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,
Andrea

19 comments:

  1. I have had raw milk and cheese, and I do like them. My husband grew up in Ireland around a lot of farming so it was a pretty normal occurence for him. It still can be a bit nervewracking to try such products as there can be risks, but I often wonder if we have just had so many different types of fear of everything drilled into us in the US!

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  2. Neat. It sounds like you enjoy raw milk as a treat and am consuming it to add variety to your diet. If the raw milk butter is as good as what your hubby says, I'm definitely going to check it out next time I'm at the local farmer's market.

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  3. wow, I never knew all this - thanks for sharing!

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  4. Most of the science shows the risks outweigh any potential benefit. I have a handout somewhere that I used to give to my students because they would always ask, but it has been a while since anyone asked so I haven't looked at the handout in a while. This was 3 years ago, so maybe there is more research out. I am glad you mentioned the food safety issues. This is a major concern.

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  5. i have never tried raw dairy, but i'm very curious.

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  6. Great post, Andrea. Thanks! I really like raw cheese but don't buy it often as I find it expensive. Milk is something I've never liked (I think that my body just *knows* it's not good for *me*), but I'd be interested in the raw butter. That sounds fabulous!

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  7. Thanks for the wonderfully insightful post. And lemme tell you, any kind of butter that reminds you of cream cheese has just got to be good! ;)

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  8. It's difficult for me to get a hold of raw milk in NY, but whenever possible I buy unpasteurized cheese. The flavors are just so much more complex.

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  9. Great post, and thanks for doing this Andrea. I figured I wouldn't be the only person who had questions! Having had a food safety expert for my adviser in graduate school, I am weary of raw milk and eggs and other products, but I guess for someone like you and me, it's ok. The ones who need to be careful are the really young (your son), the really old, and those with chronic diseases or conditions that warrant special meds, or even not. Also those who are pregnant, obviously. So the products are creamier? I love that. I buy full fat Greek yogurt (11 grams of fat per half cup) and LOVE it. I can't get enough (but of course I moderate my intake)

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  10. Very interesting post. One of our professors at Cal Poly Dairy Science Dept. said he would not consume raw dairy products knowing what he knows, so that has made me a bit gun-shy. Although when in France, I don't give it a second thought...
    LL

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  11. I've heard a lot of good things about raw dairy...some people swear by it! I would love to try them, but it's hard to procure! I wonder why you can't really find raw "skim" milk though?

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  12. Thank you for such a thorough post! I have to admit, if I saw raw dairy products I would buy them without hesitation purely due to the novelty factor- without doing my research. I'll think twice now. I haven't tried any raw dairy products, but I would really like to. I don't think it's available here, but I'll have a look next time I am in the US. The raw butter sounds delicious!

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  13. Great information! I haven't tried raw milk before - love that copy in the top picture - cute!

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  14. I haven't tried raw milk, except for a sip of our sheeps milk last winter. Correction - I had Kraft Dinner on a dairy farm once made with it. I dont thinkt that counts. I think as long as we are informed, and know what we're eating/drinking, it's ok. Pregnant, I don't think I'd start now, but I am far from opposed to it.
    I do plan on making some sheep cheese next winter, it'll be raw!

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  15. This is great info! I've never tried raw milk, but with the proper research I would definitely give it a go just to taste the difference.

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  16. Interesting post. I've never tried any raw milk products due to food safety concerns.

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  17. Thanks for all this info, Andrea. I've always been curious about raw dairy but have heard so many things about the dangers if it's not handled properly. Clearly you have done your homework and are very educated about the issue. Sounds like a good local, organic company. What farmer's market do you guys normally go to? DM me...I've only been to the Sunnyvale one around here.

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  18. Andrea, great post! As you know, I am definitely a raw milk drinker :D Of course, like you wrote, it's extremely important to know your source. It's a very controversial subject, but all I can say is that there is nothing like raw milk. For anyone skeptical, a great medium is to buy pasteurized, preferably VAT, un-homogenized milk. You'll get the great creamy milk with the feeling of safety that it has been pasteurized. Have a great week Andrea!!

    Diana

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  19. I have had this post of your bookmarked in my mind for months and your comment reminded me I wanted to read this. :-) I was very curious about your opinion. So happy to hear this wasn't an anti-raw dairy post. We used to buy raw milk exclusively but it got to be too expensive for our family. We bought the same brand as you. They sell it at a local health food store. I have also bought their raw colostrum (disgusting) but never the butter. I wish so much we could afford raw dairy but with organic stuff, the csa, fish, ect, it isn't a regular thing for us. I did pick up raw cheese the other day from Trader Joe's. It was delicious but I'm a cheese lover.

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