Maybe it’s just me, but over the years it seems dairy has gotten a pretty bad rap, being the first to blame for gut issues, skin problems, allergies, and intolerances. Some of which are completely valid, I can absolutely empathize with that. However, milk and cheese have been around for hundreds of years, so why is it that there was a 50% increase in food allergies among children from 1997 to 2007? The biologic production of cow’s milk, just like human’s milk, has not changed, so what gives?
Since the 1920’s when the medical community publicized the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy, it has been in high demand maintaining status as a household staple. How could small farms be expected to keep up? News flash, they couldn’t, and industrialization, factories, and mass production took over. The market’s manufacturing of milk and dairy products has been systemized and standardized to keep cows producing at a rapidly unnatural rate. Let me ask you this: where would you rather catch up on emails – in a van full of twenty people (two of which have colds) or a on a beach with a few others in sight? Me too, that van just sounds so much fun, right? Of course not! You’re bound to catch that cold and whatever else could be floating around in those close quarters. Without going into specific detail about the livelihood and housing arrangements dairy cattle are subjected to, (though if you’re interested, click here) we can imagine why the FDA standards for dairy farms required imperative hygiene policies to be put in place. The one we’re probably all most familiar with is pasteurization.
Pasteurization is the process of heat-treating [milk, cheese, yogurt] to kill bacteria. Hey, look at that! Problem solved, right? Sorry, but wrong, so very wrong. While it may kill bacteria and organisms that cause harm to our bodies, pasteurization kills a huge amount of the good bacteria, vitamins, minerals, and even the enzymes (lactase) that help us digest that very milk/dairy product. Raw milk, in it’s natural state is akin to human breast milk. It is naturally antibacterial, antiviral, and immune supporting. The only chance of it containing any harmful bacteria is due to the processing, bottling, or shipping practices of the manufacturer (one reason why it is important to know your farmer).
Then, there’s the issue that the antibiotics and growth hormones bring. There are over eleven different antibiotics FDA-approved for one bacterial infection dairy cattle are susceptible to. Unfortunately, the growth hormone they are all given (in order to produce at the rate required) makes them more susceptible to many types of infection, treated with, you guessed it, more antibiotics. I know what you’re thinking, “I buy antibiotic and hormone-free milk for my family,” I did too. But just because your cows are chemical-free, does not mean their food is. (Loophole!). Cattle feed can be sprayed with every herbicide, pesticide, and fungicide known to man; and because the policies regarding their food isn’t as strict as ours, manufacturers don’t have to tell us! Most dairy cattle are also fed unnatural diets of grain and soy (mostly GMO), which also significantly changes the nutritional profile of dairy (we’ll dive deeper into this topic another time)!
Here’s the point I’m trying to reach: maybe the spike we’re seeing in the prevalence of food allergies aren’t the foods themselves, but the process we put those foods through. Pasteurization changes natural composition of raw dairy – stripping much of its nutritional benefits and our ability to digest it. Combined with the variety of antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides added to products during production, and we have to ask ourselves – what are we actually consuming by the time it gets to us?
If you’re also asking yourself, “how can I get the product I’m paying for?” your answer is here, Rah Rah for Raw Dairy.
Written by Madeleine White