Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

Raw Dairy

Ancient Culture

I am not Catholic.  I am pissed off.  I am giving up Monsanto for Lent.

This is Day 19.

…but it’s Sunday, which isn’t counted in Lent, so I’ll take a little holiday from talking about Monsanto.  I’ve been experimenting with some new sources of nutrition lately, including grassfed beef liver (fail) and raw milk yogurt (win).

I talked last week about the benefits of raw dairy, primarly to dispel the government-promoted myths about the “necessity” of pasturization.  Incidentally, did you know that pasturization destroys phosphatase, making calcium unavailable to the bones?  Said calcium is instead deposited in muscles, joints, and blood vessels.  Great.

Raw milk, on the other hand, offers not only a panoply of vitamins and minerals, but also beneficial enzymes and bacteria.  Better yet, the health benefits of raw milk are multiplied by the process of lactic acid fermentation — which is why I went hunting for a source of local, grassfed, whole, raw milk in the first place.  I wanted to make yogurt.

At first, the idea of intentionally leaving a quart of milk in a warm place for half a day sounded insane.  And disgusting.  But consider this:  Beneficial bacteria trump pathological bacteria every time. 

Here’s an experiment for you:  Set out a pint each of raw milk and pasturized milk.  Smell them after 48 hours.  Which would you rather eat?

Not only is raw, fermented dairy safe, it actally confers magnified benefits including enhanced nutrient bioavailablity, reduced lactose content (the friendly bacteria eat the milk sugar during fermentation, which is why yogurt tastes sour), improved intestional health, and strengthened immune system.  Read more on the subject in this excellent post by Emily Deans, M.D.  No wonder fermentation has been used for thousands of years not just for preservation, but for healing.

I took my first shot at homemade yogurt last Saturday, following this recipe from Nourished Kitchen.  The resulting product was tasty, flavored very much like the Greek yogurt I used to innoculate it. 

However, it wasn’t particularly pretty.  Unlike the thick, creamy product you buy at the grocery, my yogurt was rather runny, featuring small, white lumps floating in whey.  I gathered from a bit of googling that this is common.  Suggested solutions included:

  • Add powdered milk to the yogurt.  (Eww.  No thanks, for so many reasons.)
  • Use less starter, because the bacteria need elbow room to grow and using too much is counterproductive.  (Sounds reasonable.)
  • Add gelatin to the yogurt.  (Many reject this on textural grounds, and so did I.)
  • Use half milk, half cream to make yogurt.  (Sounds delicious, but expensive, and raw cream is hard to find.)
  • Add pectin to the yogurt.  (Ah.  There’s a thought.)

For yesterday’s batch, I modified my technique to implement #2 and #5 above.  I used 3 Tbs of live yogurt to innoculate the 1-quart batch (I didn’t measure last week, but probably used a bit more).  And, I added 2 teaspoons of pectin, dissolved in a tiny bit of warm water, to the heated milk just before putting it in the jar to ferment.

This morning, I have an improved product.  The flavor is milder (maybe a little too mild — I think I’ll let it ferment a couple hours longer next week) and the texture more consistent.  The lumps and watery whey are gone, replaced with a still-thin, but smooth and white, perfectly respectable yogurt.  (Next time, I might try adding a little more pectin to thicken it up more.)

I love how simple this is.  Active time?  About 20 minutes per batch.  Cost?  $3.99 for a half-gallon of raw milk.  That’s the price of a quart of pre-fab Greek yogurt around here.  Benefits?  Myriad.

I should note that fermented dairy is still insulinogenic (all dairy is), so it may not be the best choice for someone whose primary goal is loss of bodyfat.  In a metabolically healthy person, however, it looks like an ideal post-workout snack…which is exactly what I’ll be doing with most of mine.  It’s delicious over a few berries, topped with chopped, raw almonds.

Up next?  I have my eye on cultured butter ala Mark’s Daily Apple, maybe some goat cheese, and other fermented products like saurkraut and preserved lemons.

Tomorrow, though, it’s back to the Monsanto Project.  Be sure to check out the coffee posts if you missed them over the weekend.


The Raw Truth

I am not Catholic.  I am pissed off.  I am giving up Monsanto for Lent.

This is Day 12.

Ahh, Sunday.  Technically, Sundays are not counted in the official number of days that comprise Lent.  Opinions differ regarding whether one’s Lenten fast may be broken on Sundays.  Not that it matters; I’m not interested in a weekly Monsanto splurge.  I will, however, take advantage of this opportunity to write a post about something other than Monsanto. 

_________________

 I bought a half-gallon of raw milk on Friday.

OMIGOD-WE’RE-ALL-GONNA-DIE!!!

Yeah.  And the earth is flat.  It is also the center of the universe.  Furthermore, our government says raw milk is toxic.  Our government says pasteurized, homogenized, skim milk is a health tonic.  Our government cares about us.  Our government wouldn’t lie.  Let us bow before our government’s greatness.

Barf.

Okay, okay.  I’ll take off my bitch wig for a moment.  I understand the difficulty of looking beyond a lifetime of education about nutrition and food safety that says things like “fat is bad” and “raw milk is dangerous.”  But as the flat earth theory illustrates, the mere fact that a belief is dominant in society – and supported by the authorities – does not make it true.

I, myself, have largely avoided dairy (with the exception of organic butter and heavy cream) for many years.  At first, this was due to concerns about the carcinogenic effect of casein, milk’s predominant protein, thanks to the well-debunked China Study.  More recently, I learned that dairy is insulinogenic (causing a greater insulin spike than its sugars alone can account for) and capable of exacerbating an already-leaky gut.  All things considered, it seemed a substance best avoided.

The more I investigate the issue, however, the better I understand that pasteurized, homogenized, skim milk is as different from whole, raw milk as carrot cake is from carrots. 

Let’s look at the issues:

Dairy Intolerance — We’re all aware that many people don’t tolerate dairy well.  The products that upset their stomachs, erupt their skins with acne, and even spark allergic reactions are nearly always commercially mass-produced, pasteurized products.  It turns out that most individuals who are allergic or intolerant to pasteurized milk have no problems whatsoever with raw milk.

Why?  One of the predominant reasons is that pasteurization kills the enzymes present in raw milk.  These enzymes, left alive, produce lactase — precisely what is needed for the digestion of lactose.  Amazing.

Food Safety –  The FDA would have us believe that a sip of raw milk is bound to infect us with E.coli, listeria, salmonilla, or other harmful bacteria.  But guess what!  Various enzymes in raw milk, such as catalse and lysozyme, actively protect the milk from unwanted bacterial infection.  Pasteurization not only destroys these enzymes, but also kills beneficial bacteria in the milk, leaving it vulnerable to the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria.

Speaking of pathogenic bacteria, that’s exactly what you’ll find in milk intended for pasteurization.  Here’s why:

Large, commercial dairies typically feature “supercows” selectively bred to have overactive pituitary glands.  These cows are then treated with artificial hormones such as Posilac (a Monsanto rBGH).  The result is increased milk production of up to 13 gallons per day, which is more than twice the natural quantity.  The cows are not built to handle this overproduction.  Their udders become infected (mastitis), which results in the need for extensive antibiotic use — not to mention pain to the animals and pus in the milk

Raw milk, on the other hand, usually comes from small, local, responsible, farmers who provide their cattle with natural feeds and avoid the use of hormones and the antibiotics that are subsequently required.  Cleanliness standards at a quality dairy are considerably higher than those at a commercial dairy producing milk intended for pasteurization.

You might be interested to know that most outbreaks of disease related to contaminated dairy involve pastuerized dairy — and the pathogens involved sometimes show resistance to antibiotics.  Ouch. 

Basically, the only raw milk worth worrying about, from a safety perspective, is raw milk that was mishandled or intended for pasteurization.

Nutritional Benefits — Remember the carrot vs. carrot cake analogy?  When it comes to nutrition, there’s simply no comparison between raw and pasteurized dairy.  Raw milk is a whole, natural food. Pasteurized, homogenized dairy is a highly processed food whose benefits are largely replaced with costs.

– Raw milk contains all 22 amino acids, including the 8 essential ones; every known fat and water soluble vitamin (including A, C, D, E, K, B1, B2, B3 (Niacin), B6, B12 pantothenic acit, biotin, and folic acid); and numerous minerals (including sodium, potassium, chloride, iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and calcium).  Pasturized milk contains many of the same nutrients — but it lacks the carrier proteins that make them bioavailable. 

– Homogenization modifies the structure of milk such that its proteins can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream (leaky gut), the end result of which is autoimmune disease.  Raw milk is not homogenized.

– Enzymes in raw dairy aid digestion of the healthful proteins and fats naturally present in milk.  Pasteurized dairy lacks these enzymes.

– Dairy’s predominant protein is casein, which is demonstrably cancer-promoting.  However, milk also contains whey, which is anti-carcinogenic.

– Grassfed dairy is a rare source of Vitamin K2 (also present in goose livers, but who eats those regularly?), which is necessary for proper processing of calcium.  Basically, it helps the body direct calcium to the hard tissues, such as bones and teeth, rather than to soft tissues, like arteries, where it doesn’t belong.  K2 deficiency is common, and it is linked to heart disease and osteoporosis.

– The beneficial bacteria (aka probiotics) present in raw dairy but absent in pasteurized dairy have been demonstrated to relieve conditions ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to psoriasis to depression.

It’s this last benefit, the probiotics, that led me to purchase my half-gallon of raw milk.  I’m not going to drink the stuff; I’m going to ferment it. 

More on that next Sunday.

Meanwhile, feel free to read more from Raw Milk Facts.com.  We’ll get back to the Monsano Project Series tomorrow.


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