I’ve never understood food fads. Michael Pollan’s maxim, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” has always seemed like reasonable, practical advice. Maybe it’s a disease of plenty—we have so much food, we have to find new ways to conceptualize it. Unless you live in an inner city, you can go to any market and find large quantities of foodstuffs, both healthy and unhealthy. Food in this country is cheap and plentiful and, for the most part, safe. Self-“regulated” industrialized production has contributed to problems with bacterial contamination of meats and produce, but food- and water-borne illness is still relatively rare in the US compared to the developing world.
The industrial food production that has led to monsters such as “thousand-cow burgers” needs a lot of work. Mass production and distribution can introduce many different opportunities for contamination. Once a contaminated beef patty reaches the kitchen, opportunities for illness multiply. Even if you cook the burger thoroughly, you can still be sickened by contaminated counters and utensils.
Raw milk is healthier: Pasteurized milk is accused of causing everything from allergies to heart disease to cancer, but back in the day, these diseases were rare. In fact, clean raw milk from grass-fed cows is chock full of healthy amino acids and beneficial enzymes, and was used as a cure.
The statement doesn’t support its title, of course, but even if it did, the problems with raw milk aren’t carcinogens and allergies but bacterial diseases.
Raw milk does not make you sick: That is, if it is properly collected from cows fed good, clean grass. Grass-fed milk has natural antibiotic properties that help protect it from pathogenic bacteria. But it’s worth noting, if you’ve been using pasteurized dairy products, you might want to eat small amounts of yogurt or kefir for a week or so, for a dose of probiotics, just to be safe. I did, and it helped.
It would be lovely if any of that were true, but it’s not. Of course, it’s not the milk per se that makes you sick but the bacteria in it. “Grass-fed milk” does not have any magical antibiotic properties, and consuming “pro-biotics” will not protect you from Campylobacter, E. coli, or other common milk-borne pathogens.