Raw Milk: Discussing it’s Merits and Safety


As the majority of you know, I can’t have dairy products. Why I can’t have dairy products is a topic for another post, but just because I can’t have dairy doesn’t mean that I think everyone should abstain. So coming from someone who can’t currently tolerate dairy products (other than ghee), allow me to say why I still “believe” in drinking milk… raw milk that is.

Dairy products don’t work for all people (like me), but it can be a very nutrient rich food for many people who do tolerate it well (for example, Weston A Price found that Swiss people thrived on a high dairy diet). Some people who thought they were intolerant to milk, have found out that it was really pasteurized milk that they had problems with. Raw milk was a whole other ball park for them. I personally have found that true. It may not be the best choice for me, but I do fairly well with raw milk.

(For those in the same situation as me, I will share more about how to replace dairy with nutrient rich foods in another post).

When we have gotten grass fed raw milk from a local farmer, we have found it to be much better tasting, much deeper in color (from the vitamin A content), and like I mentioned above, it was much more digestible (especially if one ferments it).

Of course, the big question when talking about raw milk is always safety. It certainly was my concern! But as I delved into studying this topic, I realized how uninformed most of us are in this area. It was actually amazing how little I knew about what the risks and advantages of both raw milk and pasteurized milk were.

This post is not meant to convince you one way or another. I hope instead that this post gives you vital, important information that helps you make the right choice for your family. In other words, I hope this post helps you along in making an informed decision.


Why Raw Milk?

So one of the first questions I had was, “What’s so bad about pasteurized milk? ” Let’s take a look.

One fact that interested me was that from the very beginning there has been debate about whether pasteurized milk was good for you.
In 1938, after the issue of raw vs. pasteurized milk was debated in the House of Commons, a British medical magazine published an article on why raw milk was superior. The whole article is very good. They make the point that it’s “clean, raw milk” they want. They don’t want tainted milk (pasteurized or otherwise!). Check out the whole excerpt here. And read below some of the long known disadvantages of pasteurizing our milk.

Pasteurization destroys Vitamin C, and Alters Lactose

“Besides destroying part of the vitamin C contained in raw milk and encouraging growth of harmful bacteria, pasteurization turns the sugar of milk, known as lactose, into beta-lactose — which is far more soluble and therefore more rapidly absorbed in the system, with the result that the child soon becomes hungry again.”

Pasteurization makes Calcium Unavailable to us

“Probably pasteurization’s worst offence is that it makes insoluable the major part of the calcium contained in raw milk. This frequently leads to rickets, bad teeth, and nervous troubles, for sufficient calcium content is vital to children; and with the loss of phosphorus also associated with calcium, bone and brain formation suffer serious setbacks.”

Pasteurization Destroys some Iodine

“Pasteurization also destroys 20 percent of the iodine present in raw milk, causes constipation and generally takes from the milk its most vital qualities.”

And let’s remember that iodine, calcium and vitamin C are all vital to our health. And as if that’s not enough, pasteurization unfortunately alters even more.


Sally Fallon gives us more information of what happens when milk is pasteurized.

“But that’s not all that pasteurization does to milk. Heat alters milk’s amino acids lysine and tyrosine, making the whole complex of proteins less available; it promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids and destruction of vitamins. Vitamin C loss in pasteurization usually exceeds 50%; loss of other water-soluble vitamins can run as high as 80%; the Wulzen or anti-stiffness factor is totally destroyed. Pasteurization alters milk’s mineral components such as calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulphur as well as many trace minerals, making them less available. There is some evidence that pasteurization alters lactose, making it more readily absorbable. This, and the fact that pasteurized milk puts an unnecessary strain on the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes, may explain why milk consumption in civilized societies has been linked with diabetes.

Last but not least, pasteurization destroys all the enzymes in milk— in fact, the test for successful pasteurization is absence of enzymes. These enzymes help the body assimilate all bodybuilding factors, including calcium. That is why those who drink pasteurized milk may suffer, nevertheless, from osteoporosis. Lipase in raw milk helps the body digest and utilize butterfat. After pasteurization, chemicals may be added to suppress odor and restore taste. Synthetic vitamin D2 or D3 is added — the former is toxic and has been linked to heart disease while the latter is difficult to absorb. The final indignity is homogenization which has also been linked to heart disease. “

Read the full article here And I’ll give you one more quote that reiterates some of the points above with some new ones as well.

“Not only does pasteurization kill the friendly bacteria, it also greatly diminishes the nutrient content of the milk. Pasteurized milk has up to a 66 percent loss of vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin C loss usually exceeds 50 percent. Heat affects water soluble vitamins and can make them 38 percent to 80 percent less effective. Vitamins B6 and B12 are completely destroyed during pasteurization. Pasteurization also destroys beneficial enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Pasteurization destroys lipase (an enzyme that breaksdown fat), which impairs fat metabolism and the ability to properly absorb fat soluble vitamins A and D. (The dairy industry is aware of the diminished vitamin D content in commercial milk, so they fortify it with a form of this vitamin.)

We have all been led to believe that milk is a wonderful source of calcium, when in fact, pasteurization makes calcium and other minerals less available. Complete destruction of phosphatase is one method of testing to see if milk has been adequately pasteurized. Phosphatase is essential for the absorption of calcium.

Milk straight from the cow contains cream, which rises to the top. Homogenization is a process that breaks up the fat globules and evenly distributes them throughout the milk so that they do not rise. This process unnaturally increases the surface area of fat exposing it to air, in which oxidation occurs and increases the susceptibility to spoilage. Homogenization has been linked to heart disease and atherosclerosis.”


There is no doubt in my mind that raw milk is superior nutritionally in every way. But there’s still the nagging safety issue. I have a few points to make about that.


Read Up About the Safety Issue

One thing to keep in mind is that we all eat food that has some chance of having bad bacteria in it. It’s called the risk of living and eating. People have gotten sick from salad, fruit, meat, and yes, pasteurized milk. The question is not “Is it possible to ever get sick from raw milk?”, the question is, “How does it compare in risk to pasteurized milk?”.
I would encourage you to read a little more about the real risks of raw milk. Read this article for an intro to the “risks” of raw milk. The other thing to consider is how to minimize known risks. That will be addressed when I talk about finding a good farmer.

Is Raw Milk Safer?

Organic Pastures has a long history of supplying large amounts of raw milk to people in California. They have a spotless history. And they have had to have a spotless history to stay opened. Despite the fact that no one has ever gotten sick drinking their milk (while there have been many outbreaks of food born illness in pasteurized milk during the same time period), they seem to be continually threatened to be shut down. This touches on the ugly side of the raw milk issue, a power and control issue that is most disturbing.

Read Mark McAFee’s (the owner of Organic Pastures) words in a letter to the department of public health as he defends his right to produce raw milk. Not only is  clean raw milk safe, if produced correctly, it should be safer! I encourage you to read the whole letter, but here’s just a little snippet.

“For the last four years, Organic Pastures Dairy has produced a full line of raw organic dairy products for retail sale ( 300 stores including Wholefoods) and consumption here in California. The state of California (CDFA) monitors and tests all of our raw dairy products multiple times per month. The state has never found one pathogen (salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 or listeria) in any of our products. Even more interesting is the fact that not one human pathogen has ever been found in the hundreds of environmental swabs that have been taken in our plant facility.

Dr. Caterina Berge, DVM and PhD candidate at UC Davis, tested our milk cows’ fresh manure and did not find any human pathogens. That’s right. . . no Salmonella. She was able to show that when antibiotics are not ever used on the herd (as stipulated in the organic standards) and when cows are not stressed (grass-fed and kept healthy) they simply do not slough off pathogens in their manure. The data collected at Organic Pastures was quite different from that found at other dairies. The typical conventional milk tank had either salmonella or E. coli O157:H7 detected about 30 percent of the time. In comparison, Organic Pastures has never had one pathogen—ever.

To study this issue further, Organic Pastures contracted with BSK labs in Fresno to perform multiple challenge and recovery tests on our raw milk and raw colostrum. When 7 logs (10 million counts) of pathogens were added to one-milliliter samples of organic raw milk they would not grow. In fact they died off. The salmonella was so badly out-competed that it could not be found less than 24 hours later. The listeria drop was less dramatic and was similiar to the E. Coli O157:H7 samples that were studied, but they also did not grow and declined substantially over time.

The lab concluded: “. . . organic raw milk and colostrum do not appear to support the growth of pathogens. . .”

During the period 2000 through 2004 there were several listeria-related food recalls in California associated with pasteurized milk products and ice cream. During this same period more than 12 million servings of Organic Pastures products were consumed and not one person complained of illness and not one pathogen was ever found either by the state, FDA or Organic Pastures.

This begs the bigger question. What is it that causes raw milk to kill pathogens? Just in the last 24 months, the FDA has approved lactoferrin as an approved method of treatment for pathogen reduction in beef slaughter plants. Raw milk naturally has levels of this enzyme-based pathogen killer. Pasteurization inactivates this and other enzymes that kill pathogens. These enzymes include lactoferrin, xanthine oxidase, lactoperoxidase, lysozyme and nisin. There are other interrelated enzymes and beneficial bacteria that also act on the pathogens to inhibit their growth. All of these systems are destroyed by pasteurization. It is no wonder that dairy plants that pasteurize must be kept absolutely spotless. There are no remaining safety systems in the processed milk. “

Raw milk’s safety is impressive.

Be a Smart Raw Milk Shopper

If you do decide that raw milk is the choice for you, make sure that you are a safe shopper. In my mind,  good, clean raw milk is safe, much safer and healthier than pasteurized milk. But you should do a good job in making sure that your raw milk farmer uses common sense, and good hygiene when producing your milk. Make sure that the farmer keeps the cows grass feed for better nutrition and that they have clean stalls etc. Ask about the safety procedures he uses. I like my raw milk to come from a farmer who uses a stainless steel milker which keeps the milk enclosed. One farmer had it set up to go straight to a super quick cooler, all very sterile. This allows very little chance of the milk becoming contaminated. Ask how quickly the milk is cooled, and how much exposure it has to air.  Also ask whether the cows have been tested free of tuberculosis and brucellosis.

Consider the History of Milk

My final thought about raw milk is this: Was milk only safe for us to consume in the 21st century? We live in an imperfect world in which food borne illness do occur. But is raw, clean milk a high suspect? Surely factory bread cows that live in confinement are not healthy and do not give healthy milk. I wouldn’t want to receive any raw milk from them. In fact, it was only when milk quality was so poor from ill-treated cows that pasteurization became something to consider. But what about grass-fed, healthy cows, milked correctly? These are all important questions for you to consider.

Above all, look at the options you have locally, research the issue thoroughly and make an informed choice. I have personally chosen to support raw milk farmers with my blog as I think it’s a matter of personal freedom to choose what you think is the healthiest choice.

I personally would rather not have milk at all, then have pasteurized milk. That’s my choice, be wise in yours.

Full Disclaimer: I am not giving medical advice, but just sharing my own thoughts on an important topic. I encourage you to do your own research and talk to qualified health providers in making your choice.


For more information:
Nourishing Traditions
Real Milk
Weston A Price Foundation
The Untold Story of Milk

To find a local farmer in your area, go here.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. Alison says

    Here, Here! My family looks forward to the day that we buy our own cow and know for certain that our milk is good and clean. Meanwhile, for us to consume raw milk would mean driving hours away to SC(which many of our friends chose to do) since selling raw milk is illegal in GA. The other option, and the route that we will follow when we get our cow, is cow shares. By participating in a cow share, you help pay for the cow and receive milk as a part owner of the cow- therefore, you pay nothing for the milk itself, and remain within the law. Yes, a lot of thought has been put into this. 😉

  2. says

    I recently found a local farmer who supplies raw milk. I’ve been corresponding via e-mail with them, and they have been very open and provided me with great information. They encourage new customers to take a tour of the farm and dairy parlor before purchasing in order to see how the animals are raised and the cleanliness of the milking process. We’re going out there tomorrow. I’m really excited! My husband used to get raw milk when he lived in Wyoming as a child, so he is excited to have it again. I have trouble with pasteurized dairy, so I am interested to see if I can take raw milk.

  3. Marnita says

    My husband just went today to pick up our raw milk in SC. We live in NC where it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption. We go every two weeks to pick it up. It actually isn’t but about a 30 minute drive to get it since we live really close to the state line. Thanks for supporting raw milk.

  4. says

    This is such a timely topic for me. Here in Ohio it is illegal to buy raw milk. Just this weekend we bought a share in a cow that entitles us to a gallon a week. We wanted to try it to see if the kids drank it (they were accustomed to skim milk.) Happily they love it so we will probably be adding more shares in the future. It really makes me angry that people have to go to such lengths to get raw milk. Just one more thing about the FDA that irritates me. Thank you for all the great information.

  5. says

    Thank you for covering this so clearly. My husband and I both grew up on raw milk, here in Oregon and are so happy to be serving it to our family once again. Something else to consider is cost. It is much higher for raw milk but we are able to make butter and ice cream with the cream off the top and yogurt and cheese with the milk. So healthy and yummy too!! Thanks again.

  6. says

    We’ve been buying raw milk for four months now. It’s wonderful! I drink it less than my husband and 3-year-old, but our family consumes 2 gallons a week. I’m so glad that the info about raw milk is getting out there.

    To anyone who wants to find a source for raw milk in your area, check out http://www.realmilk.com. That’s how I found my farmer!

  7. says

    Thanks for a wonderful and beautiful blog. I’m a Raw milk drinker for the last 2 years. It has been the answer to a mysterious digestive problem I’ve had since my 20’s. I am not lactose intolerant. Milk never made my digestive problem worse or better. But Raw Milk has been a 90% cure.
    I’m guessing it’s the enzymes. 5 years of Tetracycline use in my teens for acne probably destroyed my ability to digest properly. Probiotics did no good. Raw Milk about a glass a day – keeps me healthy.
    I buy with a bunch of friends, we take turns driving to a farm in MA. The milk is certified by an independent State certified lab and is pristine, delicious, full of butterfat and a great gift from God.
    Thanks again – for a beautiful blog.

  8. Deb says

    My understanding is that here in all states of Australia, it is illegal to sell raw cow’s milk. Food Standards are currently conducting some sort of ‘investigation’ as to the future sale of raw milk here.

    We live not far from a number of small dairies on the far south coast of NSW, but I’m not sure how to go about making contact with them and making sure that they would have a product that would satisfy my requirements. I’m (almost) certain that they all sell their milk to the ‘Dairy Farmers’ or other co-ops that pasteurise their milk for sale to the general public.

    Any Australian readers able to enlighten me?

  9. says

    We also live in Ohio and have a Herd Share for our milk. We love our raw milk. I have been lactose intolerant my whole life, but I have have no problems with the raw milk. I make my own butter, which is amazingly yellow compared to store bought. We would never go back to regular milk.

    When people ask us about the safety I say, “What about peanut butter, tomatoes, and jalapenos that have all been contaminated and made people sick.” I believe we should take an active role in knowing where and how our food is produced, not just the milk that we eat but the meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables and fruit.

    • angie says

      Could you message me with who you use in Ohio? I am in northeastern Ohio and am looking to get into a herdshare…don’t know where to start? briansangelica at gmail dot com


  10. says

    We are extremely fortunate to be able to get raw milk locally. From what I see, farmers who produce raw milk really care about their product. It is a matter of pride to them that their animals are properly cared for, well fed, and everything is scrupulously clean. I remember returning regular milk to a certain supermarket every week for a month, because it had spoiled within a day or two of purchase, and well within the “Sell By” date. I had to complain LOUDLY before however they were mishandling the milk was addressed and corrected – they really didn’t care.
    When people are aghast and question the safety (and sanity) of consuming such a “dangerous” product as raw milk, I grin mischieveously and tell them that it’s much safer and cleaner than any milk I might get from the supermarket. I know personally every person who has handled the milk since it came out of the cow the previous Tuesday evening (that would be the farmer, and me). With the recent peanut salmonella outbreak, I can tell them that they’re much more likely to die from eating peanut crackers than to feel unwell after drinking my good milk.
    The biggest difference though, is in the children’s health. Since we started on raw milk, I count the number of colds all four children (combined) get in a year on my thumb, or thumbs. I met a (regular US diet eating) couple with two children that budget for two sick child trips to the doctor a month, all year long, and sometimes it isn’t enough! I was speechless. I simply couldn’t imagine so much misery and illness.
    And it tastes really, really good. It doesn’t taste obviously different, but after a glass you think, “Mmm, that was good, I think I’ll have some more…” and then you think, “Oh my, I’ve nearly drunk half a gallon! I’d better stop!” Going back to pasturized milk, it tastes about the same, but “cooked” somehow.
    Thank you for showcasing this issue, I learned several new things – most intriguingly that pathogens don’t grow in raw milk. That’s very good to hear! Thank you!

  11. says

    I am pretty sure that I will be joining the non-dairy group soon. Doing some allergy panels after a bout of digestive gunk these past few weeks. I have never liked milk, and have pretty much been lactose intolerant (save cheese and ice cream!)…but I think I may even have to forego those loves, too. Thanks for the in-depth article. I noticed you said you do OK with ghee – is it tolerated in most non-dairy diets?

  12. Melissa says

    I was a strong raw milk advocate prior to pregnancy. Since pregnancy, i started raw then once i made it through the first trimester (and actually had significant effort investment in my pregnancy!), i switched to pasturized, non-homogonized grass fed (but what does grass fed really mean nutrition-wise in the winter?). Postpartum, i figure i’ll return to raw. In any case, i’ve been to india a couple times…. their milk is FABULOUS. Oh my. BUT here’s the thing that sticks in my mind over and over… they still boil their milk! To the degree that there’s no WAY they’d drink raw milk.. in paticular during the monsoon season. I just always return to the fact that indians boil their milk, and american raw milk drinkers don’t…. what does it mean… no answers here, but it goes back to even if you know your source, how safe is raw? I’d risk it for myself, but would i risk it for my child if i’m not milking/caring for the cow myself? Or perhaps the real topic is, how confident are we of the stregnth of own immune system if something does go awry 🙂

  13. KimiHarris says

    Cooks 4 Seasons,
    Ghee is often tolerated. 🙂 I was very, very sensitive for a while to any type of dairy, even the tiniest bit in something, but I was okay with ghee. Like I said, some people are just bothered by the process (or all of the junk that’s often in pasteurized milk).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I was always very paranoid- truthfully -about raw milk. When pregnant, I made my husband drink each batch of milk first, and after a day or two, I would have some too. I figured that way if something really bad was in it, he would get sick first! I’ve calmed down a bit since then. 🙂 But I’m still cautious.

    But you have a valid point about boiled milk. I was recently reading in the Garden of Eating, that some societies did “boil” their milk. One thing to keep in mind is that people in India aren’t exactly known for their health. Weston A Price I don’t think found them as healthy as other societies. Though boiled milk certainly wouldn’t be the only cause of that! 🙂 Other, very healthy societies did consume their milk raw, or more often cultured.

    Having said that, I would consider boiling my milk if I felt unsure of raw milk’s safety, but would still like the benefit of farm fresh milk. I’ll have to pull that quote from the Garden of Eating sometime for you all!

  14. KimiHarris says

    For those of you worried about the overall safety of raw milk, I encourage you to read Mark’s full letter. It really is very interesting. Do I think it possible to get sick from raw milk? In a nut shell, yes. Do I think you could get sick from drinking pasteurized milk (or salad, or peanut butter or-you fill in the blank) yes (in fact, it’s more likely). I personally think it’s safer to get raw milk from a GOOD source, then pasteurized milk from who knows where.
    But that’s my personal opinion, please let what’s available to you and your own research dictate your choices. 🙂

    • Stephanie says

      I am so confused by the raw milk discussions. I got very excited about raw milk 2 years ago and made formula from it for my boy who was not gaining weight well and I was not making enough milk for. Our source was a local dairy who produced for commercial purchase. The cows pastured on large amounts of grass but were fed grain during some of the winter months. My 1 year old developed a severe campylobacter infection during this time and our whole family went through a series of GI illnesses (some could have been related to the milk and others were definitely not). Thankfully my 1 year old was not hospitalized as this is often the result of campylobacter infection. Campylobacter is a common pathogen in raw milk and I am pretty convinced his infection did come from the milk. I am so frustrated because I really do believe there are superior nutritional qualities to raw milk, not to mention the month before he got sick my 1 year old gained 1 1/2 pounds on the raw milk formula. But I am too concerned about the risk of infection to try raw milk again, as I feel like I got burned. I think maybe if I found a dairy that had a more sanitary milk collection area and did more testing for pathogens I might be willing to. But campylobacter isn’t necessarily from unsanitary conditions as it can be an infection in the teets of the cow and you could do everything in practically sterile manner and still get contaminated milk. So, I am not against it or for it, just want real answers regarding the foods and substances I put into the mouths of my beloved family. I would really love feedback from others who may have had similar circumstances.

      • KimiHarris says


        Thanks for sharing about your personal experience with raw milk. I am glad that your son is okay. It is frustrating to sort through everything. I think what I want is an 100 percent guarantee choice, and it just doesn’t happen in this world! I personally haven’t heard or read much about campylobacter, but with your experience, I can see why you would be cautious. Do you know how common it is to be caused by an infection of the teets? I’ve always felt like it was important to get raw milk from really sterile farmers and a lot of small time farmers don’t have the money to invest into the equipment to make that possible.

        We have a little trouble with even raw dairy, so we try to do a lot of bone broths to make up for the lack of calcium and minerals from raw milk. 🙂

        • says

          I know that this is an older forum- I’m not sure how often it is still checked. Regardless, I wanted to add something about this. I would steer clear of any dairy that produces milk for commercial purposes, ie: milk that will eventually be pasteurized. Usually, larger dairies put all of the milk into large vats and mix all the milk together before dispensing it. There is a nearby dairy that I have bought raw milk from, deviating from my normal dairy farmer, simply because their product was cheaper. However, their milk made me sick. Now I just stick to my regular supplier. She has a very small operation and our milk comes from the same cow every week. She does not mix her milk, it goes directly into the gallon jug for my family. This keeps her quality control at the highest standard.
          I think the bottom line is KNOW YOUR FARMER. Even better, get to know your cow! Go out there, see what is going on. Invite your farmer over for supper. Keep tabs on the quality, keep your farmer informed if anything is wrong.

  15. Kaylin says

    I’m excited that we’ve been able to get raw milk for a month or so now. My 7-year-old had trouble digesting dairy products and always took an enzyme supplement to help, but still tended to have gas troubles. Since switching to raw milk that has completely disappeared. I now cheerfully give my kids a glass of milk whenever they want it and we go through 4-5 gallons a week! I feel so good about giving my kids fresh milk in the form God made it with all the nutrients intact.

  16. says

    For DEB~. Regarding raw milk sales in AU. Check out nourishedmagazine.com.au It’s a site that is founded on Sally Fallon and Weston Price’s principles. Many of the commentors have found raw milk in AU and I’m sure they could direct you there!

    Personally my family and I have been drinking raw milk for over a year now and my digestive system is SOO much happier. We found a local farm with very stringent sanitation and their bacteria count is unbelievably low. It’s worth paying for someone who takes the time to make sure the milk they sell is safe!

  17. Meg Dickey says

    We’ve been so blessed to be able to obtain raw milk from Organic Pastures for the last few months (our goat dried up!). I completely notice a difference between my two boys (my oldest was on a soy formula for over a year, while my youngest has only had breast-raw goat-raw cow) digestive characteristics. I wish I had the information (and the courage!) to put my oldest on the raw milk sooner. He has done so much better since we switched to raw milk.

    I hadn’t heard the part about pathogens being unable to survive in the raw milk – good to know! Especially since some days there’s an awful lot of straw in our milk bucket… 😉

  18. Katie says

    I researched raw milk inside and out about a year ago and decided that was the way to go. My family has been enjoying what we now call “real milk” 😉 from a cow share we purchase and we love it! I also make my own raw butter, yogurt, and cheese from our milk and it’s delicious!

    • KimiHarris says

      Hi Everyone,

      I just wanted to make one comment about bacteria not being able to grow in raw milk. I think that this is usually true, when very good milk is milked. But I just wanted to make one clarification. Mark’s milk wasn’t able to support bacteria. That doesn’t mean all milk can never harbor bacteria. Mark’s milk may be superior to some raw milk. The reason I say this is because we did have a family in a state near us sell goat’s milk which somehow did get some bacteria in it, and a few kids got really sick from it. I think it’s only fair to mention it! I don’t know much about how they were raised, how healthy they were etc as we didn’t get milk from them (though I think that they were grass fed), but they didn’t have some basic stuff to help things keep clean in the milking room (like a sink to wash hands etc). They may have been careful, but they weren’t using milkers and quick coolers either. Just so you all know! 🙂 It’s was a rare case, in my understanding, but it did happen.

  19. Cameo says

    Thank you for the great information. I am a big fan of milk I can purchase in grocery stores sold in glass bottles. I am not a fan of buying it unpasteurized. While I can see the side presented in what you posted, I am not convinced that the benefits of unpasteurized milk outweigh the risks. I would like to see you delve further into the issue of dairy products by discussing homogenization. Research I read indicated that homogenization of milk contributes to heart disease. The process of homogenization actually breaks down the fat molecules into smaller particles that can then become caked to one another and clog the arteries. Drinking UNhomogenized (the milk with the cream on top) may actually be better for you since the fat particles are the way they are intended to be and pass easily through the blood stream rather than clogging it. For those who like lowfat and non fat milk, you can also get those unhomogenized. Thanks for the great information!

  20. nonegiven says

    When I was a kid, in the ’60s, a family that lived across the alley were quarantined for weeks because they got hepatitis from drinking raw milk. I don’t know how the cow was fed.

  21. KimiHarris says

    To everyone:
    I found this one article that I think gives a very balanced viewpoint. It gives both positions. Check it out.
    http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2007/01/19/raw_milk/index.html (Make sure that you read all three pages of it)

    Hepatitis A is easily transmitted through food, but it’s from the food handler (or contaminated water in the case of shellfish) not from the cow or milk -that’s my understanding at least. You can also get hepatitis from eating at a restaurant (many fast food places have had an employee pass it on to another worker or customer) or even just working at the same place as someone with it. All to say, I don’t know if raw milk is more of a risk than any other food item.

  22. says

    This is an especially relevant issue right now as state legislators everywhere seem to be debating laws about imposing further restrictions on the sale of raw milk.

    The thing that always gets me about this is how those opposed to raw milk consumption argue against it as a public health issue. I’m sorry, but recent events have demonstrated that PEANUT BUTTER is more dangerous for us than raw milk. But, no one’s saying we have to stop selling peanut butter.

    Anyhow, thank you for this informative post!

  23. says

    I switched over to raw two years ago for the whole fam and have seen drastic reductions in tummy problems and overall health. I buy from Organic Pastures Dairy Company near Fresno, CA. They will ship frozen to various states. They have a great safety record and at least raw milk has good bacteria to eat up bad bacteria. That isn’t so in processed milk. Much bad bacteria comes into contact with it, and, as it has been purged of all the good stuff, the bad can proliferate. Lots more people get sick from pasteurized than raw (IF your source is a good and healthy one – grass fed and organic). Anyway, love your site. I’ll be back. I have a humor blog but found you through blog browsing. Blessings!

  24. says

    We are on our second week of raw milk (via a cow share program) and LOVE it. The butter I make with some of the cream from each gallon is so delicious, and I love knowing I’m giving healthy food to my family. Our farmer tests EACH TEAT for bacteria at every milking (that’s twice a day). I can’t imagine anything safer, to be honest.

    Thank you for exploring this issue! I’m sending your link to my family members who look strangely at me when I explain what we’re doing… My own research revealed that the FDA calls raw milk “Russian roulette” http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2004/504_milk.html, but it can cure allergies, digestive disorders, eczema, ETC, all of which my family suffers from. Another great raw milk site is http://www.raw-milk-facts.com.

  25. says

    Excellent! I’ve been getting our milk from a local Old Order German Baptist (they live like Amish) farmer for a few years now. Our family loves it and I believe we benefit from. However, our youngest daughter (18) can’t have milk so she drinks Vanilla Rice Milk and I use it for cooking things that she will consume. It doesn’t cook-up quite so thick, but it’s do-able.

    Blessings from Ohio…

  26. Rebekah says

    Hi! I just found your website the other day and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Eating more nutriously is something I’m working on for my family and myself. I do have a question. I am the mother of two boys (2 1/2 and 18 mo). I am wondering what are some calcium-rich foods I can give my boys. Raw milk is rather pricey where we live so I don’t think it’s something we can afford at present. Are there any other options for me to consider? Thank you!

  27. Miriam says

    Hi. I have been pouring over your site the last few days since I found it. I’m sure my in-laws and husband will be glad that someone is helping me see some of the things they have been talking about more clearly.

    Deb, I just wanted to let you know, I live in Brisbane and know my sister-in-law buys raw milk from the health food shop, Healthy Life, I think and I have seen it at Mrs. Flannery’s. It’s not always available, but if you let them know you want it, they will ring you when they get some in. It is marketed as a “bath milk” since it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in Australia, like you said. Cleopatra is the brand. I don’t know where it’s sourced or about contacting the farmer directly.

  28. KimiHarris says


    Raw milk can be very expensive, or very reasonable, it all depends on who you get it from. In our area some farmers have charged me as much as 7 dollars a quart ), but the last person we’ve gotten it from has charged us only 5 dollars a gallon. Other people in other parts of the US can get it a lot cheaper then that, even.

    We just found out that Elena also can’t have dairy though, so we will be using other calcium sources. Chicken broth and all kinds of dark greens have great calcium. Chicken broth is the best though, in my opinion, very easy to absorb. But dark green go great in soups, and then you have two sources of calcium. 🙂

    I am so glad that you have found my site helpful! 🙂 Thanks for the info about raw milk for Deb!

  29. says

    I have a daughter who is very allergic to casein, the protein in milk. I was hoping that raw milk would provide her with what she needed to be able to drink it, or at least eat it in cheese or as part of a meal. Alas, it is not to be. The rest of my family, though, has really been enjoying drinking whole raw milk (or “pet” milk, as they call it here due to regulations.) In our homeschool we’ve separated milk and used the cream to whip and make butter, we’ve separated the curds and whey to make a starter for lacto-fermenting veggies and fruits, we’ve made homemade cream cheese…I’m having so much fun discovering milk all over again!

    But this first baby step was only an introduction to the world of cooking in the style of “Nourishing Traditions.” I have met “my” cows, and “my” pastured chickens, I know the farmer who runs the CSA program to which I belong (and her children and grandchildren), I have met the beekeeper that tends the bees that make “my” honey. I have never, ever been so connected in so many ways to my community and my food.

    I’m not physically able to farm for my family aside from a few planters on the back patio and a few Aerogarden setups. But going to the farm to pick eggs reminds me of the wife in Proverbs who “is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.” It is satisfying in a way beyond filling tummies.

  30. April says

    Hi! I’ve been doing alot of research on raw milk lately. Thanks for the helpful info! As to the safety – I read that the CDC reported an average of 5.2 outbreaks of illness from raw milk per year. 5 whole cases in one year! And this is what they’re basing their “Raw Milk is sooooo Bad For You” campaign on. Why isn’t there a war on peanuts right now?

  31. says

    I somehow missed this post when you did it, though someone told me you did it. Thanks for such a comprehensive post! This is a great resource for me to pass on to people who just need to get some of the facts about raw milk and it’s safety. 🙂

  32. says

    I discovered your website yesterday and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. You have excellent information and I love the look of the website. You’ve done a great job spelling out the raw milk issue. We are raw milk drinkers here — my family of 5 goes through 4 gallons a week — however it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in our state. But it is NOT illegal to sell raw milk for your pets to drink, and it is NOT illegal to eat pet food. That is one way that many farmers get around the law here. Thought I would share that in case some of your readers wanted to look into it. The milk sold as pet food is supposed to be labeled as such. Everyone knows that people are drinking the raw milk. As you pointed out in your article, the legal restrictions in our country surrounding raw milk (and other natural foods) are really not about the welfare of the people. It is a very political move that is making certain groups of people very wealthy. The real results of these laws are not just harming the land and animals (through confinement operations) but they are keeping people from staying well. Anyway, cow shares are another great option and we are rejoicing in our state because just last week our legislature passed a law specifically legalizing them. It was already a constitional right, but now it is stated specifically without any loopholes. Farmers will be able to start up cow shares with much more confidence, without fear of harassment from police, and will no longer have to sell pet food.

    Again, I’m loving your blog. Keep up the good work!

  33. Jane says

    Thanks for the post. It’s a good link to be able to forward to wary friends & relations. I discovered Nina Planck’s “Real Foods” and Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions” a few weeks ago and have been in the process of finding my local CSAs and completely reordering my kitchen. Going back to the most basic traditional foods including grassfed meat, poultry, raw whole dairy and sprouted grains makes so much sense to me. I have been on and off Weight Watchers for years (always gaining back lost weight) and it’s such a relief to be off low-fat and eating real, delicious foods again! I am lucky to live in CA and get my raw dairy from Organic Pastures. I *love* it and will never go back. It tastes so great and is so satisfying that one fruit/raw milk smoothie fills me up for hours. I am anticipating seeing great health benefits the longer I am on it.

  34. Nicole says

    I’ve recently read that many people have difficulty even digesting grass fed raw milk when it comes from modern cows. You might be of a mind to find a source from a heritage breed, brown swiss, jersey, etc.

  35. says

    Great article. We live in the Dairy State and, ironically, it’s illegal to buy/sell raw. We’ve been getting it under the radar but sadly both farms we purchase from have been ‘busted’ with the threat of shut down and full farm loss if they continue to sell to willing customers.

    We are now doing organic pasteurized and already my immune system is down. I haven’t had the flu or a cold all winter…. until now. We stopped getting raw just under two weeks ago. The benefits of raw are amazing and the oppression from big agribusiness towards small, family run farms is a huge hurdle to get past. Support your local farm and vote for more farm bills to pass to keep raw safe and legal.

  36. Ashley says

    We are excited and nervous to be starting raw mik for our family. I have heard that many people (children especially) who BEGIN drinking raw milk for the first time often get sick. I do not know whether this is b/c of bacteria in the milk + the child doesn’t yet have gut immunity built up .. or if it is just a natural consequence of eating something “different” like when people get sick eating food on vacation in a foreign country.
    My 3 yr. old has had aprx 1/4 c. raw milk for the past 4 days and now has a fever, headache, and tummyache. I realize that it may be unrelated, but they are the symptoms of raw milk illness: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00000104.htm

    Anyway, I’m not overly concerned yet, but I am curious whether anyone has heard of this and/or if there is any common advice for starting out on raw milk. I’m especially concerned b/c I also have a 7 mo. old who will begin raw milk at age 1 (after having earth’s best formula) and plan to become pregnant again in the future.

    Any thoughts/advice?

  37. Ashley says

    Also, we are getting our milk from a local herd-share program. We have been to visit and have seen that they are grass fed, happy cows, and that they have a very clean process.

  38. Rebecca says

    I have my own dairy goats and drink the milk raw everyday. I love the taste and the health benefits of having the milk available to me all the time. I make my own kefir also from the raw milk and drink it everyday. I don’t understand why more people don’t have a couple dairy goat does at their home for their own milk. You have to have 2 so they will have a companion and be happy. I keep one in milk and one being bred so that I have a constant supply of milk. If you stay away from the Nubians, they are quietier than having a dog, there is no odor to the girls, it doesn’t cost that much to feed them. Goats milk is easier to digest than cow milk.

  39. Amanda says

    I had raw milk for the first time (I may have had some as a kid on my grandparents farm but I am not sure) this week. I generally do not like milk. I know it is kind of wrong to make chocolate milk with raw milk but it is the only way I like milk (and in smoothies). It was the best chocolate milk ever! Store bought milk always smells and tastes off to me. I just can’t tell the difference between the smell of a jug of pasturized milk I just bought and one that is a month old, they both smell pretty gross. The raw milk did not have that smell. That alone speaks volumes to me. I probably still will not sit down and have a glass of milk often but I am glad to know that there is a difference in taste and health!

  40. ricki says

    This issue is so important to me, that we moved to a farm and now have 2 mini jersey heifers. They aren’t old enough to provide milk as yet, but can’t wait until they are.


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