So I’ve decided to discontinue carrying pasteurized milk. I never felt good about carrying it, and I’m pulling the plug once what I currently have in stock sells. And just to maintain my reputation of long-windedness, here is why:
As is the case with many interesting (and tragic) stories, it all begins with alcohol. Distilleries and craft breweries were popping up all over the place in large northeastern cities in the early 19th century. Meanwhile, people were concerned about milk spoiling on the long journey between the countryside and the city. Distillers and brewers had a brilliant idea: why not start dairy operations adjacent to our breweries and distilleries so that we can just feed our grain waste to milking cows to provide the urban population with cheap, fresh milk. Since there were no pastures to graze on in Manhattan, the spent grain comprised 100% of the cows’ diet. Unfortunately, cows don’t very much like eating too much grain. In fact, it makes them terribly ill. On top of that, the cows were confined in tight quarters where they were knee high in feces. The resultant “swill milk,” as it was called, was dreadful. The distillers and brewers added chalk to hide the blueish tint, and molasses and salt to hide the taste. But, what’s far worse is that the milk was deadly. Thousands of children died in Manhattan alone. Not so brilliant an idea after-all.
In France Napoleon III commissioned microbiologist Louis Pasteur to save the French wine industry. Why was wine souring when kept in storage? Pasteur discovered that bacteria was the culprit, and he experimented with heating wine. It worked. Years down the line this method was applied to milk as a reaction to the dangers posed by swill milk. It was something that was hotly debated state to state. Many raw milk advocates believed it destroyed the nutritional content of the milk. Advocates of pasteurization claimed that it would save lives. While they were both correct, I think that Teddy Roosevelt’s surgeon general Walter Wyman put it best in 1908 when he wrote, “While pasteurization is not the ideal to be sought, practically, it is forced upon us by present conditions.”
We live in a different era now. Raw milk dairy farms are closely inspected on a regular basis. Bottling facilities are sanitized after every milking. The milk is regularly tested for pathogens. And cows freely roam on open pasture, feeding on their ideal food: grass. Pasteurization is only necessitated by the existence of unsanitary industrial agriculture. When things are the way that they are supposed to be with any type of food, processing, chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc are not necessary.
Pasteurization (and homogenization, but that’s another story-and A1 milk is another problem for another day) destroys most of the nutritional benefits of milk. I don’t have time to get into it all, but Realmilk.com is a great resource to understand the science. I highly recommend exploring the website.
I encourage you to try the raw milk from Kimberton Hills. I hope to increase the amount that I order to support this amazing farm and to spread the joy of drinking delicious and healthy raw milk.
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