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Should You Drink Raw Jersey Cow Milk?

Raw Jersey cow milk is one of the most delicious things that will ever pass your lips. I am not just saying that because I happen to raise Jersey cows (although I suppose I could be a little biased). If you have never tried cheeses, ice creams, and yogurts made from the butterfat-packed milk of a Jersey cow, you simply have not lived, my friends.

Some people may be a little nervous about consuming products made from raw milk. I am here to reassure you that there is no reason to fear. Pasteurization is not necessary and can ruin the quality and health benefits of raw Jersey cow milk. There are other steps you can take to ensure your milk is safe for consumption.

What is pasteurization?

Pasteurization, named after French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, is a heat-based treatment that destroys pathogenic microorganisms in raw milk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that raw milk carries harmful bacteria that can make people sick. States can adopt their own laws on raw milk sales. The federal government bans interstate sales or distribution of raw milk. Any milk or milk products that will be sold across state lines must be pasteurized.

The problem with pasteurization is that while it kills off potentially harmful bacteria, it also destroys beneficial microorganisms. Probiotics, which promote a healthy gut (among other things), is one of those microorganisms. At our farm, we do not pasteurize our raw milk.

Map depicting which states allow the sale of raw Jersey cow milk.

Do I need to pasteurize my raw Jersey cow milk?

Jersey cattle owners do not have to pasteurize their milk. Exceptions are if they plan to sell it across state lines, or live in a state that requires it. Eleven states currently allow raw milk to be sold in any retail store. They are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington. States also have provisions for selling raw milk at farmers’ markets and directly from dairy farms.

There are other ways to ensure your raw milk is safe before consumption besides pasteurization. On our farm, we follow a multiple-step process before milking our Jersey to ensure cleanliness. We then send all milk to Udder Health Systems in Idaho for testing before drinking or turning it into other tasty products.

Benefits of consuming raw Jersey cow milk

People can and do drink raw milk straight from their dairy cows without getting sick. They have done it for thousands of years. Raw milk contains easy-to-digest vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, magnesium, thiamine (B1), and zinc. It is an excellent source of protein. Raw milk contains hundreds of different (healthy) fatty acids like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s.

Raw milk qualifies as a complete protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids our bodies need to function optimally.  Just one cup contains 8 grams of protein! Since it is packed with nutrients like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and vitamin K2, raw milk helps build healthy bones.

Raw milk also can serve as an alternative for people who are lactose intolerant. When you are lactose intolerant, your body does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase. The enzyme is needed to break down the sugars in milk. Raw milk contains Lactobacilli, which breaks down the bacteria for you so you can enjoy milk without unpleasant side effects.

These are just a few of the many benefits of consuming raw Jersey cow milk. Just make sure it is free from harmful bacteria before enjoying it.

Support your local economy with raw Jersey cow milk

Buying raw Jersey cow milk from local farmers and homesteaders is a great way to support your local economy. All money you spend locally stays local. Farmers reap the rewards of their hard work. You get to enjoy some tasty raw milk products that will keep you coming back for more. Need some more helpful tips about raising your Jersey cow? Jersey Milk Cow subscribers get the latest news and advice delivered directly to their email inboxes. Sign up today.

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Hi there! I’m Kelsey! I am a wife, a mother and homesteader. I’m also a Certified Natural Health Practitioner so health is very important to me. I love to help people with their health journey. A HUGE part of that process is through high quality milk. I am a massive proponent of rich, high quality milk from Jersey Cows.

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