Only a few months ago, my anxieties about life were at an all-time high. I just graduated from college, married my best friend in October, immediately got pregnant, and there I was…33 weeks pregnant with my first child. It all happened in what seemed to be a flash of a second. I needed to adapt — fast. How does one become a good wife and mother? What do my husband and unborn daughter need to be healthy? How do I combat my husband’s genetic predisposition to cancer and multiple sclerosis? Questions like these buzzed through my mind every single day.
One afternoon, I went to visit a friend and her children to ease my mind of its worries. Raw milk came up in our conversation as she opened her fridge, revealing a few half-gallon jars of creamy, slightly golden liquid. “RAW MILK? Unpasteurized? What about all the germs?” I thought. My at-the-time vegan-self wasn’t sure what to make of drinking milk in the first place…let alone milk that wasn’t made “safe” by pasteurization. However, knowing that my friend was a health-nut like myself, I investigated her support of unpasteurized dairy. What I found surprised me…
1. It’s SAFE
We often hear the names Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and others in the news. People get sick, and some even die from infection. However, these three villains are nothing to worry about in the case of high-quality, properly handled, pastured raw milk. Why, you ask?
It’s self-stabilizing: Components in raw milk make it uninhabitable for pathogens. Though there are many of these components, a great example is the enzyme lactoperoxidase, which has an antibacterial and bacteriostatic (inhibits bacterial growth) effect on bacteria not naturally present in raw milk. This includes the infamous Escherichia coli. 
Healthy cow, healthy milk: Traditionally, cows are grass-fed. If they’re fed an alternative diet, their milk can be significantly less nutritious, and can have as little as one-fifth the amount of CLA as milk from grass-fed cows! Cows fed mainly cottonseed meal, soybeans, pearl millet, and grain also produce milk that lacks its self-protective properties, which makes pasteurization necessary.     
Proper handling: Even though raw milk from healthy cows has the ability to protect itself, it’s necessary to collect and store raw milk properly. Sterilized equipment, storage containers, and temperature controlled environments for milk storage help maintain its quality and lifespan (see Raw Milk Production Handbook).
2. It’s a SUPERFOOD
Raw milk’s list of benefits is ENDLESS! I’ll share one of my favorites: conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This cancer-fighting super-nutrient continues to capture the attention of scientists worldwide. Recognized for its anti-tumor effect and its ability to improve lipid metabolism in adults, CLA is found in high concentrations in milk from healthy pastured cows. But, anti-cancer activity is just the beginning: it can boost glutathione levels enough to benefit those with autoimmune diseases by regulating the immune system. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease.     
3. It’s ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS
According to my milk-fiend husband, it’s the best milk he has ever had. You can make creamy ice cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, golden-milk (more on that later), or just drink it by itself. It’s versatile and can even be consumed soured…it gets even better over time! The blogger “The Healthy Home Economist” has a fantastic idea list of things to do with soured raw milk: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/101-uses-for-soured-raw-milk/.
It’s digestible: as mentioned above, raw milk is packed with active enzymes and bacteria. These valuable little warriors break down lactose, make minerals more available for absorption (increase mineral bioavailability), kick out pathogens, and more. To add a little personal testimony…I’m slightly lactose intolerant, but raw milk has never given me any problems. It’s the only dairy milk I can drink problem-free. 
With science in favor of high-quality, safely-handled raw milk, it was an easy decision for our family to invest in it. What you invest in now, you automatically invest in later. We choose health!
Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.