When was pasteurization introduced and why? Should adults drink raw milk? What nutrients does it contain? And where can I get it?
If you’re intrigued by raw milk, you’ve come to the right place! Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, today answers all of these questions and more. She also gives an update on which states in the U.S. (nearly all, except for four) have legalized its sale. And she explains how raw milk is nature’s most complete food (and a fragile one that should be treated with care).
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Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda.
Raw milk is one of nature’s most complete foods, and yet, it has been misunderstood, mistreated by pasteurization and other processing methods, and maligned more than most foods. In this episode, we explain the real deal with raw milk and where you can find it near you. This is Episode 445. Our guest is none other than Sally Fallon Morell, the President and Founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation. She’s a prolific author, speaker, and proponent of raw milk.
In 1998, she founded a campaign for real, raw milk. She and her team have made a real dent in the availability and legality of raw milk across the United States. In this episode, Sally talks about how many states have legalized its consumption, the politics and economics of the dairy industry, and how it has influenced and tried to squelch the sale of raw milk.
She also highlights the difference between real, raw milk and its pasteurized counterpart. She even covers why pasteurization came about in the first place. Finally, Sally allays concerns about raw milk’s safety, and she reminds us that even breast milk is raw. Before we get rolling, find real, raw milk near you in the United States simply by going to Real Milk.
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Coming up, Sally dispels the myth that adults should not drink milk, and she cites how some of the healthiest people around the world that Dr. Price studied have thrived on it.
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Check out Sally’s Blog for More Information: Nourishing Traditions
Find Raw Milk Near You in the US at Real Milk
See our Website for More Resources: Weston A. Price
Welcome to the show, Sally.
Thank you. I’m happy to be here, as always.
Raw milk is on the rise.
Our big news is that we got raw milk legalized in Iowa. It was one of the holdout states. We had a wonderful farmer, Esther Arkfeld. She’d been working on this for several years, and we finally got it through.
Why was it so hard to get it through?
I don’t understand why it was Iowa of all states. You couldn’t sell it from the farm. The farmers couldn’t do anything. There was a lot of resistance. There was this time, too, from the dairy industry. They admitted. They said, “We lost this fight.” The nice thing is we got a lot of publicity for it. Most of it was very negative in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and that kind of thing. We got some good publicity also. There were some nice radio interviews, podcasts, and things. It hit a nerve with the industry, which is seeing pasteurized milk sales relentlessly declining from 1% to 3% per year. Raw milk consumption and sales are going up. There’s a lot of enthusiasm for it.
Why do you think?
It’s a combination of things. One is COVID did open a lot of eyes to people realizing that maybe everything the government tells you is not correct, like the fact that so many children cannot drink pasteurized milk and how it makes them sick and gives them asthma. Our very steady campaign of educating people about the health benefits and the safety of raw milk is information getting out there.
The Iowa Victory and COVID all coincided with the launch of our new Real Milk website, which has a map where you can see where to find real milk. It’s really easy to find. You put your ZIP code in and you can find what’s near you. Everyone I know who does produce raw milk tells me that they can’t keep enough of it. They’re selling out.
You’re right. It was the COVID time. It was all the factors you mentioned and what you have coined as the upwise-ing of the crowd. When I get on social media, I can’t help but see friends of ours, like the raw milk and deadlifts guys or Paul Saladino, people who are saying raw milk is good for you. The word is getting out even if the industry is trying to squelch it.
You start hearing from people who weren’t involved in this movement at all but are telling friends, “Drink raw milk. It tastes good. It doesn’t cause reactions and so forth.”
It’s exciting, that word of mouth.
One thing that people maybe are not aware of is that in the ‘90s and early 2000s, there was a big switch from pasteurized to ultra-pasteurized. Pasteurized is 160 degrees. Ultra-pasteurized is 230 degrees. It’s a big difference in the heat that’s applied to the milk. The way it’s applied is flash pasteurized, a superheated, stainless steel plate. This is a much more violent process for the milk. The industry is doing this because they are having so many problems with pasteurized milk. There were spores and things like that that remained. That could become active in the milk under the right circumstances. They went to ultra-pasteurization. The other thing about ultra-pasteurized milk is that it’s in these aseptic containers that don’t need to be refrigerated.
I used to think, “Isn’t that wonderful? People can drink milk twenty years from now like it’s straight from the cow,” but it’s not.
This started in Europe.
That’s where I saw it.
You see piles of these milk boxes in the center of the floor in the supermarkets. They didn’t do that here because they knew Americans wouldn’t buy that. The ultra-pasteurized milk is refrigerated.
It’s still in the refrigerated section.
Yes, but it’s ultra-pasteurized. It doesn’t need to be. They could have it on the regular shelf, but they sell it in the refrigerated section because, otherwise, Americans would ask questions about this.
Let’s talk a little bit about the dairy industry. You said they’re resisting the legalization of raw milk. Why the stranglehold on the industry, and how long has that been in place?
This has been in place since the mid-1900s when they started passing mandatory pasteurization laws. The first one was in 1948 in the state of Michigan. That’s when the campaign against raw milk really began. There was an article in a magazine called Coronet about this town called Crossroads, USA, where 2/3 of the people died from undulant fever from drinking raw milk.
That story was repeated the next year in the Reader’s Digest. There was one little problem. The town of Crossroads didn’t exist and this outbreak never happened. There was this huge lie to get people to avoid raw milk. I got raw milk as a baby because it was what was out there. This huge lie started the campaign against raw milk. These lies have continued ever since.
The bottom line for the industry is the dollar.
It’s a consolidation of the industry. I compare the milk industry to a Marxist system because the dairy farmers cannot set their prices. They cannot choose their customers. The industry does that for them. Their prices are a joke except that they’re so tragic. The farmer gets $1.30 a gallon for his milk. That’s the same price he got in World War II. This is why they go out of business. The farmer selling raw milk gets anywhere from $5 to $25 a gallon. He can go out and find customers, market, and do all these things of free enterprise. The conventional dairy farmer is trapped in a system that can only be described as a Marxist system.
The milk industry can be considered a Marxist system. Dairy farmers cannot set their prices nor choose their own customers.
The prosperous dairy farm was the centerpiece of American rural life. In all these little towns all across the Midwest, the basis of wealth was the dairy farm. They’ve all gone out of business. All these farms had a furniture store and several grocery stores. They had restaurants. They had a high school with a marching band and drill team with uniforms. That’s all gone. It is because these farms have gone out of business. We used to have several million dairy farms in America. This time, it’s about 30,000.
We’re losing dairy farms every year, I imagine.
In Maryland, we had 6,500 dairy farms in 1970. This time, we have about 200. In fact, what’s interesting is our farm got the first pet milk permit in Maryland. There are about six farms in Maryland doing exactly what we’re doing, selling raw pet milk and about the same price of $14 a gallon. The day will come when there are more farms selling raw milk than pasteurized milk.
That’s so exciting. Talk to us about where we are in terms of the legality across the United States. You said Iowa legalized raw milk. What states are the outholders that haven’t given in yet?
When we set up Real Milk, it’s a wonderful example of what a website can do. This was a very early website. We said, “We’re going to help people find raw milk,” because, in many states, it was illegal to advertise raw milk. Talk about restraint of trade. When we started, there were 27 states that allowed farmers to distribute raw milk in one fashion or another. It was either direct sales, retail sales, pet milk, or herd shares. There were 27. We’re up to 46. We only have four states remaining. They are Rhode Island, Louisiana, Hawaii, and Nevada. Nevada should be easy. It’s a regulation that they have to put a black dye in the pet milk. We wouldn’t even need legislation for this if we could get them to lift that.
When those four states come around, we’re going to have a big party to celebrate raw milk in every state. There are some states that we’re looking at that really need some upgrading. The main one is New York. They have lots of raw milk farmers, but they can only sell from the farm. They can’t deliver. They can’t do farmer’s markets. That’s one that needs to be changed.
Who is working on those legislative pieces?
It’s been Pete Kennedy the whole time. We started this together. He has been very systematic and patient. That’s how we’ve worked through this. He’s advised people who want to change the laws. He is working with a farmer in New York who wants to liberalize the distribution of raw milk in New York.
That’s wonderful. I’ve heard it said that milk, raw milk in particular, is one of nature’s most perfect foods. Can you go over the benefits of it for those who may be unfamiliar?
Raw milk is designed for an infant that has an immature digestive system. The pancreas isn’t producing all the enzymes it needs. They may have a poor digestive tract and a very primitive immune system. What raw milk does, first of all, is every single vitamin and mineral in raw milk has a special enzyme that ensures 100% assimilation of the iron, the phosphorus, the vitamin A, and whatever it is because the infant can’t do this.
Think of someone who does have compromised digestion. Raw milk is going to provide nourishment that they can’t get from other foods. For the growing child, the nourishment is right there. Raw milk contains everything that’s in our blood except for red blood cells. It contains neutrophils, antibodies, and white blood cells. In fact, in the First World War, they used raw milk for blood transfusions because they didn’t have enough blood. You give them a transfusion of raw milk and get them to eat liver for the red blood cells, and there you have it. It worked.
Someone who has compromised digestion will benefit from drinking raw milk. It will provide them with nourishment they cannot get from other food.
It has everything that’s in our blood. It builds the blood. It has all these immune factors. In the infant, it creates the immune system, and in the immune-compromised individual, it will heal the immune system. It also has factors that heal the gut, heal the gut wall, support the growth of beneficial bacteria, and put a good biome into the gut. All of these things we are discovering are so important. Modern science is catching up with what God gave us in the milk.
What’s very interesting to me is the system is perfect for nourishment, but it’s also the most fragile food in nature. It’s the most complete, but the most fragile food in nature. Most foods are more digestible and provide us with better nourishment when they’re cooked. Raw milk is different. When you heat those fragile proteins, they become warped, distorted, and allergenic.
It’s very interesting. This is a new study from 2019. It was done in China. They looked at four ways of processing raw milk, which were boiling to imitate pasteurization, freeze-drying, regular spray drying, and microwaving. All four methods, including freeze-drying, caused undesirable changes in the milk proteins. They were giving these proteins to rats and they developed problems with the spleen. It was the pancreas and the brain. They were not as smart. They didn’t have as good memory and all kinds of things. This pasteurized milk, especially ultra-pasteurized milk, makes our kids stupid.
We need to treat this wonderful food with care and consume it as naturally as possible.
We need to treat it with respect. In fact, the conclusion of these researchers was we need to find better ways of preserving milk because none of the ways that we’re using are good. The thing is we have the science. We have the technology to get fresh, clean, raw milk anywhere in the world we want to. We have the technology to get this milk to every growing child in the United States. Instead, we’re still trying to justify what I consider a rust belt technology. We’re hammering the milk, heating the milk, and treating it as an industrial product instead of nature’s perfect food.
I’m processing what you were saying earlier about how it’s a perfect food, especially for young babies and children. Some people use that as an argument for the fact that maybe adults shouldn’t partake of it. What do you say to them?
There’s this argument that says that no animal drinks milk in adulthood, which is not true. You give raw milk to cats, dogs, donkeys, and any kind of pet as well as chickens, and they will drink it. They recognize it as a food. I don’t think this holds any water. The healthiest population that Dr. Price studied were the herd-owning tribes in Africa. Throughout the world, raw milk has nourished people with reindeer, camels, cows, goats, sheep, and water buffalos. We’ve had populations all over the earth for thousands of years thriving on raw milk.
That is so true. I am a witness. I don’t think I told you this yet, but when I was with the Mursi Tribe in Ethiopia, I got to talk to a chief. I said to him, “What do you eat to stay strong?” The first thing he said was milk. I know he wasn’t talking about pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized.
He gets right from the cow. Do you know what’s interesting? The one thing that milk lacks is iron. It’s very rich in zinc. It seems like the infant needs zinc first. We recommend six months the baby is weaned or begins eating solid foods that are rich in iron such as egg yolks and liver. The Messiah and those tribes in Africa mix the milk with blood.
They’re getting the iron with the milk.
The Mursi tribe did the same. They would mix the milk and blood. Isn’t that interesting to instinctively know what the body needs?
Though these tribal people and the work of Dr. Price point to the wisdom of traditional health ways, still, some people are afraid of pathogens in the milk. They’re like, “If I drink it raw, maybe there’s going to be some bacteria that will hurt my baby.” What would you say to these folks?
First of all, breast milk is raw milk. When it’s been tested, it’s found to be loaded with pathogens. They did some tests in China. They were setting up a milk bank and they were shocked at the high levels of pathogens in the milk. Apparently, it’s the custom in China not to bathe for a whole month after you’ve given birth. The innate wisdom is amazing. The babies are exposed to a lot of pathogens, but they develop an immunity to them through the milk.
Someone who has compromised digestion will benefit from drinking raw milk. It will provide them with nourishment they cannot get from other food.
Raw milk contains numerous components that kill pathogens, which we know this, numerous ways that prevent the pathogens from being absorbed, and numerous ways to neutralize any problems with the pathogens. Raw milk will withstand a challenging test. That’s where you put pathogens in the milk. You’d think they’d grow, but the pathogens reduce when you put them in the milk. There is no other food like this.
This system can be overwhelming. I’m not saying that raw milk has never made anyone sick, but it’s quite rare. All dairy foods are relatively safe compared to other foods, although pasteurized milk has made people sick and has killed people. We need to be careful. We have everything we need to produce really clean raw milk.
Our farm, for example, tests every batch of milk for three things, but mainly coliform. We will not sell or use our milk if it’s over ten coliforms. Usually, it’s zero coliform. This is a way for us to know that everything is clean. We have these on-farm tests. We have stainless steel. We have instant refrigeration. We have clean bottles. We have everything that we need to produce clean, raw milk or safe, raw milk.
Isn’t there even an institute, the Raw Milk Institute, where farmers can align themselves with this group saying, “We’re meeting these standards to allay the fears of the consumer.”
We’re not members, but they do everything that we do. They make sure your dairy parlor is clean. The way you put the milking cups on is important as well as the disinfection and all this stuff. The thing is we’ve got these technologies. There is no scientific reason to oppose raw milk. It’s all economic.
Let’s go back to pasteurization. We’ve mentioned it a lot in this conversation, but I don’t think we said what brought it about and what it does to the product.
We’ve mentioned this study from China. It was pasteurization kills all the enzymes for absorbing the nutrients, and it warps and distorts the proteins in the milk. Added to that, most milk is homogenized, which is hammering the milk. There is terrible pressure put on the milk. That breaks up the fat globule membranes. If it’s not homogenized, we can use that membrane material. We can’t if it’s homogenized. We couldn’t have thought of any worse things to do to milk than what we do.
Pasteurization kills all the enzymes responsible for absorbing nutrients. It wraps and distorts the proteins in the milk.
It’s so fragile.
It started in the late 1800s. We had a problem then. They called it the milk problem. It was the very high death rate of children in cities like New York and Chicago. The death rate for babies was about 50%. It was huge. There were a lot of things going on then. We had no refrigeration. We had no cars. We had the horses and mules. The cities were full of stinking piles of manure. That manure got into the water system.
It was only in 1890 that the city of Chicago stopped drawing drinking water from Lake Michigan, which is the same place they were dumping the sewage. The water was filthy. People lived in crowded tenements that had horses and mules and they blamed the death rate on the milk. It could have been partially from the milk. The milk was coming from what they called swill dairies, which were inner city confinement dairies where the cows ate the swill from the whiskey production. They proposed pasteurization as the solution to this. The death rate had fallen dramatically long before they started to pasteurize.
It’s quite interesting. The city of New York passed the mandatory pasteurization law in 1913. We have the minutes of the meeting where they did this. Everybody at the meeting, which were all men, said, “We know that raw milk is superior nutritionally, but we don’t have the manpower. We can’t afford to inspect all these little dairies whereas if it were coming to the pasteurizing plant, we could inspect the milk at the plant. We wouldn’t have to go out to all the dairies.” This is bureaucratic laziness why they passed mandatory pasteurization.
Many years ago, we were trying to work with the Department of Health in Maryland. My inspector was a very lady. I liked her very much. I said, “We really need to get raw milk in Maryland.” She said, “We can’t afford to inspect all these little dairies.” It was the same reason. Finally, we got nowhere. We went the other route and got the pet milk permit. Everyone was surprised.
That’s a good workaround. In some of the states in which raw milk is legal, it still has some parameters around it.
Anywhere where you have raw milk for human consumption, it is very strict. We’re up to 14 or 15 states where it can be sold in stores for human consumption. That’s progress also. You have to ask yourself, “Why is raw milk safe in California where it’s sold in the stores, but not safe in Louisiana? It doesn’t make sense.”
There’s no answer to that question. We talked earlier about the politics and economics of the dairy industry. Can we talk a little bit about the politics and economics of the raw milk industry?
Yes. With raw milk, the farmer has a chance to make a decent living. It’s not guaranteed. Farming is very difficult. The ideal farm is a family-run farm of about 200 acres and 100 cows. That’s the ideal size for your infrastructure, for your pastures, and for making a decent living. The raw milk dairies in California are milking 1,200 cows. They have 30 Mercedes delivery vans that go all over California.
Their income in 2023 was $22 million. They are the most profitable dairy in America. The owner, Mark McAfee, told me the only dairies in California making money are the raw milk dairies. I don’t want to say it’s a guarantee because farming is a hard business. The ideal size is about 200 acres, 100 cows, and a family doing it, so you have several workers.
I have friends who live in Maryland who hop in their car every weekend, go to Pennsylvania to some unmarked road, and go to Amish houses. They’re knocking almost door to door to see who has milk because they run out fast. It’s the opposite of the scenario you were describing, and yet, those farmers have a chance because they’re selling directly to the consumer.
They can set their price.
I have a couple more questions to wrap up. You were talking about the enzymes that fight the pathogens and the live raw milk. It really is a difference between a live raw product and a dead product on the shelf, isn’t it?
Absolutely. It’s quite appropriate to use those words. We looked at raw and pasteurized milk through a dark field microscope at 7500 magnification. The raw milk looks like a colloidal substance. It looks like a very complex substance and the pasteurized milk is flat. The raw milk looks like something alive and the pasteurized milk is dead.
Is this one reason people say, “I’m lactose intolerant,” or, “I can’t handle milk,” because they’re ingesting a dead product that their body doesn’t recognize as food?
It doesn’t recognize the proteins and can’t digest them. We did a survey and found that 82% of people diagnosed with lactose intolerance could drink raw milk without any problems. What you’re really seeing is pasteurization intolerance.
That’s a really good word.
Children need milk for health. We don’t have other sources of calcium in our culture besides milk, cheese, and fermented milk products. Don’t tell me that you can get calcium from spinach or kale because it’s blocked. It is very hard to absorb from those foods. You have to eat so much of it to get what you get in a glass of milk. To start off life with strong, healthy bones, good posture, and good growth, they need milk and dairy foods.
The image that’s coming to mind is perhaps a photo you showed me of a young Swiss milkmaid who had the most beautiful smile and broad facial structure. You know she’s consuming that milk every day. The people who do look vibrant.
The milkmaids were noted for their beauty. This was in the 1700s and 1800s. First of all, they were well-fed. They had plenty of food. Milk is a rich source of vitamin C, which protects them against smallpox. They had all the other nutrients in the milk. They were well-nourished so they were beautiful.
Hooray for raw milk. I would be remiss if I didn’t conclude this interview with a question I love to pose at the end. If the reader could do one thing to improve their health, what would you recommend that they do?
I don’t think it’s any surprise that I’m saying switch from pasteurized to raw milk and raw milk cheese also if you can get it.
That’s wonderful. Thank you for this time.
Thank you. Thanks for letting me expound on my favorite subject.
Our guest was Sally Fallon Morell. You can visit her website, Nourishing Traditions, for more information. You can find me at Holistic Hilda. This is a review from Apple Podcasts. BQBerry has this to say, “New insight every time. I have learned so much from this show. My health has improved and so has my family’s as we’ve implemented changes in our lives based on the recommendations.” BQBerry, this makes me so happy. I know the show isn’t for everyone, but I’m glad it has made a difference for you.
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About Sally Fallon Morell
Sally Fallon Morell, MA, President, is best known as the author of the best-selling cookbook, Nourishing Traditions®: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.
She also founded A Campaign for Real Milk (www.realmilk.com) in 1998. At that time, the website listed only twenty-eight sources of raw milk in the U.S. Today there are over two thousand, with many hundreds more not listed. Raw milk is the fastest growing agricultural product in the US; this growth has been largely stimulated by the information provided at realmilk.com.
Sally lives in Brandywine, MD with her husband Geoffrey Morell. She is the mother of four and has four beautiful grandchildren, all brought up according to Nourishing Traditions® principles.