The Raw Milk Experiment, Part II

 

Ok, so the curiosity finally got to me.  I’ve dipped my toes in with a tiny tastes here and there (see The Raw Milk Experiment, Part I), but I was never going to find out how I truly react to raw milk without buying a bottle and actually drinking it.  So one day when I was feeling particularly brave, I bit the bullet and picked up a quart.  Thus began my 4-week experiment.

 

I say 4 weeks because it took that long to know for sure what my body’s reaction was.  Here’s the week by week analysis.

 

Week One

 

The first time was really exciting.  I brought home this lovely old-fashioned milk bottle, the kind that you pay a deposit on and bring it back to the store when it’s empty.  It was REAL milk – raw, whole, and unhomogenized.  That means the cream is on the top.  There was a nice layer of it, almost 2 inches at the top.  I poured off a small amount to reserve for later, thinking I would whip it up and serve it with some fresh berries.  Then I shook the bottle and poured myself a glass.  I was nervous!  I smelled it – it had a grassy fragrance.  Which makes sense, since it came from cows that were grass-fed.  That also explained its rich ivory color.  I had never seen milk like this.  I took a sip, and it actually – tasted good.  Kind of earthy, slightly sweet, with a light, grassy finish.

 

I finished off the rest of the glass, which went down smoothly.  I took note of how I felt afterward.  I could definitely feel something going on in my belly.  But it was not a bad feeling.  It felt like, things were rearranging in there. There was a lot of activity.  It was as if my body was trying to recognize a substance that had not been present in years.  Yet I did not have any pain or discomfort at any time that day. 

 

I continued to have a glass of raw milk each day until it was gone.  (It’s very important to consume it right away, because it is raw.  It will only last for about 5 days.)  I still felt fine.  One day I had a little on my granola, though I still prefer to eat my granola with goat or sheep’s milk yogurt.  During this time I was paying close attention to my skin.  It can take up to 4 days before I break out after eating a reactive food.  But by the fourth day, I was still in the clear! 

 

Week Two

 

Buoyed after my first week’s success with the raw milk, I took my empty bottle back to the store the next week and bought another one.  This time I got more bold.  I tried baking with it.  I had a recipe for a Meyer lemon custard tart (a friend had given me a bag of lemons from her tree), which called for heavy cream, and also a ridiculous amount of butter.  And sugar, which I cut in half and used raw sucanat. (Yes, I cheated – but only because lemons are so tart you need to sweeten them somehow, and I wasn’t sure the recipe would work with any kind of syrup.)  I was also out to dinner one night and ended up eating some mashed yams that I suspect may have had milk in them (and if so, it was pasteurized).

 

However, I quickly came to regret my careless diet that week. My skin became increasingly oily and I was breaking out.  But I wondered, was it the sugar?  Was it from consuming a much larger amount of butter than usual?  Was it because the cream was heated, destroying the enzymes that were helping me digest it?  Was there pasteurized milk in those mashed yams?  I will never know exactly.  Probably some or all of the above. 

 

But another possibility existed – I was having a delayed reaction to the raw milk.  I have had delayed reactions before.  Especially if I overdo something.  I was drinking milk almost daily – something I had not done in I don’t know how long.  Probably since I was a kid.  What if I simply had too much?  If so, would I ever buy raw milk again?  You pretty much have to drink it every day just to use it up before it goes bad.  My husband is not really into it – he enjoyed the strawberries and cream and put a little milk in his coffee, but that’s about all.  I was discouraged.

 

Week Three

 

This week I decided to give myself a break.  I waited a few days after I’d finished the second bottle.  The pie was long gone.  I was careful with everything else that I ate.  My skin started clearing up.  I didn’t get another bottle when I did my grocery shopping.  But a few days later I was at the farmers’ market and saw the same stand where I had sampled the milk the first time a few months ago.  I had this strange craving.  I thought, if I’m going to do this, I’ve got to do it all the way.  The only way I’m going to know if I reacted to the milk or something else is to keep drinking the milk.  If my skin stays clear and I feel good, then I will know for sure.  If I break out again, then I’m done.  I brought home another quart.

 

Week Four

 

This time everything was fine!  I did not break out, my digestion was great, and I felt as good as ever.  I am now on my fourth bottle of raw milk.

 

This is what I am now certain of: I can drink raw milk without reacting negatively!!  Whatever natural enzymes and bacteria are present, they help my body break down the milk (lactose and all) and absorb the rich nutrients without adversely affecting me.  In fact, it makes me feel great.  I feel like my body is getting something that I have been lacking over the years.  Raw milk is highly nutritious.  (AND safe – most small dairies that produce raw milk are meticulously clean, and beneficial bacteria in raw milk fight harmful ones; you are more likely to get sick from drinking industrial pasteurized milk.)  However, if milk is cooked or pasteurized, all those beneficial enzymes and bacteria are destroyed and it is much harder to digest.  I believe that is why I developed an allergy in the first place and why I reacted negatively. 

 

You may be wondering, how does this affect my blog?  It will not change.  Since I still do not tolerate cooked dairy products (besides a small amount of cultured butter), my recipes will still be dairy-free.  Perhaps with the exception of the occasional raw-milk smoothie…

 

For more information on the safety and benefits of raw milk and where to find it, visit http://raw-milk-facts.com or http://www.realmilk.com.

 

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