In the early days of the Soil & Health Association, consuming raw cow’s milk was hardly mentioned and didn’t make headlines like it does today, 75 years later. During that time the number of dairy factories in New Zealand has diminished from 400 cooperatives in 1930 to one major manufacturer, Fonterra, and half a dozen smaller companies dotted around the country.
The hygiene systems for milk collected from farmers have had to improve enormously in the past 50 years. The number of tests performed on each farm’s supply has increased from only two tests, one for bacteria and a second to detect antibiotics, to at least eight today. The threat of downgraded milk keeps dairy farmers on their toes as the income penalties are expensive for both supplier and processor. Each tanker carries milk from several farms, and if one property delivers second-grade milk then the complete tanker load has lost its premium value.
Propaganda about raw milk
Due to recent news media propaganda around the consumption of raw cow’s milk I am motivated to write of our experience of drinking raw, unadulterated cow’s milk. Some negative reports have been spread from the Bluff to the Cape via local newspapers, but not one article contained any proof of an illness due directly to raw milk consumption. The fight for our right to the perfect food and what we feed ourselves has never been greater nor more important.
The cow produces a clean and wholesome food. Her milk is sterile until it makes contact with the environment and the machines collecting it, where it can become contaminated if not handled correctly. Each farmer has their own way of cleaning individual milking plants to keep the milk safe. These procedures have become more involved and stringent over recent years – it takes nearly as long to clean the equipment in the modern dairy parlour as it does to harvest the milk.
We have always drunk raw milk, just like our parents, grandparents and many farming families worldwide. It is part of the dairy farmer’s culture and to my knowledge not one of my ancestors suffered from ill health because of it. I am proud to have supplied grade-free milk to the dairy company for many years and have always acknowledged that if the milk isn’t fit for my consumption I wouldn’t expect anyone else to drink it.
This exact principle was followed to allow our grandson Ethan to consume at age 2½ months a baby formula using raw cow’s milk. His mum felt her milk supply wasn’t enough at the time and was looking to complement her breast milk with formula.
Infant formulas: what’s in them?
We couldn’t find a milk formula without soy (a pet hate of ours) in the ingredient list. In 2004 we read Take Control of Your Health and Escape the Sickness Industry by Elaine Hollingsworth (www. doctorsaredangerous.com), director of Hippocrates Health Centre of Australia. Elaine’s book made us more aware of numerous hidden ingredients and additives in our foods. Soy is one of those and we learnt it is a significant source of aluminium, which the plant absorbs from the soil. Aluminium in breast milk is 4–65 nanograms per millilitre. Soy-based formulas contain 600–1300 ng/ml.
Soy also contains high levels of phytoestrogens – 100 grams of soy protein has the oestrogenic equivalent of one contraceptive pill. Soy formulas have been implicated in increasingly earlier sexual maturity in girls and delayed or slowed sexual development in boys. Soy crops (unless organic) are sprayed before harvest with systemic herbicides which are absorbed via the foliage and accumulate in the plant and the bean.
We also questioned the milk powder that went through pasteurisation, killing valuable enzymes, and was sourced from cows fed palm kernel, petroleum byproducts, brown pastures killed off with Roundup and pastures grown with synthetic urea to name a few. None of the above sounded like good nutritional food for a growing baby, so we looked at certified organic mixtures where at least the milk powder would not be contaminated with chemicals or drugs.
Organic raw cow’s milk
First we tried two organic powdered baby formulas direct from America. Unfortunately, my grandson’s motions were green, suggesting there was very little fat in the mixture.
While attending an organic dairy farmers’ meeting, the recipe for baby formula in the book Nourishing Traditions using unpasteurised organic milk was suggested and said to be as close to mother’s milk as possible. We jumped at the opportunity.
We used our own homegrown cow’s milk, and ordered the extra ingredients from America to put the recipe together. The half cup of whey required was drained from our homemade yoghurt and we scooped the four tablespoons of cream from the top of the five-litre milk billy that was collected fresh from the dairy herd. It was simple to order the formula ingredients from Radiant Life online and they would arrive within seven days. We added virgin olive oil, coconut oil, gelatine, sunflower oil and cod liver oil to make a delicious baby formula. There was also yeast, acerola powder, lactose and Bifodobacterium infantis. Ethan flourished! At age two and a half he was gradually weaned off the formula, but continued to drink raw cow’s milk twice a day until the age of five, sometimes drinking up to a litre a day!
Growing up healthy
The raw milk formula contained all the ingredients for a growing baby, with no soy or artificial additives. Ethan was not a big eater of solids. He wanted to hold the spoon and feed himself and as you can imagine the food went everywhere and the small amount left on the spoon was hardly enough to feed a mouse. He wouldn’t let his mother help. This was a worrying time. We kept our faith in the nutrition provided by the raw milk and went with the flow. Our grandson was growing the same as every other child and he had complete control of what went into his body. He loved to eat raw carrots, raw broccoli, coconut, strawberries, blueberries, apple, orange and banana, and especially his bottle of raw milk.
Occasionally he would eat some meat, really enjoying salami and sausages. He also frequently included dirt, pumice and a portion of butter directly from the packet in his food menu. Last year, aged six, he had his first visit to the dental nurse where his mother was told it was very rare to see a perfect set of teeth like his! The only thing noticeable was his baby teeth wearing down because of his high-fibre diet. I believe the teeth are the best signal of a person’s overall health.
Our gratitude goes out to Sally Fallon and Mary Enig for their book Nourishing Traditions, which is full of traditional recipes more familiar to our ancestors than to the modern-day parent. The milk formula has been researched and carefully compiled with the help of modern science and is fed to babies worldwide. Ethan has never needed to go to the doctor and in my opinion drinking unadulterated cow’s milk was the next best thing to breast milk.