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Healthy Living Kids & Family Raw Dairy Real Food

Why Organic Milk Falls Short on Nutrition

Many people have switched to buying organic milk because the awareness of how dangerous conventional milk is due to hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs used in the production of milk is increasing rapidly in health and food communities.

But did you know that organic milk can still come from feedlots and undesirable environments, just like conventional milk? Here are important reasons why organic milk may not be the best choice for your family:

1.  The wrong kinds of feed

Sure, these producers are not allowed to use hormones or antibiotics. But many larger organic producers – and some smaller ones – still feed their cattle unsuitable feed that can cause digestive distress for cattle. Cattle are ruminants which means they are meant to eat grass, fibrous plants, and shrubs. Grassfed cattle naturally stay healthier when on pasture and are under low-stress when eating the correct feed intended by nature. These animals usually don’t need to be treated with drugs.

Many organic facilities that produce milk feed their cows soy, corn, and grain, and sometimes other types of miscellaneous feed. These are unnatural and produce  inflammatory which causes an acidic environment in the cow’s digestive tract and body, and set the stage up for disease. This is why many farmers administer antibiotics.  Read from Nourished Magazine why grain fed meat is not an optimal nor nutritious food for the cow’s good health.

Soy and corn, even when “organic” are likely to be contaminated with GMO soy and corn since most crops grown in the U.S are now GMO. Co-existence is not possible, read why from the Institute for Responsible Technology.

2.  Pasteurization

The FDA requires all commercial milk to be pasteurized (heated to specified temperatures before it is sold for consumption). According to their site:

“Pasteurization is a process that kills harmful bacteria by heating milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time. First developed by Louis Pasteur in 1864, pasteurization kills harmful organisms responsible for such diseases as listeriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and brucellosis.

Research shows no meaningful difference in the nutritional values of pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk contains low levels of the type of nonpathogenic bacteria that can cause food spoilage, so storing your pasteurized milk in the refrigerator is still important.”

What were the REAL reasons for pasteurization?

Any discussion of pasteurization would not be complete unless we delve into why it was originally developed. In Nina Planck’s book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why, she explains the story of urban dairies with sick cows that led to the eventual practice of widespread pasteurization.

Dr. Ron Schmid, naturopathic physician, says that pasteurization was never intended to to be used on all milk everyone consumed: “No one was claiming that all milk should be pasteurized, as even the most zealous proponents of pasteurization recognized that carefully produced raw milk from healthy animals was safe.”

Louis Pasteur invented pasteurization in the 1860s. It was a form of heat sterilization intended to improve storage quality of beer and wine. Industrial farming began in the late 1800s and early 1900s when population growth demanded higher food and milk production in urban areas in the Eastern U.S.  Authorities proposed pasteurization when outbreaks of tuberculosis and other infectious disease started to spread due to poor quality milk.

Indeed, quality was greatly diminished compared to milk from small family farms and cows grazing on pasture. Cattle were housed in small, confined quarters and consumed cheap, leftover slop material from nearby whiskey distilleries. Although urban dairies realized a cost savings to feeding dairy cattle this way, their health suffered. Mortality rate for cows was high, and they experienced open sores, teeth that fell out, and had putrid breath. Not surprisingly, facilities and employees were filthy and unkempt. Illnesses such as tuberculosis,  infant diarrhea, scarlet, tyhphoid and undulent fever (brucellosis) became rampant.

Pasteurization actually does not kill all pathogenic bacteria. Some survive the heating process.

Ohio State University Extension Service reported that Listeria, E. coli, and salmonella have all been found to withstand exposure to heat – at temperatures as high as 145 to 150 Fahrenheit. That’s the temperature at which most low-heat or gentle pasteurization occurs.

Cornell University recently released a report from a study that looked at predominant strains of spore-forming bacteria. These strains, primarily Paenibacillus bacteria, cause spoilage in milk and other foods.  They are found frequently in nature and are responsible for curdling effects and also off-flavors in various foods, including dairy.

Researchers discovered certain bacterial strains are able to withstand these heat temperatures, and the results is often milk curdling during storage. “In fact, the bacteria may be uniquely adapted to overcome the twin tactics of dairy protection: pasteurization followed by refrigeration.”  According to co-author and research support specialist Nicole Martin, “the spores are not only resistant to heat, the small jolt of heat during pasteurization may actually stimulate them to germinate. Some can reproduce in refrigerated dairy products at temperatures that would stymy other types of bacteria.”

UHT pasteurization

Some companies such as Organic Valley, Horizon, and other companies have taken pasteurization to a new level by heating the milk to a higher temperature. UHT or ultra high temperature processing heats at or above 280 degrees to kill pathogens. UHT milk has been reported to have a shelf life of up to 10 months (before opening)! Yuck.

What’s so bad about this?  Raw milk from healthy cows on pasture contains fragile enzymes, proteins, and beneficial bacteria that our bodies need to properly digest and absorb nutrients. Raw milk is a rich source of carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2, as well as Omega 3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

When these are altered or destroyed through pasteurization, the body perceives this once whole food as a harmful invader and produces an immune response to protect itself.  Proteins are altered, and in particular, casein proteins found in milk cannot be digested without those necessary raw enzymes.  Even though organic milk may come from cows eating organic feed without antibiotics or hormones, UHT processing removes any benefits that the milk would have had.

From the Weston A. Price Foundation, UHT damages milk in the following way:

“According to Lee Dexter, microbiologist and owner of White Egret Farm goat dairy in Austin, Texas, ultra-pasteurization is an extremely harmful process to inflict on the fragile components of milk. Dexter explains that milk proteins are complex, three-dimensional molecules, like tinker toys. They are broken down and digested when special enzymes fit into the parts that stick out. Rapid heat treatments like pasteurization, and especially ultra-pasteurization, actually flatten the molecules so the enzymes cannot do their work. If such proteins pass into the bloodstream (a frequent occurrence in those suffering from “leaky gut,” a condition that can be brought on by drinking processed commercial milk), the body perceives them as foreign proteins and mounts an immune response. That means a chronically overstressed immune system and much less energy available for growth and repair.”

So although any milk can contain pathogens, pasteurized milk has a better chance of being tainted since this milk likely comes from industrial settings where cows exist in feedlots and consume feed that makes them sick. Any good bacteria that might come from this milk is destroyed when pasteurized, and good bacteria protects milk from becoming a harmful substance to consume. Since good bacteria counts as well as nutritional value goes when cows are not on pasture and with pasteurization, what remains is simply dead bacteria and something with no nutritional value nor protection for your body and immune system.

3.  Better soil and environmental health

We can’t talk about nutrition in milk or any food without also mentioning the health of the soil. In addition to the meat being healthier when it comes from grassfed sources, raising grassfed livestock promotes better soil and plant health. Soil health is vitally important to the health of everything else in the world, and is home to a diverse community of bacterial organisms.

Geomorphologist (from University of Washington) David Montgomery’s book Dirt explains just how damaging modern agricultural practices are to the topsoil. In the U.S., cropland in the U.S. becomes eroded 10 times quicker than the rate for it to be replaced by natural means. Some of the biggest cash crops in the world today including wheat, corn, and soy are incredibly depleting of the soil. These shallow-rooted grasses bring about the disintegration of essential trace minerals such as iodine, calcium, and magnesium.

Perennial grasses and pastures allow important nutrients to be returned to the soil in roughly 10 years. (which grow back year after year) and which extend down beyond 10 feet below the surface return nutrients back into the growing system. This allows them to be available for plants and everything else higher on the food chain.

From Smarter Living, Wendy Gordon’s Top 10 Reasons to Eat Grass-fed Meat:

“In contrast, the deep roots of perennials, often extending more than 10 feet below the surface, act like elevators, lifting nutrients back into the system and making them available to plants and everything else up the food chain. Pure prairie builds up organic matter: the richest of virgin prairie soil in the Midwest once ran to 10 feet deep and was about 10 percent organic. What’s left of the soils where corn and soy now grow typically contains less than half that amount of organic matter. Perennial pastures can restore the richness of the soil in a decade or so.”

4.  Access to outdoors

Another issue is that many larger organic facilities don’t allow their dairy cattle much access to the outdoors, even if that is implied on the label. You might see a picture of a farm with pastures and a barn or even see terms such as “humanely raised” or “pasture-raised”. The minimum USDA standards for organic only require 120 days annually on pasture. That means the rest of the time, animals may be in confinement of some type. This greatly diminishes the nutrient-quality of the milk produced. When cattle are in feedlot environments and fed something other than their natural diet (grass or hay), Omega 3s, fat soluble vitamins, and CLA diminishes greatly.

5.  Cost of the milk

Depending on where you buy your milk, you will pay different prices. Although some raw milk producers charge upwards towards $10 a gallon for their milk, from my experience, there are many organic pasteurized milks on the market which cost about the same as buying local raw milk from my trusted farmer who uses sustainable practices and has their cattle on pasture.

For instance, many organic milks I’ve seen in the store are sold by the half gallon and cost in the range between $2.99 to $3.99.  The whole gallon containers run anywhere from $4.99 up to $7.99. If you buy a whole gallon of local, grass-fed, raw milk like I do from my farmer, it’s only $6/gallon. Do you really want to pay the same amount for an inferior product?

So, you do have a choice. You can buy milk from commercial, industrial sources that takes animals and turns their meat and milk into a commodity-based product with little to no attention to their health or land stewardship, and cook the life out of foods that were put here to nourish us. Or, you can make the effort to find a local farmer producing raw milk from healthy cows on pasture, and take advantage of the superior health benefits found in this perfect food.

Want to make sure the milk you are getting is sustainable, organic, grassfed raw, or all of the above? Read Questions to Ask Your Farmer.

Want more information on the health benefits of real, living, raw milk?

The Truth About Raw Milk, Part I and Part II.

Why an Idaho girl supports CA raw milk – Organic Pastures Dairy

Why our family chooses raw over pasteurized milk

Why low-fat foods are not good for our health (including low-fat and skim organic milk):

Deceptions in the food industry: Low-fat foods


Healthy Living Probiotics Raw Dairy Real Food

The Amazing Health Benefits of Fermented & Cultured Beverages & Foods


In modern society, one of the things we don’t do much of is eat real cultured and fermented foods. These foods have been staples of the human diet all over the world for thousands of years. Since the Industrial Revolution, the advent of packaging, processing, and convenience foods have seen the disappearance of these highly beneficial, nutrient-dense foods.

Throughout time, cultures all over the world have created cultured foods and beverages out of necessity. When a dairy cow produced a surplus of milk and all of it could not be consumed at once before spoilage, fermentation was born. Fermentation allowed the food to be preserved so it could be consumed later, and it was done simply by using the naturally-occurring healthy bacteria in the food.

Because this process improves nutrient content and increases the beneficial bacteria of the food, it is not only healthier but also made easier to digest. Other foods were produced in a similar manner such as kombucha (a feremented tea generated from a scoby or mushroom) or kvass using cultures, bread, and water. Kvass can also be made using vegetables such as beets. It was also customary to culture and ferment many of the vegetables people ate through lact0-fermentation with whey from dairy products or salt.

Today on the consumer market, you will find many foods and beverages which are labeled as healthy and full of nutrients. Because the bottom line in the consumer market is profit, over time the integrity of many of these traditional foods and drinks has been lost.

Even though the label claims otherwise, you will not in fact find dense, probiotic activity in a cup of commercial yogurt or non-dairy cultured foods like sauerkraut because of two main reasons:

  1. Commercial dairy is subject to pasteurization, which destroys and denatures probiotics, fats, proteins, enzymes, and other elements critical to creating a real probiotic food.
  2. Even though commercial companies add back in cultures to the food after pasteurization, the culturing process simply isn’t long enough to generate the diversity and numbers of beneficial bacteria which our bodies need for health.

Many other products are subjected to high-heat temperatures or pasteurization. By the time you open the bottle, package, or container, you are essentially eating a dead product with no live foundational enzymes, nutrients, or bacteria.

Sports and energy drinks like Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Red Bull, and Rockstar rely on caffeine, sugar, chemicals, artificial colors and flavorings to sell their product and make it “taste” appealing. Even higher-priced “professional” grade products such as Heed or Accelerade which contain synthetic vitamins and minerals or herbal ingredients are inferior because they lack the real nutrition found in long-fermented foods and beverages.

Most probiotic supplements on the market except for an exclusive small percentage do not contain the bacterial count listed on the label, and also have other undesirable ingredients which can be harmful to health.

Fermentation of real food uses either whey from dairy foods like milk, yogurt, or sour cream to produce a lacto-fermented food, a scoby culture or mushroom as when making kombucha, or preparing a brine with salt, or wine for culturing vegetables.

Here are just some of the many benefits of preparing and consuming cultured and fermented foods and beverages:
  • Improves or eliminates gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn, bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and constipation by eating a small serving with each meal.  Your overall diet, should of course exclude processed foods and incorporate real, whole foods with healthy fats and proteins, organic fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Processed foods eaten on a regular greatly contribute to digestive problems and other health issues.
  • Deepens and broadens vitamins and nutrients like magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, B Vitamins, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2, K1, and beta carotene. Fermented dairy imparts increased amounts of folic acid, pyroxidine, B vitamins, riboflavin and biotin, depending upon existing bacterial strains.
  • Raw fermented vegetables are useful in reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of degenerative disease like cancer.
  • Strengthens immune system function to stay healthy and avoid flu and colds.
  • Promotes weight loss.  In a study from 2008 at Stanford University, Dr. John Morton, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the medical school, showed that “patients who take probiotics after the gastric-bypass procedure tend to shed more pounds than those who don’t take the supplements.” Since supplements are usually much lower in bacterial counts than live cultured and fermented foods, it would be easy to conclude that higher bacterial counts would promote weight loss and the ability of the body to balance your normal weight.
  • Provides probiotic support to the digestive system. 85 percent of our immune system is located in the digestive tract, and having a proliferation and diversity of friendly bacteria is critical to immune health.
  • Reduces the proliferation of harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E.coli, salmonella, and yeast or candida overgrowth
  • Fermenting sulphur-rich foods such as sauerkraut produces antioxidants like glutathione and superoxide dismustase, which remove free radical activity
  • Assists in breaking down difficult to digest lactose from dairy foods to create lactic acid, which is easier to digest
  • Although lactic acid fermentation does not necessarily raise mineral content, it lowers the effects of phytic acid found in grains, legumes, and vegetables. Phytic acid is a nutrient inhibitor which prevents absorption of minerals in the body. This process allows the body to absorb more minerals from grains, vegetables, and legumes.
  • Helps to pre-digest and allow for better absorption of nutrients
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride who developed the GAPS diet, talks about the benefits of fermented foods in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome. I have been on GAPS since early May of 2011 and have found great improvements in my health as well as disappearance of problems that have bothered me my whole life such as anxiety and panic-symptoms.

Cultured dairy foods:


These foods are in no way, shape, or form like what you will buy in the store.  With few exceptions, most commercial products are pasteurized which destroys enzymes, proteins, fats, and probiotics. These foods are also not cultured long enough to produce high numbers and diversity of necessary beneficial bacteria.

Cultured dairy foods you make at home from raw milk that comes from healthy cows on pasture are superior in every way in terms of quality and amount of diverse bacteria produced which our bodies need to support digestive, immune, and total health.

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Buttermilk
  • Sour cream or creme fraiche

Cultured, dairy-free foods

Like commercial dairy products, most commercially produced sauerkraut, pickles, and other non-dairy foods you buy in the store have only been processed with vinegar as a base, and subjected to high-heat temperatures. This does not culture or ferment the food, but rather destroys enzymes and bacteria.

If you have issues with dairy, which are often caused by digestive compromise from poor lifestyle and diet, there are a variety of cultured and fermented foods which are highly beneficial in the process of healing the digestive tract. Consuming these foods can be integral in helping you to be able to once again digest real, raw dairy foods. Casein, a protein found in dairy, can irritate the digestive tract lining which has been compromised from poor diet and lifestyle, and which then penetrates the walls of the intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream to cause super-immune response. This is why many individuals have “dairy allergies” or sensitivities when they consume dairy products.

Here are sources for buying culture starter for culturing your own vegetables as well as quality dairy cultures.
It is a great idea to make your own fermented vegetables and cultured dairy foods at home. If you find that you don’t have time for these preparations, here are a few good store brands which contain live probiotic bacteria:

More information: 

How to make sauerkraut
with Wild Fermentation expert Sandor Ellix Katz
Time and money saving tips – getting the most of your vegetables  - with ideas for how to make your vegetables delicious and easy-to-digest by eating them with healthy fats and also some cultured vegetable recipes from Sally Fallon Morell’s Nourishing Traditions
This post is part of Sarah The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania Carnival