why we drink raw milkThe consumption of dairy products has been a mainstay for as long as mankind has been able to capture and milk animals of all kinds. Sheep, goats, cows, bison, water buffalo, donkeys and horses. All are still milked to this day. There may be others. These are the ones of which I am aware. I want to talk about this tradition that has helped our species thrive and develop over the centuries and millennia. 

But first, I want to take that blessed moment to say welcome to all the new listeners and welcome back to you veteran homestead-loving regulars who stop by the homestead every week. I appreciate you all so much. I’m so excited to share with you what’s going on in our neck of the woods this week.

Today’s Show

  • Homestead Life Updates
  • Why We Drink Raw Milk
  • Traditional Kefir Recipe

Homestead Life Updates

Oh my gosh, is it hot where you are? Whew!! We’ve been experiencing a real heat wave here. Temperatures that are normal for late July and August. Thank goodness that we will be back to normal for next week. Highs in the high 70’s and low 80’s. Today is great. The 90-degree days drained the energy right out of me. I expect that in the middle of summer. But come on, it’s still 3 weeks until the summer solstice.

Garden and Orchard

Speaking of draining energy. The garden is burning up. Well is would be if we weren’t diligently watering every day. The orchard too. And the weeds are still progressively taking over. This time of year I’m really pressed for time. Milking twice a day. Making cheese. Going to the Farmer’s Market and on and on. As I’ve said before, the garden gets pushed down the list of priorities.

This too shall change in the future. It takes a lot to get a business off the ground. Once we are more established, we can let up a little bit, I think.

Creamery

A little progress has been made on the creamery. It is still creeping along compared to the plan that Scott originally made, but it is what it is and we persevere. It’s the journey that is important. It’s the system that we are setting in place that is important. Goals come and go, but the system remains.

Animals

We still have a couple of baby bulls for sale. If you are looking to improve the beef and dairy genetics of your herd, the Normande cow is a good bet. Visit our website at www.peacefulheartfarm.com and go to the contact page and let us know of your interest. We also have a 1-year-old and a proven 2-year-old bull that are available. As we move to AI for our very small herd, we no longer need bulls. One less thing to keep up with.

We have our ground beef on sale $6.00 for one pound, $250 for 50 pounds and $500 for 100 pounds. We also have a few – very few – lambs available. Again, go to the website and let us know of your interest in a whole or half lamb. $380 for a whole lamb and $200 for a half. www.peacefulheartfarm.com

Alright that’s it for homestead updates. Let’s get on to the topic at hand.

Why We Drink Raw Milk

I’m going to talk about why we consume dairy products; the benefits. Our dairy products come straight from our grass-fed cows with no alteration from their live state. It’s all about the nutrition. Traditional foods raised using traditional methods produces that traditional robust health of days gone by. I’ll get to the specific health benefits in a moment.

If you’ve been told that drinking raw milk is dangerous, you’ll be surprised to know that you’ve been misled.  The truth about raw milk? An extensive look into research and claims made by the FDA and CDC related to raw milk being dangerous have been found to be completely unwarranted. It actually benefits your body in many ways, and although it might have earned a reputation among some for being dangerous, you shouldn’t miss out on all this amazing superfood has to offer because raw milk benefits are truly impressive.

What is “raw milk” exactly? It’s milk that comes from grass-fed cows, is unpasteurized and unhomogenized. This means raw milk contains all of its natural enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals — making it what many refer to as a “complete food.” Eggs fall into the “complete food” category also. Everything needed for growth and health is contained in the package. No need for sterilization or added sugar.

But can’t raw milk cause problems due to the risk of consuming bacteria? The risk of this happening is very, very low. In fact, according to medical researcher Dr. Ted Beals, M.D., you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk. Reference in the show notes. You can get sick from consuming any food. Your risk of illness from raw milk is quite small. The CDC reports that there are an estimated 48 million foodborne illnesses diagnosed each year. Yes, your heard that right. 48 million. Of these 48 million illnesses, only about 42 (about 0.0005 percent!) each year are due to consumption of fresh, unprocessed (raw) milk.

Dr. Chris Kesser did a thorough investigation to get the true impact of raw milk illness and death (as the CDC makes it sound inevitable). He found that your chances of becoming hospitalized from a bacterial illness caused by raw milk is three times less than your chance of dying in a plane crash.

The statistics indicate that most accusations and concerns over raw milk have been overstated, and because of that its health benefits remain underrated. Raw milk benefits are numerous and can help address a large number of nutritional deficiencies that millions of people, especially those eating the standard American diet, are currently experiencing. For instance, raw milk benefits allergies and skin, all while containing beneficial nutrients available in a living product.

Five Benefits of Raw Milk

1. Reduces Allergies

Studies now suggest that children who drink raw milk are 50 percent less likely to develop allergies and 41 percent less likely to develop asthma compared to children who don’t. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology involved 8,000 children with various diets, and one of the conclusions that researchers made was that by drinking raw milk, children experienced “naturally immunizing” effects.

As documented on the Real Milk.com website, many other studies carried out over the past century have shown that raw milk benefits and supports children’s growth and development in other ways too. Examples are: increased immunity against infections, dental health boosted and support for skeletal growth. Again, reference in the show notes.

You might be wondering: How can raw milk reduce allergies, and isn’t dairy tied to high rates of intolerance or sensitivities? Nutrients like probiotics, vitamin D and immunoglobulins (antibodies) found in raw milk naturally boost the immune system and reduce the risk of allergies in both children and adults. Enzymes found in raw milk help with digestion but are often reduced or destroyed during pasteurization. Without those enzymes, lactose intolerance is much more likely.

2. Helps Improve Skin Health

Dairy might have a bad reputation when it comes to causing or worsening acne and skin inflammation, but this is far from the case with raw milk. As I’ve said, the benefits of raw milk are numerous, but surprisingly one of the most common reasons that people consume it is to benefit their skin. The success stories of people consuming raw milk to improve conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne are very widely reported.

Raw milk benefits the skin for the following reasons:

  • It contains healthy fats: Because raw milk contains large amounts of healthy saturated fats and omega-3 fats, it supports skin hydration. 
  • It supplies probiotics: Probiotics in raw milk can kill off or balance bad bacteria in your gut, which can dramatically affect the health of your skin. Research shows that inflammation and unbalanced gut flora contribute to skin issues such as acne and eczema.

3. Helps Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies 

According to the USDA, nearly 300 calories a day in the average American’s diet (out of a total 2,076 calories) can be attributed to added sugars or sweeteners. In comparison, nutrient-rich foods like raw dairy, fruits and vegetables only contribute about 424 calories.

One serving of raw milk contains about 400 milligrams of calcium, 50 milligrams of magnesium and 500 milligrams of potassium. These minerals are vitally important for cellular function, hydration, building bone density, blood circulation, detoxification, muscle health and metabolism.

4. Can Be Used to Make Probiotic Foods

Probiotics are microorganisms that line your gut and support nutrient absorption. They also help protect you from foreign invaders like E. coli and parasites. The best way to include probiotics in your diet is to get them in their most natural state, which includes raw milk products, such as cheese, kefir and yogurt. Real, raw and organic probiotic yogurt, cheeses and kefir have been consumed by some of the healthiest populations living around the world for thousands of years. Some disorders probiotic foods are known to help with include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Skin infections
  • Weakened immune system
  • Urinary track infections
  • Vaginal yeast infection

5. Doesn’t Contain Added Sugar or Synthetic Ingredients

In addition to pasteurization, conventional milk also usually undergoes a homogenization process. Homogenization is a high-pressure process that breaks down fat into tiny particles — however, fat subjected to high heat and pressure becomes oxidized and rancid. Many low-fat dairy products also have thickening agents added to make up for lost texture. Raw milk needs no added thickeners or shelf-stabilizers and also doesn’t contain added sugar or flavors.

Most foods have some levels of natural sugar, including raw dairy, which has the type called lactose. The natural sugar in dairy is balanced with other nutrients and therefore not a concern (even healthy for you in moderation).

Raw Milk Nutrition Facts

Raw milk is truly one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world and has a nutritional profile unlike any other food. I understand if you’ve been cautious in the past about drinking raw milk because of all the negative media it might have earned. Let me help ease your mind. As a species we have been drinking this luscious, delectable beverage for thousands upon thousands of years. Today more and more people are drinking raw milk. We are slowly getting back to wholesome, unadulterated food that has served us for millennia. Over 10 million Americans now drink raw milk on a regular basis. They do so because of the benefits which include:

  • Healthier skin, hair and nails
  • Nutrient absorption
  • Stronger immune system
  • Reduced allergies
  • Increased bone density
  • Neurological support
  • Weight loss
  • Help building lean muscle mass
  • Better digestion

What exactly makes raw milk such an incredible superfood? Let’s take a look at its unique nutritional profile, and it will become clear.

Raw Milk Benefits: Nutritional Profile of Raw Milk

Fat-Soluble Vitamins A, D and K2

Because raw milk comes from cows or goats grazing on grass, research studies have shown that it contains a higher level of heart-healthy, fat-soluble vitamins than milk that comes from factory-farm cows. These vitamins support the brain and nervous system and are crucial for development, focus and brain function. Fat-soluble vitamins also support bone density and help naturally balance hormones.

Short Chain Fatty Acids, CLA and Omega-3s

In addition to being high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, raw milk from grass-fed animals is a rich source of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that’s widely known to control health issues related to inflammation, slow metabolism and stress resistance. Additionally, raw, grass-fed milk is packed with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has been tied to cancer prevention, healthier cholesterol levels and can even help reduce body fat.

Essential Minerals and Electrolytes: Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium

Raw milk is one of the highest sources of minerals and electrolytes, of which many people need more.

Whey Protein and Immunoglobulins

By far, the best-tasting curds and whey protein come from our raw milk. CHEESE. Also, whey protein is fantastic for anyone who’s looking to burn fat and build or retain lean muscle. Whey is high in the following enzymes: alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin and immunoglobulin.

Probiotics: Kefir, Cheese and Yogurt

Probiotics are only found in small amounts in raw milk, but when you ferment raw milk to make foods like kefir, yogurt or cheese, the good bacteria dramatically increase. In fact, there are no other foods in the world as naturally high in probiotics as cultured dairy products.

And these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to raw milk benefits.

Raw Milk Benefits vs. Conventional Milk

Let’s compare. Dairy products have gotten a bad rap over the years, but this is actually mostly due to the pasteurization process. When milk is pasteurized, it destroys many of the nutrients that make raw milk beneficial. Why is pasteurization even performed in the first place then? Because it exposes milk to very high temperatures, it can also kill harmful bacteria that are possibly able to make their way into the milk. However, as I mentioned before, it’s very rare for these types of bacteria to be found in milk to begin with. There are other options to ensure the bad bacteria doesn’t get into the milk in the first place.

Key nutrients and enzymes are greatly reduced during the pasteurization process. If you consider the fact that many of these nutrients are not only reduced, but altered from their original states, you can understand that some of these nutrients are completely unavailable for your body to use and can be very difficult to digest for many people.

Allergies and lactose intolerance are higher with pasteurization as well. Another major negative of pasteurization is that it destroys the digestive enzymes needed to break down and absorb certain nutrients. In the previously mentioned study, researchers found lactase (the enzyme in dairy) levels are greatly reduced with pasteurization, which is one explanation as to why so many people are lactose-intolerant. A survey conducted by the Weston A. Price Foundation found that of 700 families interviewed, amazingly about 80 percent of those diagnosed with lactose intolerance stopped having symptoms when they switched to raw milk.

Raw Milk Nutrients

To put things into perspective, according to medical studies, the following nutrients in raw milk are 100% fully active and during pasteurization they are altered or destroyed:

Vitamin A, 35% reduction; Vitamin C, 25-77% reduction; Vitamin E, 14% reduction; Iron 66% reduction; Zinc, 70% reduction; B-Complex Vitamins, 38% reduction; Calcium, 21% reduction; Enzymes, 100% destroyed; Immunoglobulins, damaged; Whey Protein, denatured.

Again, all of these nutrients are 100% active in raw, unpasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk is a lesser product. As I mentioned earlier, they end up adding stuff to a product that was perfect before pasteurization – unless contaminated by careless practices.

Our Herd Share Program

Want to have the freedom to consume raw milk? Join our herd share program. Own part of our cow herd and enjoy the benefits that we do every day. During the summer we have fresh milk, yogurt, butter and sometimes a bit of cream, while in the winter we have aged cheese and more butter.

The way it works is that you buy into our herd of dairy cows. We will care for them for you and we will gather the milk benefits for you. We will even process those benefits into fermented products such as yogurt and cheese. For a full share in the herd it is $60.00. A half share is $30.00 and you can also choose multiple shares. One and a half is $90. Two is $120.00 and so on. Once you own part of the herd, you simply pay us a maintenance and service/processing fee on a monthly basis. A full share is $44.00 per month, a half is $22.00 per month, 1 and a half is $66.00 per month, 2 shares is $88.00 per month and so on.

What you can expect to receive from your cows is milk, yogurt, cheese, and sometimes butter and cream. Every week I will let you know what is available and you choose how you want to receive it. Choose 1 item from the full share list or two items from the half share list.

We milk the cows seasonally which means your cows will provide you with milk and yogurt from the first week of May through the last week of October on a weekly basis. For the other six months we will continue to store and manage your cheese and butter. You can pick up your share twice monthly at the Farmer’s Market in Wytheville or from the farm.

That’s it. For more information, go to www.peacefulheartfarm.com/virginia-herd-shares. And feel free to call or email me with your questions.

How to Make Traditional Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, a specific type of mesophilic symbiotic culture. The drink originated in the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Russia, where it is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep milk with kefir grains. These instructions will be for cow’s milk kefir.

Milk kefir is not only easy to make, it is a delicious, probiotic-rich, versatile beverage your whole family can enjoy. This recipe uses the direct starter culture. You will not have to maintain kefir grains. Perhaps you can learn that a little later.

What You Need

Equipment:

  • Glass or plastic container
  • Plastic, wood, or stainless-steel stirring utensil
  • Coffee filter or cloth
  • Rubber band to secure the cover

Ingredients:

  • 1-quart raw cow milk (Needs to be very fresh. Don’t wait as the competition between beneficial bacteria is quite fierce. 😊)
  • 1-packet of Direct-Set Kefir Starter Culture (Google it to find a source you like. Remember “starter” culture, not kefir grains.)

What To Do

  1. Pour 1-quart milk into a glass or plastic container
  2. If milk is refrigerated liquid, heat to room temperature or 70º-75ºF
  3. Add 1 packet kefir starter culture and stir gently until the culture is fully dissolved.
  4. Cover the container with a coffee filter or cloth, secured with a rubber band, and place in a warm spot, 72º-74ºF, for 12-16 hours.
  5. Cover finished kefir with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator.
  6. The culturing process is complete when the milk thickens to the consistency of buttermilk or heavy cream.

Notes:

RECULTURING THE KEFIR

Kefir made with a direct-set style starter culture can often be re-cultured anywhere from 2 to 7 times. The exact number of successive batches will depend on the freshness of the kefir and hygienic practices employed. Be sure to re-culture within 7 days. Longer periods between batches may not result in successful batches.

  1. Pour 1-quart milk into a glass or plastic container
  2. If using a refrigerated kefir, heat to room temperature or 70º-75ºF
  3. Add ¼ cup prepared kefir from the previous batch and stir gently.
  4. Cover the container with a coffee filter or cloth, secured with a rubber band, and place in a warm spot, 72º-74ºF, for 12-16 hours.
  5. Cover finished kefir with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator.

You now have a healthy probiotic drink. Enjoy!

Final Thoughts

The homestead keeps on keeping on. Things are moving so quickly these days. There are not enough hours in the day to do all the tasks that need doing. Every once in a while, we stop and “smell the roses” so-to-speak. It’s up to us to make that happen. When you have your own homestead, you are fully in charge of your life. It’s a wonderful thing.

We love our milk. It is produced from cows that have been grass-fed and raised in humane conditions. We drink our milk unpasteurized and it retains all of its natural nutrients and benefits.

Raw milk benefits include improved immunity, healthier skin, reduced allergies, healthier growth and development, lower risk for nutrient deficiencies, and much more. Your mileage may vary.

Real milk has been consumed safely for many centuries. We have a limited number of herd shares available. If you want the benefits I’ve described here, see me at the Wytheville Farmer’s Market or come to the farm during our store hours and talk with me about your needs and the needs of your family. 

You can use your wonderful milk to make that kefir and provide even more healthy benefits to your family.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please hop over to Apple Podcasts, SUBSCRIBE and give me a 5-star rating and review. Also, please share it with any friends or family who might be interested in this type of content.

As always, I’m here to help you “taste the traditional touch.”

Thank you so much for stopping by the homestead and until next time, may God fill your life with grace and peace.

References

Recipe Link

Traditional Kefir

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