There’s Something About “Farm Milk”

All milk comes from a farm, but a recent study uses the term “farm milk” to distinguish between milk bought at the grocery store and that obtained from a farm directly.
A large-scale study in Europe has collected detailed food intake data from families along with medical histories. What is different about this data collection compared to that done in the United States by the USDA is that researchers made a distinction in where consumers are getting their milk and dairy products.
They examined “farm kids” and their rural counterparts not on a farm and they examined children in Steiner Schools compared to other suburban children. Steiner School families apparently tend to have a holistic approach to health and medicine.

Farm Kids Drink A Lot of “Farm Milk”
Two-thirds of the farm children had consumed “farm milk” at some point in their lives compared to 20% of other rural children. Only 30% of Steiner children had consumed “farm milk” compared to 8% of the other suburban children. Over half of the farm children had consumed farm milk in their first year of life and continue to consume it, compared to between 2 and 8% in the other three groups.
Children living on a farm are much more likely to have consumed farm milk in their first year and to have continued consuming it. This finding is probably not a huge surprise.
But the farm group, at the same time, provides the researchers with variation in their data. One-third of the farm children actually had never consumed farm milk. Twenty percent (20%) of rural children consumed it at some point in their lives.
What researchers found is that children consuming farm milk are less likely to suffer from asthma.
Farm Milk and Asthma: Raw Milk?
Researchers speculate that key difference in the “farm milk” is the “raw” part. Many people who drink milk right off a farm do not bother to pasteurize it.
Researchers asked farm milk drinkers if they boil the farm milk before drinking it and about half said “yes.” But the researchers then speculate that parents were telling researchers what they want to hear. The government tells people they shouldn’t drink raw milk and, as a result, respondents may not be fully forthcoming with researchers. In this study, researchers found no relationship between children of milk boiling parents and of self-confessed raw milk drinkers.
Raw milk contains bacteria that can aid in digestive health. The reason it is pasteurized out is to kill any potential pathogenic bacteria that may lurk in the milk.
Pasteurization does not discriminate between the good and the bad.
Researchers also suggest that the farm milk may be higher in beneficial fats – children drinking farm milk may be more likely to consume milk from a cow grazing in the mountains on pasture – the small family farm model. But the data does not speak to this issue.
Here in the Central Valley of California near the country’s largest raw milk dairy, Organic Pastures, raw milk drinkers are pretty convinced it is the raw part of the milk (though they will extol the added beneficial fats as well). With climbing rates of asthma in this area, there are increasing testimonials of asthma being helped by the addition of raw milk in the diet.

2 Responses to There’s Something About “Farm Milk”
  1. Amanda,
    Further to your comments back on June 1st ’07 about Asthma you may like to read this article that appeared in a UK paper in early August.
    You may have to copy and paste the url as I don’t know what happens to links on this site. Have yet to find a source of raw milk near here so hope this sort of research helps to make it easier to find.

  2. Adrian,
    That link sounds interesting but I wasn’t able to read it. Can you email the link to me?
    amanda ( at )
    ( dot ) com

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