Should You Drink Raw Milk?

Boy, do I feel smart! Guess what isn’t happening to my child right now?

He isn’t having acute kidney failure caused by consuming E. coli tainted milk.

Should you drink raw milk? Or give it to your kids?

Two years ago, I thoroughly considered switching to raw milk. I had recently switched to full fat milk, and I wondered if going to raw was the next step. I looked around at suppliers in my area, and I found one that I really liked. McBee Farm was a bit heavy on the god-language for me (“food how God intended it”), but they had a lovely looking farm and lots of different products, including raw milk shares.

Fortunately, a blog commenter of mine spoke very strongly about her anti-raw milk opinion, and I dove into research, ultimately concluding that the risks of raw milk outweighed the benefits. No, thanks.

Now I have learned that several children in my area are severely ill from E. coli contamination of raw milk they got from McBee Farm.

Three of the children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, which may involve lifelong complications and is fatal for 5-15% of patients.

I thought the decision about raw milk was an obvious one, but I turned out to be wrong. Should you drink raw milk? Or give it to your kids? Here's what I found out.This topic has ceased to be abstract for me. It’s no longer stories of random outbreaks somewhere out in the world. This is literally the exact milk I would have been feeding to my family if I had made a different decision.

I don’t have any dairy animals here at The Wallow. However, from keeping chickens, ducks, pigs, and sheep, I know that feces are basically everywhere. Shit management is a reality of life on the farm. It is incredibly easy to contaminate animal products with shit. Good sanitation practices go a long way to increasing food safety, but at the end of the day animal products need to be cooked to insure that they are safe to eat.

For milk, that “cooking” is pasteurization.

Pasteurization makes milk safe to drink. Does it destroy some of the nutrients? Who cares? All cooking changes the food in question. We’re omnivores, and we eat lots of foods with lots of different nutrient profiles. Safe-to-drink milk has less or no vitamin A, vitamin C, and enzymes. It still has calcium, vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, iron, and more.

If you’re worried about the lack of “good bacteria”, you can get that elsewhere like pasteurized yogurt or kefir.

The CDC calls raw milk “a well-documented source of infections from Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria, Mycobacterium bovis, and other pathogens. Missing a nutrient or two is simply not a good enough reason to risk your health and the health of your kids.

Additional Reading: If you’re interested in a back to the land lifestyle, here are some of the books I recommend. (These are affiliate links. If you buy, thanks for your support!)