I was offered raw milk for the very first time as a teenager at my uncle’s dairy farm in Chautauqua County, New York. I had spent the afternoon riding his beautiful palomino all over the rolling hills of the spacious farm and was feeling very hot and sweaty (and thirsty!) by the time I returned in the early evening.
A large, stainless steel pitcher sat in the middle of the dinner table filled to the rim with cold, frothy milk. It looked so inviting. I still vividly remember the condensation from the pitcher dripping onto my Aunt’s red checkerboard tablecloth.
My uncle asked me if I wanted a glass.
I knew what it was. My mother had warned me about it.
It was raw milk. Straight from the cow.
I quickly shook my head and emphatically said “no”.
I imagined that the milk would somehow taste horrible, scald my throat and make me keel over on contact.
My uncle smiled understandingly and told me that the milk tasted great and that I would enjoy it. I was tempted to try some despite the workings of my overactive imagination. But the warnings from my mother that raw milk was dangerous overpowered my curiosity.
To this day, I regret never trying Uncle Harry’s raw milk. The farm has long since been sold and my Uncle has passed away, but that nagging sensation that there was something about that milk I needed to know and experience firsthand never quite left me.
Fast forward several decades. My family has been drinking raw milk now for over 15 years. It is the only milk my children have ever known. In fact, they won’t touch pasteurized versions preferring to drink water if the Real Thing isn’t available.
So what changed my mind about raw milk? Why do I drink it today and wouldn’t touch it as a teenager?
The Truth about Raw Milk
When my first child (who is about to turn 18) was being weaned from breastmilk at the age of two, I started researching options for the best and most nutritious beverage that he could consume. This search after months of reading and soul searching (and a brief stint with soy milk) led me to a grassfed dairy farmer from Pennsylvania. There was no better option for my growing child than clean, nutritious raw milk from healthy cows grazing on unsprayed pastures. It is one of the safest foods your children could possibly consume according to CDC data.
The FDA website identifies pasteurized milk as the most allergenic food in America. Raw milk is different, however. Raw milk nurtures and grows children’s immunity with superior nutrition, naturally occurring probiotics and enzymes that protect them from asthma, allergies and many other ailments. Research has repeatedly confirmed this to be the case.
I’ve never regretted making the choice for raw milk for my family. In almost 18 years, my children have never needed antibiotics. Neither do they suffer from allergies or other autoimmune issues. I even drank milk when I was pregnant and lactating with my two youngest children. CDC data again confirms that this is a safe choice despite media reports to the contrary. Raw milk helped preserve my own health from the nutrient drain and resultant fatigue that having multiple children can often cause for some women.
The $64,000 Question: How Does Raw Milk Taste?
You can talk about the benefits of raw milk until the cows come home, but the bottom line is taste.
How in fact does raw milk taste?
If it doesn’t taste good compared with processed milk, all the safety and nutrition data in the world don’t matter. People won’t keep drinking it long term.
The good news is that raw milk taste, is, well, fantastic!
It really is hard to describe exactly how amazing until you try it for yourself. I’ve had some friends describe the taste like melted vanilla ice cream. This is a good description, but I don’t think it quite captures the freshness aspect of raw milk.
The way I try to explain it to people in a way that they can understand is by using orange juice as a familiar example.
We all have tasted processed orange juice from the store, right? Well, compare that to orange juice that is fresh-squeezed right in your own home. I’m not talking about the orange juice in the carton in the supermarket that claims to be fresh-squeezed. That stuff is actually pasteurized.
I’m talking about orange juice that you squeeze yourself in your own kitchen or get at a juice bar where the oranges are squeezed right in front of you.
Truly fresh, raw orange juice tastes amazing, does it not? There really is no comparison to processed orange juice from the store whether it comes in a carton falsely labeled “fresh squeezed” or reconstituted from a can with water.
Take that experience of tasting raw orange juice versus processed orange juice and apply it to milk. Hopefully, you can see that it is no exaggeration to say that raw milk taste is far better and fresher than processed milk even if it is organic.
What to Do If You Can’t Get Raw Milk Where You Live
Have you tried raw milk yourself yet? I hope you get to try some soon if you haven’t already. It is worth the leap.
Check this raw milk finder to find a farm near you!
If you live in Canada, you can legally drive across the border to the US, buy raw milk and return home as long as it is for personal consumption only.
Hi, I’m doing a research project and I really need to know what cow milk tastes like. But like… say it descriptively for me!:)
Raw cow milk from cows grazing on pasture tastes like melted vanilla ice cream.
Here in CA, just outside San Francisco, I pay $10 for a 1/2 gallon (64oz), lucky for me it’s sold at a few local food markets and farmer markets. Wholefoods used to sell it here but stopped a few years back because of the hefty insurance premiums required to carry raw milk. I know about the controversy over animal milk not being meant for human consumption but I can’t deny how natural and nutritious this stuff feels going down. If I ever get a cancer diagnosis than I’ll stop the milk but not until then.
Having grown up on raw milk, I have to say that the taste really depends on the breed of cow, and what she eats. We had a Holstein/angus cross who’s milk tasted very sweet, and a jersey who practically gave half and half. All was delicious unless she got into something stinky.
$10 for 8 oz?! For real? The cost is quite simply prohibitive.
I can get raw milk nearby. But the cows are not grazing outside and I am not sure what exactly they are being fed.
At least they are getting direct sun exposure.
What’s your take on raw milk from cows like this vs pasteurized (70°C for 30 seconds) organic milk (demeter, if you know that).
Your input would be greatly appreciated!
I don’t drink milk unless it is raw. That said, I won’t drink raw milk if it isn’t from grazing cows either. Your call on that one.
I tried raw milk a few years back and I didn’t like it. It tasted like a farm smells, like grass and manure. I would rather drink raw milk because of all the benefits but the taste was horrible. It is also very expensive and we can’t afford it which is sad too.
I LOVE the taste of raw milk….my children call it ‘farmer’s milk’. I live in the UK and have to order it online and have it delivered as there is no organic dairy farm near me that sells it raw unfortunately. This means it’s really expensive and I only get it every couple of months for a treat, but we love it! Raw milk is my ‘wine’….I’m breastfeeding and don’t drink alcohol therefore the money I save from not having that bottle of wine at the weekend I figure I can put towards some raw milk as a treat every once in a while!!!
The new font is really hard to read. It also rings of quackery, regardless of the content. I don’t know why that is. I really appreciate your site and all the research you do, but weird fonts are generally indicators of weird content.(Perhaps it’s just judging a book by its cover, you know?).
Not sure what font you are referring to. The new branding did not change the fonts at all. They are the same as before.
Hi Sarah! I’ve been following you for a really long time and love your content. That said, I’m not a huge fan of the re-design either. It looks more like one of those “infomercial” sites. The old design was homey and inviting and quite comfortable … much like having a cup of coffee in the kitchen of a friend’s home. I don’t hate it, it just feels cold and impersonal now. I know it’s not easy sometimes to find that perfect balance and I’m sure you have your reasons/goals for the redesign, so carry on, I just wanted to give you some feedback because I know sometimes we wonder, as bloggers, what our readers are thinking and there’s no feedback.
Thanks for the feedback. You might be surprised to learn that most readers prefer the new design by a margin of about 9-1. Sorry if you don’t personally prefer it. I thought the old design was hokey and very outdated … I was glad for the fresh new look and it seems that most readers agree particularly those that access the blog via phones.
Looks wonderful but……….we could never afford it. The cost is VERY high.
When we switched to raw milk it wasn’t very expensive where we lived. In FL, however, it is very expensive, but the health benefits outweigh the cost. We never go to the doctor.
The first time I tried raw milk was about 15 years ago. I was also scared. We had to go to the farm with our own jars to buy it. The farmer asked if I had tried it before and I told him no. He gave me some. It tasted like melted ice cream! Before I had a source when we moved to FL, I was buying organic, processed milk. None of us could drink it! It was disgusting!
BTW, did you know that store milk has gypsum added to make it white because it is brown coming out of the cow from the puss and blood from giving them hormones? On top of that, they add sugar to it now to make kids want it more. How’s that for cost? You can cut something out of your budget to make it worthwhile. How about doctor bills?