Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Getting To Know Your Milk

Milk has been in the diets of many people since the beginning of time. It is the first food that babies consume when they are born and it is consumed throughout growing years and adulthood. Milk and milk products are mentioned many times in the Bible and it's usually as a reference to God's providence and blessings to His people.

"And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey." - Exodus 3:8

"Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate." - Genesis 18:8

"Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation." - 1 Peter 2:2 

As a new baby longs for mother's milk, so every Christian is to desire God's Word. The way God uses "milk" as a metaphor in this verse is fascinating. To me it means that milk is highly valued. And we know in Biblical times that having lots of cattle and sheep meant wealth. Milk is good. The way God created milk is perfect, rich in naturally-occurring nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. That is, raw milk - unprocessed, unadulterated, full-fat milk that are naturally produced from animals who live and eat on pasture. Mother's milk is a form of raw milk. It's as natural as it can get and is perfect for newborn infants, providing all the nutrients that they need without having to alter or process anything. You can read all about raw milk here.

Notice the layer of cream on top.
It's what raw milk or non-homogenized milk looks like.

Pastured Whole Milk Supplies:

- Calcium, for bone strength and protects against bone loss. A study showed that adults who drank raw milk absorbed more calcium from the milk than those drinking pasteurized milk.
Vitamin A, which supports vision, calcium and mineral absorption, bone growth, cell division and differentiation, hormone production, thyroid gland, and vital to the immune's system's production of white blood cells.
Vitamin Dis important for phosphorus and calcium absorption which builds your bones, helps your body deal with stress, and is needed to produce insulin and a variety of hormones. 
- Enzymes, which assimilate the milk's various components, making it easy for you to digest.
- Glycosphingolipids, fats that protect against gastrointestinal infections, especially in the very young and the elderly. Children who drink low-fat milk have diarrhea more often than those who drink whole milk.

But that's not what it's like today. What was once highly valued is now demonized, declared as bacterially unsafe, disease-causing and fattening product to consume. We rarely know people who drinks full-fat (whole) milk, what more raw milk. The conventional "fresh" milks that we see in the supermarket are low in nutritional values because they come from cows who live in confinement, cramped against one another, never in their lives see the sun or eat green grass but grains and manure, injected with hormones and antibiotics, and they are over-worked to produce much more milk that they can naturally produce so the manufacturers can make as much profit as possible. It's unnatural and completely the opposite of what God created them for. 

Problems With Conventional Milk:

- Pasteurization, which destroys the beneficial enzymes that aids in digestion. Our body needs to work harder to supply its own enzymes to break down the milk protein, sugars, and fat. Pasteurization takes away the important nutrients from raw milk, making it less effective in inducing height increases in children and promoting healthy bone growth. 
- Ultra pasteurization (UHT). Even worse than pasteurization is ultra pasteurization. Milk is heated at a very high temperature to extend shelf life which milk manufacturers love because they can ship UHT milk all over the world without the high cost of refrigerated transportation. You can't make yogurt with UHT milk and "since ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk will not adequately support microbial life, it is unlikely that it will adequately support human life either." (source)
- Homogenization, a process which is deemed as unnecessary and leads to milk related allergy and heart disease. A good read on whether homogenization is dangerous.
- Adultered. Many conventional milk has synthetic vitamins added back in to make up for the loss during pasteurization. Synthetic vitamin D is less digestible (or may even be indigestible), thus it can't absorb the calcium in milk.
- Unhealthy cows. Cows are supposed to eat grass, but in reality most cows don't. They eat a mix of grains, dirt, and manure, which equals to less nutrients, more bacteria, and more diseases. The cows are injected with hormones so that they produce more milk than they naturally can, which dilutes the nutrient content, giving you less vitamins per glass of milk. A study showed that milk from barn-raised cows contained less available calcium than milk from pasture-raised cows.
- Milk companies focus on profit, not our health.

Where To Buy Milk From Pasture-Fed Cows?

If you're blessed to live in a place where raw milk is available and purchasing is legal. You can check here or here to look for raw milk sources. Unfortunately in Singapore, it is most likely impossible to get raw milk. All of the milk I've seen are pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized, although there are some that are not homogenized. So given what is available, if you still like to drink cow's milk, I would say the next best thing would be to consume:

- Pasteurized, non-homogenized whole milk from pasture-raised cows: Straus brand from Super Nature or B.-d. Farm Paris Creek brand from Nature's Glory. I've tried drinking Straus a few times but I have a hard time with the taste and the milk tasted sour a majority of the time when I purchased it. B.-d. Farm Paris Creek milk is the one I'm currently giving my toddler since weaning her off breastmilk.
- Pasteurized, homogenized whole milk from pasture-raised cows: I haven't found any that fit this category. 
- Ultra-pasteurized, homogenized whole milk from pasture-raised cows: Organic Valley brand from Cold Storage or Market Place. 

Many health advocates would say that if we can't raw milk, don't bother drinking milk at all. It's a statement that is hard for me to take and I don't know enough to agree or disagree with this, but there are other alternatives that we can pursue to get the important enzymes, vitamins, and minerals from dairy (unfortunately for some of us who love soy milk, it is not one of them):

- Nut milk (almond, hazelnut, etc.), which offer nutrients from nuts, protein, good fats, and calcium. Unfortunately, we don't know how store-bought nut milk is made. Nuts need to be soaked to reduce the anti-nutrient content and for easier digestion. You can try making your own nut milk here.
- Coconut milk tonic.
- Full-fat yogurt from pasture-fed cows. Super Nature sells Barambah Organics pastured yogurt and Market Place and Cold Storage sell Stonyfield yogurts.
- Kefir
- Butter and cheese from pasture-fed cows.

What do you think of consuming raw milk?


  1. I chance upon your site while looking for milk. Have you ever thought of Organic Whole Milk? I was thinking of getting them to do some homemade yogurt. What's your take on that?
    Many thanks!

    1. Hi,
      Yes, we drink whole milk that comes from grass fed cows (it's organic). I have not made yogurt before but I make milk kefir, which has probiotic values like yogurt, using grass fed whole milk (Paris creek brand). Most organic milk sold in the supermarket is UHT and it can't be used to make yogurt or kefir because it is highly processed and devoid of nutrients and naturally occurring bacteria: http://pastureliving.blogspot.com/2014/05/introduction-to-water-kefir-milk-kefir.html?m=1

  2. What about goat milk available from dairy farm? Would it be a good substitute since it's fresh from the farm?

    1. Do you mean Hay Dairies? Their goats feed on hay, not grass unfortunately.

    2. Do you mean Hay Dairies? Their goats feed on hay, not grass unfortunately.

  3. Hi, i am wondering milk from viknesh dairy farm located at lim chu kang. It provide raw milk.non pasteurized and homogenized. Whats your thought on that