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Choosing Quality Dairy

I find it completely maddening that in this wonderful country called Canada, I cannot go to the store and purchase organic, pasture-fed, raw dairy. I can buy cigarettes; I can buy alcohol; I can buy a gun, and for a while there it was looking like I might even be able to buy pot legally, but purchasing quality milk is strictly illegal unless I own a cow or am part of a cow-share program. How stupid is that? I'm not suggesting that they make pasteurized milk illegal so that everyone is forced to choose raw - all I want is the choice to be able to buy the healthful, enzyme and nutrition-rich raw dairy from pasture-fed cows grazing on certified organic land. Currently Canadians are forced to choose the pasteurized stuff, where all the enzymes, and most of the vitamins and minerals have been destroyed. Sure, they say that this is for our own health, and that the bacteria in raw dairy is dangerous. Maybe in another time when the milking barns were less clean. But when one looks at the incidences of sickness from milk, just as many people get sick from pasteurized milk as raw. Even Louis Pasteur, the person that told the world that heating up food will kill the bacteria in the food, admitted late in life that the problem is not the germ, but rather the terrain. Just like you can't light a fire with soaking wet wood, it is difficult to get sick if your immune system is strong and healthy.

It is crazy that we as consumers have to wade through the garbage that is being sold to us as food to find the quality food that will nourish us.  So, with respect to dairy, what should our criteria be?  Do your own research and make up your own mind, but in my opinion, best is certified organic, pasture-fed, raw dairy.  If you happen to live in California, you can walk into your supermarket and buy organic, raw, pasture-fed milk, cream, yogurt, butter and even colostrum. The brand is Organic Pastures.  From anywhere in the States you can go to their website and order from them and get raw dairy delivered to your door.  If you cannot find a local source, support them!  Raw butter is considered by many to be a superfood. Many people that are sensitive to dairy do well on raw, as it has the enzymes in it to help with digestion.  I would definitely NOT consume raw dairy from grain-fed or factory farmed cows.  Remember that cows are meant to eat grass, not grain, so make sure the cows have daily access to pasture so the cows are as healthy as possible.  (If you live in Vancouver and want local raw dairy, reply to this email and I will tell you how you can get it legally.  It's a hassle, but worth it.)  Raw milk may be tough to find, but it usually is not hard to find raw cheese.  I've seen most types of cheese, like cheddar, gruyere, emmental etc. made with raw milk, so read labels.  They usually taste better too!

There are many who believe that once milk is pasteurized there is absolutely no point in drinking it at all, but if one can't access raw and you must have a milk, I think it is less harmful than soy milk for example, even if most of the nutrition is lost.  So, as long as you are not sensitive to it, second best is pasteurized, (stay away from the ultrapasteurized!) certified organic, full-fat, non-homogenized dairy (homogenization is the other form of destruction that milk undergoes before it hits the supermarket shelves, where the milk is passed through a microfilter so that the fat globules are broken down into tiny little bits and stay suspended in the milk. Unfortunately the smaller fat molecules have more surface area, which makes them more prone to oxidation.)  Milk seems to be homogenized as a matter of course now, so finding a non-homogenized one can be challenging.  You will be able to tell if the milk is non-homogenized, as the cream in the milk rises to the top of the bottle.  Whipping cream is pretty much always non-homogenized, so that may be where to start. 

Third best is certified organic, full-fat milk. There are two major reasons not to consume lower fat milks like 2%, 1% or No-Fat. First, we cannot absorb the minerals in the milk without the saturated fat which acts like a carrier. So if you are drinking skim milk to get the calcium, it isn't working, unless you are having some quality fatty meat with it. Secondly, most milk producers put milk powder in lower-fat milks in order to keep the consistency smooth, and these powders are made by spray-drying the milk proteins and fats, which oxidizes the cholesterol in them. Cholesterol is not harmful, but oxidized cholesterol is very dangerous and is linked to heart disease. Milk manufacturers are not required to list milk-powders on the label, so we have no way of knowing whether or not they are being used.

Yogurt should be chosen based on the above criteria as well - raw if possible, or pasture-fed non-homogenized organic, full-fat.  Choose natural rather than flavoured, as flavoured yogurts are simply pots of sugar. You can sweeten full-fat yogurts with fresh fruit, raw honey, or molasses instead.  Yogurts are fermented, which nourishes our gut with the healthy bacteria that is destroyed when on antibiotics.

One last thing.  Read the ingredient list on the dairy you choose, and select a brand that does not have extra stuff in it.  Many milks contain carrageenan, a common allergen.  Milk tastes just fine without it.

Related tips:
Saturated fat - the misunderstood nutrient
The Soy Controversy
High cholesterol does not cause heart disease
Sugar, the disease generator

Gonzalez F. et al. Grain feeding and the Dissemination of Acid-Resistant Escherichia coli from Cattle Science Washington, Sept. 11, 1998, Vol. 281, Iss. 5383: p. 1666-69. A study that shows the difference in e-coli levels between grass and grain fed cattle.
Online Schmidt, Ron The Safety of Raw vs Pasteurized Milk   The Untold Story of Milk NewTrends Publishing Inc. Washington, D.C.
Valenzuela, Alfonso et al. Cholesterol oxidation: Health hazard and the role of antioxidants in prevention Biological Research Vol. 36, no. 3-4 Santiago 2003.
Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Volume 6, Chapter 1, Subchapter E, Part 501. Item (3) states: Skim milk, concentrated skim milk, reconstituted skim milk and nonfat dry milk may be declared as "skim milk" or "nonfat milk. " Item (4) states: Milk, concentrated milk, reconstituted milk and dry whole milk may be declared as "milk."
Online Weston a Price Foundation Milk, it does a body good? It depends on where it comes from, doesn't it?
Fallon, Sally and Enig, Mary; Nourishing Traditions, Revised 2nd Edition NewTrends Publishing Inc., Washington, D.C., 2001.
Online Peat, Ray  Food-junk and some mystery ailments: Fatigue, Alzheimers, Colitis, Immunodeficiency
Chek, Paul; You Are What You Eat CD Series  Chek Institute, San Diego, CA, 2002. 
Price, Weston Nutrition and Physical Degeneration Pottenger Price Foundation, 1945.
Online at www.rawmilkfacts.com
Online at CTV.ca Black market for raw milk growing in Canada

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Copyright 2006 Vreni Gurd