Why I Drink Raw Milk

Written by contributor Tiffany Larson.

Part 1 of 2 in a series talking with Charlotte Smith, the owner of Champoeg Creamery.  Charlotte raises jersey cows in St. Paul, Oregon providing over 80 families a week with fresh, high quality raw milk, and here she discusses how her family got started with drinking raw milk.

Seven years ago, I had never even heard of raw milk. My two oldest children, then eight and eleven, had suffered from severe eczema – my oldest for six years and my younger son for three years. It was miserable, itchy,  painful and looked awful as well, as it completely covered my older daughter’s face. The only “remedy” doctors could offer was steroid cream that temporarily relieved the worst itching, otherwise we were told to just hope they’d outgrow it in their teen years.

As a mother I felt helpless and hopeless – I truly was not able to help my children! I researched everything I could within modern medicine regarding eczema. Then one day I was talking with my brother about it and he mentioned he’d recently been to hear Dr. Thomas Cowan, MD, speak about nutrition and health and that Dr. Cowan had specifically mentioned the link between raw milk and relief of eczema, allergies and asthma in children. I had not yet made the connection between a traditional diet and the immediate link to good health, but I was desperate to find relief for my children.

At this time, I thought I was eating healthy by having cold cereal or instant oatmeal for breakfast, organic mac and cheese for the kid’s lunch, low fat chicken breast and rice for dinner and limiting my diet Pepsi intake to one per day! I had no idea this processed, high-fructose corn syrup laden diet totally devoid of food in its original form was not contributing to our health but instead compromising our immune systems so we could not even maintain basic good health.

Photo by kthread

I researched the availability of raw milk in Oregon and found some within a thirty minute drive of our home. I had no expectations because for years every remedy had failed. But we brought it home and everyone had a glass a day. I was shocked when two weeks later my son came out of his room one morning and showed me the backs of his hands. For the previous three years they were constantly bloody and scabby from the incessant itching and for the first time his skin was smooth and the redness gone.

From the moment he started drinking the raw milk, this nutrition-packed food full of enzymes and bacteria our bodies need to thrive, had begun giving his immune system what it needed to heal. Within six months both his and my daughter’s eczema had subsided completely. At that time, this was the only dietary change we made.

After the first year of drinking raw milk I looked back and realized that we had had no ear infections or illness of any sort – the first year since I’d had children that we hadn’t had this experience of colds/flu through the winter. We used to get three to five colds per year, usually one round of antibiotics per person, and lots of down-time, missed school, missed work, and expense in co-pays and over the counter medications as well as prescriptions. Additionally, my seasonal hay fever had subsided. I was used to taking over the counter allergy medicine for four solid months of the year and had not needed one dose, even though we lived in the country surrounded by pollen-laden fields. Up until this time it was not unusual for me to go to the store and spend $40 a month on over the counter medications.

Our interview with Charlotte continues on Wednesday where we talk about how why she started her own creamery and what to look for when you want to buy your own raw milk.

Do you drink raw milk? Let’s discuss politely in the comments whether you’ve seen it benefit you in similar ways to what Charlotte experienced.

About Tiffany

Tiffany can’t remember a day of her childhood spent inside. She was riding bikes, rollerblading, building forts or playing in the snow. Her mother raised her on healthy food before it became popular and only when she had her first child, did the importance of a healthy lifestyle become a priority again. She is passionate about passing on her love for the outdoors and a healthy lifestyle to her two young children and her family spends their free time on the snow, water, dirt or road! She also loves interior design, reading, playing tennis, photography and has a small obsession with coupons. Tiffany can be found on Facebook at Mommy Goes Green and as a contributor at The Creative Mama

Comments

  1. My mom raised my brother and I on raw milk. Back in the 80′s, this was definitely not common. We actually moved out to a farm so that my mom could keep Jersey cows and give us fresh, raw milk. I so appreciate the effort she made.

    Now I live in China and have an almost-1-year-old. I am dreading starting her on cows’ milk because I really don’t know if there is a good option here. I can buy imported organic milk, but it is UHT (Ultra-high Temperature) pasteurized. Anyone have any good advice????
    Rachel @ The Travel Pen´s latest post: My Foray into Chinese Medicine

    • Kristen Papac says:

      Rachel: ferment milk that is not UHT. Make kefir or homemade yogurt. Not only will it give you beneficial bacteria, but it will keep longer :) Look to Nourishing Traditions cookbook for recipes, or the plethora of blogs online discussing traditional foods.

    • While living with locals in a village in Nepal that had no electricity I was served fermented milk or Kefir which was raw milk with a culture added to it that apparently overwhelms bad bacteria and creates an environment for good things to live in. They had no refrigeration but the Kefir lasted for a while and it also tasted really good. I looked into it returning to the states and now make kefir from raw milk daily as I like to have it as part of my diet. The cultures are available and kefir making is easy to do. I did drink milk right from the cow there once and had a day of misery following. They don’t have the most sanitary conditions while milking the cow or water buffalo.

  2. Interesting points to think about! I have never liked milk, so I don’t think I would try raw, but I do enjoy cheese made from raw milk. :-)
    Heather´s latest post: weekend

  3. I started my one year daughter on raw milk about three months ago. Ever since she has been born she has had numerous ear infections, RSV, pneumonia, one hospital stay, and countless colds! I bet she has been on antibiotics about 20 times in her 17 months of living. Its ridiculous! I also stated her on probiotics the same time as the raw milk. We have had one cold in three months. I can totally tell the difference in her conduct as well. She’s not as fussy and just seems happier. I’m excited to see how she will do this winter. :)
    Tammy Kay´s latest post: Redesign

  4. Throughout my life I have always been badly affected by cows milk. As a child I was brought up on fresh goats milk and never had a problem. I’m looking forward to reading part 2 to find out what exactly raw milk is. Is it the same as unpasturized milk? There has recently been some controversy around here (Ontario, Canada) about a gentleman selling unpasturized milk.

    • Raw milk is fresh milk straight from the cow, unpasteurized. Part 2 will give ideas on how to find a reliable source of Real Milk.

      You are referring to Michael Schmidt who owns a raw milk dairy in Canada and recently went on a hunger strike until he was successfully given a meeting with Premier Dalton McGuinty. Look for continuing publicity as we work to make safe, raw milk, real milk, accessible for those who want it.

  5. I knew that I should give it to my kids, but I didn’t know all the “why’s”. There is a gallon in my fridge now that we got from a local dairy store, but we only purchase it a couple times a month. I’m excited to try it on a regular basis and see if my sons eczema gets any better.

  6. Is the greatest benefit the result of replacing conventional milk with raw? Or when it says “this nutrition-packed food full of enzymes and bacteria our bodies need to thrive, had begun giving his immune system what it needed to heal.” Does that mean it’s a super food on its own?

    My oldest has off and on eczema. We keep it under control with very little dairy (organic), using probiotics, Vitamin D and essential oils. But I’d love to know if raw milk works beyond just as a substitute for conventional.

    Thanks for all the great info!

  7. I live in Costa Rica and we don’t have much trouble with Eczema here b/c my husband (who gets it the worst) usually only gets it in the cold dry weather of Chicago winter in the states. We have, like, 100% humidity and mild temperatures year round. I would love to find someone who could provide us with raw milk, though, just for the health benefits in general. Problem is, one guy who brings his cart up our way to sell his milk (raw or at least unpasturized, I think) takes some of the fat out. I KNOW he does this b/c my neighbor uses it and when I add it to coffee it looks like skim (I’ve never just drank it b/c it tastes so strongly). Plus it tastes like he feeds his cows in the onion fields or something… it’s got a REALLY strong flavor. Should raw milk have a stronger flavor and does it matter if its had fat removed? I would LOVE to find a reliable provider here!
    Caroline´s latest post: Five Minute Friday – Remember

    • What the cows eat (especially onions) can affect the flavor of the milk. Grass fed cows should produce milk that has almost no flavor. As you open it throughout the week and pour it, it ripens a bit and will develop more flavors, but should not be offensive.

      Drinking whole milk with the cream still in it is the most nutritious! You need the fat to metabolize the nutrition from the skim part.

      Keep searching and visiting farms to try to find a reliable source of grass-fed, whole milk.

  8. Fantastic story! My family has been drinking raw milk for almost 7 years now. We are so thankful to live close enough to PA that we can drive there and get it from a farm that has drop points all over the state. It’s been such a blessing! For us, it’s either we would drink raw milk or none at all.
    Sarah @ Real Food Outlaws´s latest post: Stuffed Acorn Squash

  9. I have been drinking raw milk for the past year, and recently talked to a farmer who told me something that disturbed me. She said that she got lyme disease from drinking raw milk from a cow that had been bit by a tick. She said there is no way to test the milk for lyme disease so there is no way to know if your milk is infected. Does anyone know anything about this?

  10. Very interesting. Thank you very much for posting. Have you had your children and yourself tested for food allergies as well? Eczema is one of the symptoms, as are asthma, breathing congestion, edemand, sudden weight gain and even misdiagnosed diabetes 2.

    • Luckily we have no symptoms of allergies, food or otherwise, now that for years we’ve been eating a traditional diet rich in fats from organic, grass fed animals (meat, dairy, eggs), soaked grains, organic veggies.

      Processed “foods” are what creates problems for us, so we avoid them and now our definition of “food” has changed.
      Charlotte Smith´s latest post: Fall On The Farm

  11. We started drinking raw milk a few years ago and absolutely love it. My husband can tolerate it perfectly, while pasteurized milk hurts his stomach right away. The best part is the cream on top! While there has been quite a bit of controversy lately, if you KNOW your provider (an actual visit to their farm, seeing the cows for yourself, where they are milked, etc.), ask questions, and trust him/her, then the risks are way lower than drinking pasteurized. It builds the local economy and sense of community, too! We are a part of a herd share here in Oregon, and they require an in-person visit to their place before you can sign up. That way, we all get to know each other.

  12. We began using raw milk three years ago or so, and it’s revolutionized our kitchen. We drink it fresh, use it for making yogurt and sour cream (and cheese, sometimes), and use the soured milk in baking as an alternative to store-bought buttermilk. We are so fortunate to have access to wholesome, delicious raw milk and beyond blessed to now have Charlotte as our farmer!
    Bethany ~ Sustainable Food For Thought´s latest post: A Community Garden Story

  13. We live on raw Goat’s milk and raw cheese…
    God is such a good provider of all that we need
    thefisherlady´s latest post: my favourite things/everything all glory grace

  14. i was raised on a dairy farm in vt.my sister was allergic to the fresh cow milk so my dad had pasterized milk dilivered and when we ran out he would bring in the fresh milk.when i was little i liked both but i grew to hate milk unless it had chocolate.now i drink soy or almond milk.oh and in my homestate they dilivered milk up into the late 1980′s.

  15. At age 5, my daughter had a near constant runny nose until we switched to raw milk four years ago. I think she’s had congestion 3 times since then. My son’s asthma and ear infections cleared up, too.

  16. I started buying raw milk for my family two months ago. My sons horrible allergies are nearly non-existant now, and it happened within the first week. I say “nearly” only because he still gets commercial dairy here and there when we’re away from home. As long as he’s eating only raw dairy, he has no symptoms at all. I have been living mostly vegan for the past couple of years after noticing what commercial meat and dairy were doing to me. I have never felt better on raw milk. My energy is sustained, my hormones are balancing, my stomach is so happy. I could go on with all the benefits I’m noticing. It’s been a God-send for us.

  17. we drink raw milk and love it. :) i’ve definitely seen an improvement in that my allergies are nearly non-existent now, even through hay fever season.
    reb´s latest post: November Etsy treasury, week one.

  18. We recently switched from store bought organic 2% to whole, cream-on-top, non-homogenized (but still pasteurized) milk from a local dairy. I know I want to eventually get to raw, but for now the cost is too great, so this seemed like a decent compromise. Is it, in your opinion? My sons do suffer from constant colds and various illnesses, but since making the milk change as well as soaking grains and heading towards more traditional foods, I have noticed an improvement.

  19. This is an awesome article. I just recently moved to the Central Coast of California, and there are lots of places that sell raw milk. I have to stay away from dairy for awhile, because my body is intolerant to dairy. However, I’m wondering if raw milk would be okay? Thanks for this great article. I’m looking forward to the second part on Wednesday. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather ;)
    Heather :) :) :)´s latest post: MY TEACUPS AND TEA THINGS & TEA TIME TUESDAY POST FOR NOVEMBER 8th.

    • Most people who are “lactose intolerant” of pasteurized dairy products find they can have raw dairy just fine. If you can find a good source of grass-fed raw dairy start with a small cup and see how your body handles it and then you will know
      charlotte smith´s latest post: Fall On The Farm

  20. Charlotte, what is your opinion on dairy consumption being a bit controversial–it not being good for us in general? I hear so many conflicting things and of course also get the comment “Cow’s milk was not made for human consumption” or “Humans are the only mammals that drink another mammals’ milk”. I enjoy dairy but also want to do what’s best for my kiddos, and am not sure I want them to be addicted to it if it’s not good for their bodies.

    Thanks in advance for taking the time out to write back!

    • Most people who are “lactose intolerant” of pasteurized dairy products find they can have raw dairy just fine. If you can find a good source of grass-fed raw dairy start with a small cup and see how your body handles it and then you will know :)

      • Sorry, Kelly, that first answer was meant for the post above yours.

        As a mom with now many years of experience I’ve learned to listen to what our doctors and others have to say, and then do my own research and be informed of all perspectives of a situation. When medicine couldn’t help my kid’s eczema and I began my own research, I realized there was a whole side of an issue I was missing out on.

        Information is empowering – there are many great websites that will inform you on the health benefits of raw dairy, and then you will have the confidence to make your own decisions. My family is thriving and a large percentage of our calories come from raw dairy products.

        Also, once you start researching this topic and changing your way of eating, you will find yourself surrounded by other like-minded women and healthy families. One of my favorite websites for this education is westonaprice.org
        charlotte smith´s latest post: Fall On The Farm

  21. We have been drinking raw milk for about a year and a half. My daughter (now 3 1/2) only had pasteurized milk for about 6 months, between breastfeeding and when we started raw milk. We used organic at the time, but that is the only time in that she ever had a cold. She has never had any type of infection (you can check out my blog for our favorite herbs to use when we’re sick) and her only stomach illnesses were during the pasteurized milk period. She is so healthy (as are my husband and myself) and I’m sure our second baby, due next week, will have an even more amazing immune system thanks to the raw milk I’ve had during this entire pregnancy! If we couldn’t get raw milk, we’d have to move someplace where we could have our own cow!

  22. I had been using raw milk for about a year, then stopped because I became lazy about going to get it. Now after reading this article I am convinced raw milk was the reason we didn’t have colds last winter. We are all getting over colds as I write this. You can bet I am starting us back on raw milk. Thanks for opening my eyes.

  23. Thanks for responding, Charlotte.

    That’s why I’m so confused. The “conventional” people in my lives say that dairy is fine (of course they’d never say raw dairy was ok!) but the “alternative” people such as both of my very informed, very crunchy midwives say that dairy is not good for humans. They do advocate for raw if you choose to eat/drink it, but overall they say to do minimal dairy. Hmph.

    So confusing!

    • My experience has been that the more people have researched raw milk and its health benefits the more supportive they are. If someone is anti-raw-milk you might ask them if they’ve ever read about the health benefits – Usually they have not and they are just responding to media hype. I usually gently steer them to some info online and most people are open to learning about it.

      There is a wonderful birthing center here – Zion Midwifery – and the owner as well as several other midwives come weekly to pick up their raw milk. They recommend all their mothers-to-be consume some kind of raw dairy, especially kefir and yogurt. So yes, there are so many people on both sides of the fence. You’re on the right track though, in educating yourself! It is important that you find a reliable source of raw milk.
      Charlotte Smith´s latest post: Fall On The Farm

      • I’m sorry Charlotte, I should have been more specific. I’m not talking about raw milk, just dairy in general. I fully believe in the benefits of raw milk!

  24. We’ve been drinking raw milk for over a year now and love it! Store-bought milk actually looks funny to me now. It’s too white. :)

    I do have to say that we still have the occasional rounds with colds. My oldest daughter even got the flu last year. But overall, the priobiotic benefits are incredible – not to mention the yummy taste.

    We are SUPER fortunate to live in a state where access to raw milk is easy and affordable. Don’t hate me, but I only pay $5 a gallon for freshly milk, organic raw milk!
    Megan at SortaCrunchy´s latest post: An INFP Goes To Church

  25. I have a couple of farms near to me where I can get raw milk, and I have gotten it before and used it in my coffee. I ‘ve heard so many horror stories of people getting sick (and dieing!) from raw milk consumption, so ultimately I get scared to drink it or give it to my son(who is 5). (does anyone else feel this way?) I also find it sours really quickly. Any suggestions to calm my nerves?
    Katie

    • Raw milk that has been handled properly will stay fresh in your refrigerator for two weeks – tomorrow’s part 2 will talk about how to find a reliable raw milk source. Also, your own fridge must be 40 degrees at the highest to keep the milk fresh.

      The Center for Disease Control reports that raw milk is responsible for “less than .000002 percent of the 76 million people who contract food-borne illnesses every year in the United States.” You are far more likely to acquire a food borne illness from anything sold in your grocery store than to get sick from raw milk. Like any “raw” food, proper handling is key. It must be handled carefully in a clean environment on the farm, chilled quickly to 37 degrees F. and then make sure you keep it chilled in your home.

      Hopefully you can see that knowledge is key – research raw milk, find a reliable source, use common sense in handling it, and you will confidently be able to enjoy amazing this healthy, traditional food.
      Charlotte Smith´s latest post: Let’s Make Butter!

  26. Raw milk would be wonderful, except that the sale of raw milk is illegal in my state (and I don’t live in an area where I could raise my own cow) :(

  27. Thanks for the post and the thread. My family drinks whole organic milk – and to be honest I had never given much thought to raw milk and its benefits. Its certainly something I will continue to explore.
    Angie (TheActorsWife)´s latest post: weekday routine update

  28. I DON’T drink raw milk…but I support your right to…
    I believe that people must have the right to eat & drink healthy natural food, whatever that means to them (vegetarian or not). We love our pastured eggs from a local farmer, and I could never imagine getting arrested for purchasing them, which would be akin to what’s happening with raw milk. Those who want to consume raw milk where it’s illegal may be able to do so by finding a cow or goat “share” arrangement. In CA, raw milk can be sold for “pet consumption”.

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