It’s hard not to feel bombarded by news stories and social media opinions about food and farming at the moment. Articles are appearing daily covering all manner of food-related topics, from exhortations to go vegan to save the planet, through to concerns about factory farming and resistance to antibiotics in livestock farming.
One of the more positive stories that is making the news right now is the growth in demand for raw milk. In today’s blog post, we thought we’d take a look at exactly what raw milk is and why it’s enjoying something of a boom in today’s environmentally aware and health conscious climate.
Milk Bottles To The Rescue
The first thing to point out is that alongside a growth in demand for raw milk, there has been another milk-related resurgence of interest and that is for milk that comes in glass bottles. With so much focus on how much plastic waste we are creating and the devastating effects that plastics in our oceans are having on the world’s marine life, it’s not surprising that there has been a call to return to the old-fashioned way of getting milk in glass bottles. More and more small grocery stores and delicatessens now offer milk in glass bottles and in some areas, you can even get your milk delivered to your door, just like it used to be.
Don’t be misled into thinking that milk delivered in glass bottles is the same as raw milk, however, as the two things don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Whilst it’s true that many raw milk producers choose to bottle their milk in glass bottles, not all bottled milk will be raw milk.
So What Is Raw Milk And Why Is It Special?
To understand what raw milk is, it helps to understand the process that regular milk goes through before it is sold on our supermarket shelves. Once the cows have been milked, the milk is pasteurised to kill off any harmful bacteria that might be present in the milk.
Pasteurisation involves heating the milk to 71.7° for a minimum of 15 seconds and no more than 25 seconds and then rapidly cooling it again to below 3°. This heat treatment removes harmful pathogens that could potentially cause illness or infection in people who are weak or have compromised immune systems.
Raw milk does not undergo pasteurisation or any other treatment from when it is produced to when it is sold, other than perhaps being passed through a fine sieve to remove any physical impurities that may have entered the milk during milking. Raw milk pretty much goes straight from the cow to the sterilised bottle, via a churn or other container.
The Benefits Of Raw Milk
Advocates of raw milk say that there are positive health benefits to be had from drinking milk that has not been processed or heat-treated in any way. These benefits include improved resistance to disease through a strengthened immune system, a good supply of calcium and vitamin D, which can reduce high blood pressure and good digestive health, because of the probiotic enzymes present in raw milk.
The Risks From Drinking Raw Milk
Sales of raw milk are highly regulated, as the potential for harm is obviously very real. People who may have weakened or compromised immune systems are advised by the Government not to drink raw milk and children, the elderly and pregnant women are also advised not to try it.
Raw milk can potentially carry many of the same bacteria types that cause food poisoning, such as campylobacter, E.coli, listeria and salmonella. Anyone who has experienced genuine food poisoning will know just how debilitating it can be, which is why the Government advises caution.
Where To Buy Raw Milk
Whilst we feel it’s right to explain both the benefits and the potential risks associated with drinking raw milk, we hope we haven’t put you off giving it a try. The taste of raw milk really is a world away from regular milk and people often find that once they’ve tried it, there’s no going back to supermarket milk! If you are fit and healthy, with no health concerns that could make you more susceptible to infections, then why not try it for yourself?
You will need to find a local source of raw milk, since it is not sold in supermarkets. Search online for farm gate sales or check out your local farmers’ market. If you do buy some, remember to keep it cool before drinking it - don’t under any circumstances leave it in a hot car whilst you browse the farmers’ market for the day!
If you plan to buy some raw milk whilst you are out, simply take a coolbox with you, together with some chill packs to keep it nice and cool.
Have you tried raw milk? Did you enjoy it? Are you having glass milk bottles delivered to your door like in the good old days? Share your stories with us via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!