Real Milk

by Josée
Picture from

We drink about 4L of milk each week. I’ve try to cut back our milk consumption by using less of it and trying to replace it with alternatives but Hubby is anti-soy milk and anti-any other milk substitutes. Cow’s milk was never a huge deal when I was growing up. Sometimes it was rice milk, other times almond milk or even soy milk. It didn’t really matter as long as we didn’t have to eat our cereal dry.

I’ve resigned myself to buying cow’s milk, but I’ve decided that I want it to be the healthiest cow’s milk we can get. I’ve checked out our local health food store where they sell conventional cow’s milk as well as certified organic cow’s milk. The organic milk is definitely better because it doesn’t contain GMOs, antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, artificial colours or preservatives (but it’s expensive!). I bought a bottle of it yesterday and it tastes good. The organic moo juice has more flavour than the supermarket counterpart and it would go great with a chocolate chip cookie 🙂

Then I came across the idea of real milk. That’s right – raw milk. The non-pasteurized kind that’s illegal to sell in Canada and the US. I’m starting to look into the health and safety issues around raw milk and it is inter-resting! There are many health benefits for raw milk over pasteurized conventional milk and it can be very safe to consume. promotes the consumption of “Real (raw) Milk” or “milk that is full-fat, unprocessed, and from pasture-fed cows” They do NOT recommend “consumption of raw milk from conventional confinement dairies or dairies which produce milk intended for pasteurization”.

I’ve always wanted a cow but there’s no room in our city backyard for one. We’ll have to stick to raising meat rabbits for now. However! there is a Raw Milk Herd Share Program that serves our city. It’s completely legal because you use the raw milk that you get from your “share of the herd”.  I’ve sent the farm an email to see if there are any shares available… would you drink raw milk?


Abby July 13, 2010 - 2:03 am

My mom routinely buys raw milk from a local farmer; in VT you can sell the milk as long as you're doing so in small quantities (I believe that is the deal, though maybe it has to do with a coop type thing). She really likes it and they've had no problems getting sick or anything. I've had it before, too.. the taste takes a little getting used to when you're used to the pasteurized stuff, it is sweeter and just tastes different, but it is pretty good. She says it's a lot healthier too, and uses it to make yogurt and such. That being said, she grew up on a farm where they had raw milk all the time so I think the idea wasn't hard for her to adjust to 🙂

FrancesEden July 13, 2010 - 7:09 am

Oh, I am glad you are talking about this! I have feelings about organic milk, and am looking into Canadian laws regarding it. The biggest thing I am finding is that a lot of the info I am being fed is all US based, where they have MUCH different laws on their dairy. Canada has it pretty good, concerning their cows.
I am quite torn. The organic stuff is crazy expensive, it hurts! I want to understand what makes it better than my plain-jane ordinary milk. I think it comes down to antibiotics for the cows, but I don't think they put hormones or anything like that in our dairy cows.
Anyways, good subject. I want to hear more. I am tired of being told that organic is just better so you should be fine paying more for it.I am all for organic stuff (really I am!), but there are some pretty silly guidelines out there that guarantee nothing.
Tell me more about milk!!
ANd I am on the fence about raw milk. It used to make some people sick, or babies could die from it. They were trying to do a good thing by pasteurizing it. It might be sorta out of hand now, but who knows. I would certainly try it. I would love to know the cow we got our milk from 🙂

thefirstfouryears July 13, 2010 - 12:59 pm

I would drink milk from my own cow raw (if it was literally freshly milked), but I'm not too sure I'd buy it. After all, pasteurization was invented for a reason.

Honestly, I do wish I had a cow! Soy milk isn't any better for you than cow's milk– American soy products are…Ugh. Maybe goats milk would be a healthy alternative? I know it takes getting used to, but, as far as I know, goats aren't treated with any hormones (not that I've researched it at all).

Anyway, I hardly buy milk anymore because it is so dang expensive. And I would only eat it with cereal, which is also too expensive to buy.

Chelsea Rae July 13, 2010 - 7:03 pm

If I could find a reliable source of raw milk I would definitely let the kids drink it. I would also want to make sure the cows weren't getting any hormones or antibiotics so I doubt we'd be able to find one.

I have suspicions Mary would be able to drink milk if it was raw. Right now we mostly use almond or soy for baking/cooking.

Cristina July 13, 2010 - 9:48 pm

I love goat's milk, although it's very expensive if you buy it in stores. Some of the goat farms in the Fraser Valley sell goat milk, so we pick it up on our way out to Abbotsford. Drinking it does take some getting used to, but I love baking with it.

We stay away from soy because I've read that is raises estrogen levels and therefore isn't healthy for men, especially baby boys to be exposed to on a regular basis.

If raw cow's milk was more available, I would try it, but it seems to be difficult to find, and when found, is more expensive than goat milk.

Rebecca Abernethy July 14, 2010 - 6:45 am

Josee – I saw your blog link in my newsfeed awhile ago and now sometimes read it… but this entry has finally compelled me to come out and comment! It's completely awesome by the way and I love love love all of the topics you've been bringing up about sustainability and questioning the status quo/"conventional" approach when it comes to food and really modern living.

To answer your question, I would 110% drink raw milk as I currently do 🙂 I have a herdshare here and get my dairy products exclusively from them (Home on the Range Farm – they're been in the news this spring). I've been to the farm to see the cows and look at their living conditions (and verify that no hormones/antibiotics/unnatural supplements are being used). I must say, it's by FAR the best milk I've ever had. Even the organic stuff in the store pales in comparison… plus, you get to take off the cream (if you want) and make your own butter or other stuff. It's so great.

My parents have told me they've met some farmers doing a herdshare out of Hixon I think? Is that the one you're looking at? Anyway, I encourage you to continue to pursue this. It costs more than the grocery store, but at the end of the day, the health and social benefits are much greater, I think. Good luck!

Liz July 14, 2010 - 7:13 pm

I'm Abby's mom, and I love raw milk. After years of the pasteurized stuff it's like going home again. It definitely tastes better and it's actually supposed to be better for you, as long as it comes from a clean source. My dad used to brag that the bacteria count in his milk was lower than the standard for pasteurized milk. It frustrated him that it got dumped into the same truck as the milk from the less than clean farmer down the road. Each state has its own standards, but here in Vermont a farmer can sell a certain number of gallons a day (the farmer we buy from has only a couple of cows, so no problem staying under the limit) and each buyer has to sign a log of what milk they bought and the date it was packaged. It's not more than pennies more expensive than the stuff in the grocery store and it's really good. It's taken my husband awhile to get used to it, but he's using it now as well.

We buy our eggs from the same farmer. It's fun to see the chickens who produce your eggs running around the lawn when you go to pick up your milk. One added benefit, I no longer have milk jugs to through away. The jars from the farmer get washed and returned to be reused again.

Most of the diseases that were a problem in raw milk have been under control in the U.S. for a long time, but I would hesitate to buy milk from a lot of larger farms. The people we buy from have a very small operation which gets careful attention all the time. It's highly unlikely for a cow in that kind of situation to get any diseases worth worrying about.

Kim July 25, 2010 - 1:43 am

I'm not sure I'd drink it … (yet), although I 100% believe it's more healthful a drink than the pasteurized variety. I would, however, use it to make yogurt which seems 100% safe to me because of the heating and the addition of the good bacteria!

Jeremie August 4, 2010 - 11:25 pm Reply

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