Saturday, June 5, 2010

Raw Milk, Raw Milk Cheese, and Raw Milk Butter

Memorial Day Weekend 12

The other day, I posted a picture of some of my recent Farmers’ Market buys, and it included raw milk, raw milk cheese, and raw milk butter. I got several questions in the comments and in emails about my thoughts on raw milk. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love cheese. Now, loving it doesn’t mean that I go overboard eating it (even though there was a time in my life when I definitely consumed too much of it). I also eat some yogurt, kefir, and other milk products on a regular basis.

However, I am consuming a lot less milk and milk products at this point. In recent months, I have replaced some of the milk I used to drink with almond milk and especially enjoy it in my coffee or shakes. I make sure I get plenty of calcium by eating lots of leafy green vegetables rather than trying to get calcium only from milk and milk products. I give you this background to point out that I don’t consume a huge amount of raw milk and raw milk products.

I started buying raw milk cheese a little over a year ago at a local Farmers’ Market from Organic Pastures. Their website provides lots of information.

I had read about the benefits of raw milk and raw milk products (such as many intact beneficial enzymes, easier digestion, improved immune system, etc.), but I also knew that raw milk was controversial for its potential to be unsafe if it is not handled correctly (like many food products). Here is another website that advocates raw milk products and answers many questions. However, there are also many sources that paint another picture; a simple online search will lead you to lots of information on the topic. Also, raw milk is not legal in all states and there are different laws as to how it can be sold, and different countries have different laws regarding raw milk.

When I saw the raw milk stand at the Farmers’ Market over a year ago, I was curious. But I also was cautious. I think you have to be very careful when you choose raw milk products, just like you have to be careful whenever you choose anything that you will consume. It’s really important to ask where your food comes from, who has handled it, and if you can trust the source. That’s of course not always easy to do.

Before I purchased the first raw cheese, I spent a good amount of time speaking to the vendor, and he answered my questions and gave me lots of information. But I didn’t buy my first raw milk cheese right then and there but rather took the flier he had and checked the farm out online and researched raw milk products in general some more. I bought only raw cheese for many months and just recently started buying raw milk (and I bought raw milk butter for the first time on my last trip).

Some of you asked me how raw milk tastes compared to “regular milk.”  Again, let me say that I don’t drink a lot of milk anymore. The raw milk I drink is whole milk. When I drank “regular milk” it was mainly skim milk. So I’m not sure if my comparison is entirely fair. I would definitely say raw milk tastes fresher and more “real.” It’s very creamy (but it is whole milk after all!), and I really enjoy a small glass several times per week. It has of course more fat, including saturated fat, and calories than skim milk, so I try to fit it into my diet.

The raw cheddar cheese that we buy has a mild flavor. It is very creamy, yet has a little punch (if this makes sense). We really enjoy the cheese. However, I think the favorite product so far is the raw milk butter. Hubby couldn’t stop talking about it. He said it tasted more like cream cheese than butter to him. It is sweet and delicious. And a little goes a long way…

Some of you also asked if I noticed a difference in the way I feel since I started drinking raw milk. As I stated above, I don’t drink a lot of raw milk, so I’m not sure I would really feel a difference because of the relatively small amount I consume. I believe I feel well because I overall eat well, and raw milk and raw milk products are just a small part of my overall diet… :-) But I truly enjoy drinking milk from cows that get to graze an organic pasture land.

Ultimately, I think it’s very important that everyone make an informed decision if considering consuming raw milk and raw milk products. You should definitely do your research about the benefits and potential harm and make sure you know where your milk and milk products come from. That way you can make the best decision for you.

Questions: Have you ever tried raw milk or raw milk products? If so, did you like them? Would you ever like to try raw milk?
Be well,