For one of my new year’s resolutions I determined to try raw milk, or at least the closest to it that I can come in my state, and see how it affected me. It did not go well.
I started out by choosing the most natural and unprocessed milk available to me. It’s comes from Homestead Dairy, which is owned by a German Baptist family and located in the same town that my mom and sister and their families live in. My kids attend church with some of the dairy farmers who supply the dairy.
German Baptists are conservative Anabaptists, similar to Mennonites. They dress plain, and while they do have motorized vehicles, they do not have televisions and do not use computers or the internet. There’s actually a big controversy in the local church over computers which is why some of them attend the same church that my son’s do, instead of their Anabaptist church.
The milk itself is sold in returnable glass milk jars and it is pasteurized, but not homogenized. The pasteurization process is slow & low, meaning that it’s slowly heated to the low temperature of 145° and held there for 30 minutes. This kills off all the bad stuff while allowing some of the enzymes to survive. Raw or unpasteurized milk is illegal in my state, so this is the closest to raw milk I can achieve without owning my own cow (or goat, or yak, or llama or sheep or cooperative cat or whatever).
I have a girlfriend who swears by this milk. She couldn’t drink regular milk, but when she switched to this stuff, BAM! no digestive problems whatsoever.
My hope was that I too would be able to drink this almost raw milk. I’m especially fond of milk, always have been, and I was feeling rather exultant with the hope that it could become a part of my everyday diet.
So I went to the store and bought a 2-quart bottle. It cost more than the regular milk, but less than the organic, so while it wasn’t cheap, it wasn’t sky-high either.
I brought it home and promptly drank half the bottle. It was so good. So very, very good. Decadently, deliciously frosty and cold. I had to shake up the milk because it’s not homogenized, so the cream rises to the top. There were little blobs of cream floating in the milk and they burst pleasantly upon my tongue. It was just so good. The flavor and texture were almost exactly like the milk we used to get when I lived on a dairy farm as a teenager. This milk had a little less milk fat, and the flavor was a little more tame than actual raw milk, but it was pretty darn close.
That day I experienced no side effects. I cheered and in the morning I drank the remaining quart of milk before toddling off to the market to buy 2 more jars.
I had milk with cornflakes. I had milk with oatmeal. I toasted some leftover rice muffins and made a white sauce with the milk to pour over them. Sort of like milk-toast, only with muffins. It was divine. I made more.
I did so well with the milk that I bought some Homestead Dairy heavy cream. I put it in my coffee, I whipped it and served it with frozen strawberries. I got out my spelt flour and made cream biscuits. I wept with joy, certain that milk could be a part of my life once again.
A week into the experiment the symptoms started. I woke up with mucus and phlem filling my nose. I woke up with a headache that didn’t go away unless I took migraine pills. My energy level, which has been sky-high, plummeted like Icarus when the wax in his wings melted. I was not a happy camper.
So I bargained with myself. Maybe it was just the cream. I finished off the cream and resolved to by no more. Instead I bought 2 more jars of milk and vowed to only drink milk, leaving the cream alone. The headaches continued. My fingers broke out in tiny, itchy, painful bumps. My thinking became fuzzy and day after day, all day long, I felt like I had a cold. I didn’t make it to my meetings and struggled to make myself exercise in the mornings. I felt like crap.
I resolved to finish up the milk in the fridge, after all, I reasoned, I can’t waste it. When it was gone I spent the day being sad about it and before I realized what I was doing I had gone to the store to buy 2 more jars.
As I stood in my kitchen drinking another glass of milk I asked myself if the milk was worth it. Was it worth feeling run down, feeling sick, not being able to think straight? I wasn’t sure.
When I swam, I noticed that I had more trouble holding my breath. I couldn’t swim the entire length of the pool before coming up for a breath. I could barely manage half a pool length before I ran out of oxygen. My endurance was diminished. Instead of managing an entire hour in the pool, I was tired after 30-minutes.
I came home, and drank another glass of milk and then got down on my knees and had a Come-To-Jesus moment. That’s when you know you’re messed up and you can’t fix it by yourself. You need divine intervention. So I asked God to help me out of the situation I had gotten myself into.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
And He did. I am now once again dairy-free and doing my best to make my peace with it.
I still like milk. I would still like to make milk a part of diet. I am not willing to sacrifice my quality of life to do it though. I’m not willing to feel sick and tired all the time. I’m not willing to gain weight (4-pounds, in just a couple of weeks). I am not willing to be miserable. I feel too good these days to give it up for the brief physical pleasure of chugging a glass of dairy milk.
I expect that without the milk in my diet that the weight gain will disappear quickly. I’m happy to report that after a couple of days off of the milk my symptoms are rapidly disappearing.
On the bright side spelt and rye and barley don’t seem to be as problematic. Although I reserve the right to change my opinion in the future.
I am disappointed that milk is out of the picture for me, but I am happy to know for certain that it is one of the foods that was giving me so much trouble in the past. I know that for me, dairy and wheat are not an option. Red meat also gives me trouble, like beef, pork, elk, venison, lamb and goat. Mammal products in general are not my cup of tea.
I think of all the people who are suffering because they have food intolerances that they haven’t rooted out yet, and my compassion for them grows.
It’s not normal to feel sick or exhausted all the time. It’s not an unavoidable aspect of aging. When we feel sick all the time, it’s because something is wrong. It might be something we’re eating. It might be something else. It’s not supposed to be that way though.
Bottom line, I would rather have a high quality of life than drink milk every day and feel like crap.
Now what am I supposed to do with all of my dairy-friendly clip art? I don’t know.
Have you ever tried goat milk? Lots of people find they can tolerate goat milk even if they can’t drink cows milk.
Hi Muriel. I have tried goat milk and goat cheese and sheep cheese. They are easier on my tummy and my attitude, but they still mess me up if I use them daily. It’s the sort of thing where once in a while, like a few times a year, I do okay with it, but it has to be few and far between.
My daughter has a milk allergy. I tell her whenever it comes up and also when other people ask questions that it’s okay that we don’t drink cow’s milk because we aren’t baby cows. Cow’s milk is for calves, not humans. 🙂 Just my two cents. I’m glad you figured it out and are doing what is best for you.