Despite there being tons of literature written in the past few years about the benefits of raw milk, there are still many people who lack the knowledge of what it’s all about. So, I wanted to write a blog post outlining what raw milk really is, what the benefits are and why it is shrouded in a cloak of mystery in the first place.
Basically raw milk is...well...milk!
Plain and simple it is what comes straight out of the cow. It’s ‘raw’ in the sense that it has been untouched by human interventions. The alternative to raw milk is pasteurized/homogenized milk (this is the stuff you usually buy at the grocery store).
To discuss why as a society we consider the pasteurized stuff as our standard milk we have to talk a bit about history. Back in the mid 1800’s a scientist named Louis Pasteur discovered that through heat he could destroy bacteria in the foods we eat (but let’s not forget there is such thing as good bacteria-- probiotics!). Back then food safety was still up-in-coming. Refrigeration was not invented, cows were milked by hand, people didn't realize the importance of sterilizing milking equipment, and vaccines for certain diseases in cattle that could be transmitted in milk to humans were not developed yet. Pasteurization quickly became the easiest way to prevent people from getting sick and hence this standard in milk production.
As you may have guessed, immeasurable strides have been made since the 1800’s in hygiene, refrigeration and the milking process--today the chances of milk coming into contact with harmful bacteria and pathogens are much less, and as distributor of raw milk in Massachusetts our farm must adhere to strict food safety standards.
Our milk is subject to monthly inspections that test for coliform bacteria. If the test indicates that our milk could be unsafe we must temporarily shut down the sale of raw milk until we can provide clean test results. The state of Massachusetts has only recently legalized the sale of raw milk (and unfortunately there is a political aspect to the sale).
The level of bacteria in raw milk can only be 10, while on other foods such as ice cream- the level is allowed to be as high as 50. So, in our opinion, the extremely high standards our state has set aren't really fair...but at least we do not live in a state that has banned the sale all together!
Raw milk has so many benefits…
The process of pasteurization destroys or renders useless:
Vitamins B6 and B12
Vitamin C (over 50% lost by pasteurization)
Omega-3 fatty acids
Enzymes phosphatase, lipase and lactase all which help with digestion and absorption of nutrients
Raw milk is naturally rich in these nutrients!!
Raw milk also benefits your community and environment
Your local farmer can sell direct to consumers, without the big industry middle-man
Farms receive a fairer price for the milk they produce--they can then put those profits back into the farm which means
The preservation of open space, sustainable farming practices and local agriculture
So that's the scoop on pasteurization...homogenization is also something that is ‘done to’ your average grocery store milk. This process basically breaks down the fat particles in the milk so that they don’t separate. This is why when you purchase raw milk you have to shake it before you drink it! Shaking the milk distributes the cream throughout the milk. (Or if you are like me, don't shake it, drink that rich cream right off the top :D) Homogenizing milk can make it difficult for your body to digest it. Often people who thought they were lactose intolerant find that they can drink raw milk!
There is TONS of info out there on the benefits and risks of raw milk please educate yourself before making a decision for you and your family. We recommend checking out the NOFA website. We also recommend reading Raw Milk Revolution by David Gumpert and/or watching Farmageddon (2011).
The Raw Milk Process at Carter & Stevens Farm
Our 100% pasture raised cows are milked twice daily by machine
The cows milk is pumped directly into a refrigerated bulk tank
We pump that milk into jugs and deliver it to our store-front!
(no middle man, no carbon footprint created from trucking and processing!)
CARTER & STEVENS FARM
RAW MILK available YEAR ROUND
@ our farm store 500 West St Barre Ma
Purchase during store hours, 7 days
@ our milking barn between 181&282 Old Stage Rd Barre Ma
Self serve, sun up till sundown, 7 days
Please call/ text ahead to Molly for 3+ gallon pick up
photo credit to Shayna Stevens & Amber Kennedy