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Monday Mission: Examine Your Milk Source

Table Of Contents
milk in the grocery store

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to examine, and hopefully improve, the milk your family drinks.

From store brand skim to fresh milk from a local farm and everything in between, the vast array of milk choices is dizzying.

There are those who will tell you adult human beings should not be drinking milk at all.

There are those who will tell you no one should drink milk from a store.

And you can always find someone (or some government entity) to tell you that drinking fresh, unpasteurized milk is like playing Russian roulette.

Then there are the stories of folks surviving for decades consuming no food other than raw cow’s milk, of people who can’t tolerate dairy but can enjoy unpasteurized, grassfed milk without worry.

Plenty of sources will explain that there is no difference between milk treated with rBGH  or rBST hormones and milk without, and that grassfed vs. grainfed dairy makes zero difference in nutrition.

And just as many sources laud the praises of unpasteurized, unhomogenized, organic, grassfed milk!

What’s an eater to do?

Later this week I’ll share some research I’ve done on the subject, but for today, here are some resources to begin your exploration. If you’ve already researched milk, I’d love it if you’d share your own resources in the comments section (7th comment of any kind gets five extra entries in the dehydrator giveaway!).

A close-up of red and white scallions. Go local - a challenge from Kitchen Stewardship

Related: Sweetened Condensed Milk

On Milk

This is not an exhaustive nor even comprehensive list, just a sampling of articles from my personal bookmarks that have caught my eye. You’ll find many perspectives, but not perhaps alllllll possible points of view in the world. Happy reading!

I’m sure that’s more than enough for your Monday morning! You also might want to check out the Nourishing Food on a Budget eCourse sneak preview of seafood week!

Photo from Flickr.com.

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

63 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Examine Your Milk Source”

  1. Pingback: Why I Love The Real Food Community | Breastfeeding Moms Unite

  2. I’m so glad you are doing this series…I’m late to the party, but have a good 8 day old excuse 🙂 She’s only getting Mommy’s milk right now!

    We were doing hormone free and organic, but from what I hear organic isn’t worth the $$. So now we do hormone free only and I would like to look into raw. Living in the city doesn’t make it easy to find a farmer with milk to sell though!

    Heather

  3. Pingback: The Raw Milk Question | Musings of a Housewife

  4. Pingback: Traditional cream cheese dip « I Believe In Butter

  5. Hi Katie! I will be looking forward to more on this this week. I appreciate that you do research, and encourage your readers to do the same before drawing conclusions.

    Even reading just one book and changing things may not be the right thing to do if there are other varying opinions out there. Thanks!

  6. Like others, this is a mission I’ve actually already incorporated! I have a source at a farm about 20 mi. away where I get certified organic grass-fed jersey cow milk. And at $4/gal. the price is exceptional! I try to synchronize my trip with a day the local farmers market is open, as it’s right on the way. Oh, and the farmer is planning on butchering a steer pretty soon and I’m able to get in on that for 1.50/lb hanging weight + butchering costs (I’m thinking it’ll average to about 2.80/lb for grass-fed beef- not bad!).

  7. Duh! I posted my comment over at the “Go Full Fat Monday Mission!” Too many windows open! I enjoy reading all the posts! It makes me grateful to have a choice! And when I can’t have raw ascess or know it will be a while, I buy as much as I can fit in my cooler and separate into quarts then deep freeze. It’s still better than nothing. My son doesn’t notice a difference in taste either. I also have less than ideal options, if I’m in a pinch, like a local/grass/homo/pasteurized milk. I use that for Yogurt or baking, since I have to heat it anyway.

  8. My family has been drinking raw milk for about 5 months now and love it. We don’t have the stomach trouble with raw milk that we had with store bought milk. We found an organic dairy farm about 35 mile from where we live. It was costing quite a bit for the milk and the gas until we decided to buy 3 gallons in 1/2 gallon mason jars at one time. We freeze 3 bottles and put three bottles in our fridge. As we empty 1 bottle we just bring one out of the freezer. We are a family of 4, my husband, myself, a 17 year old and a 21 year old. I have made cream cheese out of this milk too.
    Buying it in bulk means we don’t make as many trips to the farm. It used to be we visited the farm once every other day, now it is more like once every other week. I can live with that.
    Sally in NY

  9. We’ve been buying raw milk for the past year or so from someone who sells his milk to Land ‘O Lakes. We finally convinced him to “go legal” and now we have a milk share program that he set up for his customers. We are the proud owners of a part of a cow 🙂 and so for $60/year and $5/gallon, we buy pure, raw milk that makes the best ice cream 🙂 His customer base has really grown and it definitely beats the $16/gallon at the health food store for raw (and pasteurized) milk. Renee in N. CA

  10. Great topic!

    I have just found a source near me for raw milk that isn’t going to break our modest budget. We will have to cut back a little on our milk consumption to make it work but that doesn’t worry me. I’m not intimadated by raw milk in the least as I grew up right next door to a dairy farm and we had fresh raw milk all the time.

    The source I found though is not strictly grass fed, nor am I sure it is 100% organic. I know that they grain feed in the winter. But I feel that it is still better than the store milk.

    Be careful of goats milk…they will eat ANYthing, regardless of how careful the farmer is! It can be quite gross what they will eat. lol!

  11. After having my son I did a lot of research and ended up going with my gut (in more than one way). When I was little we drank raw milk from a friend’s farm in exchange for helping them out on weekends. My entire family was crazy healthy. Our family doctor, who worked until he was hit by a drunk driver at the age of 88, also drank raw milk. Again, crazy healthy. When we moved to suburbia and lost our raw milk we all became fat and ill. At one point we were planning both my mother and grandmother’s funerals. Having a child convinced me I had to get back to basics. After doing research my husband and I were 20 times more confused then when we began. Eventually I decided based on nothing but my own childhood experience to go with the raw milk. Both my husband and I have been healing in noticable ways and my son is the picture of health. Yes, it’s anecdotal but it is my truth. Now the only research I do is checking out the farms my buying club uses to see for myself that everything meets my own standards. (They do)

  12. Kathy at Wellness Roadtrip

    Milk is very confusing. I don’t really drink it and neither do my kids. Well I have one kid who does so I just go with organic for him. But I do occassionally use it to cook and I haven’t found anything that tastes better in coffee. Almond milk, soy etc none do it for me when I have a cup of coffee…which isn’t that often so I figure a bit doesn’t matter. But when I gave up a latte habit a while back…my skin problems all cleared!

  13. There is an organic milk that isn’t ultra pasteurized from California, or there’s a local non-organic milk that’s not ultra pasteurized. However, raw milk is illegal in Hawaii.
    When the goats are producing I can have raw goat’s milk from the bf’s parents.
    I used the organic milk from California to make yogurt and I like it.
    It’s back to the “paper or plastic” hippie dilema. Local or organic?
    .-= AmandaonMaui´s last blog ..Happy Father’s Day! =-.

  14. Maybe it’s the libertarian in me, but I get so angry when I read about the FDA interfering in this way. (Speaking of the Amish farmer’s arrest.) It’s one thing for the government to do research and promulgate its own propaganda, but when they interfere with people who have gone out of their way to research and buy non-mainstream food items that they believe will keep their family healthy…. it’s preposterous!

    What makes this so ludicrous are three things:
    1) The FDA & USDA are filled with lots of people who may be well-meaning, but are still biased in their policies because of their experience in the food industry.

    2) The food industry, supported by the FDA/USDA, continues to support methods of production, such as factory-farmed and mass-slaughtered, that are inherently dangerous. Yet they disparage raw milk and promote beef. The only difference? Local/small with no political pull versus industrial giants.

    3) The FDA/USDA has actually *promoted* horrifyingly *bad* eating choices in the past—like disparaging natural fats while promoting margarine. Nearly 100 years later, and the public has no formal “sorry for killing many of you.”

    “Pasteurization saves lives…” and “Raw milk is inherently dangerous” What a load of ****. They’re not totally wrong, but they’re not giving the full story by any means. There were more scare tactics in that FDA Q&A than there were in “Food, Inc.”!

  15. Cathy, Some raw dairy’s will ship UPS to you frozen. It’s illegal to ship across state lines so you can check on www.realmilk.com for suppliers in your state. Make sure the dairy is ‘organic’ and the cows are ‘grass fed’.

  16. I cannot find a source of raw milk in our area so instead we don’t drink milk at all. I buy full cream for our oatmeal and for baking but other than that my four little ones NEVER drink milk. I keep wondering if I am doing the right thing or whether I should just close my eyes and buy store bought milk for them??? HELP! I grew up NOT drinking milk and my sibling and I are all tall and healthy!

      1. Actually I do know that milk is not the best source of calcium. There are better ways to get calcium as our bodies do not absorb the calcium from milk like it would if it were combined with other enzymes and vitamins absent in pasteurized milk.

        1. red cap whole milk from your grocery store is a good source of calcium & vitamin D in tandem in one convenient package. i know that wapf makes a big deal of enzymes et al destroyed by pasteurization, but i think Katie’s post from today about WAPF’s unwillingness to update their beliefs based on new research is quite illustratative of the organization’s antiquated information.

          this, is a wishy washy article, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/calcium-full-story/index.html
          but, winds up with

          “Milk and dairy products are a convenient source of calcium for many people. They are also a good source of protein and are fortified with vitamins D and A. At this time, however, the optimal intake of calcium is not clear, nor is the optimal source or sources of calcium.”

          there is no reason to cut dairy from your diet just because you can’t buy raw. you’re already using conventionally produced cream.

          1. I don’t think anyone implied that you should remove dairy entirely from your diet simply because it isn’t raw. But, we are saying that milk isn’t necessarily the best source of calcium for people. Perhaps if people relied more on fresh vegetables for their vitamins than their milk they might be in better shape. However, both in tandem (and moderation) is an even better idea!

      2. People don’t need to drink milk to get calcium. There’s more calcium in green leafy vegetables like kale and collard greens than there is in milk. Provided vitamin D is also consumed with the calcium, uptake will be quite high!

    1. Andrea,
      I am a little late seeing this comment, but I don’t think you should fret about one food much at all. Any nutrient you can get from milk, you can get somewhere else too. Try yogurt as a good source of dairy if you feel dairy is important, or get raw cheese via online ordering. Brunkow cheese out of Wisconsin is delicious, but I don’t know if they ship everywhere. Good luck, and don’t stress! 🙂 Katie

  17. So thankful to live on a farm with boys who know how to milk. DOn’t know what we’d do…it’s so expensive to be in a co-op to get fresh milk. I understand people’s reticence to take the plunge. Cost+negative media really have a way of impacting decisions….
    *Blessings*
    .-= Liberty´s last blog ..St. Joel Day =-.

  18. My family has been drinking raw milk for the last 5 years and with all that I know ‘now’ we will never go back to the pasteurized stuff. It all started when my husband ran across an article about a doctor who was giving his son raw milk to control asthma symptoms. My son’s asthma was getting worse and he was only 6. He is almost 12 now and I have only had to use asthma drugs once in all that time. Raw (grass fed) milk has the ability to lower histamines and improve the immune system. I give my son colostrom to help strengthen his ability to fight off colds and such. Raw milk is legal in the Sate of California and I am so thankful to be able to get my supply from Organic Pastures Dairy (Mark McAfee). Also, Dr. Mercola (www.mercola.com) has a lot of great information comparing the health benefits and disadvantages of raw vs conventional pasteurized dairy. I am giving my autistic daughter the raw because it is the “pasteurized” form that causes negative reactions. Raw milk does not cause lactose intolerance either. I am so passionate about raw milk. In my mind it is a huge travesty that the U.S. has many times deprived this safe and highly nutritious food from us! The history and justification of pasteurization and the dairy industry as a whole stands on very shakey evidence … however, unfortunately money and power speak volumes. It is up to “us” , who actually ‘get it’, to fight for our health.

    1. Cara,
      Another incredible anecdote! Thanks for all your great comments and questions this week – Katie

  19. additionally, visit www.realmilk.com, www.raw-milk-facts.com
    An interesting comment:
    ‘The dividing line between a food and a medicine sometimes becomes almost invisible. In many diseases nothing heals the body and restores stregnth like raw milk” Dr. J. F. Lyman 1928

  20. We decided to give raw milk a try when the pediatrician tried to start saying that my son (after being breastfed for 22 months) had the start of allergies & well, I didn’t want to hear that 🙂
    From my research, I have found that it is beneficial to drink a high quality, organic, grass fed, raw milk & it MUST be from Jersey Cows (black & white cows actually develope genes that cause cancer) I follow www.mercola.com & find many of his articles on the subject very interesting.

    1. Lura,
      Very interesting indeed! I am guessing Guernseys would be another option for dairy as they are a bit related to Jerseys.
      Thanks! 🙂 Katie

  21. Selling raw cow’s milk in Canada is against the law apparently… however, I /may/ have found a source for raw goat’s milk (I guess thats allowed.. or just not illegal.. yet). I’ve decreased a lot of my milk consumption due to the fact that I haven’t been able to get a healthy milk source. I do wonder at times if we should be drinking milk.. I mean we are the only species that drinks the breastmilk from another species.. that is kinda wierd…

  22. Did you hear my husband and me talking about this very subject last night?!! He can’t bring himself to drink the raw milk I buy. Sigh… I’d love to have your research to show him.

  23. I am always so sad when I read posts about making good milk choices. Milk is so heavily regulated where I live that there aren’t any choices – other than fat content. All the milk sold is from big industrialized companies and homogenized. It really makes me want to go out and get a cow… 🙂
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..Yoga Bag =-.

  24. We’ve been getting raw milk for a couple of months and I love it!
    .-= kara´s last blog ..Summer Slow Cooking: Whole Wheat Bread =-.

  25. I grew up on raw milk and feel that if you need to drink it, it’s the best way because the enzymes are still intact, aiding digestion. But, about 12 years ago I started learning that dairy is not made for human consumption due to size of animal vs. size of human, that the milk is for calves and their digestive systems….ever wonder why so many people have milk intolerance? Goat’s milk is a better source of milk. I also learned through my vegetarian, very healthy, very muscular, Chiropractor that when he takes his young patients off of dairy their asthma clears up. Milk is very mucous causing, which is not healthful for our interiors.

    I have told friends to lay off of dairy while they have a cold, they thought I was nuts but did it anyway and found that their colds didn’t last as long and they weren’t as congested. (this goes for orange juice, too, because OJ is mucous causing)

    I’m in love with ice cream, so completely dairy free isn’t happening right now, but when I took it out, I definitely felt better.
    .-= denise´s last blog ..Papier Mache =-.

  26. Finally a step I can say we already do, whew (:

    We have been getting raw milk for a few months now and the taste is unbelievable, we actually go in with a few other families and share the gas so to speak.
    .-= Suzanne´s last blog ..So How many things can we really go without? =-.

  27. We have done the research as well and fully agree that raw milk is best, but our local dairy farmer closed his farm a few months back (not because of anything to do with raw milk, was just losing money overall). Now, the closest place I can find it is 37 miles each way, so 74 miles round trip. As much as I’d love to buy from this farm, I can’t justify that much time and money spent to go get it on TOP of the added expense of the milk itself. The $5.50 a gallon I could handle, but factoring in the gas makes it substantially more.

    What do others in this situation do? Right now I’m buying hormone-free milk from a local dairy company, but it’s not organic and is pasteurized and homogenized.

    1. The closest farm to us is about a 3 hour drive away. Thankfully I have found a buying club where the farmer comes to us. It took me 6 months to find, and I still drive 45 minutes away, but it is worth every minute.

    2. We also have to go about 70 mi. round trip. We have a huge upright freezer and we just buy about 10 gal. and freeze it. The farmer says that it does not affect the nutritional value of the milk. It needs to be shaken quite well when thawed and we have noticed no difference. I have not found anything negative about freezing milk.

  28. Katie, Could you talk about how to figure out what kind of milk is the kind you are buying? Is soy milk just as bad as skim? Still looking for the raw stuff… Thanks for all your research, it is so helpful!

    1. Rachel,
      I’m sure some of your questions were answered in my What Kind of Milk to Buy post, but I wanted to address soy milk. Soy milk isn’t milk, of course, and not an animal product, so we’re talking apples vs. oranges here for sure. Many say that soy milk interferes with regular hormone function, and the traditional foods movement frowns upon any soy that is not fermented (soy milk is not). I wouldn’t not count soy milk as a viable alternative to cow’s milk of any kind, myself. Good question!
      🙂 Katie

  29. Greta @ Mom Living Healthy

    We don’t have a raw milk source in our area, but I do get our milk from a grass-fed, organic farm. So far we really like it.
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..This Week’s Menu Plan =-.

  30. Just came home with my first gallon of raw milk! Found a lady who is just starting to sell and gave me a good deal for my area! I’m not sure its “organic” but she feeds the cow alfalfa hay and a little grain. Not sure if that is the best or not….I can afford it though…anyone have any insights as to if this is a good way to go??? Thanks!

    1. considering the potential for contamination & bacteria load, you want to be sure this lady who is just starting out knows what she is doing. what state do you live in? are raw milk sales legal? if yes, she probably has to be registered/certified/licensed by the state. if raw milk sales aren’t legal, then you should be part of a “cow share” program & have a signed contract with her.

      1. Thanks for the info. I live in AZ raw milk can be sold, but must be labeled or sold as”not for human consumption”. I will look into it further. She lives on a cattle ranch, and works in the ag. dept. of our local community college. She also has a network of friends who sell raw milk. All this considered I feel pretty comfortable with the whole thing, however I will do so more research!
        Thanks again. Silly question, it hat considered grass-fed?

        1. Nicole,
          Hay and alfalfa count as “grassfed”, but a little grain would make it not 100%. However, there are many who point out that even traditional cultures fed cattle a little grain, and even eating grasses, they might have gotten seeds at the end of the season.
          Hope that helps! 🙂 Katie

  31. We drink raw milk here and we LOVE it. I just can’t drink the stuff from the store any more. I typically have issues with dairy and have none when drinking raw milk.
    .-= Sam´s last blog ..Thankful Thursdays =-.

  32. I originally got into buying raw milk because I wanted to make cheese. I had intended to pasteurize it at home if I was going to drink it. But then I was talking with some dairy friends I have (conventional) and they said they have been drinking milk straight out of the tank for years and no one ever got sick. So I never did end up pasteurizing it. We don’t really drink milk plain anyway – it’s used in cooking or cheeses so I’m not too worried.
    .-= Wendy´s last blog ..Focaccia =-.

  33. I am looking for raw milk to make into cheese and butter. But to drink, it is just to thick for me. I drink non-fat milk, so to go from that to raw would be hard. I do know that I will be switching it up for organic, grassfed non-fat though and use raw to make into stuff that I would use, my husband would like to drink raw, so I am sure he will drink it. He grew up on it in Mexico, so he is looking forward to us switching to it.

  34. I have yet to find a source to raw milk anywhere near me. I’m curious about what other choices are good? We don’t have a health food store near us either. So it seems to me our basic options are regular store milk or organic store milk and I’ve heard horrible things about both!

    1. Hi Hollie! We have a cowshare program at our farm and use www.realmilk.com as a place for folks to find us. You search by state, then town. Hopefully you’ll find someone near you—keep trying–it’s worth it! Beth

  35. I grew up on raw milk (in Europe) and love(d) it! But with four small children I just can’t make our budget work here paying more than twice the amount for generic milk…

  36. Thanks for this post. I have been doing quite a bit of research on milk for the past couple of weeks, and you are right that it is so confusing! I can’t even find a raw milk supply in my area to try, as the laws in my state are so strict. It’s frustrating that according to our laws, I can’t even buy raw milk if I wanted.
    .-= Lacie´s last blog ..Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores =-.

  37. heather harris

    I can’t wait to see what you have found. While I have been giving my family raw milk for the last four years or so, I know dairy farmers who won’t drink raw milk!! It’s confusing to me, but I know from personal experience that raw is better. My oldest son has had bed wetting issues in the past, and when he drinks the milk from the store, he has problems. Not so with raw milk…maybe I am reaching here with my conclusion, but it’s what I have noticed so far…
    .-= heather harris´s last blog ..consolidation =-.

  38. I really want to find a local source of non-homogenized VAT pasteurized milk (Raw milk is still illegal in WI thanks to the milk industry) but even in Central Wisconsin, that’s not easy. There is a company about 2 hours away, but they don’t sell here. I’d also have to convince my wife of the extra cost.

  39. Looking forward to reading this blog series. Our family enjoys goat milk, but our source is dried up for another month and we’ve just been buying local store-bought.

  40. A few months ago I made the switch to full-fat dairy, and then recently started only buying milk that said it was free from growth hormone, but I’m ready for another tiny baby step. I’ve just been putting it off because figuring out the best choice for milk has been pretty intimidating for me.

    Can’t wait to hear about your research! I really appreciate all the time your put into your blog posts and how you present the facts from all sides. I feel that some food blogs only parrot Weston A. Price – NOT that what he teaches is bad but I’m just too much of a science geek. I need multiple sources 🙂 !!!!
    .-= Kelli M´s last blog ..Summer Reading List Conclusion =-.

  41. We have been getting raw organic milk from a local farmer for almost two years now. 🙂 His cows are 100% grass-fed in the summer and about 70% in the winter. We love it! After struggling with lactose intolerance my whole life, I can now enjoy dairy products again. As the milk truck driver says – it’s not really lactose intolerance, it’s pasteurization intolerance. :o) I hope that one day soon it will be legal to sell organic raw milk in my state so it can be available to more people – and allow my farmer to better support his family.

  42. I know I’ll miss out on the five extra entries, but I still want to say this is a great article. We should be more diligent in looking at what we’re eating. Thanks for encouraging us to think for ourselves.

  43. Thanks for posting your “milk” list. I will take the time at some point today to read through it. Personally I would love to be able to obtain grassfed raw milk from a local, reliable source but since that is not available we limit our use of milk and use milk from an area farm that is pasteurized but not homogenized. Looking forward to reading your research later this week.

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