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Most 21st century Americans have never had raw milk, and simply drink the pasteurized milk available at the grocery store. But in terms of human history, more people have consumed milk in its raw form than pasteurized.
Raw milk is simply milk that comes directly from the animal (goat, cow, sheep, or other mammal) without being heat treated or processed in any way other than cooled.
Raw milk is a controversial topic with many advocates believing it is a healthy food, and many opponents believing it is dangerous. There are risks to consuming just about any food (whether immediate from contamination with pathogens or long-term from unhealthy processed foods).
It is up to everyone to understand the risks and benefits of any particular food and make a decision as to what is best for their family. We do not believe that raw milk is right for everyone.
At Goat Milk Stuff, the Jonas Family drinks our goat milk raw. We know the goats that our milk comes from. We know they are raised on pasture and exposed to lots of sunlight. We know they are healthy and that they are fed well and not given any hormones or antibiotics. (Note: We do use antibiotics if a goat is sick and needs them, but then she is pulled from the milk string and her milk is thrown away).
We also know that the goats are milked in a clean environment and the milk is handled cleanly and chilled quickly. And because we are a Grade A goat dairy (the only one in Indiana at the time of this writing), our raw milk is tested monthly for any harmful bacteria and our tests have always come back safe. This allows us to monitor the safety of our milk on a monthly basis.
In addition, we know that we have healthy immune systems that are used to the natural bacterial flora from the farm. My younger children (I didn't have goats when the older children were little) would start consuming some raw goat milk around the time they were introduced to solid food. (They were exclusively breastfed until they were about 6 months old.)
Even though there is always a risk that the goat milk could get contaminated (pasteurized milk can also get contaminated by the way), for our family, that risk is minimal. In its raw form, raw goat milk provides our bodies with healthy bacteria, enzymes, and antibodies that are naturally present in the milk (and that are killed in the pasteurization process). And we have decided that for our family, the benefits outweigh the risks.
In the state of Indiana where we live, it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption. In our Farm Store, we have pasteurized goat milk available for humans and raw goat milk available for pets only.
We also currently pasteurize all the raw goat milk that is used to make our goat cheeses. Some day we hope to build a new cheese building that will have room to age raw goat milk cheeses. We do not currently have the space to age raw milk cheeses because legally they can't age next to pasteurized milk cheeses.
The availability of raw milk is regulated by individual states. If you live in Indiana and would like to see raw goat milk available for human consumption, we encourage you to contact your State Representatives. We would like to see it legally available to consumers who make the choice that it is a good option for their family.
Disclaimer: This information is provided as an example of how we personally handle the controversial issue of raw goat milk. We are not medical or health professionals and any information on the GMS website should not be taken as advice. Please do balanced research on both sides of the issue and seek the advice of your doctor before making any decisions about raw milk consumption.
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