures are managed organically all the better. Know your farmer, visit the farm. We’ve been drinking raw milk for years and we are all very healthy, including my two small granddaughters who were (of course) breast fed but now drink raw milk. They never have to go to the doctor except for regular checkups. No allergies or ear infections… Also son in law was “lactose intolerant” but is totally able to drink the raw stuff. I have to cross state lines to get it, but it’s worth it. For info about the benefits check out the Weston Price foundation’s Campaign for Real Milk.
      And I totally agree with Mark- the decision to drink it should be an individual one, not the government’s! I could go out today in my state and legally buy a gun, cigarettes, and alcohol which are all potentially deadly, but I can’t buy raw milk??

      Mary wrote on May 21st, 2015
  11. We switched to primal/paleo when my daughter was three months old. She was exclusively breastfed for six months, then we did baby led weaning with whole foods following primal principles. I continued to nurse her for a further nine months (or expressed, but rarely, as she refused a bottle). Otherwise she drank water only.
    Because I started work when she was eleven months old we started transitioning her to raw milk along with breast milk at that point,, and then she weaned completely at fifteen months, drinking just raw cow mik.

    We are extremely fortunate that she seems so far to be a very healthy child. Occasional sniffles to be sure, and two stomach upsets that lasted a couple of days each, and she’s had a mild fever, I think, four times.
    Of course, I can’t say for sure it’s because of her diet, including raw milk, but I have observed that her digestion and general health seem to be better than that of the children of many of my friends, especially at the baby and toddler stage.
    Also, my husband and his mother both suffer moderate to servere asthma, initially presenting around the age of two. It is a common condition in their family, and we watched our daughter carefully around that age, but so far she has had no problems at all, so we continue to hope she had dodged that bullet!

    She just has milk in the morning now, and sometimes kefir and yoghurt (those are pasteurized as we buy them). Oddly enough, she hates cheese, except for grilled halloumi, so her dairy intake is all drinks.

    Raw milk is expensive, and we’re lucky to have a source (UK) but it was entirely worth it!

    evergreen wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Curious to know if your child was vaccinated? I love the fact that your feeding habits may have contributed to health, but wondering if maybe it was the lack of vaccines that helped her with resilience. Otherwise, it would be very comforting to know that although she was vaccinated – the raw milk/breast milk took precedence and strengthened her immune system. I personally believe that vaccinated children fall to the “typical” colds, illnesses, allergies, etc. more often.

      T wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Hi! Yes she had her shots (I don’t subscribe to the ‘vaccines are evil’ philosophy, I think hard immunity is essential), which I think were MMR and a couple others when she was a baby. She didn’t have the TB as she’s not high-risk, and she’ll have HPV later.
        We live in London, high population density so illnesses can spread fast. There were a couple of cases of Scarlet Fever at her preschool recently.

        But I’ve never worried about sterilizing things or lots of handwashing; she plays in the garden and then eats an apple, and when it’s warm goes barefoot wherever possible. At least, in the park where dogs don’t go, as people can be damn inconsiderate about letting their dogs crap everywhere.

        Oddly enough she does have sensitive skin, but then so does my husband. We do like Epsom salt and clay baths!

        evergreen wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Seriously? Are we still having the vaccine debate? I hope Mark does an article on that research! – and more importantly on the fabricated research the has been touted so often in the anti-vax world.
        BOTH my children were vaccinated and are EXTREMELY healthy. They are almost never sick – both are teens now and I can count on 1 hand the number of times they have been ill in their lives. They were both breast fed and eat a healthy diet. We don’t drink raw milk because we don’t like the taste of it. We do eat raw cheese and other pastured dairy though.

        JC wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Yes, there is still a vaccine debate. A very large one. There is a body of information that raises a lot of questions about the safety and efficacy of immunizations. It’s great that your children responded so well to them, however, not all children do. There is fabricated “research” on both sides of the issue, but either way, there’s not enough to support saying with 100% certainty that vaccines are completely safe and should be compulsory.

          Starla wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Huh. I’ll be glad when someone finally comes up with something that’s 100% certain in this world. Apart from “death and taxes”, as the saying goes. Until then, I’m not sure that’s the standard we should require when weighing the pros and cons of vaccination. Clearly there’s still a debate, but it’s largely an emotional one, based on fear triggers (and in recent history, promoted by a fraudulent scientist being paid by lawyers to find a positive link between vaccination and autism).

          JJ wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Please vaccinate your kids!
        The reason people came up with those vaccines was not to be mean but because children were dying of those diseases. When the vaccines first became available, parents lined up to get their children shot, and they did it because they had seen what the diseases could do. We are privileged to have not seen them, so people think vaccination is not necessary, but the reason that you haven’t seen them is… vaccination. If people start running out and refusing vaccinations, there is no reason whatever that the diseases will not return. Your children are not magical, and all the liver and raw milk in the world will not make them immune to contagious disease. Slightly less susceptible, sure. Immune, no.
        Vaccination is a challenge to the immune system, no question. It leaves kids grumpy for a couple days. Occasionally a kid spikes a real fever. But these diseases are genuinely dangerous, and vaccination only works to prevent them if people vaccinate.
        Even if vaccinations were causing autism, which all the evidence indicates they do not do in any statistically significant way*, the autism rate today is lower than the infectious disease death rate before vaccinations. You still come out ahead.
        * There is a condition where the person will be normal until their first good fever and then come down with autism-like symptoms, but any fever will trigger it, not just vaccination fevers.
        A study recently came out that a bout with measles leaves you immune compromised for as much as two years. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27481-measles-leaves-you-vulnerable-to-a-host-of-deadly-diseases.html#.VVyoBUK4lE4
        And before you decide to play Russian Roulette with your child’s health, take a listen to this: https://www.soundsofpertussis.com (whooping cough).
        By all means fiddle with the schedule so that infants are not being vaccinated against STDs and no one gets vaccinated against 12 diseases on one day. But do vaccinate.

        alicia wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • “Your children are not magical”: Amen. (Even if they are an utter delight.)

          JJ wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Or an udder delight, since this was supposed to be about milk.

          JJ wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • I’m all for questioning the foods we eat (and even the medical treatments we get), but your comment simply misunderstands vaccines. Vaccines use the immune system, actually calling it into action, and priming it for future encounters. They don’t weaken it. It might be helpful to learn about antibodies, specific immunity, and the actual mechanism of action of vaccines before going down the anti-vaccine path. As for the notion that non-vaccinated children are more resilient, there’s no such evidence on an objective scientific (or objective anecdotal) level. On the contrary, vaccines spare people from crippling diseases like polio and serious conditions like death (which is a pretty serious condition indeed), and have no weakening effect on the immune system in any sense. But even if there were evidence for the belief that you’ve presented (which, I repeat, there is not), would you not take a cold or two over a crippling disease or death? Eat well, yes. Consider your medications, yes. But I urge you, learn how specific immunity works, and don’t fall into a quagmire of rumors and suggestibility about vaccines.

        JJ wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • I didn’t say adjuvants in particular use the immune system (though in some cases they increase its response to the antigen), but that’s a red herring as I was responding to the idea that not vaccinating makes someone more resilient, which is a feel-good idea that is, to use your word, “bollocks”.

          I wonder if you know how much aluminum and mercury we consume on a daily basis, as we live longer than ever before, or if those elements just seem generally scary.

          As for polio, it’s not even gone. It’s resurging, notably in countries where vaccines have been banned or otherwise made unavailable, e.g. Nigeria, which was once considered polio-free.

          Questioning is fine. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

          JJ wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • I also didn’t say there was no evidence for the “safety” of vaccines, I said there was no evidence that not vaccinating made children more resilient.

          JJ wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Chris, I went on line. Your information that polio was already on the way out is incorrect. It is true that the highest ever rate was two years before that, but that was a fluke year, and all the previous several years were well above the historical norm. The year after the vaccine, however, rates crashed. I think maybe it was the vaccine!

          alicia wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • Chris, Trevor Gunn? As in homeopathy?

          I’m truly, truly sorry that that quackery has a hold of the hopes and fears of people that don’t have the capacity to assess its claims. It’s a travesty of scientific literacy and healthcare.

          JJ wrote on May 22nd, 2015
        • And let me be clear. A holistic approach to health is wonderful, and necessary.

          It’s the “homeopathic dilutions” idea that is flabbergasting nonsense. I can’t take anyone seriously who touts that idea. It’s unfortunate that holistic medicine is polluted by such foolishness. I can hardly think of a faster way of losing credibility.

          JJ wrote on May 22nd, 2015
        • And Eustace Mullins the conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier…

          You had me going there, Chris. Now I know you’re just trolling. Ah, that’ll teach me. I hope you had fun.

          JJ wrote on May 22nd, 2015
        • Sorry Chris. After your post about Eustace Mullins I really thought you must be joking. I guess I was wrong.

          I go back to my first impression — that you simply have terrible judgment.

          I also see, now, that your name on this site hyperlinks to a white supremacist site. Frankly, that makes me laugh on one hand, but on the other hand I feel sorry for you.

          You’re certainly not worth my outrage.

          I agree with you that some of these points are extraneous to the issue we first engaged over. But one always does well to consider the source. On that front you have an enormous problem.

          Best of luck trying to make yourself feel big in your smallness.

          JJ wrote on May 25th, 2015
      • hmm – the good old vaccine debate, the vaccines I have seen are not for common colds, they are for far more serious illnesses.

        Go to a third world country and see the absolute carnage of dead children for preventable diseases, and you find the only reason that their parents haven’t got their kids vaccinated is because they don’t have that option.

        Let your kids play in dirt and do kid things if you want to build a resistance to the common cold.

        Tribal Barbarian wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • hmm – the good old vaccine debate, the vaccines I have seen are not for common colds, they are for far more serious illnesses.

        Go to a third world country and see the absolute carnage of dead children for preventable diseases, and you find the only reason that their parents haven’t got their kids vaccinated is because they don’t have that option.

        Let your kids play in dirt and do kid things if you want to build a resistance to the common cold.

        Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-raw-milk-really-better/#ixzz3akt5qbqa

        Tribal Barbarian wrote on May 21st, 2015
  12. Better? Probably. But good or even necessary? Probably not. Adult humans consuming milk from other species just doesn’t seem to provide any real benefit that other foods cannot fulfill. That being said I do love me some ice cream made from raw milk in the vitamix. And i never seem to experience the problems I get when consuming the store bought varieties. But full fat organic seems to help too. So chalk up a partial win for raw milk over cooked here.

    Josh wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • There is a small Amish dairy farmer about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester NY that sells wonderful raw milk, bring your own containers. Homemade lavender ice cream made from this milk is heavenly. You can just taste the grass they grazed on; it has good color, not that fake looking white. Good for my leaky gut too.

      framistat wrote on May 20th, 2015
  13. Glad to see someone sane speaking on this topic.

    I suspect that milk intolerance goes much deeper than lactose. Just look at how many people can’t seem to tolerate whey protein or lactaid milk.

    After a decade + struggle with IBS, going Paleo and eliminating grains from my diet led to a very big turn around in my gut health.

    I was eventually able to tolerate raw milk again. Of course skeptics will say this is “woo”, I’m experiencing placebo and evidence that I’m weak willed and a science denialist, but you know what – screw them.

    Mike wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • It makes me crazy when people get symptoms from milk and just assume that it is lactose intolerance, no matter what. If you get symptoms other than gastro-intestinal, it isn’t the lactose. If you still get symptoms after taking lactaid, it isn’t the lactose. If you can do goat dairy but not cow, it isn’t the lactose. Lactose is the name of molecule, which does not vary in kind across all mammalian species.
      Lactose intolerance is a GI phenomenon that is most severe in fluid dairy, milder in soft cultured and more or less non-existant in hard cheeses, and which does not respond to a change in the species. If you are flunking those tests, then most likely it is an issue with dairy proteins. Different species make different proteins (and there is the A1 vs A2 bovine issue), so experiment with different sources. Also, the proteins in whey protein powder and cheese are very different, and you are unlikely to be sensitive to both of them.

      alicia wrote on May 20th, 2015
  14. My friend was just diagnosed with Q fever after drinking raw goat’s milk. Even though he drank it in his childhood daily, for some reason as an adult he succumbed to the bacteria and was very ill. Antibiotics cleared it up but he suffered for 4 weeks before they diagnosed it because it relatively rare.

    My 8 year old daughter ended up with similar symptoms (it turned out to be influenza) and they tested her for Q fever. She has antibodies which means a previous infection.

    After watching him suffer for 4 weeks. we’ve decided to stop the practice of drinking raw milk. The kids aren’t happy about it but they get their dairy from other sources so I’m good with it.

    Anita wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • I should also mention that the Q fever caused him liver and heart valve damage as it took so long to diagnose. The bacteria also attacked his muscles, which was very painful. It took him 4 weeks to recover after starting antibiotics.
      The milk came from a reliable (and clean) farm. But they risked being investigated because of my friend’s illness. The farmer also stands to lose a lot if someone gets ill.

      Anita wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • You made the right decision for you and your family – the right decision will always be the decision that you feel comfortable with! If it is any comfort, one doesn’t have to ingest the milk to acquire Q virus – one can acquire it from breathing in the bacteria from dust in the pens of pregnant/birthing animals, etc (its is most common among vets, ranchers, farmers due to being around female, birthing animals – not because of drinking the milk – breathing in a single cell can cause infection). So if your daughter has access to the goats, she *may* have picked it up that way. And, of course, the goat had to be ill – so I hope that the goats your friend caught it from were also treated 😉

      Kathy wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Thanks for responding. What you wrote is interesting. My daughter has every only been around the kids when they are a couple of weeks old and the pens have already been cleaned a few times. And the only milk she drank in her life was raw goat’s milk.

        My friend is a farmer but doesn’t raise his own goats. He simply collects the milk from the holding tank of a neighbouring farm and fills it into bottles. Now, the holding tank is attached to the barn where the kids are born. Perhaps he picked it up that way?

        Interestingly, we have no explanation other than the milk for my daughter’s antibodies.

        Anita wrote on May 21st, 2015
        • It was probably the milk for her, then – but I wanted to share about the possibility of actual physical goat exposure, just in case she was around them 😉 I was surprised to learn about that connection myself!

          Kathy wrote on May 21st, 2015
  15. Great post! We have been drinking raw milk for five years and my daughters allergy induced asthma is non existent! We started primal, whole food, Weston A. Price
    type of eating when she was 9 and the difference has been remarkable. I didn’t switch to raw milk because I thought it would help her asthma but once we had changed the diet I noticed her inhaler at home when she started back to school (she would use before P.E.) and she said she didn’t need it. It had been about 6 months. She is now 14, plays lacrosse, basketball and golf and doesn’t even register as asthmatic. We do not eat gluten, so I know that probably helped too! I agree it is a personal decision and I never try to push it on other people, however I don’t want the government telling me what I can and cannot consume!

    Pattie wrote on May 20th, 2015
  16. Much ado about nothing. Angels dancing on the head of a pin.

    A few extra milligrams of glutathione? Stop the presses! A reduction is asthma? Nice, but we don’t know the hard numbers. A fifty percent reduction of 3 isn’t much.

    You are weaned? Don’t, or rarely, drink milk. End of story. Done.

    I cam of age when eating cooked vegetables half raw was all the rate. You know, you don’t want to destroy those vitamins! I eventually realized I like most of my veggies well cooked, and whatever vitamins were “lost,” I didn’t need. More than enough in my diet. And, since then, we’ve discovered that cooking food often makes MORE nutrients available.

    Eat real food you were evolved to eat and stop fretting this minutia.

    OnTheBayou wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Sorry for the typos. I usually do a better job of self-editing and correction

      More coffee, Gascon!

      OnTheBayou wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Sorry, but that’s a bias- filled post that demands a rebuttal.

      I admire paleo, and thus read Mark’s posts. But there is this smug, intolerant, ‘oh-so-superior’ attitude of a lot of Paleo advocates, that makes the most fundamentalist Baptist seem pale in comparison. I don’t know you, you don’t know me, but I can vouch both for the benefits of raw milk, as well as our family’s response to it, at a time when we needed it.

      Entire civilizations (namely White Europe) were able to build their suprior cultures and nations, due to the strength and immuno-enhancing elements from a Lacto-Ovo-Carnivore diet. Research and numerous articles clearly corroborate this. As a dairy-loving Northern European-derived member of this group, I find it hypocritical that modern, isolated, former hippies and college Leftists can impugn dairy farmers while eating something like Tofutti, when the very concept of ice CREAM comes from the freezing of the very cow’s milk as a unique process, itself!

      Philosophical distinctions? Sure, but my culture, my best memories of meals, family members, and church functions where Dairy in its’ myriad forms were a major part form who I am, and I am not going to give up my personality for a food fad. Once I found that I could tolerate raw milk, I rejoiced at something I thought was lost to me forever. My children stopped having colds, sinus infections; and I (as a professional who uses his voice for a living) found I also had less to no allergic reaction to OTHER foods, once I started doing raw milk. So, please, just like Mark’s article is a marvel of tolerance, and equanimity, don’t pontificate, unless you have the cred to do so!

      Dr. John wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Excellent rebuttal, except for the name calling.

        annie wrote on May 20th, 2015
        • +1 :/

          Whitedaisy wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Unreal. Suggested bias of post then said white european cultures were superior because of milk. Neither in my (biased) opinion is true. I come from a native american and european background and can say that european culture is not superior overall. Each culture has things which make it special or superior in its each way. I suppose native canadians (ie not grain-legume diets based diets of more southern tribes) who were healthy smart and vigourous were decimated by the deliberate disease introduction strategies of the federal government because they weren’t sucking buffalo teats. My husbands northern european and so I can attest that the smugness of cultural superiority is not a redeeming trait of his culture.

        gwen wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • +1 Hail the ancestors!

        Heath wrote on May 23rd, 2015
  17. I love my raw milk, have been drinking a gallon a week, along with my husband, for almost 4 years. Delicious! I hated milk growing up and never drank it until I was an adult.

    Erin wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • I had a similar experience. I rarely drank milk as a child–mostly used it for cereal and dumped the extra left over. After trying raw cow’s milk about 4 years ago, I was hooked. SO delicious. My family of three goes through 1-2 gallons per week. Fortunately for us, it is legal for retail sale here in California.

      Victoria wrote on May 20th, 2015
  18. My two weaknesses are milk and chocolate cookies and milk and brownies. The combination is irresistible to me.

    Having said that though, I just can’t see milk as being particularly primal.

    I suppose hunter-gathers who killed a lactating elk might have drank the milk as part of the use every part of the animal approach. But obviously that is not a major part of a diet.

    I’ll still drink to occasional glass of milk anytime my wife bakes, but I accept I’m going off the reservation when i do it!

    Paul D wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • There have been many cultures throughout our evolution that consumed raw milk, such as the Masai tribe in Africa as a famous and more modern example. They would only cook it when someone was sick and mix it with the ground fruits of Maesa lanceolata, which was antiparisitic. They lived just fine consuming it. The Swiss also traditionally consumed raw dairy and were very healthy (see Weston A Price “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”). Remember, pasteurization wasn’t even a practice until the very early 20th century, and it was the result of the industrial revolution and factory farming with its unsanitary conditions and sick animals that led to the “need” to pasteurize “feedlot” milk. Before Agribusiness and industrial methods of farming meats and dairy, getting sick from milk was not much of an issue anymore than getting sick from other foods was. Yes it happened, and still does (at an extremely low percentage, lower than some other food related illnesses), but so did, and still does, getting sick from eating meat, or vegetables not properly washed. There have also been cases of people getting sick from pasteurized milk, such as the Listeria outbreak of Whittier Farms in 2007 in which several people died. The problem with pasteurization, among destroying the enzymes and protective bacteria, is that the milk can become contaminated after pasteurization and in this case is deadlier than raw milk as their is no natural defense against the foreign pathogens. So after much research over the years on all things health/nutrition, I don’t see any way that pasteurized milk is better than raw milk. If you are concerned with raw milk from the food poisoning standpoint than just cut out milk/dairy as opting for pasteurized is, IMO, unhealthy, especially when it comes from sick animals that need antibiotics. It really comes down to the handling/processing of the milk by the farm. I get raw dairy from an Amish farm in PA who overnights it to me and I’ve never had a problem after years of consuming it.

      Bryan wrote on May 20th, 2015
  19. Just a reminder–pasteurization, antibiotics, vaccinations–these things aren’t evil, they are advances that have enabled millions to eat/drink safe food and to resist deadly diseases and infections. I find that those looking into their health and nutrition too easily forget this. As a historian, it makes me a little crazy to hear people blithely reject the benefits of modern medicine and standardization. It’s not perfect, of course, but food regulations exist for the public good. If you are really concerned about the quality of your milk, find a local dairy that you trust (and no, I wouldn’t drink raw), or don’t drink milk.

    Lisabeth wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • “As a historian..”

      Historian of what? Probably not of regulatory agencies, like the FDA. Its history doesn’t exactly merit your statement that: “food regulations exist for the public good.”

      Kind regs from Amsterdam,
      Richard

      Richard wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • +1

        framistat wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • This is a really good point. While I do think that we, as consumers, ought to be able to decide what to feed our children, I also think it’s completely impractical to reject all modern advances as “bad.” You simply can’t feed a huge country full of people without safety measures, and that is the goal of pasteurization. If everyone drank raw milk, people WOULD get sick. It would only be a matter of time. And don’t even get me started on the people who manage to turn things like pasteurization into some kind of conspiracy by the government to kill the milk and turn us all into zombies.

      Liz wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Ah, Thank you, Liz. You articulated what I was about to write, but you did it probably better than I would have done. It’s not a good idea to throw the science baby out with the “THIS way is better” bathwater.

        Jessica wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • One thing the raw milk haters here seem to overlook is that people drinking PASTEURIZED milk (darn near “everyone”) DO get sick now. You must know your source for the raw milk, of course, but it is highly unlikely that you will get sick from it if the cows are grass fed and treated well. Pasteurization was only necessary because of the unscrupulous farmers trying to increase their yield (hmm, they wouldn’t be considered unscrupulous now, would they–pretty standard practice in the dairy industry). There was a family I knew that said they got seriously ill with listeria from raw milk–but, OOPS, turns out they had consumed a recalled frozen chicken from Costco. She had insisted they had not consumed any poultry–but she didn’t realize that there was a long incubation time and hadn’t gone back far enough, until they received the recall notice. So I am also skeptical that those who claim to have gotten sick from raw milk, actually KNOW that’s what they got sick from!

        LS wrote on May 28th, 2015
  20. I would like to see a study comparing health in children who drink raw milk and children who drink no milk at all. I bet the asthma and respiratory diseases are way down in kids who drink no milk at all. I am intolerant to all milks right now, I used to drink a quart of pasteurized milk a day for my first 25 years and then my body had enough and started having horrible intestinal cramps. I tried raw milk numerous times from my local coop, the cramps are not so bad but still get runny stools. After being on a raw diet for 4 months, I tried a cup of raw milk (thinking that the raw diet somehow fixed my stomach), same runny stools. I now drink nut and seed milks and I do not crave animal milks anymore, I found they taste weird, and smell stinky.

    I do however remember the story of one man, you can find the documentary on youtube (Food as Medicine with Jerry Brunetti) who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and has been given 6 months to live and he started mixing his blood with raw milk and drinking it. Gross, but worked for him until December 2014 when he died after battling cancer for 25 years.

    Cristina wrote on May 20th, 2015
  21. Some people might say it would be hard for me to be objective on this issue because I grew up on raw milk. To the age of 30. Then due to moving and marriage it wasn’t as available to me and mine. But I am a firm believer in raw,grass fed milk -IF- you are going to drink milk. As Dr WC Douglas says,” A cows milk was meant by Mama Nature for baby cows”. But if you are going to drink it,drink it raw and grass fed. And the Weston Price Foundation ( all bow) endorses grass fed raw with a search box on their web site to find the nearest available to you. Thank God I now live in a freer state where raw milk is abundant! And because it is the dairy farmers take their jobs and responsibilities VERY seriously!

    Tracey wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • I find it deeply silly to not consume dairy because it is intended as food for baby cows. Almonds are intended as food for baby almond trees. Spinach is intended to make food for spinach plants. Eggs are intended as food for baby chickens. That doesn’t stop anyone from eating those foods. If someone were trying to live on nothing but milk, it would be relevant that it was optimized for calves, but tossing it in as one of your mix is fine.
      Teleology is an utterly illogical way to make food decisions.

      alicia wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • “Eggs are intended as food for baby chickens.” Seriously?

        You find someone else’s comment silly and this is your response?

        Todd wrote on May 21st, 2015
        • A small portion of a fertile chicken eggs consists of the chick. The rest of it, inside the shell, is food for the growing chick. By the time is hatches, the balance has changed. The shell is full of chick and the food has been consumed. I’m pretty sure that is what was meant.

          Hummy wrote on May 22nd, 2015
  22. We live in Idaho and our family has been drinking locall grass fed raw milk for about three years – since we learned of the Primal Blueprint. Some of our observations.
    -tastes great
    -have experienced nothing close to getting ill, and no one using milk from this provider has either.
    -our two teenage sons experienced a huge drop in acne after switching from pasteurized milk.
    -cost about $7.00 a gallon, not cheap but still manageable.
    -we’ve found that it works well and is an enjoyable part of a primal diet.

    Mike wrote on May 20th, 2015
  23. On the occasions I’ve had raw milk, I find I do tolerate it far better than plain old off-the-shelf pasteurized/homogenized milk (or ice cream, or most mainstream cheese) from the store. I suspected lactose intolerance for a while until I noticed that Lactaid only did half the job; now that I’m a mom who’s had to do a lot of reading on food allergies and intolerances, I suspect a MPI (milk protein intolerance) is more likely. I’ve always done OK with cultured dairy, so yogurt and sour cream are fine, so it doesn’t seem out of line to me that super-heating milk can alter proteins in a way similar to culturing altering proteins.

    Since we live in Maryland, where raw milk is considered “unfit for human consumption,” we only get to enjoy it when we visit the grandparents in PA, where we can buy it retail for the same price (or less!) than organic whole milk here (which I buy by the gallon and turn into yogurt once a week). It’s a nice treat for us to be able to just DRINK the milk without having to change it into yogurt or kefir first. :-)

    CrunchyMama wrote on May 20th, 2015
  24. Oooooo Hot Topic!

    We can’t buy raw milk here in Oregon but we do get to buy non-homogenized full fat milk in the grocery store. However, I’m 60 now, never had any ecoli contamination growing up on raw milk, eggs from chickens in our yard, home grown vegetables, meat from farmers. Oh, and I didn’t die from all that good food either. Seems a bit comical at times that we now fear things that for thousands of years sustained our ancestors. How do we all push the reset button? One thing at a time I guess.

    2Rae wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • I agree!

      Hope wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • We also live in Oregon – (about 30 miles outside of Portland) and we drink raw milk. There are a number of farms that sell it directly. It is not available in the grocery stores but it is legal to buy direct. To find your nearest farmer try realmilk.com for a list.

      Dyan wrote on May 20th, 2015
  25. I know there are health benefits (to some from drinking milk,raw or otherwise), but in general, even though I grew up on a farm, drinking it myself, I think that as Harvey Diamond said in his first book, “Milk is for baby calves. Even the calves don’t drink it past a certain age. We are the only species who drink the milk of another mammal.” Sounds right to me.

    ShaSha wrote on May 20th, 2015
  26. No comment about grass fed?

    glorth2 wrote on May 20th, 2015
  27. I am somewhat puzzled as to why Mark does not at all mention the reason that the pasteurization procees was deemed necessary by so many countries around the world: tuberculosis. This disease is still widespread in many parts of the world, and was devastating until the connection between bovine and human tuberculosis was found and stopped by pasteurisation. I love the extra-milky taste of raw milk, and drink it when I visit farms I trust, but I am glad that it is not commercially available.

    Binki wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Certainly Luis Pasture created the procedure to stop contaminations. That said the process was developed for wine not milk so the question of what is lost through processing was never an issue at the beginning. Whilst I bow to Mark’s superior knowledge and research efforts there is no doubt much to discover in the area of nutrition, which is why we all know that whole foods are better, because nature trumps science. A varied whole foods diet should have you covered including unknown benefactors in your diet.

      I read this post with apprehension because I’ve insisted that my family have raw milk for a long time (admission of bias) and it would be a sad day to hear Mark says there was no chance of benefit. In the UK raw milk is regulated, so dairies have to have regular tests and conform to a much higher standard than conventional milk, the welfare of the cows living on grass pasture is a far cry from concrete feeding lots.

      Reading Mark’s post a few weeks ago about raising independent healthy children I thought of my decision to have raw milk for my family because it boils down to the same principles of potential risk vs potential benefit. Given a choice of guaranteed mediocrity and being plain average (considering average these days is a low standard) against tiny risk with potential lifelong benefit it’s sad so many people choose the safe path to mediocrity.

      Thankfully It so happens that my little boy has never had a fever, or been ill besides a couple of mild colds in his whole life, he wasn’t “exclusively” breastfed either. Obviously this doesn’t mean raw milk is safe, but I do believe it’s testament to the whole primal lifestyle. At 2 he was the same weight as his “soy-milk-drinking” cousin who’s a year older.

      Daniel wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • True, TB is problematic. However, the TB cure capital of the world was Switzerland, where the regimen included a lot of milk. Humans can give TB to cows just as easily as cows can transmit TB to humans. A herd of cows that has tested TB-free for generations can be infected in one swoop by a worker with TB. Yes, the cows should be tested, and so should any person who comes into contact with them.

      SuzU wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • I worked with a guy who got intestinal tuberculosis from unpasteurized milk here in California, a state with a low rate of bovine TB. True, he wasn’t hospitalized, but he did require a long course of medication and medical quarantine. Another disease, toxoplasmosis, has long term neurologic effects and can severely damage fetuses when contracted by pregnant women. Eliding over the question of TB and toxoplasmosis from raw dairy leaves a big, gaping hole in the argument in favor of raw milk.

      Stella B. wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • How many parents will not have their children vaccinated for fear of the chance it will cause harm, but will give their children raw milk because “it’s good for them”.

      Rick wrote on May 20th, 2015
  28. Know your farmer, visit the farm, see the cows, ask questions and enjoy a pure food. My family can tell a big difference. We buy fresh raw milk yogurt, milk, cream, and quark. Florida!

    Susan wrote on May 20th, 2015
  29. I grew up on a dairy farm and milked cows myself until I sold the herd 8 years ago, so I drank raw milk for 50 years. Have never had one illness from that milk, and none of my family or extended family, either (six or seven other dairy farmers in my family, as well).

    Having said that, I wouldn’t drink raw milk from anyone else’s herd. It’s one thing to trust my cows and my husbandry and milking practices, quite another to trust someone else’s.

    Above and beyond all of the hoopla about disease, there’s the fact that raw milk is delicious, whereas the white stuff from the store has nearly no flavour at all. Have you had fresh vegetables from your garden? Compared them to frozen from the supermarket? Noticed the huge taste difference? It’s the same with milk fresh out of the bulk tank next to the gallon plastic jug at the store. Raw, fresh milk is an absolute delight to taste.

    I look out the window this time of year when the cows have just gotten back on pasture and know I have missed “grass milk”, that lovely green salad flavoured milk that you taste for the first week when the cows have just gone out on pasture again. One of the rites of spring and I miss it so much. One of these years I may get another milker to mix in with the beef cows and have a few months of fresh butter and milk again. :)

    Jennifer wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • I don’t think that store-bought milk is tasteless, I think it’s disgusting. I’ve never tasted raw milk so I’m really curious. But I’m pretty sure I’ll die before I taste raw cow milk anyway…

      Coco wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • I”m curious…..I had some really good raw milk about a year ago, but then stopped getting it because it had turned “fishy.” Is that because of the cows being grassfed or having grains in their diet? I would like to start getting raw milk for my daughter who will be 11 months old soon.

      Aimee wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Ask the farmer what the cows are eating. Even if they are grass-fed, small changes in the pasture can change the taste of the milk and not just because grains have been introduced. A cow eating wild garlic will produce milk with a garlicky taste.

        Jae wrote on May 24th, 2015
  30. We have tried raw milk with our family (five young kids). In Michigan where we live, it’s illegal to buy raw milk; but you can get around that by buying into a cow share at a local farm. Essentially, you own part of a cow so are entitled to your portion of what that cow produces. This gave us about 2 gallons of raw milk per week, and more in the summer. We checked out the farm, and it was very clean. The family running the farm drank the milk themselves, so I felt confident they would take the steps necessary for safe milk collection. It was definitely more work for us, though. I had to go pick up the milk once a week with my cooler, and then I had to take the big glass gallon jars and transfer the milk into a separate glass pouring jar in my fridge to make it easier for all of us to use daily.

    It definitely tastes different…much more earthy, and much thicker. It’s not for someone picky about texture or with a strong gag reflex when it comes to new stuff. Getting used to drinking it was definitely a mind-over-matter thing for me, as you feel like you’re drinking strong tasting cream. My kids were okay with it, but didn’t like how it looked. If you let a cup of it sit out for even a few minutes, it will be yellowy on top and the cream separates. They found that unappealing. (However, I wonder if they’d have cared if they had drunk raw milk from day one…they were already used to commercial milk.) My oldest son (then 7) eventually said he didn’t want milk anymore.

    I loved having lots of cream for making ice cream on a whim, whipping up delicious soups, etc. But in the end, we decided the effort and expense just weren’t worth it for whatever small benefit we might be getting from drinking raw. I walked away from the experience actually deciding that we didn’t necessarily need raw milk OR commercial milk. I buy it at the store to have on hand, but I don’t consider it an essential source of anything in our diet. If I want non-homogenized milk, I can buy “creamline” milk at a couple local stores, where it’s pasteurized but not homogenized. It’s crazy expensive though so it’d really have to be worth it. I have some friends who continue to drink raw daily and swear by it. They make yogurt and butter and all that kind of stuff. As for whether raw really is better for us, I’ll never know. I just know that I can eat a lot of really good food that can provide all kinds of benefits for the same money I was spending on raw milk that we only sort of liked.

    Liz wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • That yellow stuff is liquid gold! If you haven’t read Weston A Price research on raw, grass fed milk (and other dietary findings) I recommend it if you have an interest. He argues and his research strongly supports that raw, grass fed milk along with other ingredients actually will cause teeth to re-mineralize! Meaning cavities and weakness in teeth will heal just like a cut on your skin. Read and decide for yourself.

      Todd wrote on May 21st, 2015
  31. Ahhhh, the great milk debate! I never liked milk. It has always grossed me out. That is, until I tried raw milk. Going Paleo drastically improved my health and how I felt. When I added in raw milk to my diet I was amazed. I didn’t know I could feel even better!

    the first time I drank it my body was like, “OMG this is amazing and I want more right now!!” It helps my digestion noticeably and helped me lose some extra pesky pounds and maintain that loss. Now I drink my “power smoothie” most days for breakfast which keeps me full and energized well past “lunch time” as I don’t often get even five minutes of a break at work to eat. Power smoothie is: 1/2 over ripe banana, 8oz raw milk, 2 fresh egg yolks (preferably duck), 1/4 cup ground Oates, 1 tbs ground chia, 1 tsp blackstrap molasses and some cinnamon and nutmeg. Sounds like a lot of carbs, I know, but when I drink this regularly (and over the course of an hour or so) with a mostly vegetable paleo diet I feel amazing, have no digestive problems or food allergy symptoms (I have many food sensitivities), and maintain weight.

    Also, once I got food poisoning so bad I was sick for a week and went to the ER. That was from Pizza Hut so I roll the dice with the raw milk. I have a strong immune system and a reputable source.

    Emily wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Your recipe sounds really good, Emily. I’m going to try it.

      ~ Nona wrote on May 20th, 2015
  32. We love raw (grass fed) milk products!its helped us in so many ways!! Even our pets have improved health. It’s a common misconception that raw milk is a ticking time bomb of bacteria. It’s not. It’s the processing of milk, any foods really, that risk contamination from collection facilities, instruments, machinery that have come into contact with poop. This is why they pasteurize mass milk production products, to get rid of all the poop bacteria because they can’t be bothered to clean their collection instruments first!! Milk does not come out of the cow (or goat) contaminated. So when a small family run farm has clean practices, there’s nothing wrong with raw dairy. In fact, as you’ve just read above, it’s beneficial. Much like raw honey. Why kill it with heat.

    Sandy wrote on May 20th, 2015
  33. I grew up on a farm and we drank raw cow’s milk every single day. No one ever got sick, including the extended family we shared with (didn’t know that was illegal at the time). The health of the cow plays a huge role in the healthiness of the milk, as does the cleanliness of the milking operation. Most pathogens are external in origin (feces, etc.), so healthy, clean, pastured cows, milked in clean milking parlors are much less likely to be a source of infection of any sort. Compare that to CAFO dairy lots, which is where most commercial milk originates. Suggested reading: The Raw Milk Revolution by David E. Gumpert.

    Jaye wrote on May 20th, 2015
  34. I recently had an eye exam, and was told I’m at the very beginning stages of cataracts development. My eye doctor said dairy consumption was to blame. Now I’m kicking myself for all those early years of dairy consumption in the fact of an unknown dairy allergy.

    Now that I’m very much aware of the allergy, and easily avoid dairy, I hope this will slow down the eventual need for cataract surgery in the future.

    No word on whether modern-day dairy was the culprit in the cataracts, or whether grass-fed/raw milk would’ve had the same outcome. I’m definitely not game to find out now!

    Wenchypoo wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Just had my first eye exam and the doc said I had allergies and, like you, beginning stages of cataracts. She attributed the cataract development to sun exposure AND aging. My mom had cataract surgery in her 60’s and loved the result.
      I do not drink milk now, but did as a kid. I still eat small amounts of cheese, mostly raw milk cheese from Trader Joe’s (imported from Europe.)
      Avoiding dairy–go for it. I did an elimination diet and did not miss the dairy, as I thought I would. However, I still love cheese, and enjoy it in small amounts. Did not notice any difference.
      Embrace yourself! Namaste.

      Ann Marie wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • You want the cataract surgery sooner rather than later. It’s a damn miracle.

      My vision was too far out of range for lasix, developed cataracts, had surgery and now have NO need for glasses at all.

      Maggie wrote on May 20th, 2015
  35. As an adult, I’m struggling with asthma. Does anyone know if there is a supposed beneficial effect (anecdotal or otherwise) for an adult already with asthma drinking raw milk?

    Kevin wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • This has nothing to do with milk, but as someone who, after many abortive tries, cured my asthma (almost–if I fly and already have a really bad cold, it will induce an attack, which has happened twice in the past 20 years), I am sympathetic to your plight.

      As I said, I tried many different cures, but the one that worked for me was vitamin E. I started with a 1200 IU daily dose for the first few weeks, then 800IU for the next few, and finally 400IU as my standard maintenance dose, which I do during the winter. In the summer, I might go down to 200IU. (I take a mixed tocepherol, but the 400 IU is from the alpha form).

      When I’m ill or having an allergy problem, I can often feel my lungs tightening a bit, but as long as I take the E, I never wheeze or have an attack (except for the one exception above). Whether this will work for you, I don’t know, but I’d give it a try.

      I do realize that there may be adverse affects down the road, but not having asthma–which induced pneumonia 5 times–is, I think, the better trade-off.

      Good luck and God bless!

      Joe Y wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • I had asthma before going primal, and I still drink Milk and eat cheese, but not as main part of my diet. The cutting out of grains (although I do indulge in the odd toasted rustic bread) and processed food, eating healthy oils and removing the bad oils (which I thought were good), cutting out sugar and flour, and doing a balanced exercise regime, rather than the excessive and inflammatory chronic cardio I used to do – made the difference I think, I kid you not, after 30 years of Asthma, my symptoms have completely gone under the guidance of the Primal plan. I can sprint hard on a cold day and not get asthma (this previously would have brought it on). I even got a really bad chest cold, and it didn’t trigger any asthma.

      Tribal Barbarian wrote on May 20th, 2015
      • Thanks to you both for these comment! I will try the vitamin E and see if there’s a difference. I’m mostly primal, but just can’t seem to come off the inhaled steroids no matter how much I stick to it. Thanks for the ideas and advice!

        Kevin wrote on May 21st, 2015
        • If you don’t have damaged lungs, or a disease like emphysema, you should be able to slowly scale back off the steroids – but like most things, you build a dependency, and you have to back off very carefully. All I can tell you is I do take things like fish oil, olive oil, butter, no margarine or canola oil, eat vegetables and no sugar as much as possible, I eat eggs, no huge amounts of meat, and supplement with clean whey powder that have no added garbage or flavours.

          Exercise: 3 heavy calisthenics sessions, and one sprint, sometimes switch one of the calisthenic sessions to a plymetric high rep, rather than set s of slow heavy reps.

          Just be careful with the vitamin E and research the side effects it can have – make sure you don’t get too much thinning of the blood or it could be dangerous, Mark’s article gives you the pro’s and cons: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/vitamin-eeeeek/#axzz3ap9xEout

          Tribal Barbarian wrote on May 21st, 2015
        • Thanks again for the point made below. I’ll start off with just the recommended dosage of full spectrum vitamin E, and see if that helps. Mark seems to think that it probably doesn’t have any downsides!

          Kevin wrote on May 22nd, 2015
  36. The article really needed to emphasize that it is principally about bovine milk, and in North America this means beta casein A1 bovine milk. There may be only one herd of A2 cows here, and people reportedly react differently to A2. Are your KerryGold products A2? Beats me.

    Caprine (goat) dairy is another matter entirely. A family member is apparently adversely reactive to bovine dairy, so we got a herd of goats, which are now coming into milk. We finally ceased buying conventional bovine milk just a couple of weeks ago. We are using the goat milk, as milk, raw (and also using it to make cheese and other foods). So far, it’s working splendidly.

    We expect to pasteurize some of it for concerned visitors and when gifting cheese.

    Boundless wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Goat milk is A2/A2. The raw milk we drink is also A2/A2 from Brown Swiss cows. I believe most Guernsey cows are also A2/A2. There is a vast difference between A1 and A2 milk. (read Devil in the Milk by Keith Woodford)
      Many people that cannot drink regular milk have no problems with A2/A2 milk.

      Dyan wrote on May 20th, 2015
  37. I enjoy raw milk on a daily basis – and have for the past 7 or 8 years. It is so important to go with a trusted farmer. Reputable ones will allow you visit the farm, see the cows, the equipment, etc. The family I buy from has roughly 16 cows on the premises and the facilities are always clean and well-maintained.

    I have never been lactose intolerant, however I find it interesting that now when I drink store-bought milk for whatever reason, that’s when I get stomach issues. Yet I can drink raw milk all day long without incident.

    Tammy wrote on May 20th, 2015
  38. My grandmother used to feed me raw cows milk, ice cold, and the cream on fresh picked strawberry’s. Good memories. My wife had a commercial goat dairy, she made cheese, unfortunately it did not make a go of it, but she still makes great cheese. So, now we found a raw source of cows milk, and Marilyn makes yogurt, Keefer, and a small wheel of cheese every so often. Good stuff, but to drink it strait up, no, not so much.
    As for the raw milk as a kid? I think I was healthier those summers I stayed with Grandma. She also let me play in the dirt and the creek.

    Mark N wrote on May 20th, 2015
  39. We acquire raw milk from a local farm. I don’t want what the homogenization does to the lipids in milk, or what pasteurization does as mentioned in the article, so it’s either raw or nothing.

    HOWEVER: If I didn’t get raw milk from the cow’s house to my house, then I wouldn’t drink it either. If raw milk were available in stores I have no visibility into how it was handled between cow and me. The issue is now more about the food supply system…

    Sun24Spot wrote on May 20th, 2015
  40. Kevin: Have you asked your doc for the IGg test? Try that for an answer to your asthma

    Tracey wrote on May 20th, 2015
    • Hi Tracey,

      Which IgG test would you recommend? Total, or a specific antigen? Thanks!

      Kevin wrote on May 22nd, 2015

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