Having spent the majority of my life on a dairy farm, I have had the privilege of enjoying fresh, clean, delicious raw milk. There is nothing like it! I would be willing to wager that very few have ever experienced the enjoyment of sipping a tall, ice-cold, creamy “straight from the farm” glass of milk. There is nothing in the world that compares with the overall taste, the nutritional content, and the health benefits found in raw milk. Raw milk should be an option for everyone to consume.
There are warnings and new research advising consumers to avoid raw milk and raw milk products. Indeed, I was surprised to read Nelson (2010) that, “Raw milk stands alone as the only food that has ever been outlawed, and its advocates point out that it took a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol,” (p. 3). Nonetheless, the movement seems to be gaining in popularity. The Oake Knoll Ayrshire farm in Foxborough, Massachusetts owned by the Lawton family is a perfect example of the momentum that the raw milk movement has gained. “Lawton figures that she has 200 weekly customers, versus just a handful two years ago,” (Gumpert, 2008). With the “organic” fresh products movement and the increased accessibility to farmer’s markets, consumers have become more aware of these alternatives. According to the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a foundation that stands strongly behind the raw milk movement, an estimated half a million Americans or more are consuming raw milk. There are many issues surrounding the raw milk versus pasteurized milk debate, but at this time I want to focus on the issue of choice.
The taste of raw milk is the first thing I think of every time I drink pasteurized milk. There are drastic differences in taste, sweetness, and texture. Raw milk is mild, creamy, and even sweeter than pasteurized milk. "Fresh milk has a delicate flavour contributed by compounds of low molecular weight in trace amounts. Heat treatment affects the flavour of milk and produces detectable off-flavours,” (Aboshama, 1977). Many raw milk consumers testify that one of the main reasons they drink raw milk is for the flavor and creamy texture. In a New York Times article, several raw milk drinkers’ sentiments are voiced about the taste of raw milk: “richness and density,” “complexity of flavor,” and “we trust the traditional food chain [flavor] more,” (Drape, 2007). The best tasting milk is going to come from cows that are pasture-fed. There is a direct relationship between what the animal eats and the taste and nutritional value of the milk. “Products from pasture-raised animals are healthier [tastier] for you to eat than those from grain-fed animals for many reasons. Animals get more readily available nutrients from fresh pasture plants than from grains, so their products contain more vitamin E, beta carotene, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids,” (Schivera, 2003). This pasture-fed cow’s milk is the high quality raw milk that so many people are seeking out and defending. This high standard of milk resembles that of which most Americans once lived on, when either everyone owned a cow or knew someone who did.
Research done by Levieux (1980) explains that two types of protein exist in milk; they are casein and whey. Unlike casein, whey protein is deconstructed during pasteurization (p. 93). These proteins play an important role in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Colman, Hettiararchychy, and Herbert (1981) reported that many vitamins and minerals are attracted to these proteins and potentially bind to them. This bond can facilitate their absorption by the digestive system. Pasteurization destroys the ability of certain proteins in milk to bind the important vitamin folate and hence help its absorption (p. 1426). The components of raw milk that are thought to be most affected by the pasteurization process are the water soluble vitamins and the proteins. According...