Wellness trends come and go – some of them are ephemeral, while others are more lasting. One consistent, ubiquitous and largely underground trend, however, is actually thousands of years old: Consuming raw milk.
WHAT IS RAW MILK?
For those uninitiated, raw milk is, simply put, milk that comes straight from the cow’s udder. Years ago, it wasn’t considered to be a conscious wellness decision to drink it; it was just the way things were done.
SO... WE DON'T DRINK RAW MILK? WHAT MILK DO WE DRINK?
Given that most of us don’t own a cow, let alone have regular access to a farm, we get our milk from a grocery store. This milk is pasteurized – meaning it has undergone a sterilization process to kill off potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and microorganisms, such as e.coli. Pasteurization also helps to extend the shelf life of milk, enabling us to safely keep a gallon on hand for several weeks. Given that pasteurization creates a safer product, the FDA has declared the interstate sale of raw milk illegal, but state-by-state regulations vary. As of April 2016, the sale of raw milk in retail stores was legal in 13 states, while 20 states prohibit the sale of raw milk altogether.
WHY DRINK RAW MILK?
Well, it turns out that the same microorganisms and bacteria that we kill off when we pasteurize milk may actually have some health benefits. Many claim that drinking raw milk can help do things like heal allergies, improve digestion and boost the immune system. In short, the concept of consuming “good” bacteria – now a firmly recognized wellness tenet – is at the core of the argument for raw milk. Some people are so insistent on the benefits of raw milk that they'll cross state lines in order to procure it. Very controversial stuff.
WHAT’S THE CONSENSUS?
Generally speaking, most medical practitioners – and the Center of Disease Control and Prevention – agree that drinking pasteurized milk is a much safer choice. They also think that the bacterial benefits of raw milk are largely overstated and the risks are far too great to outweigh any potential upside. While we here at BusyHappyHealthy can’t say definitively, we do think that pasteurization was invented for a reason (to prevent the spread of diseases like tuberculosis!) and aren’t really keen to rock the boat when it comes to this issue. We recommend sticking to organic, pasteurized milk, ideally purchased from a smaller producer and getting your healthy bacteria fix from probiotics or fermented foods. Or, forego the cow altogether and stick to homemade nut milks – our personal favorites!