Happy CowsIf there could be a master key to safe raw milk, I think it would be contented cows. Remember Elsie, the Borden cow? Their slogan used to be "Milk from Contented Cows", when safe milk first became synonymous with pasteurization. Today’s dairy cows have strayed way out of Elsie’s pasture. These cows may not produce raw milk that is safe because Elsie’s descendants spend their brief lives entirely indoors, living on field corn and soybeans to the degradation of their milk and the degeneration of the nation’s health.

Cow health and safe raw milk

It’s not complicated science to understand that quality of life as well as diet affects cows’ milk quality. Superior milk reflects many things — quality fats, available minerals and vitamins, living enzymes, no "off-flavor" and much more. When animals are raised entirely outdoors on green grass and/or hay, their milk is proven time and again greatly reduced in pathogens (bad bacteria). When cows are happy, they will "chew their cud", a sure and outward sign with ruminants (grazing animals) that, as organic farmer Chris tells me about his ladies, safe and delicious milk with lots of cream is in the making.

Safe raw milk can be more assured when cows graze the fresh green grass sprinkled with wildflowers on an organic farm. Dairy cows are BIG Mamas; herds of them require outside room to move with fresh pasture every few days in Summer and grass hay to eat in Winter; each needs a comfortable stall with humane tending and strict attention to their health and cleanliness — this will mean less stress and a stronger immune system able to ward off disease without the continual needful expense of antibiotics and growth hormones that factory farms require.

The origin of milk pathogens (actually human pathogens found in milk) is primarily a result of poor sanitation, animal stress, and animal sickness. According to the definitively indicting book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, these conditions plus factory cows’ unnatural diet stresses them enough to require ever more drugs to meet very short-term and cruel per unit production goals — drugs that can be traced to both their milk and their meat.

Most milk from "confinement cows" should be pasteurized if used for human consumption; in recent University of California Davis tests, 31 percent of raw milk samples taken from farm tanks of conventional milk intended for pasteurization contained detectible human pathogens. Raw milk standards need to be superior to that of the commercial milk supply headed for the cooker, big dairy biz couldn’t begin to measure up and consumers would need to pay the price for this superior food. Currently some states require that raw milk hold to much lower bacterial counts than pasteurized milk, leading one to believe that drinking pasteurized milk is dangerous in more ways than one.

The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund was established in July, 2007, to protect the rights of farmers to provide meat, eggs, raw dairy products, vegetables and other foods directly to consumers. If you really want to know the current legal climate along with actual bacteria count requirements, their site is worth checking out.

Contributing Author Lynn Cameron owns the AromaVital.com website and has conducted her own research into the complementary health field since the early seventies.

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5 Comments for "Key to Safe Raw Milk from Cows"

  1. Al Lanier

    I grew up on raw milk, brought each morning straight from the cow, and what we did was to boil it, skim the cream or whatever, and then just drink it. It would seem that boiling would take care of any biological hazards. No?

  2. Diane Vigil

    I would say that, if you were boiling it first, then it’s not raw milk, which means unpasteurized milk.

    However, I’m not sure that pasteurization is a guarantee of total safety; see Two People Die After Drinking Listeria Tainted Milk.

    Which is not to say that your milk wasn’t safe (or was). I’d guess that most of us grew up drinking milk, and here we are, ages later, still alive and well.

  3. Pasteurizing Milk Destroys Essential Nutrients

    […] See Lynn's The Key to Safe Raw Milk from Cows […]

  4. WakeUpC22

    Well I have to say even if the cow was raised with my own two hands, it is an animal and is grazing out in the open. Animals get sick just like humans do and therefore the food it produces may be contaminated with whatever it is battling with.

    While I know there are many raw food proponents out there, and I understand the good bacteria debate, I myself would not trust milk from my own cow without heating it first even if the teats were absolutely clean. My reasoning is because it is coming from a living animal that is simply not immune to illnesses or diseases and the idea that bacteria exists in both good and bad forms.

    So in my view, while we may be killing off good probiotics, etc. we still get the benefits of non-hormone raised cattle in a very clean environment. Had I raised my own cow I may be tempted to try some raw milk just for the heck of it, but otherwise heating to me is not a sin more than thinking one form is indefinitely better than the other.

    On that note, we really should get a choice and not poopoo on what other people prefer. I do disagree with the government’s handling of the issue, though I am glad they have not banned raw milk in california

  5. Lynn Cameron

    Hello WakeUp,

    The Weston A. Price Foundation has covered extensively the dangers as well as the benefits of consuming farm-fresh milk in their many articles online.
    See: http://www.realmilk.com/documents/PathogensinRawMilk.pdf where retired pathologist, Ted Beals, MS, MD says, “I do not disagree that milk, like all foods,can be contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms, but the inquiring public needs accurate and objective information. The opponents of raw milk have learned how best to scare people”. This is a very complete and referenced article from Wise Traditions magazine that states conclusively “That fresh raw milk has the properties to kill pathogens is no urban legend; it is proven science.”

    Here’s a link to California court documents http://www.realmilk.com/documents/expert-testimony-0508.pdf where it is a matter of court record that the USDA’s own standards and measurements of milk bacteria reflect that pasteurized milk is more likely to be contaminated with bacteria than is raw milk. This is dry stuff, but you’ll find this testimony (from a hostile witness) about 3/4 of the way through the treatise.

    “. . . it appears that most investigators are thoroughly convinced that raw milk poses a major threat to public health, and thus they often rush to judgment to implicate raw milk even when the science is not fully supportive.” comes from yet another rebuttal found here: http://www.realmilk.com/documents/ResponsetoMarlerListofStudies.pdf.

    Further, it is important to note that this is an issue of many facets with bacteria count being just one. Food freedom is a vanishing right, and small dairy operations are in real danger of extinction in the USA. Food Democracy Now has teamed up with several other groups. Since you indicated your support of folks’ freedom to choose what to eat, perhaps you’d add your voice in an email to Attorney General Holder:
    http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/doj_dairy/?r=5707&id=9803-2080185-ANJ2hlx to save dairy farms.


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