Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Raw Milk

I bought a half gallon of raw milk the other day at the Marion Square market at the stand run by Wadmalaw Island's Celeste Albers, who's getting to be quite the local food celebrity these days (see this nice profile in the Charleston City Paper). Unhomogenized and unpasteurized, it's as natural as milk can get.

Proponents claim a range of health benefits from drinking raw milk--everything from its being a good source of energy (which seems pretty likely) to remarkable but sketchy healing powers (see here, for example). But I could really care less about that. My interest is in the taste. And, without a doubt, raw milk has a strong, unique taste that is very unlike your supermarket pasteurized milk.

Part of it is the richness, for whole raw milk is thick and creamy--and yes, if you leave it undisturbed the cream does separate and float to the top. The color is a soothing pale yellow, not the stark whiteness of "regular" milk. But there's more to it than that. The milk has a definite strong taste of--I wasn't sure what it was at first, but it was the same wild flavor that you get with grass-raised beef. And then it struck me. It was the flavor of the grass--a definite hay-like taste/aroma that immediately brought back fuzzy memories of visiting my parent's friends' farms when I was a little kid. To put it bluntly, raw milk tastes the way hay smells.

I had the same reaction to it that I did when I first tried grass-fed beef. I would like to say that the clouds parted and a beam of sunlight burst down and I cried, "What have I been missing all these years?" But I didn't. It was unusual, it was different, it was interesting--but it definitely is an acquired taste. Three decades of a palate raised on pure-white, cool but almost tasteless milk are not wiped away in a single gulp.

But, I'm intrigued enough to keep trying it. I've heard people who were raised on farms say that nothing beats the taste of raw milk fresh from the cow, that it is the most wonderful, warming, and pleasing of all foods. I can see why. It would be like returning to Stilton cheese and a fresh baguette after a steady diet of American cheese or Wonderbread.

I'm just glad to know that there's now a regular supply available in Charleston.


Patrick said...

To put it bluntly, raw milk tastes the way hay smells.

I remember about twenty years ago or so, when my mom decided that we needed to try raw milk.

That experience didn't last long for us.

Tasting the way hay smells is a good way to describe it to those who've never tried it.

I described it as tasting the way I would imagine liquified burlap would taste.

Jeff Allen said...

I wonder if there is a correlation between detractors of raw milk and people who live in plastic houses?

Paul said...


Erin said...

I personally LOVE raw milk. It's an "acquired" taste all right, but once you get it, you're hooked. I could never go back to that white water in the super market.

t1mosabe said...
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RD in Chico said...

If it wasn't for milk pasteurization the majority of us would be sick! Pasteurization of milk is a QUICK heat treatment (163 degrees F for 16 seconds) to kill microbes!??? I receive at least one FDA food recall a month for raw milk via email. And don't be scared of homogenization...basically dairy producers force the milk against high pressure to break up the large fat gobules into smaller ones so the fat in your milk doesn't separate in your glass. I think the "healing powers" of raw milk are just a placebo effect.

RD in Chico said...
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T_Rex said...

I'm enthusiastic about raw milk but I haven't been able to find any where I live, no thanks to the lobbying efforts of those who want to kill our food with pasteurization and toxic additives. It stands to reason that heating food to a high temperature destroys most of its "life".

anthea said...

Before There Was Pasteurization, Milk was Medicine!

You don’t hear about this anymore, but in the early 1900’s milk was actually used as medicine. Dr. J.R. Crewe’s “Milk Cure” was used at the Mayo clinic to successfully treat:

weight loss
kidney disease
skin problems
urinary tract and prostate problems
chronic fatigue, and a whole host of other chronic conditions
Naturally, the only milk available at the time was raw whole milk, rich in butterfat, from pasture fed cows.

Dr. Crewe, MD -- one of the founders of the Mayo Foundation -- published an article in Certified Milk Magazine (January 1929), describing the milk treatment as a combination of “detoxifying fast and nutrient dense feeding,” and how diseases that have no similarity improved rapidly on raw milk.

Dr. Crewe used the milk cure for 15 years, and his patients were wild about it because it worked, and required no additional drugs or other medical interventions. Unfortunately his fellow medical practitioners were not as enthusiastic. Many physicians agreed on the fitness of dairy products as food, but were not interested in using it as a sole means of treatment.

Said Crewe in his article, “The chief fault of the treatment is that it is too simple… and it does not appeal to the modern medical man.”

This despite the fact that striking results were seen in tuberculosis, diseases of the nervous system, cardiovascular and renal conditions. Anemia and pernicious anemia responded well to it, as well as toxic thyroid and chronic cough.

“Hypertension responds with equal gratification. The blood pressure improves rapidly,” wrote Crew. “I have never seen such rapid and lasting results by any other method.”
Just shows GOD knew what he was doing by promising a land of milk and honey!!! Man has so strayed from the way we were supposed to be!

Anonymous said...

You must be buying it from the wrong place. Or the cows were supplement with hay. Raw milk is sweeter and creamier tasting than regular milk. It doesn't taste like burlap.

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