Hadley, MA

Raw milk: the other white drink

Jayne B. Stearns

The pasteurization of milk was developed less than a century due to dairy cows being fed industrial waste while living in confined urban settings. These less than desirable environmental factors made our milk unfit to drink.

Pasteurization changed this and made disease-ridden milk worthy of human consumption again by heating the milk to over 160 degrees. The pasteurization process killed bacteria with ominous-sounding names like the following:

  • Enterotoxigenic Staph aureus
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Salmonella and E.coli
  • Listeria monocytogenes (especially harmful to pregnant women)
  • Brucella
  • Yersinia enterocolitica

Only then did the milk become fit for human consumption. As an added measure, farmers also began giving their cows antibiotics to ensure no organisms were present while injecting them with bovine growth hormone (bGH) to increase their milk production. Then, farmers introduced a bovine cocktail of prolactin and steroids, including estrogens, progesterone, corticoids, and androgens, into their daily regimen.

As urban development increased and real estate moguls bought up most of the farmland here in Massachusetts, urban dairy farming decreased from nearly 5,000 dairy farms in 1950 to only the125 that exist today. Pasteurization remained.

Why buy raw milk?

Pasteurization that destroys bacteria is positive, but healthy raw milk is even better for many reasons. According to CISA (community involved in sustainable agriculture), raw milk provides the following benefits to your health over pasteurized milk:

  • Raw milk contains 'good' bacteria that aid digestion and maintain a healthy immune system which helps to assimilate vitamins and minerals. But, at the same time, pasteurization kills off the 'good' bacteria and the 'bad.'
  • Raw milk maintains higher levels of calcium, other minerals, and enzymes.
  • Raw milk carries more vitamins B6 and B12, which pasteurization destroys.
  • More than 50% of the vitamin C in milk is destroyed by pasteurization, while raw milk retains its vitamin C levels.
  • Nearly 1/3rd of dairy cows have mastitis, an infection of cow's udders from standing in manure-ridden barns.
  • Raw milk farms environmentally design their farms to protect milk from pathogens.
  • Raw milk farmers meticulously clean a cow's udders to prevent mastitis.

Is raw milk safe?

Not all raw milk is safe. Look for dairies licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and have an MDAR "Certificate of Registration" to sell raw milk products on their farm. Below are local MDAR registered farms that sell raw milk without Bovine somatotropin (BST), a bovine growth hormone used to stimulate more milk production in cows. Of course, it's always best to visit the farm first and judge their raw milk production process yourself.

Mill Valley Milk Store 102 Mill Valley Road, Hadley, MA - (413) 588-1716. Milk available: Year-round Grazing and Feeding Management: Living on pastured, grass-fed, and non-GMO/organic dairy ration. Herd Health: No BST, No Antibiotics Registered Brown Swiss Cattle. Complete farm store with aged farmstead cheeses, local artisan products, fresh farm eggs,

Cook Farm and Flayvors of Cook Farm Debbie Cook 129 South Maple St. Hadley, MA, 01035 413-584-2224 www.flayvors.com flayvorsicecream@gmail.com Milk available: Year-round. Grazing and feeding management: Not pasture-based. Herd health: No BST

Cricket Creek Farm Topher Sabot. 1255 Oblong Rd Williamstown, MA, 01267 413-458-5888 www.cricketcreekfarm.com info@cricketcreekfarm.com Milk Available: Year-Round. Grazing and Feeding Management: Mostly grass with occasional grain Herd Health: No BST, Minimal antibiotics.

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Sources:

https://www.nofamass.org/information-about-raw-milk-consumers/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4524299

https://www.lsuagcenter.com/portals/communications/publications/agmag/archive/2009/winter/mastitis-in-dairy-cattle

https://www.mass.gov/doc/rawmilkfaqfinaljune82010pdf/download

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Jayne is a freelance writer, published poet, and award-winning playwright who specializes in writing human interest stories and anything else that satisfies a multitude of curiosities.

Holyoke, MA
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