Or, the story of how I lost 10 lbs in 10 days drinking raw milk… For the past year I’ve been buying raw dairy, organic soy-free eggs and grass-fed meats from local farm cooperatives based in an adjoining State. With all the drama surrounding buying these products, (farms getting raided at gunpoint by the USDA and other such nonsense), actually finding a farm or cooperative that would sell me these food products, was a real challenge. At one point, I almost gave up, remarking to my spouse, “it would be easier to buy heroin on the street.”
Eventually, after a few months of exchanging private messages and attempting to join various online groups, I connected with two farms. My first successful purchase required that I drive 45 minutes north into the next State, to pick up the goodies that I’d ordered. When I arrived in the mega-church parking lot (deserted on a Saturday, except for farm customers) to pick my order up, I noticed that every single car had tags from my State and we all avoided eye contact while running up to our numbered coolers to transfer the food into our own coolers for the ride home. Oh, I thought, this is JUST like buying drugs. The second farm cooperative, required an annual farm cooperative membership and my homegrown, farm goodness would be delivered in giant coolers to someone’s distant driveway where again, everyone avoided eye contact as we slinked over to the coffin-sized coolers to pick up labeled bags of food. Worth mentioning, is that many States label their products “for pet food only.” It’s a legal loophole they exploit to be able to sell these products to you (who’s to say that you don’t spoil your dogs by feeding them raw milk, kefir and yogurt. You do have dogs right? Say yes…)
The picture at the top of my article shows what raw cream from grass-fed cows looks like. The cream on the spoon is incredibly thick, smooth and surprisingly oily. The sticky cream clings to the spoon so tightly it is difficult to get it off of the spoon–even washing the spoon takes some effort! I have to literally beat the cream into whatever I am preparing. If I want cream in my coffee, I have to use an electric frother and blend in a very deep mug or whip a small amount of the cream into a larger portion of whole milk to make half and half. The cream smells a little funky at times, not rotten, but stronger than even the mass-produced organic stuff that’s been pasteurized and homogenized (rendering it lifeless). This cream, is clearly, a live food.
Milk from grass-fed cows can be almost yellow in color and is rich in vitamins like B12. It contains lots of good stuff that kills pathogens and strengthens the immune system as well as lots of beneficial bacteria. The taste is delicious and luckily for me, one of the two farms I buy from sells A2 milk , which is very digestible (even for many lactose intolerant folks) and far less likely to lead to, exacerbate or cause inflammation and/or lactose intolerance.
The A2 refers to the beta-casein in the milk which is from cows that have the genetics of those prior to domestication (about 10,000 years ago). A1 cows, on the other hand, have a variety of beta-casein that mutated several thousand years ago and though, inconclusive as of yet, research has found links to a variety of serious health conditions including: leaky gut syndrome which leads to systemic inflammation, a telltale symptom of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes and autism.
I was overjoyed at having access to raw milk, kefir, butter, cheeses, grass-fed meats and organic, soy-free, GMO-feed free eggs. So, despite chat-group and raw-food proponent warnings to introduce these foods slowly to one’s diet, I went whole-hog and drank copious quantities of the kefir I proudly made from raw milk. I roasted grass-fed chickens that would have made Julia Child proud and nibbled raw, stinky cheeses. I tried goat’s milk (not “goaty” at all) and real (gasp) bacon. I made quiche and scrambled eggs and I fried eggs in leftover bacon fat. To say that I was enthusiastic would be an understatement, there were jars full of bubbling delights on kitchen counters and tucked away in dark closets. I made: kefir, kombucha, pickled cucumbers, pickled garlic and sauerkraut and tasted them all, sometimes daily. And then one morning, my stomach grumbled–audibly… Throughout the day, I experienced this not too unpleasant early warning sign. By the next morning, things had changed and let’s just say, that over the course of the next 10 days, I lost 10 pounds…
My background is in microbiology so it didn’t take me long to figure out I had a GI infection from the bacterium Campylobacter jejuni. Campylobacter (or “Campy” as we refer to it in the lab) is the number one food poisoning culprit on the list kept by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Generally, if you keep well hydrated, the bug will run its course and you will be fine (albeit, a little thinner). If you can’t shake it on your own, you will likely need a course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor, who will also collect a stool sample to identify the species of bacteria that took you down which, since Campy is tracked, will trigger a call from your local health department which is in turn, reported to the CDC. They will ask a lot of questions which can lead to your farm being temporarily shut down for inspections and testing. I leave it up to your personal ethics, whether you reveal the source of your groceries or whether you speculate that maybe it came from the chicken you bought at the Piggly Wiggly and after cooking it the other night, remembered it was a little pink inside…. Personally, I’d fess up.
Buying food of any kind directly from a farm comes with a responsibility many of us are not accustomed to. You must be willing to contact your farmer directly to discuss a food-bourne illness and for pick-up delays or concerns with the quality of the food items you have received. The farmers I’ve dealt with guarantee the freshness of their products and replace or give you credit for any you might find unsatisfactory for any reason.
This responsibility also extends to your own environment and requires that you maintain a higher standard of cleanliness in your kitchen. Remember, these are live foods filled with probiotics, and vitamins and though only rarely cause illness, in these days of government control and fear-mongering, it’s best to make darned sure you are handling things like raw meats and dairy products carefully. And for God-sakes don’t drink directly out of the milk jug or leave the cap upside down on the counter while pouring your glass of raw milk. Don’t go crazy and spray bleach everywhere, just use some common sense.
When I got sick, I emailed and called my farmer. He was responsive and asked a lot of the same questions a health department would ask regarding the foods I had eaten and when, their source and what kind of food safety precautions I regularly took in my kitchen. I came to find out that he had his own microbiology lab onsite and his tests (as well as one he sent out to an independent lab) showed no contamination of any kind and the farm’s random, regular testing documented that he was always well below the State contamination standards. I was in fact, only one of two people who had reported getting ill yet he never dismissed the idea that I could have gotten it from his milk and was dead serious about finding the source should it be determined it came from his facility. Unfortunately, not all farmers are this responsible. Do not buy from a farmer who will not speak with you or tries to avoid the consequences of a possible contamination. You must be able to talk directly to the person who milked the cows and managed the operation.
In the end, the investigation by the health department revealed that the source of infection was not the milk from this farm. As I looked back on the time just prior to getting sick, I realized that I had also been handling and cooking chickens for a family meal and that two of my family members had consumed the same kefir and milk as I had with no ill effects. However, I’ve still not ruled out the possibility that I did not get sick from raw milk or kefir; everyone’s body and medical history is different and the State tests random jugs of milk.
The take home message is, do your research on foods like raw milk and decide whether it’s right for you, your family and your lifestyle and if the health benefits outweigh the risks. Remember that you are now part of a group of people that share the responsibility of buying raw milk. Call your farmer immediately with any concerns as soon as they crop up. Do not allow yourself to think: “don’t worry, I’m sure someone will report this or “it’s probably nothing, I’ll just throw it out.” Whether purchasing foods from a single farmer or a collective, you are now connected to the farmers and all of the other families and as such share an appreciation for real food and the responsibility that comes with it. As always, I encourage your to read, think and decide for yourselves.
Keith Woodford’s Blog :keeps up with research on A1/A2 Milk
Losing weight on raw milk: an interesting story and apparently a lot of people claim to lose weight by drinking nothing but raw milk for a period of time.
You can get sick from raw milk: worth reading so you know the dangers and how important it is to buy directly from a reputable farm.
Michael Pollan’s book Cooked: (1 of the 4 sections is on the history and health benefits of fermentation, his book is captivating)
The God of Fermentation, Sador Katz: his website has gobs of “how to” info and his massive tome called “The Art of Fermentation” is a must read. My library had a copy.
A quick note from our founder-
Over the past year, my friend Dave at PaleoHacks has been working on a secret cookbook with world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu chef Peter Servold.
Well, today this new this new incredible Paleo Cookbook is finally available to be shipped right to your door for FREE
That's right as a special launch promotion, we're offering our brand new Paleo fat loss cookbook to you for free (Chef Pete lost 60 lbs using these recipes!) All you have to do is just cover a small shipping cost (international shipping is a bit more).
Get your FREE copy of Paleo Eats Here. (Grab this today, because we only ordered a small batch of these cookbooks for this freebie promotion, and they will sell out FAST!)