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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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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227 thoughts on “Is Raw Milk Really Better?”

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    1. 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

  1. 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.”

  2. I wonder if a mother drinking raw milk while breastfeeding would add any benefits to the infection protective qualities of her milk.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. What about a mother drinking her own breast milk while breastfeeding?

  3. There has been a death in Australia and an ongoing debate.

    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.

    1. So bottom line spinach is still killing WAY more peeps than raw milk, ya?

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

    3. If I’m reading the article correctly, the boy who died had consumed milk that was intended for bathing, not human consumption.

      1. 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”).

        1. Raw goat milk is legal to sell in Australia for human consumption. It doesn’t have the same bacteria that cow’s milk has.

      2. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

  4. 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.”

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

    1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. Yes, if your Hy-Vee doesn’t carry Kolona just ask for it. They will get it in asap.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. Thanks for mentioning the homogenization fact. You are absolutely correct!

    5. 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.

  5. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. I’m curious if you’ve ever tried vat pasteurized milk and if so how he reacted to it?

        2. 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.

      2. It is completely overblown. If you knew the science and politics behind it you would understand but apparently you do not.

      3. 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.

        1. 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?

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

        4. 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

        5. 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.

        6. 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.

      4. Hubby has been drinking raw milk almost every day for 10 years and has never gotten sick from it or anything else.

      5. According to the people at Real Milk ( 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. ( Three deaths have been confirmed.

      6. You had better explain yourself mate, after making such a curt reply! Obviously you are a milk hater?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. So true, you only have to think at what end of the animal the udder is situated to appreciate the risks of contamination.

    2. 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

    3. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. 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??

  10. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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).

      3. 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.
        And before you decide to play Russian Roulette with your child’s health, take a listen to this: (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.

        1. “Your children are not magical”: Amen. (Even if they are an utter delight.)

      4. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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!

        4. 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.

        5. 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.

        6. 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.

        7. 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.

      5. 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.

      6. 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:

  11. 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.

    1. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

  13. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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 😉

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

    1. Sorry for the typos. I usually do a better job of self-editing and correction

      More coffee, Gascon!

    2. 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!

      1. 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.

  16. 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.

    1. 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.

  17. 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!

    1. 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.

  18. 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.

    1. “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,

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. “Eggs are intended as food for baby chickens.” Seriously?

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

        1. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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. 🙂

  23. 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.

    1. 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 for a list.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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”.

  26. 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!

  27. 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. 🙂

    1. 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…

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

  28. 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.

    1. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  33. 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?

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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:

        2. 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!

  34. 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.

    1. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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…

  38. Kevin: Have you asked your doc for the IGg test? Try that for an answer to your asthma

    1. Hi Tracey,

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

  39. My 3 little humans thrive on clean raw milk. I don’t drink it often but nothing beats a glass of springtime cream filled milk!

  40. I’m surprised you don’t mention eczema: I believe there have been several mainstream studies that have found that raw milk consumption by children significantly reduces the incidence of eczema, presumably due to beneficial gut bacteria. (Or maybe you’re lumping eczema in with asthma.) Of course, being mainstream studies, the authors of those I read rushed to add “We’re not recommending drinking raw milk, of course! We’re hoping to figure out how to replicate the effect some other way.” In a pill, no doubt!

  41. I used to be concerned about how raw milk would hinder my workouts till a friend of mine did a 30 day raw milk fast. He increased his workouts during the 30 days to see if the milk would help build muscle. He built muscle, dropped in total body fat and had no end of energy.

    Personally I now fast before I workout and then have a shake with raw milk and some veggies to end the fast. I recover fast and have seen no weight gain of fat, just muscle.

  42. There may be a decent alterantive…key word may. It’s called VAT pasteurization and it heats the milk low and slow instead of high and fast. It supposedly kills bacteria (good and bad) but leaves proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals intact.

    We can buy raw milk direct from the farm here where I live, or buy the VAT in the store. Both are grass fed and not homogenized. I prefer the VAT’s flavor and it gives me more peace of mind. Although we rarely buy dairy in the first place.

  43. Our family has been drinking raw milk for nearly 3 years now. My middle son would experience severe stomach cramps after having pasteurized dairy and a friend suggested we try raw cow’s milk with him instead. He can drink it by the glass full with no complications. Interestingly after starting all three children on raw milk within the month all three had a significant growth spurt. My eldest had been on two types of inhalers for his asthma and with starting the raw milk within a month was off both inhalers and now rarely needs his blue one, maybe once every few months. We also noticed the cat who we would give a little bowlful to, had a change in her coat which grew in noticeably softer and glossy. We would never go back to pasteurized milk now.

  44. I always chuckle to myself at the oft repeated line or some version of it – that ‘cow’s milk is for baby cows and people shouldn’t drink it for that reason’. You never hear that eggs are food for baby chickens so don’t eat eggs, but that’s exactly what they are. The egg yolk sustains the growing chick… They are both a source of nutrition. Not the ONLY source – but a source that was important to many cultures for a very long time.

    I have 2 jersey cows and enjoy my own source of excellent nutrition. Loved your position on this subject Mark. Thanks for your perspective.

    1. Amen!!! I’m glad someone had the common sense to point this out. Not many people know what the yolk is actually for either. When someone throws out that line about milk being only for “baby cows” (you can tell they know what they’re talking about already with terminology like that! haha) I laugh because they’ve obviously never seen a grown pig nurse a cow if it has the chance, or witnessed the delight of a swarm of barn cats descending on a pan of fresh, warm milk. The pig is an opportunist. So are the cats. And so is the human race. That nullifies the raw milk argument for me. That and the marked difference in health I’ve witnessed in our family since we got our first Jersey cow four years ago. No more asthma, better energy levels, better digestion, and very few colds/flus. If we didn’t have our own cows we would seek out milk from a trusted local farmer, but I can’t see us ever giving up our cows. I will probably be a very old lady still hobbling out to the barn to milk!

  45. I just wanted to throw in a view from the other side, growing up a city kid with ready access to raw milk, for those parents of HEALTHY kids who might be feeling torn about access to, or the expense of, raw milk. For parents of kids who are already suffering, it sounds from this discussion that it may be worth a try.

    I grew up in the ‘burbs of Los Angeles, at a time when much of the land was still being transitioned from ranches, dairy farms, and groves (“This used to be all orange trees!”) into the morass of houses you see today. The dairy land was the last to go, and it was common for everyone to live a stone’s throw from the local cows. My sister and I grew up drinking raw milk, probably because it was cheaper, having gone through less processing. Sad to hear that now, the less they do to it, the more it costs.
    We had our share of coughs and colds, strep, flu, etc. My sister was diagnosed with asthma in her teens, and I was always alergic to some grasses and trees. The raw milk didn’t hurt us, but it also wasn’t a magical cure-all for allergies and asthma; it didn’t give us superhuman immune systems and make us impervious to disease.
    If I was a parent of HEALTHY little ones reading this thread, I’d be wondering how I was going to fit $14 a gallon milk into my already straining food budget. I hope my perspective, from real life experience, can help answer some questions or allay some fears parents may have.

    1. You raise an interesting point. I’ve lived in a rural town, which produced a lot of its own food content and I was very rarely sick. When I lived in a city on the fringes of a rural area still producing some food, I got sick and I don’t mean in a small way.

      A friend of mine I grew up with in that city/rural landscape got an Autoimmune disease and I got one too. Very different ones, but obviously something was attacking our immune system. There were also a lot of babies being born with cleft pallets in the local hospital, and from the nurses we knew, they were flying them to major capital city of the State and registering their births there. Its a lot easier to hide cleft pallet rates in a larger population.

      This was a much desired city/rural area, that got a lot of its wealth (property values, etc) from the tourism industry, linked to their infamous banana plantations. These banana plantations were sprayed aerially with crop dusters to control pests. Air borne poisons where women were conceiving and children were playing. No wonder they had to water down the genetic defects coming out of the hospitals.

      I remember having a hospital stay when I was younger. No one told me much, but I was crippled with migraines to the point I couldn’t walk. They doused me medications and once I stabilized, I was sent away. It was from this location we moved to the more rural area in a different state. My mysterious headaches were diminishing and the children there, rarely got sick.

      While these farmers also used herbicides and pesticides on their crops, they were spraying on their family farms – ergo, they were more careful with what they were spraying, it was localised and dispersed from the back of a tractor, not an aeroplane, dousing airborne poisons over large tracts of land. The main rural hub where most of the surrounding population went to school, hospital and work, wasn’t located near these family farms either, so pregnant women and children playing outdoors, (even the dairy and meat cows) weren’t forced to suffer gasing from the skies.

      I very much noticed the health changes in the population and myself, when you live in an area which doesn’t regularly disposed poisons in the atmosphere.

  46. If raw cow’s milk wasn’t so expensive for a single person (driving, driving, money, & time) to get here in Colorado I would be all over it. I get the grass-fed non-homogenized full-fat cow’s milk from my favorite locally owned health food store when I happen to be in there without burning half a tank of non-renewable fuel products to get there (and be obligated to get there every single week or still pay for it) and a little still goes bad before I get a chance to finish it. I’m half Korean so you would think my lactose intolerant genes would kick in but they don’t and I use full-fat dairy throughout the week. I think the MCT’s are worth the slight lack of nutrients that the pastuerization may take out.

    Wish raw wasn’t such a to-do to obtain where I live, it’s like having a part-time job just to go get, I’d rather have my own ranch/farm- I would probably burn less k-cals!

  47. Reading this article there are a few things that come into my mind. As a dairy processor myself, I have been questioned about this many many times.
    There are two types of raw milk, you must know the difference to avoid any potential hazards.
    1. Raw milk (unprocessed and untreated in any way) is the milk that comes out of the cow, chilled to slow down microbial growth (which most certainly contain pathogens like Salmonella sp., Listeria m., E. Coli, etc.) and bottled. I am not a big fan of this milk because of so many factors which could affect you health. Temperatures must be kept under
    2. Raw bactofugated milk. This milk has passed through filters (similar to a decreamer) which filter out 99.9 of the bacteria, virus, molds and spores in the milk. Leaving the final product basically untouches and as similar as coming out from the cow as possible. No heat treatment to inactivate enzymes like lipase. This would be in milk the equivalent as ultrafiltrating your water.

    Regarding pasteurization facts: Milk is usually pasteurized at 71.7 C rounded up to 72 degrees C for 15 sec of holding time (HTST). In some tropical countries where hotter environments help microbial proliferation this temperature is risen to 74 C for the same amount of time just to be safe. I have never seen pasteurizations of 80 C for bottle milk for some reasons like heat energy consumption for no reason.
    Also, I see no way how the pasteurization affects the basic metal composition in milk like iron and copper. Although high heat does cause calcium ions to bond with casein protein and thus affecting yield while cheese making, for fluid milk it has not effect since calcium is always available for absorption.

    I don’t want to start any fight or go against anybody, just want to be clear regarding this info. Bactofugated milk if available highly recommended, pasteurized milk recommended and raw untreated milk not recommended (unless you own the far and know what you are doing) It all has to do with microbial hazard.

    1. I live in Western Australia and unhomogenised (but pasteurised) milk has only recently become available in mainstream supermarkets. My 14 yo son much prefers the taste of the unhomogenised milk but I’ve noticed a curious thing. With one brand, which is bottled in glass (very expensive), the cream can be redistributed through the milk with vigorous shaking just before pouring, however, with the other brand, bottled in plastic (half the price), the cream remains in large, solid lumps no matter how vigorously we shake the bottle. I’m assuming that the milk/cream is somehow being affected by the chemicals in the plastic but I haven’t been able to find out any info or an explanation for this. I’m hoping someone can help me out here. Thanks

  48. One way to convince yourself which is right for you is to go and visit a dairy farm. When my boys were 3 and 6 we went and visited a dairy that was so insanely unsanitary the boys said they would never drink milk again. It’s no wonder they need to pasteurize the milk, the area was contaminated with, well, you know…

    Huge difference between the factory farms and the farm where we buy our milk, Organic Pastures. Here’s a video of how they go from grass to glass:

  49. “or tacos at midnight from a Puerto Vallarta side street cart.” ;p #ftw

  50. Thanks for the break down! I have never liked any milk enough to make it a staple in my diet. After I removed dairy, it proved impossible to bring it back without bloating and ill digestion, so I took that as a sign, no matter if it was raw or not.

    1. I’ve heard that the ability to digest lactose, even in people who are genetically able to do so, is a “use it or lose it” situation. If you go off dairy for a while, you lose the ability to digest it, but you if you slowwwwwly reintroducing dairy back into the diet (a couple tablespoons of yogurt per day, maybe, to start) your body will say ‘oh, this again, yep, let’s grind up the lactase production.’
      I assume you could start up again faster if you went in to dairy again faster, but you’d have to be willing for you (and everyone around you) to suffer for a while first!
      In other news, my dad says he lost the ability to do lactose after a giardiasis infection, but that after several years it came back.

  51. A good article – I would be interested in knowing how many people have gotten sick from pasteurized milk. Personally, I am a big believer in raw milk and use raw goats milk to make cheese, kefir, and to drink on its own. All of those B vitamins and folate that can be destroyed from pasteurization are vital nutrients that my body needs!

  52. An interesting study would be to feed half the calves with pasteurised the other other with raw and see if there is noticeable difference over their lifetime.

    1. I know the farm that our milk comes from allow calves to feed from their mother for quite a long time, a luxury I doubt feeding lot cows get.

  53. I am unable to drink organic pasteurized local milk. I get violently ill in about an hour. Lots of pain, lots of diarrhea. It’s gross and I don’t wish it on anyone. commercial milk is the same. Ice cream is the same. Yogurt and cheese are okay. The ONLY milk I have been able to tolerate is a local, organic, RAW milk from A2 cows. It has a different type of casein that is more easily digestible. Their entire herd is A2, so no contamination for me. Over two years of drinking this milk and I still have no problems. I am so lucky to have found this milk. I have not found a suitable alternative that I like as much.

    1. Hi Vikki, Where do you get A2 Milk , I am interested as well but we live in Massachusetts and we are desperately looking for raw A2 milk or any thing close for my 5 year old .

  54. I’ve seen milk labeled as “raw” when it is homogenized but not pasteurized, so that’s something to keep in mind. There is a specific brand that does this, though I can’t remember the name. St Benoit does vat pasteurization, and that is by far the best cow’s (or any) milk I’ve had. Summerhill goat milk is pretty good. I’ve tried camel, but it has less fat and is much more expensive.

  55. I just wanted to say that we have a five-month old newborn who has been fed the Weston A. Price Foundation homemade baby formula, which uses raw milk as its base. (Mother was able to breastfeed for the first few months, but we had to supplement all the while and have used formula exclusively since three months, when she returned to work.)

    We are ASTONISHED at how healthy he is: his poops have the color and texture of dijon mustard, just as babies who are breastfed. He has hit every one of the baby development milestones well in advance of the actual date. His skin is utterly flawless, and he has never had any trouble sleeping.

    Our raw milk provider in Michigan is also the distributor for the Horizon-brand organic milk, and so they test their milk for pathogens every day. Then, they simply split their supply into two vats: one where it is burned and killed (pasteurization and homogenization) and one where it is healthy and nutritious (raw and natural).

  56. I drink only raw milk, about a gallon a week. But the difference for me is not whether the milk happens to be pasteurized or not. It’s a matter of what does or does not go into the cow that produces it, and how the cow lives. Is the cow pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and forced to eat foods it would never naturally eat, simply because it has no other choice? Does the cow live under filthy, inhumane conditions that keep it constantly stressed out? Does the cow ever see the light of day, which it needs (just as you and I do) in order to produce enough vitamin D3 that its milk doesn’t need to be “fortified” with it? A vitamin D deficient cow is no more healthy than a vitamin D deficient human; and a sick, poorly nourished cow cannot produce healthy milk any more than a sick, poorly nourished human mother can.

    Most pasteurized milk has to be pasteurized, because it is totally undrinkable in raw form. A baby cow could not even thrive on it. Fortunately for me, here in California the production of raw milk, sold in stores, is so strictly regulated and inspected that I know it’s safer for me than even most of the vegetables I buy at the same store. Yes, it’s more expensive, but to me it’s worth it.

    As far as I’m concerned, virtually all pasteurized milk isn’t fit to drink even after it has been pasteurized, not because of the pasteurization itself but because it needs to be pasteurized in the first place. I do love my milk, but if the only milk I could buy is the cheap crap that most Americans are forced to settle for, I wouldn’t drink any at all. I am so glad I live in California!

  57. I bought into the raw dairy hype a few years back and managed to make myself sick as hell with tonsillitis.I should have known better because consuming dairy throughout my youth caused me chronic sinus infections but I thought because it was raw I would be OK….wrong.I have NEVER been so sick in my life.

  58. Here in CA, we can legally buy raw milk but it’s expensive. I tried buying pasteurized, non-homogenized milk from grass fed cows but the cream would mix enough and there would be lots of buttery chunks floating in the milk. That doesn’t bother me but my kids wouldn’t drink it. I started buying raw whole milk and noticed the cream blends much better when shaken not leaving floating chunks. I love it and my kids love it. Yes it’s expensive but still cheaper than a bottle of wine.

  59. You forgot to take into account the immune-enhancing properties of raw milk from PASTURED, organically- and naturally-raised HEALTHY cows. This raw milk, if left at room temp, even ferments, which increases its Lactobacilli content. Good gut bugs. I am sure by now you have also looked into the gut microbiome as a key player in one’s health.

  60. I don’t care much for milk (I too enjoy full fat aged cheese every now & then) and I don’t have access to raw milk anyway, but I find the topic interesting. And what’s worse the pasteurized milk? Super pasteurized which all that’s available at the supermarket isles, whether homogenized or not.

  61. I’ve always thought myself to be lactose intolerant – low fat milk was OK, but whole milk, cream and creamy cheeses like brie, were OK if I took lactaid. Fresh mozzarella was a no-no under any circumstances. I followed that path for 30 years. Then I came across MDA (auto immune research) and gave up wheat. On a recent trip to Italy (3 yrs of gluten free eating at this point), I found it curious that I never encountered fresh mozzarella since I never experienced anything the entire trip. I did some experimenting when I got home and found my intolerance had completely disappeared. The only change was gluten. So happy to be eating fresh mozzarella!

  62. If someone dies or gets ill from drinking raw milk, that is sad, but when I was young my parents had a house cow. I consumed raw milk to no obvious ill effects. I am not saying milk is good for you or was for me, but I am slightly skeptical of people saying raw milk is especially dangerous; based on my experience. I did, however, once know someone who worked for Fonterra and after the experience of ‘messing with milk’ they had their own cows and when they got rid of them they would only drink whole organic. Is that white watery stuff, with the fat taken out, really alowed to be called milk!!

    1. I frequently hear people say, “When I was a kid we lived on a farm. I grew up on raw milk and never got sick.” That’s probably very true. But there’s a big difference between caring for and milking one’s own cow and the commercial raw milk industry of today, wherein you have no idea if proper health and safety procedures were observed. You’re just taking someone else’s word for it and hoping for the best.

      There’s some inherent risk with all raw foods, particularly for persons with compromised immune systems. We can eliminate most harmful pathogens by either washing or cooking or both. Not so with raw dairy products.

      1. I agree with you. Both raw and pasturised arguments have merit, I believe, and the circumstances of all the people in the world are different. I don’t like to wholly trust other people on the information they give me, I use my own experiences to help make my opinions. I would probably have a different one if I’d had raw milk related illnesses and it was proved that any of my illnesses were caused by raw milk. Going paleo and cutting dairy out is an option, but there is something/are things about dairy that keeps luring me back. Most modes of transport are dangerous: but people keep using them. Isn’t life complicated!

  63. I’ve been drinking raw milk for over 30 years in Vermont. My kids grew up drinking raw milk. I’m lactose intolerant and for some reason I can drink raw milk with no problem; let me drink pasteurized milk and I am absolutely miserable as it creates so much gas. I make kefir using raw milk. When my son comes home to visit once s year he loves being able to have raw milk again, much more than Vermont maple syrup. For the most part I don’t drink glasses of raw milk, but make kefir every day. The laws around selling Raw milk in Vermont are strict.

  64. In addition to homogenization, which others have mentioned, I’d like to know more about pasteurized vs. ultrapasteurized milk. Most of the organic milks available locally are ultrapasteurized.

    We’re freaked out by any mention of radiation, but I think if unhomogenized, irradiated milk was available, I’d prefer it to pasteurized.

  65. I don’t know what labelling laws are like in the US, but in Australia, milk distributors don’t have to list what ELSE they put in the milk. I think it comes down to processed laboratory crap passed as “food” again, but has no biological resemblance to what human beings have evolved to drink without such adverse effects.

  66. I love dairy, or once did, and I do miss it, but now it’s hard to get past the fact that dairy cows are hooked up to milking machines and because of this their udder inflammation, infections and pus gets into the milk and this condition goes mostly unnoticed. I don’t want to eat dairy products or drink milk that have pus in it. Gross me out the door and all the way down the street! I guess if you can get fresh milk from a grass fed cow or goat that’s hand-milked, it would be alright, but where do you find that? I’d love to have my own cow or goat. Maybe someday.

  67. Hi mark, I’m wondering if making the raw milk into yogurt decreases the risk of pathogens at all? Maybe the good probiotic bugs would kill any bad bugs? Thanks!

  68. Even in states where selling raw milk is illegal it can be sold for “pets”. I have been drinking raw goat’s milk from a local farm for the past 15 years or so and have never had a problem. I definitely digest goat’s milk more easily than cow’s and just like the raw milk better. I also make kefir from it, for smoothies.

  69. Something I see missing in the discussion is the fact that lactose is a carbohydrate. I’m new to primal, but I thought we were trying to reduce the carb load of our diet. I have not been drinking milk because of this, but I have been eating cheese, as there doesn’t seem to be carbs in cheese (according to the labels). Is lactose better than the carbs that are found in grains? And is milk OK if we are not trying to lose weight by decreasing our intake of carbs? I’m not attacking any position, just trying to learn. Thanks for any information on this subject.

  70. Lactose intolerance is directly related to gluten consumption, see Dr. Peter Greene’s book, “Celiac Disease, A Hidden Epidemic”.

    You should also take steps to cure your Leaky Gut Syndrome, see Dr. Amy Myers Book, “The Autoimmune Solution”.

    “All Disease Begins in the Gut” – Hippocrates.

  71. Quick side note you can cook milk to any temperature you want before you consume it just like meat and vegetables.

    So why is raw milk illegal but raw meat and raw vegetables are the norm?

  72. Actually, I did almost die with E. coli in 2011, coma, seizures, saved by modern medical technology. So was it the raw milk I was drinking or the lettuce from Safeway, which another person’s case was linked to? Either way, I still drink raw milk and eat lettuce from the Safeway. The raw milk seems to have some hormonal balancing effects, probably supporting the adrenals which is why it would be effective for asthma, allergies, and eczema. I just feel so much better adding it to otherwise paleo diet.

  73. A little bit of ephemera for you all: Prince Charles (of Great Britain) remarked that the Queen Mother, who lived well into her 90’s, put it down to a lifetime of drinking raw milk. Well if it’s good enough for the Royal Family…

    Also i’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the observation that calves fed on pasteurised milk, don’t thrive. But when their diet is returned to raw milk they recover

  74. I have gotten sick from raw milk. But my supplier was kind of a shady character, and I stopped buying from him. The raw goat milk I had gotten previously from another farm was always fine.

    It is a challenge to run a clean dairy. You have to strain out hairs, clean vessels scrupulously, etc. Some people are not so careful about all this.

    My great-grandfather developed brucellosis in the 1930s from his own cows. This is a serious illness. You can get it from drinking milk from infected cows, or just from being around infected cows.

  75. Here in Florida, raw milk is readily available.
    I’ve been drinking it periodically for years.
    I don’t notice anything good or bad as far as its affects.
    Milk is high in sugar and carbs though.
    It tastes good and I like it once in a while in a smoothie.
    I buy a half gallon and freeze half of that at a time.
    By law, the jugs say….it’s meant for animal consumption.
    What’s funny is that people will comment on it and go blech.
    The same folks who eat soda, chips and cake for breakfast.

  76. there is another distinction to make: the farm that the cows live on, and the health of the cows.
    Milk from a conventional farm is crap whether is it pasturised or not, and likely full of pathogens (and probably nasty ones at that).
    Milk from an organic farm where the cows are only grass-fed on healthy pastures with good mineral and grazing programs – another story altogether! (There are not many of these). There are probably organisms in this milk, but should be almost entirely beneficial.
    The health of the farm and the cows is not often taken into consideration. Of course, milking hygeine can be a factor – we don’t want to contaminate the milk after it is harvested…

  77. I think it’s whatever floats your boat and you can tolerate eating.
    I don’t bother with cow’s milk these days but I do some butter, cheese and cream. The big problem for me with cow milk is the amount of sugar it contains, I’m pre diabetic and I like to keep my carbs more on the low side, 50-75g per day.
    I tolerate dairy well and I’m moving more to the goat variety of cheeses and kefir.
    Since I stopped drink cow’s milk my blocked sinuses have cleared up almost totally and I haven’t had to take any commercial preparations for hay fever this last summer. I was told many years ago that milk makes mucous and it’s true, at least for me and other people I know who don’t do milk anymore.
    If I want a cappuccino these days it’s either coconut or almond milk, delicious.
    Do whatever is right for your own body and health, primal/paleo is not a one size fits all.

  78. My organic food co-op has raw milk from a local organic farm with pastured cows. Perfect, right? And the farm is inspected regularly. I gave up milk years ago in an effort to reduce sinus infections. I thought this full fat, non-processed and organic milk might help me with bone density. I drank one glass and it was truly delicious and rich. Within two minutes – crushing headache.

    Sadly it is not for me. 🙁 I work for my bone density with exercise, deep leafy greens, and cal-mag-zinc-Vit K-Vit D. And avoiding the bone-robbing foods. Oh yes making my own bone broths.

  79. I grew up drinking raw milk living on a dairy farm. My children also grew up drinking raw milk on our own dairy farm. I developed symptoms of lactose intolerance while drinking raw milk. My symptoms completely went away when I stopped dairy products. It did not seem to matter if it was raw or pasteurized. Ice cream and cottage cheese seem to cause the worst symptoms. I can tolerate yogurt and kefir and some cheese. I also have a daughter who feels she is lactose intolerant.

  80. I grew up on raw milk, we had cows when I was little and my brothers and sisters used to milk them by hand. Now that was a problem! I’ve heard stories of them stepping in the milk bucket and swishing their tail in the bucket. Not appetizing and not very healthy. Later on when I was older, we got raw milk from a local dairy before it was sent off to be mixed with all the milk from various dairies around the area. I have never had a problem with either raw or pasteurized. My husband on the other hand will get all gassy and spend a lot of time on the toilet if he drinks any amount of pasteurized milk. He can, however, drink any amount of raw milk without problems. I was so happy when a local dairy switched over to selling raw milk. I was crouched at the door waiting for them to get their certification. And anyone who thinks that they wouldn’t buy raw milk off of a grocery shelf has no idea what they have to go through to get certification from the state. These people are held to a MUCH higher standard than a regular dairy. I may be an addict, but I can think of much worse things to be addicted to. Milk is the one food that I would have a difficult time giving up if I absolutely had to, and that would have to be because it really made me ill.

  81. I started to be lactose intolerante after a long period with gastritis. Still, I would drank that abomination called lactose-free fat-free ultra-pasteurized milk with my morning cereal (high in fiber of course).
    When I started eating paleo I avoided milk, but then during a visit to a farm the “cowboy” gave us a gallon of raw jersey milk as a present. I was skeptical but I tried anyway. Good Lord, that milk was awesome and I didn’t get any symptoms.

    A few weeks ago I found raw milk in the farmers market and though it did’t give me any stomach related issue, I got a really bad acne. So, I guess that if I can find raw+grass-fed+organic and non-homogenized milk from jersey cows I will drink it, otherwise I don’t see the point.
    Again, that’s my personal experience and everyone is different. At least we should have the choice to drink whatever we want at our own risk

  82. We’ve been drinking raw milk in our home for about ten years, now. We even purchased it in a state where raw milk is illegal. We’ve never had an issue outside of the flavor of the milk as it isn’t static when cows aren’t eating the same thing year round, and the flavor isn’t pounded out with processing. We love it, and use it to make other items such as ice cream and creme fresh. In the end, I don’t care what the detractors say. I’ll continue to support my local dairy, and to support politicians who uphold my right to obtain the food of my choice.

  83. 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.

  84. Just read your post on the Raw milk versus Pasteurised milk. In my late teens I worked on a station in outback NSW and it took a few weeks to get used to raw milk, however once past the initial stage I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    No bad after effects or any issues of any sort. The main factor was that we milked our own cows and the milk was always fresh. We would place the fresh milk in the coolroom and let it settle, scoop the cream off and then decant the milk and place it in the fridge in the homestead for everyone to drink.
    Returning to the city and having to drink milk from the supermarket was a real shock. Took me a good couple of months to get used to the lack of flavour and cream.

  85. Drank milk by the gallons as a kid. Was completely off dairy for 15 years because it made me sick (20s-30s).

    Drank raw goat and cow for six years and thrived. All my allergies went away. Now I drink pasteurized by the gallon and do great on it.

    It’s my theory that going primal and healing my gut made me once again able to thrive on pasteurized. Still drink raw on occasion to top off the gut flora.

  86. I grew up Amish, so we always had raw milk. I can honestly say the healthiest time in my life was when I started drinking over a quart of raw milk per day.

  87. Hi Mark,
    You don’t mention homogenization. I experience gut symptoms with milk, but a dairy farmer suggested I try non-homogenized. So for years I’ve gotten milk in bottles from a local farm, pasteurized but non-homogenized. Zero gut symptoms. Have any of these studies considered pasteurized but non-homogenized? I have since read a bit on it, and it sounds like homogenization is much harder on the structure of the proteins in the milk than pasteurization, so that is much more of a concern. Your thoughts?

  88. Mark, I agree with most of the other posts. I can get pasture/grass fed cow’s milk here in Indiana but it’s pasteurized. I know the cows. I can visit anytime. It has the fat on top and is really tasty and rich. The government needs to step back. Inspect the farm and let it go. I wouldn’t buy regular grocery milk anytime. It’s just white, fluoridated and fat free junk.

  89. Oh yeah? Well, my milk can beat up your milk.

    I just love reading these debates. You can always find some kind of research to back up what really is, at the end of the day, a personal opinion. As a research librarian I have the authority to say that. 🙂

    It all comes down to doing what you feel is best for yourself and your family. Who cares what other people say or think? Do your own research and decide for yourself rather than going along with the latest craze and/or “what everyone else is doing.” Don’t give in to the peer pressure.

    And one last comment. Just because someone has a different opinion don’t make them wrong.

  90. Here in Canada, we don’t even have a choice to choose raw milk. However, in the province of Quebec, cheese made with raw milk is legal and commonly sold. And they are actually low in lactose, due to the natural lactose-degrading process when pasteurisation doesn’t come in play.

  91. Great article, Mark, but you missed a huge important point: that pasteurized milk kills more people than raw milk. It’s not fair to even mention the “danger” of raw milk without pointing out the fact that pasteurized milk is just as dangerous. So many people get hysterical with fear when the topic of raw milk comes up, so it’s really important to provide this context.

  92. I’ve raised dairy goats for 17 years and have been drinking raw goat milk for that long. People who assume that are lactose intolerant because cow milk does not agree with them are actually allergic to the alpha-casein protein in cow milk. This is most notable in infants who cannot tolerate cow milk but thrive on goat milk. Goat milk contains mostly beta-casein protein which is more similar to the casein protein in human milk. Goat milk is also naturally homogenized.

  93. I drink raw milk when I can find a source. I also look for milk from Jersey cattle when I can find it. (Milk from Jersey cows has a high fat content, and a different type of casein protein – tastes great). Right now, I am lucky enough to have a source for raw milk from a pastured Jersey herd.

    Why do I drink it? Because it is DELICIOUS!!! I don’t drink much milk, and when I drink it, I want to enjoy it! This is milk that tastes creamy and sweet, and that I can make wonderful homemade yogurt with. I also want milk with a high cream content, from grass-fed cows, because of the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in it. CLA helps your body build and retain lean muscle.

    I got accustomed to raw milk (spoiled!) when I worked at a dairy farm in my high school and college years. I used to take a cupfull out of the vat at lunchtime, once I had cleaned up the milking parlor after first milking. Raw milk is sweeter and has a different mouthfeel than the pasteurized, though really not by a huge amount.

    I have heard a great deal about the health benefits of it, but I have no obvious personal experience to cite. I tend to believe it, since I generally prefer food in its natural state. As to the risks, there are risks to everything. I still get in a car and drive to work every morning. I still use tools that could hurt me in an accident. I still sometimes run around outside in a lightning storm. I don’t want to live my life in a state of fear of rare accidents.

    Also, I strongly suspect that the best things you can do to control your risk of food poisoning are 1) avoid restaurants – cook your own food, 2) don’t eat huge amounts of food at a given time – let your stomach acid have its chance to sterilize your food, and 3) be as strong and healthy as possible, so that your immune system will be strong, and so that you would survive a bout of salmonella that would take someone else down.

    Sorry, I have no science to cite here! This is just personal preference and beliefs.

  94. Something I never seen discusses or taken into account is the fact that China does not pasteurize their dairy. They are a massive country, and all of their dairy is raw. Being a country known for insane food quality control issues, it’s astonishing that nobody talks about raw milk there. I ate some sort of dairy product several times a day over there.

    And the yogurt is insanely delicious over there…esp. in Yunnan province…I probably ate 40 of those delicious Vanilla yogurts in the two weeks I was there. And the yak yogurt in northern Sichuan is pretty good, too. Very fresh.

  95. As a child, teenager and young adult I lived in Florida. When a child, after breastfeeding and later drinking cow’s milk, I was considered “allergic” to cow’s milk and the doctor’s recommendation to mom was a soy-based formula was a better alternative. As I got a bit older, I could drink milk with no apparent problems.

    I never had a problem with acne in my teens, except when I regularly drank milk I noticed my face would experience break-outs of pimples. Without milk…no pimples. The milk would also leave a thick mucous coating on my tongue and in my throat.

    As an adult, I did not like the smell or of the typical commercial milk from the store that I had always consumed as it had a sourness to it, especially after organic became commonly available. There was a qualitative difference. Later, I would find out that during these years of my commercial, pre-organic, dairy consumption that Florida milk tested highest in the nation for dead white blood cell counts, or “pus”, in the milk. Nevermind, what they fed or injected into the cows as well.
    So organic milk and milk products were the better choice and I had no negative reactions from consuming them.

    But for the last ten years I have lived in Norway in an area that is densest with farming and agriculture. I have now had the opportunity to buy raw milk direct from the farmer.

    Raw milk is qualitatively better than the homogenized organic milk I used to buy; visually, texturally and concerning taste.
    And it costs me 75% less than if I bought the same amount of milk at the local grocery. And that grocery milk has to be homogenized and pasteurized by law.

    Bacteria, lysteria and brucellis bacteria are a serious concern when consuming raw milk as getting these can really mess up your health. Many farms that know they are going to have their milk pasteurized allow their farms and procedures to be extremely clean and sanity…because they know the milk will be boiled to all-hell anyway. So buying raw milk from farms that lower their standards because of pasteurization being relied upon in the industry can have more hazards.
    Fortunately, the farmer that I buy from who does sell his milk to the large corporate dairy, has his milk regularly tested for bacteria counts and contamination levels before it is sold. So anytime I show up to the farm to buy my raw milk from his storage vat, I can actually see the scientific assay from the bacterial tests for every batch and am guaranteed that it is safe. And even more fortunate for me, this farmer’s milk has been rated as some of the cleanest in the country from the record of his assay tests. He runs a clean farm and has high standards even though a majority of his milk goes to a commercial dairy operation that will pasteurize and homogenize it for retail sale. It is an ethical issue and one of pride for him as a farmer and provider of food to his people, perhaps even…spiritual.
    His cows are grass fed. A very small amount of anti-biotic is used for the animals, but it is low and a strict use of what is considered to be “safer” anti-biotics are used. Compared to what is used in U.S, commercial dairy cows, there is a tremendous difference…and no bovine growth hormones.

    I consider it to be desirable to consume larger quantities of fresh, raw milk more frequently during spring and summer months. As the cow’s are eating fresh green grass, rather than hay, and are getting sunlight on their bodies which makes for better milk. I am also more active in these months because we have long winters in Norway where one tends to be a bit more sedentary or indoors. So my body is demanding more macro-nutrients during these spring and summer months…thus enhancing my relationship with milk consumption.

    I also consider the modernity of refrigeration, or the lack thereof before the invention of the icebox, and how that would have affected milk consumption. Fresh, raw milk would have more likely been consumed during spring and summer with cows grazing on grass. But that milk would only remain fresh for so long. The next step would allow it to naturally sour or clabber. This would probably be consumed more that fresh, raw milk. Then one would have fermentation methods of preserving milk such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk and then soft and hard cheeses. There are even some very long-term fermentation and storage varieties of milk called tettemelk, tjukkmelk, långmjolk or långfil in which the fermentation process is its own form or pasteurization.

    The changes to raw milk, the beneficial organisms, and the lactic acid formed from fermentation increases the tolerance for milk as it and its lactose are pre-digested and the bio-availability of its nutrients is enhanced. To the point that where some with lactose intolerance can consume them with no problems. Both my daughters are extremely lactose intolerant, but homemade fermented products from raw milk, especially aged cheeses with low lactose, have no reactions.
    It is these types of fermented raw milk products that should be considered to be consumed in larger amounts even more than fresh, raw milk.

    1. I will also add that the amount one consumes in a serving is also to be considered with dairy intolerance.
      I only consume four to six ounces of fresh dairy at a time and usually alone with no other foods. And in-between meals meal.

      I also extract my own whey liquid from my homemade fermented raw milk products and use this to ferment vegetables in jars and other long-term storage items. This lacto-fermentation is excellent for health and the immune system over vinegar and salt preservation methods that dominate the food industry.

  96. Now ask the question: is raw milk bad for you?

    Because you can’t focus on positives only, and ignore the very real, very sobering, and potentially deadly consequences of drinking raw milk,

  97. “Are they all lying or mistaken?”
    You know, there are things called placebo and nocebo. Both can explain more or less. Oh, but your dog. Well, you gave the other milk once and it (happened to) got diarrhea after that. Very scientific.

    “And you can always heat it up at home if you’re worried about contamination.”
    Yeah, right. Very practical.

  98. I wonder, is there any record of human babies breast-feeding babies getting ill or dying of bacteria from the mother’s milk they are drinking? If a woman has tuberculosis will this infect her suckling babe, in the same way that we can get TB from infected cow’s?
    Apart from that burning question, here is a link to a great article on this very subject (raw milk and its risks, not TB) written by my husband on my website. He goes into the statistical risks, which I think you people will appreciate.
    I will suggest to my readers that they come over here and read this article too, as it is great to open up this subject to a wider public and I for one really enjoyed reading your one Mark Sissons. Thanks for taking the time to put it together (I know how much work a good article takes).
    Cheers – Afifah

  99. I have a medical condition that keeps me from making breast milk. Not a drop, and I tried everything possible to make it. The ingredients in commercial formula are scary, but I had to feed my kids. I found a formula recipe on the Weston A Price website made with raw milk. I did a great deal of research and decided that it was a better alternative for me than commercial formula. Both of my children have had that, are thriving, and are rarely sick. It’s not for everyone though. I respect that a lot of people think I’m crazy for feeding my children formula that I make from raw milk. Raw milk in general gets me looked at like I’m crazy, but for us, it was the right decision.

  100. We live in Western Australia and unhomogenised (but pasteurised) milk has only fairly recently become available in mainstream supermarkets. My 14 yo son much prefers it over homogenised milk but I’ve noticed a curious thing: with a brand sold in glass bottles (very expensive) the cream blends easily back into suspension when the bottle is shaken, however with the brand sold in plastic bottles (and half the price) the cream remains in large, solid lumps no matter how long/hard the bottle is shaken up. I’m assuming the milk is reacting to the plastic but I’ve searched the internet extensively for an explanation and come up empty. I’m hoping that someone here may have an actual answer as opposed to just “my theory”.

  101. I am surprised to see this topic still being up for discussion.
    Ever since I read THE UNTOLD STORY OF MILK by Ron Schmid MD, I was confident that at least the paleo crowd would get it right, since the info is out there and available.
    I highly recommend that book to everyone. I drink my milk only raw and only fermented. Just pour it in a pot and let it sit in the shade for 2 days. Best probiotic one can ask for. Mother nature’s perfect food. Lucky us in good old Europe to have free access to raw milk. He who never tasted raw milk should not pass any judgements on the subject, since he does not even know what milk is. Boxed industrially produced milk is NOT MILK. It is a white potable liquid which some people drink, but it should not be called milk.

  102. Where can we get A2 raw Milk in Massachusetts or anything close and any recommendations on any dairy or brands.We are looking for A2 milk for sometime for my 4 year old daughter.


  103. How the hell does raw milk help stave off asthma? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. What are you gonna do next, pour milk on cuts and use it to cure the blind?

  104. I’ve been feeding my baby girl the homemade raw milk baby formula recipe from the Weston A Price Foundation since she was around a month or two old (I couldn’t produce enough breastmilk to exclusively breast feed like I wanted). She also had some breast milk until about 4 months old. She is now 8 months and absolutely thriving! Strong immune system, clear skin and very happy!