Raw milk and other things

I’ve just started buying unpasteurised milk. I’ve been reading about the health benefits of raw milk and the loss of those benefits when you drink pasteurised milk. Raw milk contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes, including lactase to help digest the milk. When milk is pasteurised these bacteria and enzymes are destroyed. There are lots of websites giving information, and opinions, on the benefits of raw milk and raw milk products. This is one of them http://www.hookandson.co.uk/RawMilk/index.html and also http://www.westonaprice.org which also has a lot of interesting stuff on diet. Weston Price was an American dentist in the 1930s who visited indigenous peoples all over the world to investigate their ways of eating because he found that they had perfect teeth and bone structure and bodies that were in excellent shape generation after generation. They had no degenerative disease and there were no inherited defects. He put together a diet based on eating what he calls traditional foods, using the principles of the diets of primitive peoples i.e. those living apart from so-called civilisation.  

You can look on the Survival International website http://www.survivalinternational.org/ at the photographs of some of the few remaining indigenous people living in this way. It is striking how healthy they look and how beautiful they are. That is, the ones who have not been moved off their lands and on to Government-run reservations. Then they immediately have problems.

In fact, I used to travel 12 miles to a farm, when my children were very young, to buy raw milk. I mostly made yogurt with it, which meant that it was, of course, no longer raw, but it was delicious and the milk had not been processed in any way except by me.

Now I buy milk from Home Farm on the Goodwood Estate just outside Chichester. I’ve seen the cows in the fields and watched them trundling across the track (while I waited!) on their way to the milking shed. So I know they’re pasture (grass) fed and similarly the lambs which generously provide the meat I buy there. It’s worth looking into the issue of meat from grass-fed animals. The balance of the Omega 3 and 6 fats is as it should be because the animals are eating their natural diet. And of course they’re out in fields instead of being shut up in sheds and eating grain, which is not their natural diet and produces an unhealthy imbalance of essential fatty acids, which then gets passed to us if we consume their products. There’s an animal welfare issue there too. The animals obviously have a better time out in the fields and feel better eating their natural diet. They then live the life of an animal, rather than a food production machine.

There is a growing demand for raw milk and other dairy products. Selfridges in London started selling raw milk but then were stopped by the FSA (Food Standards Agency) who are currently considering the issue of raw milk. At the moment it’s only legally available to buy at the farm where it is produced. However, cheese made from unpasteurised milk is generally available in most supermarkets and certainly in specialist shops and delicatessens and some branches of Waitrose have started selling unpasteurised butter. I got some in Chichester. You can get salted or unsalted; it’s made in France, the label is Isigny Ste Mere and the salt is Guerande, which is untreated sea salt. So it’s good stuff and reasonably priced.

All of these are my personal choices. I’m finding out about and choosing what I want and at the same time supporting what I feel to be right. 97% of the food we buy now comes from the supermarkets. That gives them a lot of power to make choices for us. I think the remaining 3%, coming from farm shops, independent butchers, fishmongers etc, probably needs to grow a bit bigger. I use the supermarket because it is convenient but I also shop elsewhere when they haven’t got what I want or I don’t want what they have got. We are defined by the choices we make, in what we eat as much as in anything else. Let’s hang on to the power of choice. It matters. A lot.