Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

The Real Story of Homogenized Milk, Powdered Milk, Skim Milk and Oxidized Cholesterol

June 23rd, 2010 · 115 Comments · Science of Nutrition

image Milk has been through a lot in the past 100 years. First it was subjected to pasteurization, then homogenization, then oxidation. Will the -ations ever end?

The question for us milk drinkers is of course: when does a change cause a nutritional problem?

Some say that pasteurization already kills too many healthy enzymes; see more on the different kinds of milk pasteurization in yesterday’s post.

Is Homogenized Milk Dangerous?

I joined the crowd warning of the health dangers of homogenized milk when I talked dairy fats in the fall. This post is an important update to that one!

There’s a theory out there, propagated by Kurt Oster, that says that the process of breaking the fat globules into such small pieces that they remain suspended in the milk, homogenization, is a leading cause of arteriosclerosis and heart disease. I’ve even seen it listed as one of the top three causes of heart disease, along with trans fats and chlorinated water. 1

However, even Mary Enig, co-author of Nourishing Traditions and author of Eat Fat, Lose Fat disagrees with Oster’s findings. She says:

In essence, Oster’s theory replaces cholesterol as the cause of heart disease with another mechanism, summarized as follows:

Homogenization causes a supposedly “noxious” enzyme called xanthine oxidase to be encapsulated in a liposome that can be absorbed intact.

XO is released by enzymatic action and ends up in heart and arterial tissue where it causes the destruction of a specialized protective membrane lipid called plasmalogen, causing lesions in the arteries and resulting in the development of plaque.

Translation: the fats damaged by homogenization can be passed through the walls of the digestive system directly into the circulatory system, where they “scratch” the artery walls, making a problem area to which cholesterol flocks (cholesterol is like the ambulance or mechanic in your circulatory system, repairing issues in the arteries). This forms plaque and causes heart disease, and it’s all because the fat globules got too small.

But.

He was wrong.

Mary Enig says so here, and I also spoke with a professor in the department of Food Science & Human Nutrition and Department of Animal Science at my favorite agricultural college, Michigan State University. Dr. John Partridge is a Dairy Food Extension Specialist, and he had this to say about concerns about oxidation of homogenized milk:

Homogenization is done by forcing milk through a small geometry valve at very high pressures (1500-2500 psi).  The effect of this treatment is to break the natural fat globule (average size ~10 micrometers) into  much smaller fat globules (average size <2 micrometers).  In doing this the fat globule membrane is broken and the surface area of the new fat globules is much larger than the native globules.

Within the first 10-20 seconds after homogenization, proteins and segments of the original membrane form a new membrane on the surface of the smaller fat globules.  The addition of the protein to the surface of the fat globules and the reduction in the size of the globules results in the reduction in the ability of the globules to float to the top of the milk.  During this process, the milkfat is not exposed to air as the process is done in an air tight system containing only milk.  Milkfat is made up of 98% triglycerides, which are extremely stable to changes during processing.  The only way that milk will spoil faster after homogenization is if the homogenizing system is not properly cleaned and sanitized.

Another factor that may be thrown out is the xanthine oxidase.  Dr. K. Oster proposed a theory in 1971 that xanthine oxidase released from the milk fat globule membrane during homogenization was a contributor to atherosclerosis.  To this end, I would have you read the following review article.

There is not much if any support for this theory but a lot of people are still using it to scare customers into paying higher prices for cream-line milk.

Dr. Partridge drinks homogenized store milk himself, although he said he has to take the jugs from the back to avoid the “light oxidized flavor that is prevalent in milk stored under direct fluorescent lighting.” This is not a man who drinks milk without consciousness.

Dr. Mary Enig finishes with this, although I’d like to see more foundation for her claims:

The fact that Oster’s theory has been disproven does not mean that the homogenization process is benign. During homogenization there is a tremendous increase in surface area on the fat globules. The original fat globule membrane is lost and a new one is formed that incorporates a much greater portion of casein and whey proteins. This may account for the increased allergenicity of modern processed milk.

With all that under my belt, I’m much less afraid of homogenized milk than I used to be. I have some distrust in it, because it is quite a man-made process, so when I can stick to the natural, I will. I won’t, however, pay double price for unhomogenized milk unless there are other upgraded benefits from the store milk! (See this milk descriptions post for what all the terms on the jugs mean.)

Does Skim Milk Contain Powdered Dry Milk?

The Weston A. Price Foundation says, “All reduced-fat milks have dried skim milk added to give them body, although this ingredient is not usually on the labels.” I’ve seen this claim in multiple other places as well, but it’s incredibly outdated and plain wrong.

I’m the type of person who calls companies to ask questions (in case you haven’t already noticed that). When I realized that the claim of “industry standard” might be incorrect, I decided to call a few brands that sell milk to see what I could find out.

From Meijer:

I had not heard of that being an industry standard, and I can tell you that none of Meijer’s dairy suppliers add anything to the milk.

From Bareman’s, a local Michigan dairy:

Non-fat dried milk (skim milk powder)  is not currently added to our, or any of our direct competitors lowfat or fat free milks (skim milk) and, any direct addition of a dried milk powder would require it to be included on the label to meet current United States labeling requirements. In the 1950′s and 60′s many states required nonfat dried milk to be added to lowfat (<1% butterfat) and fat free milks (skim) under the guise of making it a nutritionally superior product to the unfortified product but, in reality its real purpose was to help support a higher demand for non-fat milk powder and ultimately a higher total milk price for the producer.  Eventually, pressure from industry, regulators and nutritionists prevailed and all states who had “solids fortification” requirements in their dairy laws repealed them.

I would like to see the WAPF update their position on this issue, as their information clearly was correct decades ago but is sorely outdated.

Does Powdered Dry Milk Contain Oxidized Cholesterol?

The reason for the scare about powdered milk being added to skim and lowfat milk is this:

A note on the production of skim milk powder: liquid milk is forced through a tiny hole at high pressure, and then blown out into the air. This causes a lot of nitrates to form and the cholesterol in the milk is oxidized…  Oxidized cholesterol contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, to atherosclerosis. So when you drink reduced-fat milk thinking that it will help you avoid heart disease, you are actually consuming oxidized cholesterol, which initiates the process of heart disease.

Here’s the hole in that argument: nonfat dry milk has little to no cholesterol to begin with, so consuming any “oxidized” cholesterol that may or may not be present there is probably no more hazardous to your health than eating an apple that is starting to brown (that process is oxidation, too).

Here is a a conversation with an animal science trained former farm gal on oxidized cholesterol with her convincing arguments.

I had been making my yogurt with store whole milk since coming around to the idea of full fat dairy. Once I decided there was no inherent problem drinking skim milk, other than the fact that it’s missing the fat, I began making my yogurt with skim milk and added cream from our grassfed raw milk. I figured that even if homogenization isn’t as bad as it’s being made out to be, I can still get the fat to be organic, which helps my family avoid most of the potential toxins and hormones, which tend to collect in the fat.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you a bit about how I came to the decision to drink raw milk.

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115 Comments so far ↓

  • Shannon

    Honestly, I don’t trust the scientists, even if I was one ;).

    The problem is that maybe we’re asking the wrong questions. We are still talking in terms of nutritionism and scientific theory instead of common sense and what God created for us to eat.

    God created milk that came from animals. It is raw, unhomogenized, and untouched by man.

    Why does homogenization exist? Convenience. People like that they don’t have to shake a jug of milk (really? that lazy?).

    Homogenization is a man made, for profit invention.

    And powdered milk? That’s beyond messed up. Again – shelf life and money based. It’s cheap because it’s fake.

    The question should not be “what is the science behind it?” the question should be “what did God create for our bodies and how do we avoid the junk that sinful man thinks he can do better on?”

    And is it really responsible to support these products given the farming practices behind them? I understand a budget, believe me, but I think it’s wiser to cut dairy all together than to add this junk that was not designed for our bodies.

    Sorry for the rant :)
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Early Summer Menu Plan and Food Roots Anyone? =-.

    Shannon Reply:

    SO well said!!

    chanelle Reply:

    So true!!

    Lindsey Reply:

    I agree. The first step should be identifying what God intended for us to eat. Just as God did not intend for cows to eat corn, I don’t believe He intended for milk to necessitate heat treatment nor “scientific shaking” before it is to be consumed. (I don’t heat my breast, nor pasteurize my expressed milk before feeding my daughter either) The next step is to figure out why the change came about in the first place and if it is truly necessary. Pasteurization came about to solve the sanitation issues in milk production. If cows are fed anything other than grass and care is not taken to maintain a sanitary processing, then that milk should be pasteurized. If the reverse is the case (grass-fed, clean processing), pasteurization is not “needed”. Homogenization is not “needed” period. We are all capable of shaking our own bottles of milk. :o)

    Katie Reply:

    Lindsey,
    Got that right! Visitors to our house think it’s really weird that we shake our milk, but it makes me happy. :) I love the comparison with human breastmilk and pasteurization. :) Katie

    Pat Reply:

    WOW I’m Amazed at some of the comments. I am actually working with a dairy farmer who will be selling unhomogeinzed in the state of Louisiana in the very near future. I would love to share more of these comments with them and show them how they will need to educate the public.

    Thanks

    Bgbdbill67 Reply:

    I know this thread is old but here goes. First off, God did not intend for us to suckle from the teats of animals to get milk in the first place. Second cows can transmit Bovine Tuberculosis to us humans through the milk gland. This was once a very significant problem but has been controlled by disease management in cattle, reducing the number of cases where udder involvement is seen, and by pasteurization Third you don’t pasteurize your breast milk! well only if you carry the disease duh! Fourth and final homogenized milk is done so as to keep the fat levels equal in all milk and a more consistent taste. Homogenized milk never comes in contact with air during this process or it would oxidize, oxidation causes rancidity.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    What about the land of milk and honey? Any thoughts on whose milk God was speaking of in the Old Testament there? Spinach can transmit e. coli to us through poor sanitation, too… And homogenization is purely aesthetic, kind of like botox. Equally helpful and appropriate in my opinion. :) Katie

    Kelly Reply:

    Bgbdbill67: Have you spoken to God directly about this? If you have Scripture to support that statement, please share. I can’t speak for everyone, but I highly doubt many people are suckling from the teat of other animals. To say it that way is intended to cast raw milk drinkers (the way it was done for the first 5800 or so years) as some kind of lunatics. Bovine tuberculosis is NOT transferable to humans.

    Kate Reply:

    You are right…a point I forgot to consider!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Affording Real Food: Bokros Family =-.

    Heather Reply:

    I completely agree! The closer to nature the better, just like God made it!

    Katie Reply:

    Shannon,
    Did it sound as though I was promoting skim or homogenized milk? I’m not a huge fan, really, but I do want people to have less fear of supermarket milk IF it’s not warranted. As you’ll see this week, we choose raw milk from the farm, but I do need to supplement sometimes. Everyone does the best they can with the resources they have been given, and I think it’s dangerous to expect perfection in anything, especially where and how people buy their food.

    Even raw milk wasn’t *really* designed for our bodies, but rather for baby calves. It’s something that can nourish us, however, as can store milk.

    Thanks for the reminder that what God created, IS GOOD. :) Katie

    Shannon Reply:

    Hi Katie,

    I’m not sure that you were “promoting” these products, but rather giving us the means to justify them. I think that’s the problem with human beings… give us an excuse (budget, availability, etc.) and we can justify anything.

    And then it is a slippery slope. The fact is if we can’t get real milk then maybe we should look somewhere else for similar nutrients. By purchasing those products you are basically voting for that form of agriculture and food production.

    On the other hand I think it’s interesting that you bring up whether we were even designed to drink milk. Many people say no… milk is only for calves. But the Bible often mentions drinking milk, although possibly in reference to goat or sheep’s milk.

    I really do appreciate the info and your site. But the “it’s not as bad as so and so says” mentality is like a gateway drug and allows a nation completely dependent on food with no sustainability to justify their usage of it.

    Honestly if we’re trying to be proper stewards then we would make an effort to choose foods that are sustainable and properly raised. Even if it means giving up milk all together.

    tonya Reply:

    Shannon,
    I grew up on a small family dairy farm. We grazed our cows & we fed them grain too because they needed the energy it provided to keep from getting too skinny. they were already bony because they were reasonably producing cows. after I left the farm, I got a degree in animal science, because I loved the farm & loved seeing biology all around me growing up. Science comes naturally to me. I don’t know why. I just get it. I guess it’s because I was immersed in it all my life. I’m also a Christian. I trust that God gave me intelligence to use it & put me on that farm as a kid to fall in love with science & biology, which led me to be the first person in my extended family to attend and graduate from a 4 year college. it is a slap in the face to me & farmers for you to say that America’s farmers don’t know what they’re doing & are in defiance of God. I’m certainly not the only Christian agophile. I’d wager that many farm families are Christian. I’ve yet to read in the bible where it says cattle should ONLY eat grass. cattle’s digestive systems were designed to ferment & grass is not the only substrate that ferments.

    Magarietha Reply:

    Tonya I agree with you. My grandfather says if he did not supplement his feed with maize and grain to his sheep during harsh winters the whole lot of them would have died. Strange thing too is that under any circumstance, hot or cold weather, they would come running when the grains were poured in for them. It wasn’t overly so, simply supplementation to ensure healthy animals.

    Taruna Reply:

    I think it’s best to give up all stuff whose past (Origin and Processing cycle) is unknown/ untrustworthy to us.. and derive the calcium and protein from nuts and organically grown green leafy vegetables that we clean and consume ourselves..

    Retail Reply:

    Not everyone has access to raw milk.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    True! I rate each kind of milk in order here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/06/22/what-kind-of-milk-should-i-buy/

    SourdoughSue Reply:

    It can be very difficult to trust any scientist from the corporate, university or government realm these days because they have a political agenda to further, often in order to keep their jobs. This makes them unreliable and rather “unscientific” in their research and conclusions drawn from research. This makes OUR jobs extremely difficultas decision makers. I know that when I use raw milk products my iron levels increase (low iron,an issue all my life) my intestines complain less(another weak spot for me) and I feel better almost immediately(days not weeks). I also know when I have bought regular homogenized/pastuerized milk in the last 5 years that I cannot keep it from spoiling in days, less than a week in almost every case. This becomes a poor spending choice for a variety of reasons.Now I buy all raw dairy, it lasts a couple weeks then it gently sours. I can still use it and enjoy it, even IF I have not made fermented products from it before that. For many reasons, I find that raw dairy is a good value for the money, delivers good taste, good nutrition and makes me feel better. I also believe in food that has nourished people throughout the ages rather than food that is pushed by economic/governmental concerns with dubious health results. Call me crazy but I do not really trust the government or lobbyists all that much!

    Trish Reply:

    Thank you for your response. I am not sure where I can buy raw milk, but I will ask around. I have had IBS all my life. I wonder…

    *smile*

    ~Trish

    Kelly Reply:

    Amen to that!

    jeanette Reply:

    uh, i really think god created milk for baby cows, guys.

    Magarietha Reply:

    Oops, then He would not have led them to the land of MILK and honey. Milk has always been part of mankind’s diet – sanctioned by G-d, same as eggs from chickens.

    Trish Reply:

    Hello all.

    I have been feeling like I NEED to get away from all the chemicals etc in food. I have lived in third world countries and know what the difference is, though, in the quality of food grown “naturally”. The Bible says that in the end times God will pour out his knowledge onto the earth. Scientists don’t create anything new. They use what God created whether they know it or not. I DO NOT think much of the preservatives and steroids and such are that good for us, but, to feed MILLIONS of people… Can’t raise many dairy cows in the cities.

    I pray about what I eat, study what I can, be as natural as we are able on a low budget, and then let the rest of it sit in the Lord’s hands. It’s all I CAN do, and, in the long-run, it’s all I SHOULD do. Fear does not come from the Lord. (I sure wish I had time to look up these scriptures.

    Thank you for all your research. I am very impressed.

    ~Trish

    Magarietha Reply:

    Am SO with you on this Trish – bless you for saying the above.

    Magarietha Reply:

    I have no idea why they did this in the first place. A nonsensical backward step in food. I understsand pasteurisation, but homogenisation? It was fiddling with a goodly product when its natural state was good enough. Why? I don’t drink it – don’t give it to my family – have to drive very far to private dairies to get natural milk. There was a time we collected our milk in the morning in bottles and the cream rose to the top. It was a pleasure. This stuff is nonsense!

    Nicholas Sampsidis Reply:

    As a member of the Oster-Ross research team, it is heartening to see that the original research findings about the dangers XO in homogenized milk have been largely confirmed in the last decade: Recommended reading on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homogenized_Milk_and_Atherosclerosis
    Nicholas Sampsidis, Ph.D.

    Magarietha Reply:

    sorry, I don’t care which doctor drinks it him or herself. I have no idea wat Industry Standard means? By who’s “support”. I want pasteurised UNHOMOGENISED milk. Have to drive far to get it. I don’t understand why it has to be homogenised. WHY? Why fiddle with something that’s been okay for thousands of years. Even peanut butter is homogenised. What on earth for? I buy organic non-fiddled with peanut butter. Don’t want homogenised, don’t know why I don’t have a choice at all.

    Lucas Reply:

    Shannon,

    Do you also eat all your meat and vegetables RAW?
    Milk is heated at lower temps then it takes to make tea, and I am willing to bet you boil, bake and/or fry meat and/or vegetables.
    Yes, raw milk is delicious compared to pasteurized/homogenized milk, but if you believe raw is so much more beneficial would that not apply to ALL foods?
    I would be more concerned with the added vitamins they are putting in milk, then whether or not it is raw.

    Steve Purdy Reply:

    Homogenization has been extensively studied by the Westin A Price foundation and others. It is not good. It just makes “milk” easier to handle as a commodity, not a fresh food source. It isn’t exactly the cholesterol – that myth comes from the cholesterol drug producers. the bady uses cholesterol to cover irritation and other things wrong – it is like the leak sealer in an inner tube!

  • jana @ the summer house

    Hmmm…interesting. I buy cream top milk because the cows are pastured. I can’t afford raw milk all the time due to the fact that it is 8.99 a half gallon here in California so I figure the cream top is the next best thing.
    .-= jana @ the summer house´s last blog ..Twill Tape Love And Shoe Laces =-.

  • Kimarie

    Wow. You can never be accused of writing boring posts, IMO. ;-). Great job!
    .-= Kimarie´s last blog ..Sprouting Grains For a Large Family =-.

  • Michelle

    Thank you for taking the time to research this and share! There are days when I am afraid to eat or buy anything for our family. Our food budget is very lean right now, and I feel like I am poisoning, instead or nourishing, my family when I can’t buy local, organic, pastured, vegan, socially and environmentally responsible products. There are soooo many schools of thought on food and the politics surrounding them are beginning to feel hostile some days.

    I would love to have access to raw milk, both financially and geographically. I feel better after reading your post that doing the best I can right now (what’s on sale at the market) isn’t poisoning my family.

    It’s a shame that organizations like Weston Price who have a lot to offer, don’t use up to date information.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Tasty Tahini =-.

    Milehimama Reply:

    Thanks for sharing all this info! I have powdered milk on the shelf as part of our hurricane stash, but I always felt a little “dirty” about it after reading real food blogs. I never had the time to research it, though.

    While eating foods as close to their natural state as possible is generally a good thing, I’m still in favor of pasteurization. There’s a reason it was a GREAT invention and it’s saved countless lives. I cook my meat before eating it, too, to kill off bacteria.

    That said, I still don’t trust those shelf-stable milk boxes!
    .-= Milehimama´s last blog ..When Homeschooling Isn’t Working, part 3 =-.

    Nicholas Sampsidis Reply:

    As a member of the Oster-Ross research team, it is heartening to see that the original research findings about the dangers XO in homogenized milk have been largely confirmed in the last decade: Recommended reading on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homogenized_Milk_and_Atherosclerosis
    For any scientist to say that the theory of Oster has been disproven is highly irresponsible. According to our estimates XO is the leading cause of not only atherosclerosis but also most chronic degenerative diseases.
    Nicholas Sampsidis, Ph.D.

  • Kat

    I remember you forwarded this info to me (thank you!) a while ago and I meant to reply to you with my thoughts but completely forgot!

    After you had sent it to me, I had the chance to try both homogenized and non-homogenized full-fat organic milk from the same company. I was using it to make yogurt as I couldn’t tolerate drinking pasteurized milk. I switched from homogenized to non-homogenized and noticed a big difference in digestion. Not only that but the yogurt tasted so much better! I never went back to homogenized.

    Now, when I switched to raw sheep milk I noticed an even bigger difference. And, I can drink that milk no problem.

    I often don’t listen to what scientists say about food. I guess I’m lucky enough to be so sensitive to everything, that I can tell the health difference between certain processing methods. All I know is my digestive system definitely did better with the non-homogenized milk. Considering how sensitive I am though, this was really not that noticeable. For normal healthy people, it might not make any difference at all.
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..Strawberry Treats =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Kat,
    You know I love personal anecdotes! I totally can’t notice digestive differences with stuff like this, so I need to hear from folks who can. That is so interesting about homogenized vs. non-homog for you. Clearly something is changed with the process, and I agree with Kate – it’s SO unnecessary that it’s a bummer we have to deal with it when we buy store milk.
    Thanks for sharing! :) Katie

  • tonya

    :D YAY, you referenced me. Little, old, farm raised, science loving, God fearing, sinner, me.

    & Dr Partridge. ahh, love it!

  • sarah

    a well thought out and thoroughly researched article, once again. thank you for helping me to making informed decisions for our family!
    .-= sarah´s last blog ..simply tasty: artichoke dip =-.

  • heather harris

    so, after all this time avoiding milk from the store like the plague, it’s actually not that bad? I have read this over and over, and I AM SOOOO CONFUSED!! Thanks for all your research..I am looking forward to the rest of the “milk debate” postings!
    .-= heather harris´s last blog ..USDA guidelines for 2010 =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Heather, Shannon makes a good point, that store milk is still inhumanely raised, usually, and not the ideal. However, I’m such an advocate for balance, that I think it’s important people not be afraid of something they shouldn’t be afraid of…just maybe wary of.

    I always feel badly confusing people, b/c I hate that feeling myself. I just know that we are all going to live and die, no matter what, and I need to release some of my anxiety about food. When my daughter asks for milk at Grandma’s and gets Meijer brand skim, can I just be uncomfortable instead of petrified? That’s my goal.
    :) Katie

    Heather Reply:

    This is a good point, the aunts and uncles and grandparents house is very frightening. I never know what my kids are going to get. It actually helps now that we have so completely changed our diet to add raw milk, mostly homemade (unprocessed products), and eliminated food dye, etc. I have vocalized the changes instead of just cringing everytime they offer gummies or red velvet cake, now they know it is off limits. I don’t limit everthing of course, I don’t want to be a food nazi. I think it is important to have moderation and balance especially for kids. I don’t want my kids to develop anxiety or obsess about food either.

    Jessie Reply:

    Yes! Exactly. I have to find a balance between doing what I know is best for myself, my family, and the earth, and freaking out about everything all the time so that I can’t enjoy the good things God provides!

    I’m pretty strict about what my 14-month-old daughter eats (compared to everyone else I know, anyway), but I have to give up some of that control sometimes. I can’t live in fear — that’s not what God wants for me, and it’s certainly not what he wants me to teach my daughter.

    We do the best with what we have, where we are. I have found that eating real food is a journey. Everyone is in a different place, and everyone proceeds at a different rate.

    Thank you, Katie, for simply telling the truth, for providing information, so that each of us can make an informed, fear-less decision.
    .-= Jessie´s last blog ..The Time of the Vacations =-.

    tonya Reply:

    ahem, INHUMANELY raised?

    what is inhumane about having constant access to a balanced diet, under cover from the elements, fans to circulate the air, mattresses to lounge on, a floor that’s regularly scraped, veterinary care, etc etc etc??????

    take a look at the “inhumanity” shown on http://dairygoddess.wordpress.com/

  • Raine Saunders

    Very interesting post, Katie! Given what’s been revealed, it is safe to say that even if you were to drink homogenized milk because it’s not as bad as you thought, that same milk would still be pasteurized, which in my opinion, is a dead food anyway. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen milk that is only homogenized but not pasteurized in the store, but I might be wrong.

    As far as the oxidation goes, it would also be safe to say that milk powder, which is found in many products, is not safe to consume given the fact that if it’s not non-fat it contains cholesterol and would contain the properties of oxidized cholesterol that were described by Weston A. Price in the first place.

    I agree that WAPF should update their information – but as far as I know, even though their site has recently received a facelift, there are still many pages of information that remain unaccessible – I’ve tried getting to them for a couple of months and they are not available. So I don’t know what is going on there. Hopefully when those pages are again made available for viewing, the information will also receive an update as well.
    .-= Raine Saunders´s last blog ..High Fructose Corn Syrup – Do You Think It’s Sweet? =-.

  • Brittany

    I too am disappointed that WAPF hasn’t updated their stance on homogenized milk. I can’t quite remember what it was, but it seems like there was something similar with another product…that they had outdated info. Maybe I should do a little more of my own research before I believe everything NT says. :(

    Although on homogenized milk, I will agree with Shannon. I’ll take it as close to the way God created it as possible.

  • chanelle

    This is a great post!
    I have two comments: first, who did you talk to at Meijer? A manager, even in the dairy department might not be aware of what is going on with the milk. Whoever it was didn’t sound too sure.
    Second, I have seen listed in the ingredients “dry milk solids.” I took that to mean dry milk powder. The powdered milk may not be in every milk anymore, but it IS still in some. It would be interesting to know if the labeling laws require the manufacturers to list it? It would seem like they would have to…
    .-= chanelle´s last blog ..Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini Enchiladas =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Chanelle,
    It was a public relations guy. Heh heh. Very good point! I wonder how I go deeper into the system? Who should we email to see what the regulations actually are? (Wanna volunteer?) This is the next step in the questioning, for sure. Thanks!! :) Katie

  • Kate

    Interesting post, Katie!

    I like that you take time to do your own research and don’t just repeat what everyone else is saying. I’m assuming that’s why you have 4000 subscribers when your blog is not yet 2 years old! I always learn a lot from you.

    That said, I do agree with the first commenter. I think that the science doesn’t matter and understanding that it’s “not that bad” isn’t as important as focusing on eating whole foods, in their natural form, because that’s how God designed it to be. I think that looking at the science is basically what all the mainstream people (who care in the first place) are doing and saying “There is no justification for going all organic/whole because it really is pretty much fine to eat these foods, they are not really different/bad.” But we all know the anecdotal evidence, that we feel and do so much on whole foods than on processed foods. And we have to remember that these “tiny effects” from the small changes to each food really add up over time.

    Sorry to say it :), but I think you’re being that food-snob thing that Michael Pollan talked about, that thing where you look at food as the sum of its nutrient parts instead of as a whole food! I know you love the research and I love that you present it (really), but…whole foods please! Whatever science you show me I’ll stick to the way God made it!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Affording Real Food: Bokros Family =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Kate,
    Ah, butter me up with a compliment and then disagree with me! I see, I see….just kidding. :)

    I am all about whole foods and certainly not advocating the people seek adulterated foods, but – not everyone has the option to go straight to the farm, or the energy, or the funds. Sometime you just have to go to the store, so it’s good to know what’s there that IS closest to real, whole foods.

    And yeah, I’m totally a nutrionism-ist. I can’t stop it! :) Katie

    SourdoughSue Reply:

    Everybody deals with all this in the way their personality works. That’s OK. I am a scientist by nature. I like all the details. Yet, part of those details include noticing poorly done research (too many variables to draw the correct conclusion from) or seeing the politics shine through( drawing the conclusion that benefits the company that paid for the research-or having the FDA approve something because lobbyists encouraged them)) I also do not believe in the currently fashionable consensus method that says if everybody believes it must be true. (Global warming is a good example of this) I also take a step-back view on many nutritional issues thinking that if people ate lard and wild yeast bread and pasture fed meats for thousands of years and were generally healthy, I tend to think that our health is likely MORE affected by some foods introduced in the last hundred years. Just think how healthy we could be from benefitting from modern nutrition science, benefitting from modern medical understandings and eating traditional foods!! It’s a win/win.
    As far as your pocketbook goes, everyone has to make tough money choices and their choices will be based on their own knowledge and situation and that is OK. Keep up the great work!

  • Naomi H

    Katie, you always keep me on my toes! It would be interesting to see research on the new smaller fat membrane, it’s properties and effects on digestion/health.

    Whatever the science, I still distrust homogenization, though it may not be the poison I thought it was.

  • Dawn

    Thank you for a fascinating post! I have subscribed only in the last month or so, and have learned so much. I am a scientist married to a physician, and have small children. I agree with the earlier post about the benefits of pasteurization. Humans throughout history have found many simple ways to make our food safer, often by heating, and this is just one more. I know of a family who lost a child due to unpasteurized apple juice, and there is currently a rash of illness in our area due to raw milk traced to a local farm. Raw milk will never be on my grocery list, but I have gone back and forth with homogenized (the non-homog bottles were spoiling faster, so I stopped for a while), and I only buy organic. I think it is important to be careful about our food, and not to overlook true progress, while still making sure it is not “progress” at the expense of nutrition and environment. I have been frustrated with some of WPF’s articles, because I too found some to be outdated or lacking in evidence. I think we all have to do our research, but it helps to have an article like this from which to start! Thanks again!

    Katie Reply:

    Dawn,
    Thanks for the encouragement, and welcome to KS! :) Katie

  • Jessie

    Interesting post! While I certainly agree that the main question should be “Is this food?”, the more nitty-picky science is helpful to know for those times in life when we have to choose the lesser of two evils.
    .-= Jessie´s last blog ..The Time of the Vacations =-.

  • Sarah W

    Thanks for this great post. I am another reader comforted by some of the info here! I bought a big bag of organic skim milk powder before my TF days and then subsequently learned how *evil* it is… well, it wasn’t cheap, and I can’t just throw it away. I have been using it to thicken DH’s yogurt b/c he likes it thick, I have it yo use and is less labor intensive than straining the yogurt. Once it’s gone, I won’t buy anymore though.

    Katherine Reply:

    I know this is late comment and you might not see it, but I thought I would mention that using half Greek yogurt in my yogurt starter has thickened my yogurt considerably. Since its flavor is so mild I can let it culture longer without risking the flavor getting too strong. My whole family likes it better this way.

    Katie Reply:

    Love Greek yogurt! :) Katie

  • Crystal

    Thank you so much for getting out there and digging this information up for us. While I agree that eating and drinking what is closest to what God made is ideal, I live in a state where it is illegal to purchase raw milk, milk sold for pet consumption has charcoal dye added, AND cow shares are prohibited by the language of our law. Because there are all sorts of people trying to make the best decisions for their individual families in order to balance budgets while eating nourishing meals, I think it is wonderful to see some of the science presented from a variety of perspectives. I want to be able to confidently make a good choice rather than feeling guilty if I can’t drive to another state every week to purchase milk.
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Sunny Florida =-.

  • The Raw Milk Question | Musings of a Housewife

    [...] wicket.  Katie has done far more research into the subject than I, and you can read her post, The Real Story of Homogenized Milk, Powdered Milk, Skim Milk and Oxidized Cholesterol, to find out [...]

  • Pamela P.

    Amen, Shannon. Thanks for those thoughts!

  • Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    Well, I emailed Sally for her take on the latest, she led me to someone else who knows a lot on this issue, and if & when I hear back from them I’ll update you here. It’s good to look at things in depth, but I have to say that I agree with many commenters: God’s way is always best, and it’s also the path that equals common sense in my book. Thanks Katie! :)
    Kelly
    .-= Kelly the Kitchen Kop´s last blog ..Guest Post from Dr. Michael Teplitsky: Man-made flavors are bad for your health =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Kelly,
    I hope I didn’t sound as if I DISagree with this statement:
    “God’s way is always best, and it’s also the path that equals common sense in my book.”
    I’m totally with you on that one, but I love my facts, too. Hope Sally understands my respectful request of the WAPF. :) Katie

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    Mercy, it’s so hard to know what is “right”! I linked to this post, the what kind of milk should I buy post, and the dehydrating fruits and veggies and crispy nuts update. Wow, it’s been quite a week over here! :>)
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Weekly Link Roundup – AGAIN Edition =-.

  • Meagan

    After reading this article I am quite confuzed about where you stand on this issue.
    .-= Meagan´s last blog ..Basic Dressing =-.

    Katie Reply:

    Meagan,
    Sorry about that! I have a few other posts on milk that get into what I drink http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/06/24/why-i-choose-raw-milk/ and other milk terminology http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/06/22/what-kind-of-milk-should-i-buy/ that might help you.

    Basically, although I don’t seek out powdered milk, I’m trying not to be AS afraid of it. I’m not afraid of skim milk anymore; in fact, I purchase it and add cream to make yogurt, which I wouldn’t have done had I thought it was laden with oxidized cholesterol.

    I don’t love the idea of homogenization, but sometimes I need to rely on store milk for yogurt. I buy whole if I don’t have enough cream to add to skim. I’d like to see more research on the homogenization health effects, actually.

    Does that help? :) Katie

  • Danae

    Thank you for this sincere and informative article! I agree that God’s wisdom is higher than our own, and his ideas on food are the best!
    A few minutes before reading this post, I happened upon a USDA report from August 2003, which described the routine addition of nonfat dry milk and condensed skim milk to nonfat, low-fat, and reduced fat milk products. According to the report, these things can be added to milk, without any mention being made on the product labeling. I do not doubt the honesty of your Meyer or the local dairy you mentioned, but this recent (7 years ago, not from the 50′s) report does indicate that these additions are a routine practice in federally regulated milk processing plants. Just thought you might like all the information available! Thank you for your dedication to this cause. The information mentioned is on page 25 of the report, available at this link:

    Katie Reply:

    Danae,
    Thank you for sharing that! I do like to have all the information, for sure. Now I want to just go right to the plant, you know? ;) Katie
    PS – There wasn’t a link included.

  • Kelly the Kitchen Kop

    Hey Katie,
    I wanted to let you and your readers know that my post on this just went live – it’s a follow-up to your post here and has info that I’ve been gathering via email recently.
    Kelly
    .-= Kelly the Kitchen Kop´s last blog ..Real Food Wednesday 7-7-10 =-.

  • Babychaser

    Ok… so I know that it’s been awhile since you wrote this, but I followed your link from the Irish Creme post. I was intrigued by what you may have to say about powdered milk.

    I’ve been avoiding it for a number of years, but not for any of the reasons you mentioned here. I’m a budding real foodie and have only been on this track these past 4 years.

    Somewhere in the beginning of all that, I remember reading something about formaldehyde in powdered milk. I don’t remember if it said it was used in making it or if it was that there was some in it… long story short, I haven’t been able to find anything about it since and I can’t remember exactly what it said. Have you heard anything about formaldehyde and powdered milk? Maybe I shouldn’t be so “afraid” of it either?

    Thanks for sharing all your hard earned knowledge with us!

    Blessings,
    Babychaser

    Katie Reply:

    Babychaser,
    That is one I haven’t heard, but sheesh, you never know. Even though the science behind powdered milk says it’s more or less okay to consume…I’m still very wary of it, if not “scared.” I’m just not scared of skim milk anymore because it doesn’t have dry milk in it! ;) Katie

  • Drinking Full Fat, Whole Milk | LoveLiveGrow

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  • Joyce

    Hi Katie, I got here via the “Fear” blog, today (2/4) and wanted to let any one who buy’s Kroger brand milk that their Whole Milk contains dried powdered milk; isn’t that weird? (It’s right on the label.) However, it does not contain Bovine Growth Hormone, which is good news! (It also is not organic, of course!)

  • K. Wilde

    I liked this post. It takes the fear out of trying to do your best in within the constraints you are given. Also, raw milk is illegal to sell and buy in my country.

    Here in Canada, antibiotics and growth hormones are not allowed to be used in the milk. Budgets concerns are a good justification for using powdered and homogenized milk. We just use less of it, but that helps us save money for more fruits and vegetables.

    Since our digestion doesn’t seem to mind what we can afford, we try to do what we can with our grains, beans and other foods with soaking, and grinding our own grain and beans. But there is more to life than food, and there are a lot of other things I should be focusing my worry energy on than worrying about the kind of milk I’d like to be able to afford, but can’t justify or for which I cannot find sources.

    Thank you for a balanced post.

  • Meggan

    I too had some issues with false/misleading information from the WAPF. I’m coming to feel that they aren’t necessarily a reputable resource. I’m a dental professor and read this article about dentistry: http://www.westonaprice.org/dentistry/1957-root-canal-dangers.html The article states that “Dentists are generally taught to remove a tooth and leave the periodontal ligament in the socket, a procedure which would be like delivering a baby and leaving the placenta in the uterus.” Except that this isn’t true. I’ve been a professor at 2 dental schools and a student at 1 and this statement would be considered completely crazy. I teach students how to extract teeth and I’d be sued if I was teaching them to leave the ligament. No one today advocates leaving the periodontal ligament in the socket and it is certainly not what “dentists are generally taught”. It isn’t even something that is controversial. This statement is just wrong. It isn’t even a matter of philosophy or opinion. This isn’t what dentists are taught. I know. I’m teaching them!

  • Vegetable Garden Cook

    Interesting take on the homogenization issue. I’m glad to see you asking questions, not just of the milk producers but those at the WAPF and the Nourishing Traditions book.

    I can’t see much purpose in homogenizing, so I would prefer to drink my own goat milk, which is of course not homogenized.

    However, I think pasteurizing is important and that the dangers and outbreaks are completely ignored by the raw milk community. Its just not worth it to me.

  • Skim Milk - Mind And Muscle Forum

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  • Sam West

    My personal experience with homogenized vs raw milk and cream is simple and enough to justify never putting homogenized/pasteurized dairy in my body.

    I drink cream in my milk. Simply put, when I use homogenized cream I have leg cramps and swelling of my feet. When I use raw cream I do not. I don’t need a researcher to tell me what’s going on here, the evidence is in my body’s reaction.

    I believe it’s quite arrogant of humans to believe they can engineer food better than either God or evolution. We either evolved by thriving on the foods that are on this planet or God put the right foods on the planet to nourish humans. The danger comes when we industrialize food and eat what multi-national corporations wants us too for their profit.

    Food production should be a livelihood, not an publicly traded “for profit” industry. Industry doesn’t care if you die slowly while they have huge profits and great Wall Street returns.

    I’m not against large corporations, Starbucks treats the people they buy from, their employees and customers with respect., but they are the unusual case and not the norm.

    Katie Reply:

    Sam,
    Excellent personal testimony; thank you! :) Katie

  • World_Runner

    I have been reading your posts on yogurt and milk, especially in regards to UHT milk. I currently live in eastern Europe and the only kind of milk I can get is UHT. Based on what I have read here and on other sites, UHT milk is not that great, safe or healthy correct? Can you suggest any alternatives? Powdered milk maybe? Can I make yogurt with powdered milk? Just curious what you would suggest. Thanks!

  • Shauna

    Just read a news article on MSN stating these exact things… HOORAY!! Finally, the truth is beginning to come out!

    Katie Reply:

    Thank you – I’m off to search for that one right now!

    Katie Reply:

    Shauna, Might you have the link? I totally can’t find it but I’m so curious to read it! Thanks! :) Katie

  • Becky

    Where I live, in Canada, it’s ILLEGAL for farms to sell raw milk. Crazy, I know. Thanks for your research!

  • Bob

    Funny how so many want or have trouble believing the scientists, and yet all the scare stories about Homogenizing and Drying milk come from scientists. The facts around the scary dry milk are these, NO ONE KNOWS. It is just a theory! The real facts are these: The body produces oxidized cholesterol, and there is even some research that shows some beneficial properties of oxidized cholesterol. So you see, the jury is still out on this subject.

    FYI — powdered milk actually has very low levels of oxidized cholesterol.

    Research will continue on this controversial topic. Meanwhile, there is no reason to avoid powdered milk if you like it. It is a good source of protein and calcium and hardly any fat or cholesterol — oxidized or unoxidized.

    But go ahead and be scared. I am a Christian, and have to admit that there are hundreds of things God never intended us to do: use computers, drive cars, fly in airplanes, eat food you didn’t produce yourselves, watch Tv or listen to the radio, read mass produced books, or any book etc other than the Bible (which is my most read book (and don’t you hate how Bible is no longer capitalized?). My point is I don’t think God minds that much about what we take into our bodies (oooooh isn’t that a verse???)

    Dawn Reply:

    Well said Bob! what a reasonable comment finally!
    As a side note, Bread, Soup, yogurt,scrambled eggs,etc…are all “manmade” and are “tampered with”.
    Man do people get so worked up emotionally over these topics! Maybe they should be worried about the effects of stress on their bodies;)
    Yes, I worry about some of these procedures and try to stay as whole, organic, and natural as possible and try to stay well informed on the latest research (which can change daily). and I don’t always believe scientists or food producers or the “natural food” industry -EVERYONE has an agenda and pulpit and opinion. But getting all nasty and argumentative and self righteous about things certainly isn’t what God wants either.
    Can’t we all just get along?:)

  • Kelly

    Perhaps people choose to believe the scientific studies that aren’t backed by the companies that stand to benefit financially from the results of the study. Perhaps people learned that if there’s a profit to be made, the study is probably biased. Perhaps some to choose to err on the side of caution when “the jury is still out”. Perhaps those that avoid man made foods are not scared in the sense your reply suggests. How do you know if God intended one thing or another? His word certainly supports taking good care of our bodies and that would include what goes into it. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states, “19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[a] and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

    Yes, I do hate that Bible is rarely capitalized. On that we agree.

  • Magarietha

    Hi, nice blog! I will not drink homogenised milk at all. I go to a nearby farm dairy where I buy pasteurised jersey milk (UNhomogenised). I have no idea why there is an argument to rage with. Why did they ever begin to homogenise at all. Apparently the fact that our ordinary store peanut butter no longer has that lovely floating of oil on top is because even THAT is now homogenised. I never knew that. What’s wrong with the world to tamper with things when really, even if there’s no health risk, why do they do it?Cheers all

  • Jonathan Summers

    Strongly recommend following three references: 1.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homogenized_Milk_and_Atherosclerosis
    2.
    “Homogenized Milk and Atherosclerosis – Healing Heart Disease from A to XO,” by Nicholas Sampsidis
    3.
    http://www.treat-heart-disease.org

    (Sampsidis was a member of the Oster-Ross research team

    Karen Reply:

    Hi i always shake the milk carton, habit from childhood. Concerning the powdered milk…I buy and use Organic Skim Milk Powder from New Zeland because I live in a 3rd world country and it is safer to drink the powder milk from New Zealand made wirh my filtered water than drink what is offered here, also it froths like whole or 2% milk for my coffee. Things I can change I will things I can’t then I. Noose not to eat or drink it :-)
    Blessings to all
    Karen

  • Christopher

    I drove a truck with a gentleman who told me the stuff they add into milk after they pasteurize it. Wait, so they boil the milk killing everything natural in it and then they add man made stuff like vitamin d and calcium?? The hypocrisy. Raw is best. $10/gallon here, we spend $80 a month on raw milk. Lord help us if there comes even more legislation.

  • Magarietha

    TO Bob, Hi there. I eat cholesterol and lots of it. I don’t touch anything low fat at all. Nor margarines or sunflower oils – only olive and coconut oil and lots and lots or real butter. I have a hereditary cholesterol problem and since I’ve been on a diet high in saturated fats my cholesterol has almost normalised. My doctors are over the moon and find it very interesting. Will never ever go off this diet again ever. Plus it’s very pleasant. I now have my fat on my steak and chops together with butter and olive oil and salad and cheeses and it was life changing for me. This is a fact and a solid truth. I’ve gone back to using old fashioned suet and lard. Am 56 have no cardiovascular disease and was a candidate before the diet.

  • In honor of Halloween…a post on Raw Milk. | AderoFoods

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  • Genet

    This is not a new post I know, but very interesting! I have been thinking about powdered milk. I have been building a whole-foods style stash of food for hard economic times. I would LIKE to keep powdered milk. It is also nice for hot cocoa, soups and baking. But the info has me confused and scared of it?
    Naturally the milk should come from grass fed cows? Does anyone know of good brands of powdered milk out there ?
    And what about powdered goats milk ? Is it also “bad” ????
    argh !!!! so confused on this issue ! :(

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Genet,
    I don’t blame you; it’s confusing! So sorry I misplaced your comment for so m any weeks. :(

    You will be interested to know that I have covered real food emergency preparedness. Here’s the scoop on dairy: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2011/06/01/real-food-stockpile-dairy/

    The powdered milk is only bad if it’s spray-dried at HIGH temps, and you can find some, goat more often I believe, that is dehydrated at lower temps.

    Good luck sorting it all out! :) Katie

  • fred

    If at all possible stay away from homogenized milk because there are only cosmetic benefits, on the other hand tinkering with nature, and getting experts to vouch for it is suspicious at the least.

  • Lucas

    Great article, I searched powdered milk in skim milk after reading WAPs article on the subject. Funny you reference them as your source of dis-information also.
    Unfortunately, they still have not updated their site and are still promoting quite a few half truths according to so called traditional diets.
    Personally I love raw milk when I can get it, but for the WAPF to associate pasteurized milk as a very unhealthy food seems very misleading.
    Most milk is pasteurized at temperatures lower then it takes to make tea, but somehow WAPF feels pasteurized milk is worse then the fried foods they promote that are cooked for hours in “healthy fats.”

  • Betsy

    I support pasteurization, but not homogenization and which I could find milk that is not the former. I LOVE when the cream goes to the top and I further love not causing my body and my families more damage with the homogenized milk, needless processing because some people don’t like the texture. Shame on them for making the choice for us all! I WISH I could locate non homogenized milk locally for a decent price.

  • Nathan

    Thanks so much for this article – I just finished reading Nourishing Traditions, and while I am very invested in the philosophy of real food, I am also concerned about how much information in the book (and on the WAPF site) is factual. I’m grateful to you for posting contradictory evidence, with *sources*!, which it seems is against the nature of most WAPF adherents. Can you (or any other readers?) suggest similar resources about “up-to-date” and “fact-checked” traditional food choices? A newer book than NT, perhaps? Thanks!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Nathan,
    You might like http://traditional-foods.com/ and Amanda Rose’s work…and I just saw something on Dr. Cate Shanahan’s “Deep Nutrition” which could be interesting today. :) Katie

  • Our Costco List | this daily portion

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  • Rachel-untilthethinladysings

    I’m trying to link to this great article on my Facebook page and it won’t let me! Do you happen to know why? I even tried your facebook button when direct linking would not work.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Rachel,
    That is odd, and I really don’t know – I’d just try again another day with the URL. Sorry I can’t help! Facebook is an enigma… Katie

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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