Raw Milk v. Pasteurized Milk: What's Best for Your Family?
As mothers we want nothing but the best for our children.
With food labels claiming "all-natural," "organic," "antibiotic-free," "hormone-free," "no preservatives," "farm fresh," "no high fructose corn syrup," among many others, sometimes it's hard to make sense of it all.
What really is the best?
What is the safest and most wholesome product for my child?
I'm in agriculture and sometimes I get caught up in the labels. When it comes down to it, I look at the ingredient listing and tend to pick foods with the least amount of added ingredients, especially ones I can't pronounce.
But this post isn't just about labels, it's about a product in general and one quickly gaining momentum with moms across the nation. Raw milk.
Believe it or not, I actually grew up on raw milk, meaning it was not pasteurized. Since my family milked cows, it made sense at the time. It was convenient, fresh and wholesome. It was also extremely rich and creamy because it was Jersey milk, which has the highest amount of butterfat and protein than any other dairy breed. (Jersey milk is predominantly used to make cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream. Generally, Holstein (the black and white spotted cows) milk is used for fluid milk since it has the lowest amount of butterfat.)
If I had the choice today would I give my daughter raw milk?
My answer to that question is no and here's why ...
Because raw milk is not pasteurized (or even inspected in many cases), it can harbor dangerous microorganisms, posing a serious health risk to consumers. And studies have shown that young children and the elderly are most susceptible to dangerous bacteria in unpasteurized milk such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria, which are responsible for causing numerous food-borne illnesses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 800 people in the U.S. have gotten sick from drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk since 1998.
Proponents of raw milk contend that it's safer, healthier and a more "natural" product than pasteurized milk. There's one of those marketing claims again. They believe raw milk has the ability to relieve asthma, autism and allergies, though many of these claims remain anecdotal with little scientific evidence proving its healing powers.
Many would agree that raw milk fans are passionate and that the issue has become one of the industry’s most heated food debates. Some raw milk supporters have even held protests on Capitol Hill to fight the Food and Drug Administration for farms vieing to legalize the sale of raw milk to consumers, directly. Currently, on-farm sales of raw milk is only legal in 15 states, with another 10 states that allow the general retail sale of raw milk.
“The intensity with which raw milk supporters believe in this product is almost unheard of, certainly for a food,” said Sarah Klein, an attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It’s like snake oil.”