Milk has not always been the symbol of purity and wholesomeness that it is today. Despite the fact we were more of a nation of farmers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we still were quickly moving into cities. Livestock was no exception, dairy cows lived in symbiosis with the brewing industry. The cows were fed on the spent grains of the brewing process, the milk was distributed along delivery routes. Descriptions of the dairy operations of that time make the Jungle and today's feed lot operations look like the clean room at the computer chip factory.
Many forces moved to change milk's standing. There was improved transportation, the sanitary revolution/movement/era from about 1850, the formation of agricultural cooperatives, the temperance movement and Pasteurization. From the Center for Disease Control's website:
Before the invention and acceptance of pasteurization, raw milk was a common source of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, severe streptococcal infections, typhoid fever, and other foodborne illnesses. These illnesses killed many people each year, especially young children. In the 1900s many mothers recognized this risk and would boil milk (bringing it to a temperature of 212°F) before giving it to their infants and young children.
As consumers we are generally removed from food production, one of the perils of having no idea where food comes from and how it arrives at our table is to fear it. People like Nina Planck push raw milk as alternative to mass produced food. What could be considered a good instinct - healthier, less processed foods. Again from the CDC's website:
Many studies have shown that pasteurization does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk – pasteurized milk is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Heat slightly affects a few of the vitamins found in milk-- thiamine, vitamin B12, and vitamin C-- but milk is only a minor source of these vitamins.
I have gone back and forth on this issue: I like raw cheese, accepting the risk (27 outbreaks since the CDC has tracked them), I hate the taste of burnt cream that comes with ultra-pastuerization, yet I have mocked the feds for raiding raw milk distributors, and regularly make fun of the "natural is better" trope that runs rampant in a strain of people who talk about the way they feel about food rather than trying to be informed consumers. After awhile our opinions have to be formed by the FACTS. And the facts show the number of people who drink raw milk compared to the number of people who get sick from drinking raw milk are not good, unless you're betting on illness.
It gets worse if you willfully ignore the facts, enjoin your logic and feed risky products to children. Once more, the CDC:
60% of people sickened in outbreaks caused by raw milk were under 20 years of age, versus 23% of people in outbreaks caused by pasteurized milk.
In my fridge I have a bottle of cream that I am going to make butter out of. This is from the website of the dairy who supplied me with the goods...
Pasteurization is the heating of milk to remove any harmful bacteria and make it safer to drink. Garry’s Meadow Fresh Products are vat pasteurized at 145 degrees Fahrenheit and held for 30 minutes. This is the mildest form of pasteurization so the milk does not have the “cooked” or “burnt” taste that you experience from milk that has been ultra high temperature pasteurized.
Thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been stricken by the outbreak. A warning to the rest of us, how we feel is valid but not to the exclusion of ignoring the facts.