Raw Milk in England and Wales is undergoing a minor revival in spite of those who question its safety. Consumers have become aware of the health benefits and are switching to it. The old fears of tuberculosis have dwindled, despite repeated warnings from the public health officials.
‘People travel for miles and buy in bulk,’ says Celia Haynes from Meadow Cottage Farm, Hampshire, who currently sell 50 litres of raw milk each day. ‘Unpasteurised milk has a rich but refreshing flavour which people seem to love.’
Studies show that milk’s special qualities are damaged when it is heated during pasteurisation. While this process certainly destroys bad bacteria such as listeria, E.coli and salmonella, it also destroys the good stuff, like enzymes, proteins, vitamin B12, B6 and A, D, E and K.
Raw milk, it would seem, has been unfairly singled out as a risk, when actually only a very small risk exists. Before commercial bans on the product, millions of people consumed it safely. Not a single incident was reported. However, there are many instances in which contamination from pasteurised milk has resulted in serious illness. Associated disorders include anaemia, osteoporosis, arthritis, growth problems and even rickets, heart disease, type 1 diabetes, infertility and autism. Raw milk, on the other hand, is not associated with any of these problems and consumers who have been allergic to milk for many years can tolerate and even thrive on the raw version.
An outstanding supply of nutrients, this milk is the best source of calcium and healthy cholesterol. It contains no antibiotics, pesticides or ‘super cow’ growth hormones. One can drink it safe in the knowledge that the herd who produced it were actually raised on real grass, like they were designed to and not cheap processed grain.
Richard Young, an organic farmer and policy adviser for the Soil Association, argues that concerns about raw milk are outdated. ‘Producers these days have to adhere to stricter hygiene standards than conventional dairy farmers,’ he says. ‘Unpasteurised milk is a living substance and contains a range of chemicals that attack invading pathogens. What’s more, the infections in cattle that can lead to human illness are far more likely to result from the intensive and industrialised farming that produces most of the milk destined for supermarket shelves.’
Obtaining raw milk can be more of a challenge but it is well worth the effort to seek out. There are around 200 producers in England and Wales, although it has been banned in Scotland for over two decades. The smaller farmers sell it in traditional glass bottles with a green foil top or gold striped if it is from a Channel Island herd.
For a list of raw milk producers: