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Live Simply in the Kitchen: Dairy

I am a big supporter of raw milk and dairy. Like, really big. And I’m asked all the time: Why drink raw milk? Where do you buy it? dairyIsn’t it gross? Eww, isn’t it dirty?

Actually, no, it’s not gross. It’s delicious! I grew up drinking skim, pasteurized milk so it took a bit of getting used to but no more so than if I’d just switched to whole, pasteurized milk. And it’s so good for you! That “milk: it does a body good” campaign didn’t know what it was missing by being slapped on a jug of pasteurized milk!

But one of the most common, modern-day misconceptions is that an allergy to pasteurized milk (or the protein casein) means you’re not able to drink raw milk, either.

So we’ll be exploring the pros and cons of pasteurized and raw dairy. The quick answer? Raw milk is better for you, pasteurized milk is…well, pointless. Here’s why.

Definitions of Raw Milk and Pasteurization

Ok, breaking it down, the definition of raw milk is:

Milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized.

Easy enough!

The definition of pasteurized milk is:

Subject (milk, wine, or other products) to a process of partial sterilization, especially one involving heat treatment or irradiation, thus…: “pasteurized milk”

What many people don’t realize is that Louis Pasteur didn’t set out to find a way to pasteurize milk. He was moving into the arena of pasteurizing wine to keep it from souring. Which is another topic. But eventually milk was pasteurized. And successfully! People drank pasteurized milk and didn’t get sick anymore. Hurray! Victory! Right? Maybe.

Just Because It Worked Then Doesn’t Mean We Must Continue

Let’s take a look at the time between when Pasteur developed the pasteurization process and when milk was widely pasteurized.

Pasteurization was developed in 1864 during a time when most everyone had quick and easy access to cows.  But as time went on and cities grew bigger and cows got farther away, the time lapsed from milking the cow to a city-dweller getting ahold of the milk continued to grow, as well. Milk often soured. And, while this is not a bad thing with raw milk (soured raw milk has many beneficial properties!), if one wanted milk to drink something needed to change.

In addition to the time lapse that was occurring, the lack of knowledge regarding cleanliness was appalling, though understandable considering the times. It was easy for diseases to spread because there was no real awareness of how even something as simple as washing one’s hands, or the cow’s udder, would put a halt to contamination.

So pasteurization was really born out of a need for clean and fresh milk to be available for consumption. And I’d like to suggest that we can, in this day and age, solve these issues without the need for pasteurization!

Pasteurization vs. Raw

See, the problem with pasteurization is that it reduces the nutrients available within the milk – they are killed off during the pasteurization process. While pasteurization kills off bad bacteria (99.99%), this also means it kills off good bacteria…and good nutrients. Vitamins are greatly diminished during this process. Attempts are made at adding synthesized vitamins (like vitamin D) back into the milk, but your body is unable to digest these adequately. At this point, it’s not even really milk but a different food completely.

With raw milk, the beneficial nutrients remain alive and in their natural state which means your body is, happily, able to utilize and digest them. The bad bacteria is actually greatly diminished by taking necessary precautions, as outlined below. This means that you are relatively unlikely to get sick from raw milk. In fact, recent studies by the CDC shows, “there are about 412 confirmed cases of people getting ill from pasteurized milk each year, while only about 116 illnesses a year are linked to raw milk.” (source) Other studies show that one is 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than from raw milk!

Raw milk also is chock full of healthy fats, bacteria, amino acids, vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K). The absorption of the minerals (calcium, iron, etc.) is further increased by live bacteria.

Further, when raw milk has soured, there are still a number of uses for it since it is still edible and greatly beneficial! This is not the case with pasteurized milk which putrefies and must be thrown out. Cheeses, kefir, sour cream, buttermilk, soft cheeses like cream cheese, butter and more are all derived from soured raw milk!

(We’ll be finishing our discussion shortly on the issue of casein, how to drink raw milk safely and, most importantly, where to find good, raw milk. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you never miss a post!)

What kind of milk do you drink and why?


  1. Love this! I buy raw milk at our local Farmers Market, but it’s not there every week. Our co-op doesn’t carry it either…so since it’s hard to come by I buy organic whole milk. But just now looking into how I can order raw dairy products straight from the farm. The same farm I buy the raw milk from at the Farmers Market. 🙂

  2. oh! quick question! When I wean my son would it be a good idea to replace my breast milk with raw milk?

    • You certainly can if you feel comfortable with it! (I’m trying to remember how old he is? :o/) We had some possible eczema issues so they were on breastmilk in sippies till 15 months when I introduced cocounut milk. We’ve been on cow’s milk (raw) for a few months now and they love it. 🙂

      Since you’re weaning from the breast (correct?), I would attempt a mix if you can (if you have any expressed milk). If not, be prepared to take it slow since it is definitely a different taste – not quite as sweet – and he may want that comfort as much as the taste. 🙂 Let me know how it goes!!!

  3. other mom's point of view says

    I respect that some families chose to drink raw milk. However, I’d like to just mention that it seems the CDC article that is the source of the source of this article (Dr. Mercola’s article) related to a 2004 publication. The CDC has more recently published information related to the safety and nutritional value of raw milk in March ’12 at I’d encourage anyone who wants to give their babies raw milk to read up on both sides of the argument.

    • Hi Andrea!
      Thank you for your comment! I clicked over to read the documents listed in the link you provided. What I read ( was that between the years 1993-2006 (a span of 13 years), there were nearly twice as many associated illnesses (2,842) with pasteurized dairy as non-pasteurized dairy (1,571)!!

      In those same 13 years, there were 2 deaths reported related to non-pasteurized dairy, and 1 death reported related to pasteurized dairy. Three deaths. In 13 years. Those odds really aren’t stacked against me, in my opinion. I’m far more likely to die in a car accident!

      The CDC has done lots of research and works very hard to provide their findings accurately. But what most people don’t know to zoom in on is the fact that often these “large” numbers (of outbreaks, deaths, illnesses, etc.) boil down to super small numbers. A study conducted showing a dangerous 1400 outbreaks looks terrifying and makes me want to do whatever is suggested…until I realize the study was conducted over a span of 70 years. Etc.

      I certainly appreciate your perspective and agree that everyone should read up on both sides of the argument. Sometimes, the “official” side of the argument sounds scarier than it actually is. Which is where I hope to shed light. 🙂

  4. I was always told growing up that raw milk was better for you and my grandparents drank it, but that if you had an immune disorder that it might not be a good idea. This was because of the bacteria in the milk!

    • Lucy, it is true that there is bacteria in the milk. But mostly it’s good bacteria – bacteria that help fight off sicknesses. I’ve seen and heard great success from those with disorders who go on raw milk diets! It’s pretty fascinating! 🙂

  5. We don’t drink raw. It’s not “legal” here. If I can get to a Whike Foods I tend to buy Super Kalona (I think that’s the name) non- homogenized, cream top. It’s still pasteurized but at a lower temp so it’s as close as u can get to raw without being raw. I don’t drink much dairy milk to begin with.

    • Hey Rhiana! It’s only legal to sell for “pet consumption” in a lot of states. I know lots of families who have little “pets”, though. :o) We actually drink a lot! We go through a half gallon a week and that’s being Nazi-ish and limiting because of cost. 🙁 I’ve never heard of Super Kalona! Sounds pretty, for sure! 🙂


  1. […] And pasteurized dairy results in a product so altered that it’s not even really milk! (source) This can cause our bodies to not know what to do with it – hence, the all-too-common allergy […]

  2. […] why pasteurized milk is no good and try making coconut milk (or another dairy […]

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