“Amid the rhetoric and sharply drawn battle lines in the controversy over raw milk, it can be difficult to parse out the facts without getting mired in scientific jargon. Used as a cure for a myriad of ailments around the turn of the century, only to disappear with the advent of pasteurization, raw milk is back in fashion, the result of growing interest in whole foods, sustainability and homesteading. It is also extremely difficult to obtain, with sales restricted or illegal in most states. In fact, in most of the United States, it’s easier to buy a gun than raw milk.
Raw milk is un-skimmed, unheated and unprocessed milk straight from the cow. Safe raw milk comes from healthy cows pastured on organic grasses, and is properly handled under sanitary conditions. It is the product of a balanced ecosystem which starts with a farmer who respects the health of his land, his herd and his customers. The two production considerations having the greatest impact on the presence of dangerous strains of e coli are a grain diet and confined quarters, both of which apply to factory farming, neither of which apply to the small family farms responsibly producing raw milk. With the methods of production and sanitation of utmost importance, not all raw milk is the same, neither is it necessarily organic, grass-fed, or safe.
Processed milk is both pasteurized and homogenized: pasteurization is heating to temperature in order to kill pathogens, and homogenization is emulsification of the fats and liquids under pressure. Pasteurization of milk came into vogue in the 1920s as a response to urban industrialization. The populations of major cities were increasing, as was the practice of housing diary cattle in or near distilleries and feeding them the spent grain. The resulting milk was blue and watery, prompting dairies to add things like flour, starch, chalk and sugar to mask it. Of no use, these collective actions only resulted in diseased cows, diseased milk, and diseased humans….”