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What is Raw Milk?

When we explain to people that we drink milk from our own goats pretty much no one from the city blinks. It sounds normal. Get a dairy animal, get milk from it, drink the milk. The reality is that the iconical vision of the happy, dairy animal is extremely far from the truth. 

The vast majority of people don't know that raw milk exists and that it's completely different from pasteurized milk. I can remember two years when I first started learning about raw milk and what "pasteurization" meant. Honestly, I had no idea. I didn't even know the difference between pasteurization and homogenization, let alone raw vs. pasteurized milk. And yet I've been drinking milk my entire life. It's incredible how little is understood about the industrial food system.

Raw milk, pure and simple, is un-pasteurized milk. Pasteurization is the process by which milk is heated up to a specific temperature for a specific period of time in order to kill bacteria in the milk. The process of pasteurization kills both good and bad bacteria and is a very important step for milk produced in large, confinement dairies where cows literally live in their own feces and sanitation can be questionable. Pasteurization serves its purpose in those instances. It might destroy many of the healthful properties of milk, but it also destroys potential pathogens as well.

Raw milk, on the other hand, retains the healthful properties and is not heated up to harmful temperatures. It's milk in its purest form, the way it was meant to be consumed. As a consumer, we believe you should have the right to purchase raw milk and determine for yourself what foods you consume. 

In Tennessee, you don't have the choice to buy raw milk at the store. If you want to buy raw milk you must go direct to a local farm and join a "herd-share" or you could buy raw milk that is labeled for "pet consumption". Unfortunately, that's the state of affairs. In many states even the "herd-share" and "pet consumption" options are illegal.