I have been experimenting in the raw… or should I say with the raw.

Raw milk that is.

Cow dairy gives me all kinds of IBS symptoms (not as bad as grains though). However, research points out that people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate raw milk with little to no problems. I have been doing quite a bit of research on raw milk though, and I have been curious as to what would happen if I drank a little. Not a whole glass everyday kind of thing, but a few sips here and there.

I gave up drinking milk quite some time ago, and pretty much eliminated cheese from my diet. This was a feat because I was a cheese hound. Love me some cheese. I stuck to almond milk mostly. However, I switched to full-fat coconut milk to put in my coffee or use for baking over the past year. I love its creamy goodness. Coconut milk is my milk of choice.

Cow milk is technically is not paleo. But I am willing to try some different things. I am an adventurous lady when it comes to food.

However, could my health benefit from small amounts of raw milk? My wheels are turning!

People who scream, “DANGER!” with raw milk say you are taking risks for ingesting harmful bacteria. One example is my husband’s professor…“Raw, or unpasteurized, milk can carry potentially deadly bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous food-borne illnesses,” explains Dr. Mark Kauffman, DO, an osteopathic physician from Erie, Pa. “Symptoms of a food-borne illness, such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, can lead to dehydration and even death.”

Nausea? Diarrhea? Death? Holy shit, no thanks.

But wait, much of the bacteria in raw milk are NOT those deadly little beasts. The FDA and other powers that be will warn otherwise. One thing that is certainly true is that commercialized milk production cannot be produced and sold raw and be safe. Pasteurization made commercialization possible, and the shelf life of this type of milk is longer. And I certainly do not deny that people have gotten a bad batch here and there and it made them violently ill. Still, why would nature make that the rule, not the exception?

Supporters of raw milk state:

“Raw milk contains many components that kill pathogens and strengthen the immune system. These include lacto-peroxidase, lacto-ferrin, anti-microbial components of blood (leukocytes, B-macrophages, neutrophils, T-lymphocytes, immunoglobulins and antibodies), special carbohydrates (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides), special fats (medium chain fatty acids, phospholipids and spingolipids), complement enzymes, lysozyme, hormones, growth factors, mucins, fibronectin, glycomacropeptide, beneficial bacteria, bifidus factor and B12-binding protein.  These components are largely inactivated by the heat of pasteurization and ultrapasteurization.” They will also say the government is biased. Find one supporters argument for raw milk, as stated above, and why the government if off their rocker here http://www.realmilk.com/press/fda-and-cdc-bias-against-raw-milk/. They are selling a product, so keep in mind where they are getting their facts, too 🙂

I heard a lovely story about simple food microbiology on NPR last week that really got me excited about our normal flora and microbiology. Full story can be found at http://www.npr.org/2013/05/03/180824408/michael-pollan-you-are-what-you-cook

“FLATOW: Talking with Michael Pollan, author of “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” a really – you always write fascinating books, but as someone who likes to cook myself, I found it’s even more fascinating. And as someone who loves cheese of all kinds, your chapter on the Ph.D. cheese nun in there…

POLLAN: Sister Noella.

FLATOW: She was – tell us about her a little bit.

POLLAN: Well, she’s an amazing character. She is a nun, and she’s in a Benedictine abbey in Connecticut, in Bethlehem, Connecticut. And she learned a few years ago – they had cows there, and they were trying to figure out what to do with the milk. And a cheese maker from France came over and taught them how to make a very traditional French Saint-Nectaire, it’s called, from the Auvergne.

And she is making it according to a traditional recipe that would give conniptions to the FDA or any local public health authority.


POLLAN: And the reason for that is she makes it in a wooden barrel with a wooden spoon or ladle to stir it. Now you cannot sterilize wood, and in fact the instructions for this cheese are – and talk about learning to love bacteria – the instructions for washing it out is just rinse it with a little water, no soap, no attempt to disinfect.

The public health department tried to close her down. She appealed to the mother superior, and she got permission to go to the University of Connecticut and become a microbiologist, get her Ph.D. so that she could defend her cheese-making on scientific grounds, which she did as follows. This was – she set up this brilliant experiment.

Most cheese today, all cheese except for hers, I would guess, and maybe in parts of Europe, are made in stainless steel, which we think of as the ultimate in hygienic technology, right, because you can really sterilize it. Well, she got two batches of raw milk from her cows. She put one of them in a stainless steel container, and she put the other in her wooden barrel with the white film.

And she inoculated them deliberately with E. coli, waited a couple hours and then measured the levels. Well, in the stainless steel, E. coli bloomed magnificently, and there was very high, very dangerous levels of E. coli in that milk. In the wooden barrel, the levels were vanishingly small.

And what had happened was that the lactobacillus that lived in the wooden barrel got to work digesting the lactose in the milk, producing lactic acid, and they acidified the milk and killed off the E. coli. So you realize these traditional peasant cheese-makers in France had been practicing a kind of folk microbiology without even knowing it, strictly through trial and error, they had found a system that defended itself against pathogens.

And with this experiment, which she did for the health inspector, they backed off, and she continues to make cheese, or her – the other nuns do. She doesn’t actually do it. She’s done such damage to the carpal tunnels in her wrists from making cheese all these years that other people are making it. But they’re still making cheese in this traditional manner, and it’s a wonderful product.

FLATOW: Do they start out with raw milk?

POLLAN: Yes. She – and she feels strongly about that. A lot of cheese makers do. Raw milk, because it has so much bacteria in it, has a lot more flavor too. Every kind of bacteria in raw milk is producing an enzyme that’s – that is itself breaking down products in the milk and creating flavor. So most cheese makers will tell you that raw milk cheese, even though a certain risk is attached to it, produces a lot more flavorful cheese.”

Very interesting stuff. That nun was sticking it to the man… going back and getting her PhD to prove the government wrong with them facts.

Now, I would hesitate to give anything with a high bacteria content (normal flora or otherwise) to someone who is immunosuppressed, ill, etc. But a healthy, young lassy such as myself is willing to try.

ImageCheck out these cute little cows!

I went to the only farm in Northwest PA that sells raw milk. You can walk up to the cows and pet them. My kind of farm! I am a freak when it comes to petting cute things.

The cows graze on grass, walk, and enjoy life on the pasture. Buying straight off the farm brings me feelings of connectivity, responsibility, and empowerment that I have never felt before when it comes to food. It brings me a sort of peace. All this peace and connectivity talk makes it sound like I just smoked a bong, but alas, no… it is just how it makes me feel. I feel amazing shopping on a farm.

Anyways, I bought some raw milk. And here is how my experiment has gone thus far…

I have been drinking small sips of raw milk here and there for two weeks… no IBS symptoms (whew!). I am feeling mighty good, as usual lately. And my number two’s have been great (not that you needed to know that, but hey). Very regular, not constipated or anything. No cramping or bloating.

I do not plan on making raw milk part of my regular diet. But I do not mind a little change of supplementation here and there.

More posts will be coming up about bacteria. The good, bad, and why the “good ones” are our friends. There was plenty of bacteria talk in this post to get us started.

Again, do your own research, but hopefully these little tid bits will give you something to think about. Until then, eat well my friends.


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