As far as I am concerned milk is wonderful stuff. It is quite simply delicious, my favourite soft drink and it must be full fat. People who drink milk receive an abundance of nutritional benefits, due to it high amount of vitamins and minerals. It also offers a rich source of calcium, an important mineral that helps keep your bones strong and healthy. Your teeth also benefit from calcium and a protein found in milk called casein. Casein creates a protective barrier on the enamel surface on your teeth, which helps defend your teeth from acids found in the mouth. Milk has also been shown not to cause tooth decay, so like water, is deemed to be good to drink between meals.
In 1864 Louis Pasteur first developed the process of pasteurisation, which requires milk to be heated to a specific temperature for a set period of time. This is done as a precaution to kill off any potential harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, E.Coli and Listeria that could be found in milk. These bacteria have been the cause of foodborne related illnesses, such as flu like symptoms, vomiting or diarrhoea. A healthy person would soon recover from such illness, but it could prove more problematical for people with a weak immune system and pregnant women.
However, raw milk is untreated and unprocessed. It is literally straight from the cow and slowly seems to becoming more available. So what is the difference and is there a risk because it isn’t pasteurised?
The instantly noticeable difference is the flavour. It is much richer and creamier, an attribute that definitely appeals to my desire for full fat milk; it is nectar. The nutritional benefits of consuming raw milk are also much higher, as the vitamins and minerals will be 100% intact, the heating process of pasteurisation damages the level of vitamins and enzymes, which are quite delicate. Raw milk is also rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). CLA is in fact a trans-fatty acid, but one of the good ones, which can help fight cancer and obesity.
By drinking raw milk you are also supporting your local farmers and in most instances the whole amount of money paid for the milk goes straight to the farmer, wheras normally dairy farmers are paid very little for their milk, as supermarkets often sell it as a loss leader to get people in their store.
So, is there a risk? Personally I think it is very minimal. Of course people need to be aware of any possible danger, so they are able to make an informed decision. But ultimately, only you can decide, as I believe the consumption of raw milk should be a lifestyle choice, just like drinking alcohol or smoking. Therefore, let me raise a glass to raw milk and pledge to keep drinking it long after the cows have come home – pun intended!