Milk Debate: Is raw milk really any better for you?

As fresh as it gets!

As fresh as it gets!

Last week I posted about non-homogenized milk, and it got me thinking about the raw milk movement. Advocates claim it is a sort of magical elixir that can cure aliments like allergies and asthma. It contains proteins and compounds that stop the immune system from reacting to allergens and is full of enzymes and beneficial bacteria.

There are no studies that support these claims, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence. Some say “no one is allergic to raw milk” because of its live enzymes.  The lactase digests the lactose and the protease helps the protein and lipase digest the fat.

The CDC, on the other hand, warns against harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli and listeria, that might contaminate raw milk from the same source you’ve been using for years. They suggest that if what you are after is “good” bacteria, you could get if from fermented foods or yogurt instead.

Is raw milk truly dangerous? Well, the CDC claims that there were 2 deaths resulting from raw milk products (like milk and cheese) between 1998 and 2011. Since it is being used to “treat” sicknesses, it is possible that the two victims already had compromised immune systems. There were 2,384 illnesses and 284 hospitalizations in the same 13 year span. As risks go, I consider that to be pretty minimal. Of course, raw milk comes from farms full of animals and manure, so even the cleanliest dairies aren’t completely sanitary.

Should you drink raw milk? Perhaps if you prefer the taste and get it from a dairy that regularly tests its supply or if you truly believe it is benefiting your allergies. If you would feel devastated if your child were paralysed from raw milk tainted with campylobacter or needed a new kidney from a bad case of E. Coli, perhaps it is not worth the risk.

Where do you stand on the raw milk debate?

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Milk Debate: Is non-homogonized really any better for you?

My great uncle was an OBGYN and he always said that the homogenization of milk was one of the worst “advances” in science. He said the body was meant to process the small and large milk particles at different rates, and that homogenized milk had particles all the same size which meant the digestive system had to process them all at the same time. Or so it was explained to me.

To homogenize or not to homogenize?

To homogenize or not to homogenize?

Keep in mind that homogenization (making all the milk particles the same size so there is no separation) is not the same as pasteurization (heating milk in order to kill bacteria). Raw milk is non-homogenized and unpasteurized, where as non-homogenized milk has been pasteurized.

When I noticed they sell non-homogenized “Cream on Top” milk at our Trader Joe’s, I decided to give it a try on Franci in place of the more expensive Goat Milk. As Frances got a little older, I gave her homogenized milk and didn’t notice any difference in her digestion. What I did notice was a big difference in taste. I don’t drink a ton of milk myself, but I do put it in my coffee and on cereal. It could just be the fact that the non-homogenized milk is small batch and organic, but it is delicious!

It is also more expensive than homogenized organic milk. I decided it was time to do a little research and find out if I’m just paying for the delicious taste, or if it really is easier to digest.

During one double-blind test, there was no difference between symptoms when the testers drank homogenized versus non-homogenized milk. Of course, there were only 44 people in the study. I couldn’t find any better tests to report.

The homogenization process breaks the protective membrane made of proteins and other immune factors around the milk particles. Some studies suggest that this membrane has it’s own health benefits.

Other studies prove that homogenized milk is easier to digest. As much as I searched, I wasn’t able to track down these studies, despite them being referenced from time to time. There is a pretty good debate presented at for further reading

Since research suggests that the digestive properties of both milks are equivalent, are there reasons to choosing non-homogenized? If you are trying to eat “closer to nature”, yes. If you are not willing to risk raw (unpasteurized) milk but want milk that has gone through less processing, yes. If you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, stay away from both! If you’re like me, and prefer the taste, yes. Otherwise save yourself the extra dollar (or trip to the speciality market) and stick with organic milk.

Do you splurge on non-homogenized milk?

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The Newest Green Baby Has Arrived!



Last Wednesday, November 12th, the newest member of the Green Baby Guide was welcomed into the world.  Allison was born at home just before noon with the help of a midwife, assistant midwife and doula (and, of course, my husband and mom).  We are happy to say that this was our second home birth and our first water birth!

Mom and baby are recovering nicely with the support of friends and family. Big sister Franci is still adjusting to her new role and insists on touching her sister’s downy head as often as possible.

We are excited to meet all the challenges that come with a growing family, and I’m sure that Alli will provide plenty of inspiration for blogging!

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Best Parenting Advice

Eating in front of the TV? Not on my watch!

Eating in front of the TV? Not on my watch!

When we are about to become new parents, it seems like everyone has a piece of advice to share.  Although we may not agree with all of it, the best course of action is to just smile and nod.  I mean, there’s no point in arguing with the lady in line behind you at the grocery store!  Sometimes I like to pester seasoned parents for wisdom, just to hear what they have to say.  Who knows when that gem of advice will come my way?

Parenting books are another source of advice, and you can find one that suits all parenting styles.  Sometimes they really speak to you, and sometimes not.  I got a kick out of reading sleep books from both ends of the spectrum before Franci was born, since the advice from one completely contradicted advice from the other.

Whether or not I decide to follow the advice, I really don’t get sick of hearing it all.  Knowledge is power, after all.  And just because I disagree completely, doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything!

One piece of advice I find myself coming back to over and over is, “Begin as you mean to go.”  It means that it’s easier to take a stance now, instead of having to change it down the road.  It may take a lot of energy up front that you don’t really have, but you’ll see the pay-off eventually.  It goes hand in hand with, “Choose your battles.”  Decide what the rules are the moment it becomes an issue, and stick to it.  And if you don’t see yourself fighting that war down the road, for whatever reason, don’t half-ass it up front just to give up after a weak show.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you ever received?  How about the worst?

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Happy Halloween!

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