MILK: Raw vs Pasteurised . What's The Difference?

In Cambridge, New Zealand (and a lot of NZ in general) almost everyone was a farmer or knows one. Whatever you currently know about dairy farming is what you most likely associate with raw milk. We’d like to clear some things up and let you know how different our raw milk is to what you may be thinking of.

Let’s Start With What You Buy At The Store Or At The Farmer’s Market

Store bought milk (including Farmers Market milk) is legally always pasteurised at the minimum. It doesn’t matter to what degree, it is legally always pasteurised here in New Zealand. Store bought milk (and most if not all Farmers Market milks) are also standardised. This is the process where all the cream is taken out of the milk and a 'standard' set amount is put back into the milk so that you are getting a set percentage of fat/cream in your milk every day of the year. Homogenization is a step further that changes the structure of milk, particularly the fat globules so that you don’t get the cream rising to the top but instead stays mixed together (you can buy pasteurised, non-homogenised milk from the store). Our milk is not pasteurised, standardised nor homogenised.

What Is Pasteurisation?

Pasteurisation is the process of heating milk up to a certain temperature (75 degrees in NZ) and holding it at that temperature for a set time (usually 15 seconds) to ‘nuke’ the milk. A common misunderstanding of pasteurised milk is that it contains no bugs. This is simply not true. The pasteurisation process doesn’t remove bugs from the milk, it only kills them - and then leaves it all in there floatin’ around ready for you to drink 😉. Have you noticed when store bought milk goes ‘off’ it smells disgusting? That’s because all the dead bacteria that is still in there is actually slowly decomposing.

What’s So Great About Raw Milk?

As Hippocrates famously put it ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’
Something I think is so often misunderstand though, is what ‘food’ is. Have a google! This is what the definition is:
any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth.
Note the 'nutritious substance'? Raw milk is full of it’s original unaltered nutrients so your body can recognise them, making it a very nutritious substance! The table below very clearly shows the differences between raw milk and pasteurised milk in the nutrient density of the milk. This table is from Ralph Teller’s website.

So What’s In Raw Milk That Isn’t In Pasteurised Milk?

Raw milk is full of vital nutrients that our bodies need. As the table above illustrates, raw milk actually contains all 8 of the essential amino acids which kind of puts it in the category of ‘superfood’. The way I understand our gut microbiome is that it knows what certain nutrients look like, so when that nutrient gets into our gut, it grabs it and absorbs it. When we denature the nutrients our gut has no idea what it is and the nutrients just slip straight past (for example when milk or fruit juice are pasteurised, our gut doesn't recognise the denatured nutrient and lets it slip past. Side Note: This is what leads to a lot of ‘lactose intolerance’, ‘dairy intolerance’ and a bunch of other intolerances. In most cases these intolerances should more accurately be called ‘intolerance to processed foods’.). Our body simply doesn’t know how to deal with these natural foods that have been altered. Check out this research carried out by the Weston A. Price Foundation (I highly recommend checking out their global Real Milk campaign too). The pics below show the difference between four types of milk (as described), in their colloidal structure. As you can see, raw milk has a large colloidal structure - our body knows what all those nutrients are. The other three types of milk used to look like this before being processed - our body now doesn't know what all those nutrients are due to their different 'appearance'.

They sum up the article like this: 
Heat, as is used in pasteurization, is well known to denature the quaternary structure of proteins, deactivate enzymes, destroy vitamins and kill microbes. Homogenization affects the integrity of the fat globules, rendering them smaller and more uniform, and thus, alters raw milk’s colloidal ultrastructure, too. In summary, we have observed that processed milk loses “organized heterogeneity,” a term synonymous with the living state. Thus, whereas raw milk may be considered “alive,” processed milk is seen to be “lifeless. 

Processed milk is anything not specifically labelled as ‘raw’. Remember that all milk in NZ is legally pasteurised at the very least, unless you’re buying raw milk delivered or from a farm gate.  

So Why Choose Raw?

I think the above information will be enough for you to try raw milk alone, or at least spark some research of your own as to how you can best nourish yourself.

As raw milk producers who are registered with MPI, we have to meet very strict guidelines to supply our milk directly to the public. This includes individual teat washing, hand stripping, sanitising and drying before the cow is even cupped. This is a very time consuming task but we take these safety precautions to ensure you are getting a safe and healthy product that doesn't need to be processed in any way (including heat treating or pasteurising).
We also currently test our milk every ten days. Some examples of our testing are the coliform counts which we don't allow to exceed 10 counts per mL (our latest test came back at less than 1 which is the lowest result possible). Pasteurised milk is allowed to be up to 499 counts per mL prior to pasteurisation.

At Alexander Organics we believe wholeheartedly in drinking raw milk. We have seen the benefits in our own family including asthma and excema being healed when drinking our raw milk.

If you have any questions please get in touch! 

Check out our facebook page for our current open hours and we look forward to your visit to The Shop!

Ellen Alexander


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