For the past 3 months, we’ve been supplementing Flynn’s diet with formula. We’ve told friends, family & even our pediatrician that we’re using Earth’s Best commercial powdered formula. It’s not a lie, because we do use it occasionally. However, the majority of the time we give him homemade formula made from raw cow’s milk. Or, as I see it, fresh milk from healthy & happy cows.
We've been keeping it hush hush because many people think raw milk is unsafe for adults, let alone infants. But you know what? I’m tired of keeping it a secret. I want people to know that there is something available besides powdered infant formula with questionable ingredients (see articles about that here & here).
I’m sure you’ve heard terrible things about raw milk. The USDA & FDA have entire web pages dedicated to
consumers about the dangers of it. The National Dairy Council wants you to fear
raw milk because they represent the interests of large, factory farms that produce
pasteurized milk and don't like competition. Raw milk has also been in the news recently because retail
sales are actually illegal
in some states and the government is cracking down on local farmers who
distribute it. (It’s 100% legal in Pennsylvania, so don’t worry, we’re not
breaking any laws.)
First, let’s clear up a few things and talk about how raw milk compares to conventional milk. When I say "conventional milk," I mean pretty much any pasteurized, homogenized milk that comes from a grocery store. Organic milk is a small step up, but it's still pasteurized, homogenized and receives very little oversight from the government agency that slaps the "organic" seal on it.
According to the USDA, raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is designed to kill bacteria, such as E. coli, Listeria & Salmonella. The process of pasteurization also extends the shelf life of milk. However, if you look at factory farming practices in the U.S. and how conventional milk is produced, it makes complete sense that pasteurization is necessary to prevent pathogens from making people sick. Conventional milk comes from sick cows that are treated inhumanly.
Factory farm dairy cows:
- Live in concrete & steel environments
- Receive zero time at pasture
- Are artificially bred
- Are fed unnatural feeds like soy, cotton seed & corn
- Are given feeds that contain GMO’s (genetically modified organisms that have never been tested for safety on humans, but have given lab animals cancer)
- Live surrounded by piles of their own manure (E. coli, anyone?)
- Have a short life span
- Receive artificial growth hormones to help them produce more milk
- Receive antibiotics to keep them from getting sick (most factory farm dairy cows have extremely painful mastitis from over milking)
|[Typical Factory Farm]|
It’s no wonder that this kind of milk has to be pasteurized. If it weren't, there would be serious bacterial outbreaks.
However, when you buy fresh, raw milk from a small dairy farm, you aren’t getting milk from sick cows.
Organic, fresh, raw milk cows:
- Roam freely at pasture
- Are fed natural feeds that they would choose in nature
- Are never given feeds that contain soy or GMO’s
- Are naturally bull bred
- Live over four times longer than factory farm cows
- Never receive hormones or antibiotics
- Do not live in piles of manure, because they have access to pasture
- Are raised on small family farms that give consumers full access to tour, take photographs & review safety testing procedures
For more information, I recommend checking out the Weston A. Price Foundation website. They've started A Campaign for Real Milk to dispel the myths of raw milk dangers and to promote pasture-fed, unprocessed, full-fat milk. If you want to locate raw milk near you, click here.
I feel very lucky to live in a state that allows healthy, fresh milk to be sold retail. Before starting Flynn on the homemade raw milk formula, we had to decide which farm we’d get the milk from. Turns out we had quite a few options! Ultimately, we chose Camphill Village Kimberton Hills. They sell their dairy products through Kimberton Whole Foods and they receive high marks from The Cornucopia Institute who grades small dairy farms on criteria like how much information they disclose to the public, the health of their herd and if antibiotics & hormones are used.
Camphill Village Kimberton Hills is a farm and also a unique community for adults with special needs. Not only do the residents have the opportunity to live interdependently, but they also work the land. How cool is that? They help to produce dairy products, run a CSA, bakery, café and do craft work like weaving, woodworking & pottery. We are planning a trip to the farm for their annual Hootnanny on July 14th. It’ll be pretty neat to see where our milk comes from!
In Part 2, I’ll discuss why pasteurization & homogenization aren’t all that great, and why the lactose intolerant (like me) have no problems with raw milk.
In Part 3, I’ll tell you all the details about Flynn’s homemade formula: what else is in it, and how we make it!