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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Raw Milk: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Written by Dale

Raw milk is more controversial than legalizing marijuana. In upcoming articles I will explore the various faucets of this hot issue. About 30% of my work at the University of Maryland is spent helping dairy farmers improve their profitability. I have worked on the old dairy collectives of Poland, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. I have toured the high technology automated milking systems (robotic) of Denmark and Holland. I have visited the grazing systems of New Zealand. I have seen the smallest and largest confinement and grazing dairy farms of the United States. The complexity of dairy farms absolutely fascinates me and I crave milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and sour cream. Dairy cows are the wet nurses of the human species and we owe them our love and respect.
I work with dairy farmers that want to sell raw milk and consumers that want to buy it. I work with farmer organizations and health department officials that want to keep raw milk sales prohibited. Before we discuss the controversies, let’s set the stage. Raw milk is not pasteurized or homogenized.
Pasteurization - Raw milk is heated (pasteurized) to kill the most harmful micro organisms or ultra heated (UHT) to kill almost all micro organisms. In 1924, the Food and Drug Administration developed the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance which has been adopted in full or in part by all 50 states. By law, milk must be pasteurized before it is sold in stores.
Homogenization - When milk is allowed to stand, the fat or cream rises to the top because it weighs less than the water and protein portion of the milk. To prevent this from happening, nearly all milk sold in stores is homogenized. The milk is pumped at high pressures through narrow tubes, breaking up the fat globules which will then stay suspended in the milk. Homogenization is not required by law. Homogenization makes processing simpler in delivering uniform dairy products to consumers. Consumers are use to it, and many would not want to go back to “cream line” milk.
In my next article I will discuss the “Good” of raw milk, that is, why do people want it and why do farmers want to sell it?
Holsteins – the “Mother of all milk cows”, very high efficient milk production. These cows are enjoying a tasty ration of corn silage, hay, and grains in a large, well run confinement dairy farm in Pennsylvania.




















Jerseys – compact producers of rich, high fat milk. These cows are enjoying fresh grass on the eastern shore of Maryland.





















Dale explains a robotic milking system to his university students.





















Dale’s students face off with a herd of Jersey cows. The farmer is explaining his organic pasturing system.




















14 comments:

megan said...

I'm excited for this series of posts since I have been thinking about this a lot lately and since eventually I want to have a family cow. Keep em coming!

mike said...

This is great Dale. I hope you discuss your ideas regarding the pros and cons of consuming milk with hormones. I have heard a lot of horror stories about milk that contains hormones and wonder how much truth there is to them.

Amy Olson said...

This is great. It is so difficult to find raw milk and equally difficult to make your own cheese without it.

Dale Johnson said...

Michael,

When I attended Cornell, a lot of research was being done there on BST. I am very familiar with a dairy farm that was a test farm for Monsanto when they developed commercial BST (Posilac which they have sold it to Elanco). So I have had an interest in it. Through much unbiased research there has been no evidence of any effects of drinking milk produced with BST. We can’t even detect it in the milk. At this point I have absolute no worries about drinking milk produced with BST. Of course, our science may improve in the future and we may find out that it has detrimental effects. But most milk now is produced without BST so it is a moot point. I personally don’t like BST. I feel that it pushes the cow’s production too much. But this is an economist talking and not an animal scientist.

RightHahn said...

My sister in law wanted to try some raw milk for her daughter, only to find out that it's illegal to sell raw milk off of a dairy farm in Texas. We found a lot of humor in this law, and the possible 'mocu-mentaries' that could evolve from it.

So...I'm very interested to see if you have any input on whether or not raw milk seems to help those with milk sensitivities, and ALL the info you are willing to share on the topic. It's very interesting!

Anonymous said...

i have been raised on raw milk, and am 72 now, many folks in the county never had store bought milk, and we all lived and maintained good health, they,( so I'm told and have read), they started pastureizing when there were city herds and sanitation was a great problem.
I drink raw milk and will continue to do so, it has helped many children health wise. Thanks Harry in Maryland

Julie said...

we LOVE RAW MILK!!!
Looking forward to future posts.

寶貝 said...

真正的愛心,是照顧好自己的這顆心。 ..................................................

Bethany said...

I became interested in this topic when I learned that my uncle, who for years thought he was lactose intolerant, found out that in reality he was experiencing an allergy to the penicillin given to cows. My aunt gave him organic, non-hsg milk and he was fine. Now, he's really allergic to penicillin, but I found it scary to think that I was slowly injesting antibiotics daily and was concerned about becoming immune. Rational or not I switched. After researching the issue more I learned about raw milk and currently believe, if the cows are properly pastured, that the most natural state of milk is best. But I'm very interested in this line of thought, especially in regards to any possibility of large scale production. Looking forward to more posts!

Bethany

Kalena Michele said...

I'm near the Mayfield Dairy Farm in Georgia (it's about an hour north). I wish they still delivered milk to everyone's door. That would be awesome.

Rocky said...

I am soooo happy about this topic.I live in NC so its very hard to get raw milk.Cannot wait to see what this topic brings out.

Dale Johnson said...

Kalena,

Near Frederick, Maryland, we have a dairy farmer that started delivering milk again door-to-door and he has a thriving business. The milk and other dairy products are expensive but they are good and people are willing to pay for the service.

Lindsay said...

I am looking forward to your posts!

Anonymous said...

I grew up on a small dairy farm in Northern NY. My dad was a brick layer and considered himself a hobby farmer. The hobby farmer is 65 today and still farms and milks his herd of 20 cows with my 66 year old mother. He is carrying on the tradition of his father. Technology never interested him, he was never in it for the money. Bigger was not better. He still uses his 3 old Surge milking machines, and the milk is dumped by a pail. And the machines, pail and bulk tank washed by hand. A mason jar now collects the raw milk for the fridge instead of a gallon jug like when my 3 siblings and I were all at home. Raw milk and water was the drink of choice in our house. We were all raised on raw milk. My Dad belongs to a co op, for a while it barely paid for the grain to feed his small herd. Perserverance through tough times.
I was blessed to grow up on this farm. I was lucky to have unlimited raw milk from a herd of dairy cows. One of the most glorious sights in this world to me is seeing a herd of dairy cows on a hot summer day, tails swatting flies, eating the sweet green grasses of Summer. Robert Duncan sets that picture in my mind with his paintings if I ever have the chance to forget what it was like. Simplicity.