The presence of milk in our diet can be traced back more than 20 centuries to the time of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. He firmly believed in the healing powers of milk and this tradition was carried down through society over all those years until fairly recent times, when many questions were raised about the presence of diseases such as tuberculosis, believed to be passed through raw milk to humans. In truth, beginning in the 1900s, poor production processes lead to a significant deterioration in milk quality, as it was being distributed to the burgeoning population. Cattle were kept in awful conditions and often fed grain that was a byproduct of the alcohol distillation industry. The milk produced as a result of eating this slop was very poor in quality and had few other nutrients that would help our immune system to attain good health. As tuberculosis was becoming increasingly evident and infant mortality was on the rise, it was believed that the poor quality milk was the culprit. Not surprisingly, pasteurization was the answer, a process that heats the raw milk to extreme temperatures in order to destroy pathogens. At that time, and continuing into the 20th century, pasteurization was indicated for milk produced from cows that were not “certified.” Raw milk from healthy cattle was still deemed to be safe, so long as the farms had the all important certification.
The major problem with pasteurization is that it destroys many of the nutrients and microorganisms that give milk its undoubted health benefits, as initially revealed by Hippocrates all that time ago. Pasteurization destroys many of the enzymes needed to digest and reveal milk’s nutrients and this enzyme destruction causes lactose intolerance, as seen in certain parts of the population. If this wasn’t bad enough, vitamins such as B6 and B12 and minerals such as calcium are depleted or destroyed due to the pasteurization process. In summary of what is essentially a very complicated issue, excessive sterilization of the food and drink that we consume can often eliminate far too many of the important elements of bacteria beneficial to our digestion, detoxification and immunity.
In almost every way, grass fed milk is superior to grain fed or soy fed. Factory farming has a very bad reputation, as farmers feed cattle very unnatural and unhealthy diets that compromise the health of the animals and the quality of the milk that is produced. These poor practices include the introduction of antibiotics into the diet of the cattle, as well as hormones in many cases to increase the amount of milk they produce. As each cow is forced to produce more milk, the amount of vitamins that are included in the milk is proportionally decreased. Conversely, grass fed cattle produce milk with higher concentrations of vitamin A and vitamin D, essential to our health.
There has been a trend in recent times toward the production of organic food and drink, but that is not necessarily the answer either. Even though the USDA certifies organic milk production, we find that some cattle herds are still fed on grain. When we hear that some organic brand manufacturers ultra pasteurize milk, we wonder whether this is of less value to us, as it is supposed to destroy even more nutrients than the process of pasteurizing milk!