As a kid, I lived off of raw milk. There are nine people in my family, and we all had a serious milk-drinking problem. I remember my little brother Eric standing in the kitchen: feet apart, jug to his lips, sucking down the milk like there was no tomorrow. My family went through about a gallon of milk a day. The general rule was that whoever drank the last of the milk had to go up to the barn to refill the jug, but we’d all get around this by leaving a splash on the bottom for the next unlucky soul. Gotta love deferred responsibility.
When I first found out people were adamantly opposed to raw milk, I was quite surprised. Raw milk is the unpasteurized, un-homogenized milk that comes straight from the cow, the kind that you have to shake before you drink because the cream rises to the top. I found it strange that states had gone as far as making it illegal. To me, it was just natural milk. Raw milk advocates believe it’s a sort of superfood. Milk is filled with amino acids and proteins that are good for the body, but when it is pasteurized these proteins are killed along with the bacteria. On the other side of the argument, raw milk is at risk for harboring dangerous bacteria. Recent E. Coli breakouts have given anti-raw milk advocates quite a few I-told-you-so moments in the media.
My take? No one in my family ever got sick from raw milk, and I think people should be able to drink it if they want. But I think an important point to be made is that my family is a special case. We drink raw milk because it’s free. Why would we sell our milk for next to nothing and then buy it back from the store at a way higher price? But if I was given the choice between purified and raw milk, I would go for the milk without the dangerous bacteria. We know that pasteurizing milk kills the bacteria, so why take that risk? Yes, there are proteins and other good stuff in milk that may get destroyed, but milk isn’t our only source of protein. There are other protein-rich foods that don’t ask you to risk an E. Coli breakout.