Got Milk?

The Got Milk Campaign

Got Milk?, stylized as got milk?, was a U.S. advertising campaign created in 1993 by the agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Board and later licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers. This long-running series of print ads features ethnically diverse celebrities, athletes and fictional characters sporting their own “milk mustache”. But what kind of milk are they promoting? And does that kind of milk really “do a body good”?

Pasteurized Milk

The kind of milk this highly decorated campaign endorses is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized, homogenized conventional milk from cows in confinement fed a diet high in soy, grain, bakery waste, pesticide-laden citrus pulp and even pellets containing chicken manure. Pesticides, antibiotics, trans fats, estrogens and similar toxic substances can end up in the milk.

Pasteurization or ultra-pasteurization is a quick-heat process that destroys enzymes and immune factors, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Even worse, modern conventional milk has most of the nourishing butterfat removed, and nonfat dried milk – a source of carcinogens and dangerous oxidized cholesterol – added.

In animal studies, raw whole milk promotes healthy bone growth, normal organ formation and good disposition while pasteurized milk results in weak bones, calcification of the organs, high levels of stress and poor coping skills. Calves fed pasteurized milk do poorly, and many die before maturity.

Real Milk

The milk that the Got Milk? campaign endorses is not what we call real milk. So, what is real milk?

  • Real milk comes from old-fashioned cows that produce lots of butterfat, such as the Jersey and Guernsey.
  • Real milk comes from herds allowed to graze on green pasture.
  • Real milk is not pasteurized or homogenized.
  • Real milk is full-fat milk.
  • Real milk contains no additives.

Today’s milk is accused of causing everything from allergies to heart disease to cancer, but when Americans could buy real milk, these diseases were rare. In fact, a supply of high quality dairy products was considered vital to American security and the economic well-being of the nation.

Is raw milk safe?

Real milk that has been produced under sanitary and healthy conditions is a safe and wholesome food.

  • It is critical that the cows are healthy, meaning they have tested free of tuberculosis and undulant fever, and do not have any infections such as mastitis.
  • The cows should be eating their natural diet, which is mostly grass, hay or silage, with only a small amount of grain, if any. The Abbey Farm where I purchased my raw milk from in Portland, Oregon, does not feed the cows any grains at all.
  • The milk should be full-fat milk, as many important anti-microbial and health-supporting components are in the fat.
  • The cows should be milked under sanitary conditions and the milk chilled down immediately.

Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac, did an intriguing analysis in 2012. He made the point that most illnesses from tainted food, including raw milk, are mild, with a few days of upset stomach. Then he added:

“The statistic we should be more concerned with is hospitalizations for serious illnesses such as kidney failure and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) caused by unpasteurized milk. This does happen, and children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable and more likely to experience a serious illness. That said, hospitalizations from raw milk are extremely rare. During the 2000 − 2007 period, there were 12 hospitalizations for illnesses associated with raw fluid milk. That’s an average of 1.5 per year. With approximately 9.4 million people drinking raw milk, that means you have about a 1 in 6 million chance of being hospitalized from drinking raw milk.”

“To put this in perspective, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, you have a roughly 1 in 8,000 chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident if you live in the U.S. Therefore, you have a 750 times greater chance of dying in a car crash than becoming hospitalized from drinking raw milk.”

Still not convinced?

As the website informs us:

Raw milk contains many components that kill pathogens and strengthen the immune system. These include lacto-peroxidase, lacto-ferrin, anti-microbial components of blood (leukocytes, B-macrophages, neutrophils, T-lymphocytes, immunoglobulins and antibodies), special carbohydrates (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides), special fats (medium chain fatty acids, phospholipids and spingolipids), complement enzymes, lysozyme, hormones, growth factors, mucins, fibronectin, glycomacropeptide, beneficial bacteria, bifidus factor and B12-binding protein. These components are largely inactivated by the heat of pasteurization and ultrapasteurization.  For further information, see Part I of our Campaign for Real Milk PowerPoint Presentation.

This five-fold protective system destroys pathogens in the milk, stimulates the Immune system, builds healthy gut wall, prevents absorption of pathogens and toxins in the gut and ensures assimilation of all the nutrients.

So powerful is the anti-microbial system in raw milk that when large quantities of pathogens are added to raw milk, their numbers diminish over time and eventually disappear.  For a discussion of scientific papers showing the pathogen-killing properties of raw milk, see Does Raw Milk Kill Pathogens? by Dr. Ted Beals.

Of course, this marvelous protective system can be overwhelmed by very dirty conditions. That is why we do not recommend raw milk from confinement dairies, or raw milk that is produced under unsanitary conditions. Raw milk producers have a responsibility to produce raw milk in the cleanest possible conditions. Cows should not be allowed to wallow in mud and muck; they should be well fed; and all equipment washed and stored properly.

Keep in mind that the human race existed long before Louis Pasteur proposed heat-treatment as a way to control micro-organisms. Our position is that those whose immune systems are weak or taxed are the ones who would benefit most from the vital nutrients found in raw milk.

  • High in vitamins – including B12 
  • All 22 essential amino acids
  • Natural enzymes – including lactase
  • Natural probiotics
  • Good fatty acids

The consumption of all foods, including milk, whether pasteurized or unpasteurized, inherently carries some degree of risk. Not all raw milk dairies have the same safety record and it is true that a relatively small number of people have gotten ill from raw milk. Yet based on figures reported by the Centers for Disease Control related to food borne disease outbreaks in the United States one can argue that pasteurized milk is safer than other foods and raw milk is actually safer than pasteurized milk |2| |3| |4|.  As such, we recommend it with confidence.

Learn more

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What is your experience of drinking raw milk?