My family loves milk, on breakfast cereal, in tea and coffee or just for drinking, and milk is good for us, however several things concerned us, most milk available to us comes in single use plastic containers, sure we are lucky enough to live in an area where a milkman delivers in glass bottles. But other than gold top all milk commercially available by mainstream means has been processed and in our view messed around with.
Supermarket milk – The main sellers are;
Skimmed (Red top) is fat reduced, pasteurised and homogenised.
Semi-skimmed (Green top) is fat reduced, pasteurised and homogenised.
Whole milk (Blue top) is standardised (fat reduced) pasteurised and homogenised.
Jersey milk (Gold top) is pasteurised, and comes either homogenised or not.
So all supermarket milk except Gold Top has been processed to remove some of the fat, ALL of it has been pasteurised (flash heat treated and rapidly cooled) and the rest (excluding some Gold Top) homogenised.
So how is this done?
The process of pasteurisation involves heating milk to 71.7°C for at least 15 seconds (and no more than 25 seconds). Because of the nature of the heat treatment it sometimes referred to as the ‘High Temperature Short Time’ (HTST) process. Once the milk has been heated, it is then cooled very quickly to less than 3°C. The equipment which is used to heat and cool the milk is called a ‘heat exchanger’.
Homogenization today is usually a two step process. The first stage pushes milk through small, tapered tubes or pores. As the diameter shrinks and the flow of milk remains constant, pressure builds up and fat globules break apart in the turbulence.
The higher the pressure, the smaller the particles. How much pressure? Typically 2,000-3,000 pounds per square inch (psi), although some super homogenizers work at over 1000 times atmospheric pressure- 14,500psi and higher.
Before homogenization, fat globules range in size from 1-10 microns (a micron = ~0.00004 inch). After, the size range is reduced to 0.2-2 microns.
As the much smaller fat globules begin to reassemble, they include fragments of whey and casein in their walls. Some are completely surrounded by a layer of protein. The tendency is for these new, chemically altered globules to clump together.
Stage two of the homogenization process breaks up this unwanted assembly and makes sure everything stays in solution.
Some researchers believe that these protein-heavy fat globules can potentially increase homogenized milk’s ability to cause allergic reactions. Numerous animal studies confirm this.
So thinking long and hard about this we hit on a solution, we would start using RAW MILK. This was a carefully considered step for us as there can be potential health implications and there is specific government guidance advising who should not have raw milk.
We also know for some people reading this, raw milk not an option either on health, or availability grounds (for example Raw Milk sales are prohibited in Scotland).
So we now do a weekly milk run, picking up four to five litres at a time in glass refillable bottles. I can often make this coincide with trips to various offices and meetings that I have to attend, or we plan a family day and get it on our way back. This means we benefit but don’t incur a massive carbon footprint on the milk we buy.
The raw cows milk we buy is budget neutral, the cost is the same as previously buying supermarket gold top, it has zero food miles from where we buy it, it is not messed with, and as a non-milk drinker even I think it tastes good.
We use a few dairies regularly but others are available, details of raw milk suppliers across the UK can be found at http://rawmilk.simkin.co.uk/index.html prices vary considerably dependant on supplier (Jersey milk can attract a significant premium) and delivery costs are very high if you order courier delivery.
For those living around Ipswich in Suffolk it is possible to get Raw milk delivered in plastic containers.
Where we buy
Coston Hall Farm (10 minutes from Wymondham off the A11 in Norfolk)
Fen Farm Dairy (not far from Bungay) http://fenfarmdairy.co.uk/
Old Hall Farm (Woodton near Bungay) http://www.oldhallfarm.co.uk/
Colletts Farm (Wormingford near Colchester) http://www.collettsfarm.co.uk/
We reuse glass bottles which we sterilise between uses, and take them to refill where vending machines are located at the farms, ensuring bottles are clean and sterile is vital!!!
Its a nice simple process, and gives us lovely milk at minimal environmental cost… That’s what we call living gentler.
Some low volume raw milk suppliers still use plastic containers, there are sound business reasons for this mainly around commercial sterilisation of reuseable glass bottles. We understand that and still support their efforts to work sustainably and produce a quality product.
Some of the often claimed benefits of raw milk;
Raw milk consists of important enzymes that aid in assimilating the nutrients present in milk. Possibly the most important is lactase enzyme that helps digest lactose milk sugar. After using raw milk many people who thought they couldn’t have dairy as they are lactose intolerant, are really enjoying milk again. Maybe it’s a case that they are pasteurized milk intolerant?”
“Raw milk serves as one of the best sources for calcium consumption.”
“One of the major raw milk drinking advantages is that it contains the beneficial bacteria both in terms of gut health and fighting infection, which otherwise get destroyed, when the milk undergoes pasteurisation process.”
Source Hook and Son website.