Drinking raw milk has its benefits. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have our own Jersey cow here on our homestead. Raw Jersey milk literally saved my life. So, obviously, I am a huge proponent of including it as part of a healthy diet. That doesn’t mean I don’t understand why people fear drinking raw milk if they have no previous experience with it. It can be natural to exercise caution about things we have never done before. I want to talk to you today about the benefits of drinking raw milk and how you can make sure it is safe for consumption. Let’s break it down.
What is raw milk?
Raw milk means exactly what you think it means. It is unfiltered and straight from the tap, my friends. You can get raw milk from dairy cattle, goats, sheep, and donkeys. Some more exotic sources include camels, reindeer, water buffalo, and yaks. Most people who consume raw milk get theirs from cows and goats.
Another characteristic of raw milk involves pasteurization. Unlike commercial milk found in grocery stores, raw milk is not pasteurized. Skipping this step is the reason why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned raw milk sales across state lines. Pasteurizing raw milk kills all the beneficial bacteria found in it. Yes, there can be harmful bacteria in there, too, but there are effective ways to prevent raw milk from becoming contaminated. I will talk about that more later.
Benefits of drinking raw milk
I get my raw milk from a Jersey cow, so I am going to specifically cite the benefits of Jersey raw milk in this section. Unpasteurized Jersey cow milk is loaded with nutrients. Some of the nutrients in raw milk are essential for human health and well-being. Just one cup has 146 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fat. Before you freak out about the fat level, let me assure you that butterfat found in raw milk can stave off obesity when included as part of a healthy diet.
Here is the breakdown of the vitamins and minerals found in raw Jersey milk:
|CALCIUM||28% of the recommended daily allowance|
|VITAMIN D||24% of the recommended daily allowance|
|RIBOFLAVIN (B2)||26% of the recommended daily allowance|
|VITAMIN B12||18% of the recommended daily allowance|
|POTASSIUM||10% of the recommended daily allowance|
|PHOSPHOROUS||22% of the recommended daily allowance|
|SELENIUM||13% of the recommended daily allowance|
Raw Jersey milk also keeps your bones healthy and strong because of its powerful combination of nutrients and vitamins C and D. Children and adults should consume 0.35 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Including raw milk that is rich in protein can help meet those daily recommendations.
Is drinking raw milk safe?
Yes, when you take the right precautions first. One of the biggest risks for contamination comes from the cow’s fecal matter. Dairy cattle that stand in their own manure can end up with unsafe bacteria embedded in their teats, which can transfer to the milk supply during the milking process. One of the best methods for keeping raw milk free from these dangerous microorganisms is by keeping your dairy cow and her shelter clean. On our farm, we follow a six-step process before milking our Jersey.
I know my cow and her shelter are spotless, so I do not worry as much as someone who is buying raw milk from a local dairy farmer or at a farmer’s market. Some states allow consumers to buy directly from farmers, even when raw milk cannot legally be sold in stores. If you choose to buy your milk this way, make sure you have a relationship with the milk supplier. Ask to see their milking area and stalls to ensure cleanliness.
One last thing we do to make sure our raw Jersey milk is safe is to send it out to Udder Health Systems in Idaho for testing. If you buy raw milk from a local farmer or farmer’s market, ask to see their test results from the lab. Most homesteaders and dairy farmers that sell their raw milk products conduct periodic testing.
How to get raw milk
I know what you are probably thinking. If raw milk is not sold in the stores, how do you get your hands on it? Well, if you are fortunate enough to live on a homestead as I do, you can buy your own dairy cow to get a fresh source of raw milk. Since that is not a possibility for everyone, here are some other options to consider.
- Buy from a local farmer’s market. In states that permit consumers to buy directly from local farmers and farmer’s markets, this can be a great resource.
- Buy shares in a dairy cow. Yes, this is a real thing, and it can be an affordable way to get your hands on some raw milk. Basically, you buy a cow (or part of a cow you are sharing with others) and pay a local farmer or homesteader to board and care for it. They would do all the milking. You then get a share of the milk produced.
If you are among the lucky people who live in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, you can find raw milk in retail stores. They are the only 12 states that currently allow raw milk to be sold this way.
Drinking raw Jersey milk is worth the risk
I hope after reading this, you feel a little better about trying raw Jersey milk. I promise once you try it, you will never want to go back to regular commercial milk. There simply is no comparison between the taste or the health benefits of regular milk versus raw. Have questions I didn’t answer in this blog? Feel free to ask them in the comments and I will do my best to get you the information you need.
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