I don't make it to our Farmer's Market as often as I would like, but while my husband's family was in town for the holidays we made the 45-minute trek to experience it again. I was walking with my sister-in-law down the center of all of the food vendors and farmers selling their wares (freezing my hindquarters off), when I spotted a booth that caught my eye. Organic Pastures is a raw dairy brand I had seen several times while in our natural health food store but I had never seen them at Farmer's before. Not soon after I stopped pushing the stroller to check out what this booth was all about, a friendly, laid back guy approached us and asked if we had heard of them before. He told me they were out trying to raise awareness about the benefits of raw milk. I didn't realize it, but I had been waiting for this conversation for a while; I was so happy I was there at that right place at the right time.
I told the nice man about my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter who cannot tolerate milk that is too highly processed. In fact, she has only been able to drink non-homogenized organic milk since I switched her to cow's milk. Her little tummy is much like her mother's...and her aunt's...and her grandpa's...and so on. He told me that most of the "lactose intolerance" in this country is mostly "pasteurization intolerance" and that many people who have struggled with dairy have found that their guts actually heal when they switch to a raw milk diet. After a brief conversation about the glories of raw milk, beneficial bacteria, as well as some answers as to why people should trust his milk to be safe, I walked away with a brochure and a mind full of thoughts. I finally felt like I heard something that was rational and backed by science other than a feeling - whether it be good or bad. I wasn't pressured into buying a single thing, but just urged to look into the matter more.
I like the idea of eating food in it's whole, non-processed, alive form. I like that raw milk actually helps the digestive tract heal itself with loads of good bacteria and enzymes to aid in digestion and strengthen our ever-weakening American immune systems. I like the fact that the cows are able to roam around and eat grass. Of course, there is hesitation with anything that carries a warning label on it. Here in California, we have strict standards when it comes to raw dairy farming, much more so than many other states, so on that count - I am lucky. Nothing is a guarantee though. Then again, there is no guarantee with the organic spinach we eat, or the tomatoes, or the...whatever isn't cooked, killed, processed, etc.
So here I am, a few weeks after my encounter with the raw milk guy, and I have given much thought and time into researching the pros and cons of raw milk. I've even started introducing it slowly to my daughter after deciding that Organic Pastures is a dairy I can place my trust in. Now I'm interested to hear where others stand on the issue. Is it best to avoid it, just to play on the safe side? Or do you avoid dairy altogether? Is it best to not consume dairy at all if it is lacking all of the living things that make it nutritious? Is it just too stinkin' expensive? I want to hear from you!
Disclaimer: I am not claiming to be an expert on raw milk. I am not claiming that dairy is essential or at all necessary to a well-balanced diet (the only one who drinks cow's milk in this house is my baby.) I'm not claiming that it's "safe". In fact, I'm not claiming anything. One thing S and I stand firm on is that what goes ON and IN our bodies count towards a healthier life. While this post is a departure from our heavy organic product emphasis here at F+S, sometimes it's good to talk about the "IN" part too.
Image cred: treehugger.com