22 Sep Apparently I’m Not Lactose Intolerant
After we moved back to the United States from Hong Kong, I started noticing that drinking milk made me feel uncomfortable. It progressively got worse to the point where I would get bloated and be in pain. I decided to give up drinking glasses of milk or eating bowls of cereal with milk, but I still wanted to have milk in my tea and coffee. So I tried the alternatives – almond milk was fine, oat milk pretty good. But in the end I went with lactose-free milk because I still wanted the milk taste.
We also went with lactose free because I noticed that my youngest would get potty issues if he drank regular milk. But the lactose free seemed to help him not have trouble going #2 (I tried to say that with as much politeness as possible. But yes, regular milk seemed to stuff him up.)
Lactose-free milk in small amounts (like in tea or coffee) seemed to work for me. So I thought maybe that was the solution. After a while of testing it in small amounts, I decided to have a bowl of cereal with lactose-free milk. Nope. Not good. I bloated like a balloon and felt pretty terrible.
That was when I decided to take the plunge. I went online and looked up a local Raw Cow Milk dairy. I had been thinking about raw milk for a while now, years, maybe even more. I had always heard of the benefits, but was always a little afraid to look into it.
But earlier this year, I read online that someone who thought he was lactose intolerant bought a dairy cow for his farm, grass-fed it, and drank the raw milk. Amazingly, all his “lactose-intolerant” issues disappeared. This was echoed by more people, and I began hearing it from friends as well.
So, we decided to give raw milk a go.
What is raw milk?
It’s milk that comes straight from the cow, into the refrigerator, and then into your glass and stomach. No processing or pasteurization.
The FDA claims that raw milk is dangerous. But the FDA also lists raw milk in the same “high risk” category as soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert, and since I’ve been eating those for about 20 years now with no issues (as well as most of Europe too), and I’m not sure how many thousands of years people have been drinking raw milk throughout history, I figured it’s worth a try.
Raw milk laws in every state are different. In Colorado, you are allowed to buy into raw milk shares, but raw milk is not sold out right. This means that I can sign up for something almost like a membership, where basically I am saying that I co-own a dairy cow with some other people (including the one who milks it), and I am chipping in for the costs of keeping the cow. The milk is like a little kickback from the membership. It’s all legalese and silliness, but I guess that’s the way it has to be.
Testing it Out
So I found a dairy that had an “available share” of one gallon a week. They have Jersey cows that are completely grass-fed. The milk is $8 for the first gallon, then $5 for each gallon after that if you return the milk jars.
One Tuesday afternoon, I met them in the parking lot of local farm supply store and picked up my share – two half gallon Ball mason jars, filled with beautiful, creamy milk. Something about milk being bottled in glass just makes it look extra delightful, doesn’t it?
My family, who had all been drinking milk for a while, were the first ones to taste. It was different. It was creamy and had a stronger flavor than store-bought milk – you could almost taste the pasture in it. It was rich and it was different, but not bad. It just took getting used to. We’re 4 weeks in now and Nick and all my kids are loving it.
I was reluctant to drink large amounts at first. I didn’t want to plunge my delicate digestive system into so much dairy so quickly. I started with sips here and there and adding it to my coffee (it makes the coffee taste amazing!!)
But just the other day, I was able to eat a whole bowl of cereal with the raw milk, and I had none of the symptoms that I had experienced before! No bloating, no discomfort, no tightness of the belly. I was amazed! It feels great to know that what we’re consuming is higher in beneficial nutrients and easy for me to digest (AND cheaper than the organic stuff I’d been buying by about 3 dollars per gallon). Oh and it helps a local small farm too!
The Risk Factor, or what I like to call, The Trust Factor
I’m so thankful that we took the leap to try this. It does take trust because like with ANY food, there is always a chance of foodborne illnesses. But I trust our farmer to clean things well, I trust our senses (especially our noses and taste buds) to tell if something is off.
Eating ANY food – whether it’s an FDA approved McDonald’s hamburger or a non-FDA approved homemade jar of salsa from a local grower – involves trust. And you can get sick from either. I’d rather try something that offers our bodies more strength and protection in the long run.
One day, we hope to have our own cow to milk, and maybe some milk to share!
Raw vs. Grass Fed & What to do if you Can’t Get Raw Milk
Raw milk & grass fed milk are not mutually inclusive. Not all raw milk is necessarily grass fed – it could come from cows who are fed grain. And not all grass fed cows’ milk will be left raw. You can actually buy “grassmilk” in stores, and they have been pasteurized and processed according to FDA regulations.
I’ve heard that while organic grain fed milk and non-organic grain fed milk have similar nutritional makeup, grass fed milk is far superior in nutrients and may also be digested more easily. So if Raw Milk isn’t available where you live, check your local supermarkets for Grass-fed cow milk. To be totally honest, Grassmilk in stores can be expensive, which is why I didn’t get it too often. But it might be worth it if you can swing it, even if it’s just every now and then.
Quick Final Notes
In case you wanted a quick idea of the benefits of raw milk and/or grass fed milk, here they are, with references:
Benefits of raw milk include – probiotics, enzymes, healthy fats, more accessible proteins, vitamins & calcium. Basically milk processing kills or modifies a lot of the good stuff that is in milk. For more information on the benefits of raw milk, check out this article on the Organic Pastures website.
Benefits of grass fed milk include – Significantly higher Omega 3s and good fatty acids, Vitamin E, Iron and more. For more information on the benefits of grass fed milk, check out this research by the University of Minnesota Extension and this article on Parents.com.