Saturday, February 28, 2009

Without Futher Ado - The Dairy Post!!!

OK, a tiny bit more ado - thank you everyone for all your well-wishes! I have been using the inhaler regularly today and I am feeling quite a lot better. So I guess it was probably the asthma after all, though I guess we will never be able to rule out anxiety...or medication issues either since I did stop taking it. We'll see what to do about that later I guess...all the more reason I need to stick to my good diet. That being said, I'm not even going to post my food intake today, but suffice to say, it involved Wendy's for lunch, and Boston Market for dinner. <<>>

OK, so here it is - I hope you learn a lot, and I welcome questions! I can definitely point you to more resources, if desired. :)

The Dairy Post

OK folks, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time! And I also went to an amazing seminar about dairy today, hosted by our local Weston A. Price Foundation Chapter, which reconfirmed everything I’ve been thinking about milk.

The bottom line: pasteurized dairy products are all really bad for you. Raw milk from pasture-fed cows is much better. Cultured dairy products made from raw milk from pasture-fed cows is the best.

I know, its blasphemy to some of you, I’m sure. Give me a chance to explain…

So here’s a little background on pasteurization that will tell you a) why virtually everyone in America thinks it’s a lifesaving miracle, and b) why its not.

Before the Industrial Revolution, most people either lived in the country and had their own milk cows, or had a dairyman deliver farm fresh milk to their doorstep every day. These people were very healthy and heart disease and cancer were virtually unheard of. Once people started moving into the cities to work in factories and such, it was no longer possible for the dairy farmers to produce enough milk for everyone in the city with the traditional methods of letting their cattle graze the pasture, etc. To solve this problem, they began to create mass-dairying farms where the cows were kept indoors in tiny stalls with concrete floors, fed grain instead of fresh grass, and milked very aggressively and continuously. Cows were bred to make more and more milk, which occurs because of an overactive pituitary gland that secretes extra growth hormone. So basically they were breeding a pituitary disease into the cows on purpose. Well, as you can imagine, the cows didn’t do so well being constantly confined, overmilked, fed poor quality, unnatural-for-them food, and having severe hormone imbalances. They got sick…among other things, they got tuberculosis and mastitis. Their milk would have infectious bacteria and pus and TB in it…and obviously it made people sick! Then people discovered that if you pasteurize the milk (heat it up really hot) you killed the bacteria and people could drink it and not get sick. TA-DA! "Raw milk can kill you, and pasteurization is a life-saving miracle!" (P.S. Louis Pasteur actually invented this process for preserving beer and wine, not milk!)

Today’s modern commercial Holstein cow is a daughter of these lines – she makes up to three times as much milk as the “old-fashioned” cows, and she depends on doctored feed and daily antibiotics to keep her alive because her immune system is genetically shot. Her pituitary is so whacked out that her milk contains high levels of growth hormone even if she isn’t injected with additional synthetic Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). She lives on average only 42 months, compared to 12-15 years for a pastured cow. You do not even want to know what they feed these cows – I am so serious! But if you really really do, you can look here.

You would think by now the dairy industry would have figured out that this is not good for cows. Well, they haven’t changed a darn thing since the Industrial Revolution, except make bigger, more crowded factory farms, and use every fabulous new antibiotic and synthetic hormone treatment that has been invented, to make those cows produce more and more milk! And they have continued to pasteurize, because hey, it covers up all their sins. In fact, now they even ULTRA-pasteurize, hotter and longer, because the bacteria have become resistant to the regular methods! That and it makes the shelf-life of the milk longer…

OK, so dairy cows lead a miserable existence and their milk is full of hormones, but why is pasteurization so bad? Heating the milk kills off the bad bacteria, to be sure, but it also kills off all the good bacteria! Did you know you have about 90 trillion bacteria in your intestinal tract, all working hard to help you digest your food, absorb nutrients, and fight off pathogens? We get that good bacteria from the food we eat – well, we’re supposed to, anyway… Pasteurization also denatures almost all the enzymes found in milk, like lipase, which breaks down fat and helps us absorb vitamin A and D. Lastly, it destroys most, if not all, of the vitamins and minerals found in fresh milk: A, D, E, C, B6 and B12. But milk still has all that good calcium in it right? Pasteurization not only destroys the vitamin D you need to absorb it, it also destroys the phosphatase enzyme, which is essential to the absorption of calcium. Have you ever wondered by the U.S. has one of the worst osteoporosis rates in the world, when we drink the most milk of any country in the world? Its true… What about homogenization? It speeds spoilage and has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

OH NO! We should all stop drinking milk and eating pasteurized dairy products right now! No, there is a better answer. Raw milk from pasture-fed healthy cows (ideally from older genetic lines) is truly a life-sustaining food, full of valuable nutrients, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria. Guess what, in places where they still eat only unpasteurized dairy products, the people actually are still free of heart disease - that is, until they begin to Westernize their diet – look it up in the anthropology journals. In our country, refrigeration, stainless steel, and an excellent understanding of hygiene ensures that today’s raw milk from farmers who treat their cows right will not be contaminated or make you sick.

With a tiny bit of extra effort (I mean really tiny, like pouring-milk-in-a-jar tiny), you can also make your own yogurt (kefir), sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, butter, whey, and even ice cream, from your raw milk. This is what I learned to do today in the seminar. Apparently with a bit more effort you can even make your own cheeses, though I do not know how (yet!), but you can buy some cheeses made from raw milk from better cheese counters. Culturing your dairy products actually increases the nutritional value two to three fold – enzymes, vitamins, and beneficial bacteria! Not to mention, with raw dairy, you absorb the good stuff, like calcium, much better as well. Apparently almost all people who cannot tolerate conventional milk can drink fresh raw milk without difficulty, or at least can handle the cultured raw dairy products.

So, how do I find raw milk? You will want to make sure that you are buying raw milk that is being produced with the intention of drinking it raw. Don't just go get raw regular dairy milk that the farmer usually sells to the conventional dairy. If you are in CA, CT, or NM, you can buy it at Whole Foods Market or another natural foods store, but you still want to check out the source to make sure it’s the good quality stuff (see what to look for). Otherwise, check out this site to find local producers, or local groups that can help you find local producers. You can also check out your local farmer’s market and see if anyone there knows anything – sometimes these farmers will have their produce, eggs, or cheeses at the market, but you usually will have to go out to their farm to get their milk. Laws in different states may vary. There are also co-ops and cow-share programs. There are options if you are willing to look for them.

On a personal note, if you read my blog, you know that I love my cheese and other dairy. I don’t drink much milk because I usually have lactose intolerance problems. I have bought raw milk a couple of times in the past, but I haven’t fully committed, though you can bet I will now! I have been buying organic, unhomogenized whole milk. I don’t usually go through it all, though, because it still bothers my stomach a bit. I buy yogurt that is pasteurized but at least it is from a biodynamic dairy, and because its cultured, it does have some of its enzyme content restored. That never gives my stomach any issues. I buy organic cheese, but its definitely not raw… I buy organic butter and sour cream, but again, not raw. But since I went to this seminar today and saw how easy (and how much cheaper and more nutritious) it would be to get the raw milk and make all these other products myself, I am a changed woman. I’ll be darned if I ever buy pasteurized milk or dairy again. Except maybe some cheese – it might be a while before I figure out how to replace that, but until then, I’m going to be cutting back! I am really looking forward to the increased health my new raw milk habit is going to bring!

And if you are one of my dear loved ones, family, or friends, I am really begging you…please stop eating all the fake food I know you eat – the margarine, the skim milk, the fat-free stuff, the fake-sugar stuff, the Eggbeaters… It is killing you. I don’t care if your doctor said you have to eat that because of your cholesterol. I swear, it is making your problems worse. You need to quit all that fake stuff and eat real, undamaged food. I’m only saying this because I love you and I want to you live a long, healthy life! If I could, I would come and live with you for a month or two and cook for you and clean out your pantries and fridges! Unfortunately, I can't really do that for everyone, so I want you to go and find a smart doctor, chiropractor, naturopath, or nutritionist, who is well-versed in traditional diets, to help you change how you eat. Even if your insurance doesn't cover it. Go buy a copy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I will be writing more about heart disease and things stay tuned!


  1. I make cheese from yogurt. It is spreadable like cream cheese, but tangy and you can doctor the flavor by adding different spices. I don't know if this is something you learned in your class. I don't know how to make hard cheeses, though.

    For the yougurt cheese, all you do is line a strainer with cheesecloth and pour the yogurt into it, then set it over a bowl to catch the whey. Then put it in the refrigerator overnight or longer. The longer it sits, the harder it gets.

    My favorite add-in is horseradish because it reminds me of a cheese we would get in Germany and amish country. I've also experiemented with mustard and dill - great with veggies - and with garlic and cumin.

    Thanks for the informative post!!

  2. This is a really informative post and very interesting to see things from a different perspective.

    I was wondering about pasteurized eggs? Do you use the same reasoning for them? I heard they were great for people with immune system deficiencies and pregnant women.

  3. Andrea - yeah, the seminar basically used that same technique - depending on what you start with, your cheese will be different - from kefir you get sour cream, from fresh milk you get cream cheese, and I guess from yogurt, you get soft cheese! I'll have to add that to the list of things to try!

    Anon - I haven't heard anything specifically about pasteurized eggs, but I imagine its the same situation. Battery-produced eggs are low in nutritional value and are more prone to harbor pathogens like salmonella, but if you get fresh eggs from pastured chickens that live in good conditions, its best to get fertile eggs...and definitely not pasteurized! I am not real familiar with the needs of people with immune deficiencies of various types, but I would absolutely use raw dairy (and eggs) for myself if I were pregnant - I would just make sure I knew the source, that it came from a clean place...

  4. Sounds like it was a great presentation. I got an email about it and didn't think of it again. I am looking forward to hearing more about your foray into raw milk and making your own products from it.