Milk: Raw, Pasteurized or Ultra-Pasteurized?
You know those little milk containers that you can just throw in your bag and not have to worry about refrigerating? Well, I stopped to wonder the other day – how do they do that?
Well, the answer is: ultra pasteurized milk. Ahh, then I stepped right into the raging debate over raw, pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized milk. Do you know of what I speak? Talk about passionate opinions!
Here’s the break down:
Raw: Think Bessie and a milk maid, pumping and squirting milk from the cow into your glass. It is supposedly that fresh. So, whatever the cow ate, you drink. Many people fervently suggest that this is the BEST way to drink milk because all bacteria (good and bad) are left alone and you consume them. Now, the human body can handle some bacteria just fine. It needs good bacteria, in fact, to function properly.
But, talk to the residents of the 1800s and you’ll quickly learn why Louis Pasteur did what he did and invented pasteurization. Many people got seriously sick and even died because milk was not at all a stable staple (though to be fair, he was more concerned with beer and wine, but still).
Pasteurization: Milk from the cow is put into a series of tubes (yes, really, tubes!) and heated to a certain temperature to kill all the bad bacteria. Basically, it is heated just below the boiling point. Supposedly all the good bacteria survives. Even the FDA says that there is no appreciable difference in nutritional value between raw and pasteurized milk. Many don’t agree.
Ultra-pasteurization: If heat is good, then more heat must be better, or so the theory goes. Ultra-pasteurization is just that, heating the milk to an even higher point. This effectively increases the shelf life and stability of milk, like up to 60 days! OMG! However, it also destroys the taste, some argue.
So that’s the skinny. Now, the debate centers on this: do we, as a population, drink milk for its nutritional value?
Wait, what? Of course we do, you might be thinking. But seriously, just think about it. That’s what it all boils down to, so to speak. What are you and your children getting out of their milk?
Here’s a wrench: humans are the only beings that drink the milk of another species. Are we supposed to be drinking it in the first place? Now, I would no longer drink human milk than drink my own urine, let’s get that straight. So, I’m clearly not thinking about hitting my lactating sister up for squirt from her boobie for my coffee. It’s just that learning about pasteurization opens up so many doors that it has made me evaluate why I drink milk.
My answer: taste and some nutrients. How about you?
So, because I’m a middle of the road kinda gal, I’ll stick with pasteurized milk and stay away from both raw and ultra-pasteurized. I like skim milk with both cereal and cookies. I’m used to its watery taste. That said, I do like whole milk for coffee.
And, if you are pregnant and reading this, please know that many doctors do NOT recommend raw milk for you or your baby! I’m no expert, but I’ve read in many places that food borne illness from milk is harmful or fatal for a fetus, so be careful.
photo credit: stevoarnold