Sick From Raw Milk

This is a post I hoped I’d never have to write. And honestly, I will admit that I considered not writing it. But I know that I have to.

I owe it to you, after all I’ve written on this subject, to be completely honest about what has happened, so that you can make an informed decision for your family, if raw milk is an issue for you at all.

Last week 4 members of our family came down with what we thought at first was an intestinal virus. There are a lot of viruses going around in our area, and I didn’t even consider any type of food poisoning . . . at first.

However, as it lingered, and I got sicker and sicker, I began to wonder. I had just published a post about our food choices and mentioned that I rarely get sick and when I do it is mild. This is true. I have never been so sick from a virus, and I could not shake this one. I began to wonder about our milk.

Then I got the email.

I was lying on the couch, weak and drowsy from days of my body expelling every morsel that I ate or drank, when the email from our raw milk provider arrived on my iPhone. Other customers were reporting similar illnesses in their homes, and many were tracking it to those who drank the raw milk. One customer had even tested positive for campylobacter — a common cause of bacterial foodborne illness. In that email, the farmer explained that they were looking into the situation, but for the time being, we should discontinue drinking their milk.

A sick, sinking feeling started in my stomach and radiated out to the tips of my fingers and toes.

I knew this is what had happened to my family. I JUST KNEW.

The farmer was skeptical that it was his milk, as his entire family was fine, but as the days went on, a test came back indicating that one particular batch of milk with a certain expiration date (the same date on my carton of milk) did indeed carry the campylobacter bacteria.

Meanwhile, I had been to my doctor and tested positive for the same. It was official.

My family had been sickened from drinking raw milk.

I always knew that there was a remote possibility of getting sick from raw milk, but I truly believed that if the farmer was reliable and diligent about following the proper protocol, that it was a very small chance, and that the benefits of drinking the raw milk far outweighed any risk. I was also led to believe that if there IS “bad bacteria” in the milk, the “good bacteria” should be able to suppress it, and people with strong immune systems should be able to fight it.

And in fact, I do believe this is what happened with us. Yes, we got sick, but we drank that entire gallon of milk. I think our bodies did a fairly good job of fighting it. My kids bounced back fairly quickly. I suffered the worst of all of us, and my doctor suggested that is perhaps because I tend to have a weak gut already.

Even though we are firm believers in the benefits of raw milk, we were never completely at peace with our decision to drink it. My husband and I have discussed our milk choice at great lengths over the past few years. We have always been in agreement with one another, but have debated it amongst ourselves time and time again. We always came back to the reasoning, if people were getting sick from it, we would hear more about it, and the stories we hear about people getting sick from food are always industrial foods, not carefully produced real foods from small family farms.

Plus, it tastes SO GOOD and it makes my belly SO HAPPY and I have always suspected that it is drinking raw milk that has helped my son’s asthma symptoms disappear so dramatically.

Which is why, I have to admit, I am really sad about this latest turn of events. Not only do I feel a horrible weight of guilt for putting my children at risk when it is my sworn duty to protect them, but I will miss my raw milk terribly.

That’s right. We are no longer drinking raw milk.

Not everyone afflicted by the campylobacter incident will stop drinking raw milk. In fact, in the newsletter I received last night from the farm, a letter from a devoted family was reprinted that basically stated their support for the farm and for the drinking of raw milk. As they said to their doctor, when people are sickened by contaminated spinach and cantaloupe, they aren’t told to discontinue eating them. So why is raw milk such the villain, when it has so many benefits and incidences like this are extremely rare?

I don’t know. And maybe it is short-sighted of me to stop drinking raw milk because of this one unfortunate incident. The truth is, there is no safe food. There is always a risk.

But the raw milk decision is one that we’ve been waffling on from the first gallon we purchased till the last, and this was the final straw.

I’m sure some of you are thinking: What’s the big hairy deal with milk? Just drink the “regular” stuff like everyone else and be done with it!

I thought about this (I had plenty of time to mull it over while I lay on the couch last week, wasting away) and it comes down to this.

Raw milk is a live food. It contains a plethora of essential amino acids, enzymes, beneficial bacteria, vitamins and minerals that supposedly boost our immune systems and may even help cure diseases. You can live on raw milk alone (it has been well documented). It is a complete food.

Pasteurized milk is dead. In fact, once it’s been cooked (pasteurized) and shaken up (homogenized), even the local grass-fed organic milk I can buy is just another processed food.

So why I do I care, anyway? We eat plenty of processed foods, truth be told.

Well, aside from the fact that I cannot drink pasteurized milk without becoming immediately and violently ill (due to what I assume is lactose intolerance) and raw milk goes down so easy . . .

Set that aside, and it comes down to the fact that this is (was?) the one easy thing I could do to nourish my family.

If your family drinks milk the way we drink milk, AND WE DRINK MILK (upwards of 2 gallons a week), it is one thing I can buy that we all love that I feel is nourishing their bodies and protecting them from all the other junk they eat in a given day. There are lots of other things I can feed them that are nourishing and wholesome, but none as easy (or perhaps as tasty) as a glass of raw milk.

On the one hand, eating anything is a gamble. I have to believe that it’s a lot riskier for my kids to eat an occasional McDonalds Happy Meal than it is for them to drink raw milk every day of their lives.

And yet. We didn’t get sick from McDonalds. Or spinach. Or cantaloupe. We got sick from raw milk. So whether or not it makes logical sense, we have decided to stop drinking it. For now, anyway. (And yes, we still eat bagged spinach and cantaloupe. But we wash it REALLY REALLY well.) And I literally cringe and pray any time we give our kids fast food, which is a very rare occurrence.

We are lucky. It’s been two weeks since we came down with the symptoms of the campylobacter, and the kids are fine. In fact, they got over it fairly quickly — they were only down for 3 or 4 days. I suffered the worst, which is ironic because I drank the least of it. My kids drink milk like candy. I probably had one, MAYBE two cups out of the entire gallon. But I guess my temperamental gut had more difficulty expelling the bacteria than my kids’ healthy bodies did. But I’m on the mend and feeling better every day.

So why am I telling you all this? 

I admit, I was tempted to quietly move on with my life. But I am telling you because you deserve to know. One of the arguments I made to myself when justifying the remote risk of drinking raw milk was, if people were getting sick off of it, I would hear about it. RIGHT? I know so many people that drink raw milk and no one has ever mentioned getting sick from it. If I didn’t tell you this, after all the posts I’ve written extolling the virtues of raw milk, it would be dishonest.

Some of you drink raw milk. Most of you probably don’t. But if you do, you should know, that even if you have a farmer that you trust, you can still get sick. Maybe you will keep drinking it. Maybe I should too. I don’t know. It is not a right-or-wrong issue. Ultimately I believe that eating food in its simplest form is generally best practice, but these days that’s easier said than done.

Of all the awesome benefits that come along with our modern industrial society, keeping our food simple is not one of them. I can’t go out back and milk a cow and drink fresh, clean milk. If I could, this decision would be simple. Instead, I have to depend on a whole production team to maintain perfect standards of cleanliness to keep that delicate, live food safe. And I have to admit, my confidence in that system has been shattered.

That said, I do not harbor any resentment towards the farm or their family. They are good people trying their best to make available to their customers the same wholesome, nourishing foods that they produce and feed their own family. I knew there was a risk involved, and I took that risk knowingly. I take full responsibility.

The farm will continue to produce and sell raw milk. It is legal to do so in Pennsylvania, and they did nothing wrong. It was a mistake, one that they have agonized over, and hopefully one that will not be repeated.

As for my family? We will have a good source of local, organic, grass-fed, PASTEURIZED milk available that we will be buying (for now).

* * *

I welcome thoughtful and respectful comments, on either side of this issue. I view this blog like my living room. If you wouldn’t say it to your good friend while sipping tea in her living room, please don’t say it here. Rude comments will be deleted.

UPDATE 2/8/12
I’ve decided to close comments on this post. I believe that everything there is to say has been said, several times over. I appreciate the thought and concern that went into your comments, and I value each and every one.

Join the Conversation

121 thoughts on “Sick From Raw Milk

  1. I was directed to your article from Kelly the Kitchen Kop, and read it with interest and sympathy. I’m sorry you and your family were sickened by raw milk; that is a terrible thing to go through. We’ve never been sickened by drinking raw milk but we’ve certainly had our share of nasty, horrible viruses through the years, so I can empathize.

    Whenever something like this comes up, I am reminded of my grandparents and great-grandparents and all the thousands of years of raw milk drinking that took place before our time. Did any of our ancestors ever get sick from drinking raw milk? Maybe, but I have a feeling their constitutions were stronger than ours today and so sickness like this was probably rare. If they ever did get sick from it, did they then stop drinking it? Probably not; they didn’t have other options and they probably figured it was just part of life.

    I liken this to vaccinations, which is a controversial topic all on its own. People have a choice to get vaccinated against certain diseases. If they choose to do this, there are many risks and side effects from toxic ingredients in the vaccines themselves, plus, immunity is never guaranteed. If they choose to not get them, they avoid the toxic cocktail of ingredients, but also run the risk of contracting those diseases. Then again, they may never, ever get those diseases, in which case they have avoided both the toxins and the diseases.

    Drinking raw milk can be risky. So can eating ground beef, peanut butter, and even organic baby spinach (pre-washed). Even organic/natural chicken has been found to be contaminated with salmonella. There is risk in everything we do. Does this mean we just stop eating those foods? To me that doesn’t make much sense. And I will say this. Since switching to a real, whole foods, WAPF diet, we’ve never gotten any kind of food-related illness, whereas previously, on a conventional diet, we did.

    This was a terrible, traumatic experience for you. Maybe, once you’re all healed, physically and emotionally, you might give raw milk another chance. Maybe the risks are worth it.

    P.S. Activated charcoal soaks up poisons and toxins in your system and helps heal intestinal illness fast. I have personal experience with this and it really works!

    1. Thanks for the activated charcoal recommendation. A week ago, I might have tried it. I do think I’m on the mend now.

      Fortunately we do have options nowadays, and while we can’t avoid all risks, we can reduce them somewhat. I wish we had more information on the percentage of illnesses from eating certain foods, not just straight numbers. It’s such an interesting subject.

      1. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/science/progress_report_salmonella_testing/index.asp

        The percentage of supermarket meat hosting live salmonella at this moment is between 5 and 18%, depending on the animal (according to the USDA website, see link above). Consumer Reports did a pretty large study last year on salmonella present in chicken and the result was a 71% infection rate.

        Any non-processed animal foods bear some risk, when not cooked — if you know who is producing the milk, and trust them, I figure the risk is way lower than animal meat and bones packaged at a mass slaughterhouse that is 2000 miles away).

        I drink “Certified” Raw milk only, whenever we are in Pennsylvania (shout out to green pasture farms, Starrucca, PA!) and take whatever the risk because the milk is so uniquely potent at fixing my allergies. I drink within two days.

        (Also directed to this stream via Kelly the Kitchen Kop)

        1. Thanks, Josh. And that is why I do not buy meat at the grocery store. 🙂 Plus, I can cook my meat. Maybe I should cook my milk. (And my spinach. LOL.)

          Can you elaborate on the “certified” milk? What does that mean?

          1. My dad knows more about this and he is out of the country for a couple weeks so I can’t ask him directly. I will email him as to why he insists on this.

            That said, this much I do know (and it’s enough for me and may be relevant for you):

            1. The State of PA requires “Complete inspections of raw milk permit holders and their required records every 3 months” (pasteurized milk has no similar on-site inspection requirement, because cleanliness is not that critical to the consumer’s health, presumably)

            2. It’s a certification, and I usually trust a certified food before one that isn’t certified (although I don’t trust organic third party certification from China a whit). For example, even though I am not “Kosher,” I trust kosher food a bit more since I know there is someone watching the quality of the food aside from the maker of the food.

            Incidentally, on the topic of cooking meat and spinach to be safe, I know you are joking around a bit but seriously, if everyone actually did cook their meat using a meat thermometer, to make sure beef hit at least 160 degrees and poultry 165, there would be millions of fewer stomach aches in America each year — literally, there are actually stats illustrating this. I am a bit overcareful about my food, having contracted salmonella while in college (sick for months afterward, along w 300 other kids, and yes we did sue and win). That’s why it is interesting that I am coming out on the side I am regarding raw milk. Although if I do get sick from it I’ll probably hold off for a while before doing so again. Chrs!

  2. Jo-Lynne, Thanks for sharing your story. I love reading your food posts! My family just recently joined a herd-share program and we’ve been enjoying the raw milk and fresh cream for coffee. We do have confidence in our farmer’s processes, but like you said, there’s no such thing as a 100% guarantee. I will definitely talk to my farmer about this though, just to hear what he says and to make myself feel like I’m as informed as I can be. Glad you’re all getting better, and I will definitely be interested to hear how you all fare when you switch to gently-pasteurized milk.

  3. Jo-Lynne, thank you for your honesty. This must have been a hard post to write!

    I’m glad you are all feeling better. I can totally understand why you have decided to stop the raw milk for now. Besides not being 100% convinced, it’s so hard to start eating something after you’ve gotten sick after eating it. Among other things I don’t eat because of unfortunately-timed vomiting episodes are m&m cookies and shrimp. Sounds silly, but I just can’t do it any more.

    My 4-year-old pretty much won’t eat peanut butter anymore because it was her last meal before the last time she had the stomach bug (at least six months ago).

  4. Jo Lynne, I appreciate your sharing this experience, and think you addressed everything that happened with the utmost of grace.

    (I’m not sure why people who don’t live in your house have such a need to change your mind on the type of milk you serve your family, but I guess after blogging so long you are used to it, because you handle it with very good humour! Bless your heart! I understand your feelings exactly! It is so hard in this day and age where we know so much and have so many options. Ugh! I am sure your family will thrive no matter what!)

  5. first of all, i’m glad everyone is okay. that could have been worse.
    second, i appreciate your post and your knowledge. it’s not something i was aware of before. i think your decision is exactly that…your decision. and i’m glad you shared it with us.

  6. Ok. . . .what is this “certified raw milk” everyone keeps talking about? IF raw milk is pretty much out of the hands of the government, how could it be “certified?”
    Then again, here in MO the only way we can really get it is to go out to the farm and buy it direct. It’s neither legal, or illegal, but most farmers steer clear of as much government “certification” as they can. . . . .

  7. Thanks for the informative post Jo-Lynne. I live in Canada, so raw milk is illegal to sell here. I didn’t realize in certain states you could purchase it. That’s really cool. I grew up on a dairy farm in Ontario, so although it was illegal to sell raw milk, you could drink your own raw milk. We never bought “store milk” because it was too expensive. And yes, we drank a lot of it because it was always available and free. I’m glad you and your family is feeling better.

  8. Hi Jo Lynne,
    I’m glad you decided to go ahead and write about it.
    I’m a big supporter of raw milk and buy it for my family – but I do think we need to be honest about potential risks.

    Have you read David Gumpert’s (The Complete Patient) latest post? He brought up a good point, I’m curious what your thoughts are:

    “I’ve always thought the the WAPF’s reluctance to admit to the risks associated with raw milk stemmed from an understandable defensiveness born of unfair governmental targeting of raw dairies. I’m hopeful that the experience of The Family Cow will perhaps convince WAPF’s leadership that there is more value in transparency than defensiveness, and it will try to learn from the experience of Ed Shank. There is nothing to hide, after all … the number of illnesses from raw milk remains relatively low compared with other foods.”


    1. No, I didn’t. Thanks for the link. I was avoiding naming the farm, but I can see that was pointless. I have been in contact with Edwin, and I respect him immensely for the way he has handled this from start to finish.

      I think David makes a very good point about WAPF. I have been to the conference, I have read Nourishing Traditions and The Raw Milk Story (is that it?) and I am well versed in the culture of the raw milk evangelists. 🙂 I was always a bit hesitant about it, though, because people I know and trust ,who have a much better understanding than I do about science and bacteria, have tried to explain to me the risks and how bacteria multiplies and etc.

      While I respect WAPF and what they are trying to do, I think they need to be more realistic about the risks and more humble when there are incidences of contamination.

  9. I don’t have anything to say about the raw milk issue. I just wanted to leave a comment to say what a class act you are. You have addressed this situation and all these comments so eloquently and gracefully. So glad you’re feeling better.

  10. How do you know if the milk is low-heat pasteurized. Ask the farmer? And do you know of any local farms that the cows are strictly grass fed (besides the Raw milk sellers)? I’ve asked a few and all of them give feed also. I know there is a farm in Lancaster and one of the local small farms was selling their milk but they aren’t anymore.

    1. Usually dairies advertise what kind of pasteurization methods they use. Natural By Nature writes about it on their website, which is how I know. But you an always call and ask. Natural By Nature also advertises having grass-fed milk but I don’t know if they also use feed or not. Even if they do, they are certified organic so I know that the feed is organic. I prefer to know the cows are on pasture (and realize that during the winter supplementing with feed may be necessary) but I assume they use milk from several farms and I’m not sure what their practices are.

  11. We were sick from this dairy, too. It was the worst illness my husband and I have ever had! Our children had it the week before us (before the reports of illness became widespread), and their case was minor. We came down later in the week so violently that I couldn’t believe we had the same bug they did. We assumed, instead, that our sickness came from the Indian take-out we’d had for a date night dinner the night before.

    I was hospitalized (complications from dehydration, as I’m a nursing mom), and had the most amazing reaction at the hospital. At first, when I believed it was our take-out, the doctors and nurses were SO SYMPATHETIC. “Oh, you poor thing! So sick! What a price to pay for a date night…” Later, when I realized that we must have gotten sick from the milk, it was a complete turn-around. “Why would you drink something that could poison you? You knew the risks going into it. That’s why it’s illegal many places. You gave it to your children?!?!?”

    Suddenly, I went from being a victim to someone who had courted my illness. All because I wanted good, nourishing, local food for my family.

    My heart goes out to this dairy. They’re so broken up about the pain they’ve caused so many families. I keep thinking to myself, if they were a giant corporation, this would be a blip in their sales, forgotten in a year. They’d play the blame game, not take responsibility, and otherwise divert us from focusing on the real issues, which are safe food handling and the possibility of all food making us ill under the right conditions.

    I’m glad you and your family are feeling better. It really did seem to effect the adults much worse than the children, which is perhaps the luckiest turn of events.

    1. That is truly incredible, isn’t it? No one blames anyone for feeding their kids the crap at McDonalds. But raw milk? OH BOY.

      My heart goes out to them too. Edwin has been WONDERFUL and he feels so badly about it all.

      Interesting that you experienced the same as we did – with the adults getting it worse. And yes, I am SO thankful that the kids bounced back so quickly. SO VERY THANKFUL.

  12. Jo-Lynne – I’m so glad to hear that your family is okay. And I’m thankful that you posted this information about your raw milk experience and how your family was impacted.

    I have wanted to serve my family raw milk for years and we have not had a good experience with it. During my most recent attempt to migrate my family to raw milk my husband and oldest son got what we thought at the time was a stomach bug. It took me a few days to realize it was the milk because our daughter didn’t have any symptoms. As in your case, my husband was way sicker than our son. We discontinued with that raw milk and I have sort of given up on the idea of serving my family raw milk. I must admit, I have felt guilty about it ever since. I’m convinced on paper that it is the best form of milk to serve my family but they keep getting sick drinking it.

    We live near the Natural by Nature farm store in Chester County and have been drinking their milk for a few years. We (by we I mean they, since I don’t drink milk at all) love their products and their prices.

    Again, thanks for sharing your experience. I really enjoy your blog and all the local information you provide.

    1. Have you had their non-homogenized milk? I wish I had that available near me.

      Odd that you’ve had so much trouble with raw milk, although I heard once along the way that some people do have a hard time adjusting to it at first. Dunno…

  13. It took me a long time to be able to respond to this. First and most importantly, I’m glad that you and your family are on the mend from this (no other way to put it) sad occurrence. I understand the conflicted feelings you have when you want to do what is best for your family, and not just government approved action.
    I drink raw milk whenever I can get it. My grass fed dairy farmer friend is rather overwhelmed with demand, so I get fit in when she has some left, as I only need a little bit. I have seen her work and at one time helped her with her lovely ladies. I see the care she takes for their health and those of her customers. I have also witnessed corporate dairy farms, and to see the difference between just the attitudes towards the animals is huge.
    The only problem I have with the declaration of sickness, outside of informing others who might be getting milk from the same dairy, is the viral effect it will have on raw milk legislation. I am not minimizing the problems you and your family encountered at all. Everyone who cares about “real food” knows that corporate farms are routinely let off the hook when thousands of pounds or gallons of a product is tainted and hundreds of people get sick. They get away with a recall and nothing is ever said about what has happened to the people who got sick, or what practices where changed at the operation. I just hate that “the fix” is in, when it comes to government oversight and big ag. So I do my own little bit to fight it. I grow my own organic veggies. I drink raw milk when I can. I write my so-called representatives to pass pro-raw milk legislation. I do my best to inform people that the government does not have their best interests at heart by telling them what they can and can not eat.
    I will continue to drink raw milk, most probably because I know and trust the supplier. If I ever get sick from her milk, I do know that she has done the best she can and no one is perfect. I have no intention of doing anything other than informing her of my sickness, (and my doctor if necessary). I know that if she finds out something like that, she will be proactive enough to do whatever is necessary to remedy the situation. I do feel bad for the farmer whose milk got you sick. With all the internet info out there, I wonder if his dairy will be able to continue in business. It’s not like the old days when the people who need to know got the necessary information. Now it’s out there all over the world, whether anyone else is affected or not. And sad to say, it’s a black eye for the raw milk producers.

    1. Yes, for better or worse, that is the world we live in today. This blog is about my life and my experiences. And this is my life and my experience – nothing more and nothing less.

      People DO deserve to know that they can get sick from a farm that they trust. And yes, it IS a black eye for the raw milk producers. There’s no way around that.

      I don’t believe any good is served by only telling the glorious parts and hiding the negatives. I know that I trust the bloggers who I read to be honest with me, and I will give no less to my audience. I explained that thoroughly in my post so I won’t beat a dead horse.

      As far as this farm is concerned, his dairy will continue and it will thrive because of the relationship he has with his consumers and because of how well and how forthrightly he handled this. Just read the comments in this post. He has earned a lot of respect for handling this openly and honestly. The news articles and their half truths are a helluvalot more detrimental to raw milk than this post could possibly be.

      1. Thanks so much for your courteous response. You’re right, for better or worse we have to deal with the world we live it. It’s just kind of rotten all around sometimes, I think. As I said, I am very glad that you and your family are ok now. I like your blog and will continue to read it.

  14. I also found your article by way of Kelly the Kitchen Kop and am so sorry to hear about it. When we made the switch to raw milk a couple years ago, I remember at first feeling a little weird about drinking it, as it is so ingrained in our culture to fear raw milk, but I very quickly grew to love it and feel completely confident in drinking it, no second thoughts here. However, since then, I have become increasingly aware of how thankful I need to be for the dairy where we obtain our milk, as they are the only ones I have seen that actually test EVERY batch of milk before sending it out. They have even starting sending out weekly emails to give the testing results (“All milk is clean!”), and there have even been a couple times where they have decided to not send milk out if a test comes back positive. In fact, in the couple instances when that happened, when they retested using another sample, it has actually come back clean (meaning that it was only the initial sample that was somehow contaminated, not the whole batch).

    Anyway, all that to say is that I don’t really understand why more farms and dairies do not do this. I can understand that it probably increases costs somewhat, but I would guess that a lot of people drinking raw milk would be willing to pay a little more for that piece of mind, and there are probably lots of other people who might feel more confident making the switch to raw milk if they knew it was being tested weekly instead of just monthly like most places. (By the way, in case you are wondering, we’re in Colorado and use Windsor Dairy, awesome place!)

  15. I think you are making a mistake stopping the raw milk. You yourself said the kids didn’t get very sick. If you got sick from some leftover chicken in your refrigerator, would you stop eating chicken? No. If you got in an accident from driving around in your car, would you stay home and never drive a car again? No. You would accept that there are inevitable risks with every choice in life and move on.

    I am very sorry you got so sock, but the bottom line is that raw milk is so much better for your kids than store milk and that you are making a long term mistake not buying it for them anymore.

    1. At first I decided not to reply to this comment because it really doesn’t dignify a response. But as I’ve thought more about it, I think you should know that this method of delivery is never going to win people to your side of this debate. I met you last year at the WAPF conference, and I know what a fun and friendly person you are and how knowledgable you are, but none of that came across in these comments. In fact, your comments made me never want to drink raw milk again. No one likes to be told what to do, and I’m no exception.

      I also have a response to the “If you got sick from some leftover chicken in your refrigerator, would you stop eating chicken? If you got in an accident from driving around in your car, would you stay home and never drive a car again?” questions that are sprinkled throughout the comments.

      I considered writing a new post because this will be lengthy, but I don’t really care to open up the discussion again so I’m going to write it here.

      Initially that argument made me think twice about my choice. And then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is really a weak argument, and here is why.

      If I got sick from chicken, would I eat it again? Perhaps. Eventually. But first I would ask myself, where did the chicken come from? Could I have been more careful in my preparations? Should I seek out a better source for my chicken? I would certainly be much more careful with chicken from then on. (And for a while, I probably would not want to eat chicken. I didn’t eat pecan pie for YEARS after getting sick from it. That is not an unusual reaction.) As it is, I do not buy chicken from the grocery store if I can help it. I buy it from a reliable farmer, and then I COOK IT WELL, as food safety experts advise.

      If I got sick from a restaurant, I would likely never at there again. I have an uncle who got sick from KFC and I won’t touch the stuff. Not that I eat fast food on a regular basis, but the same is true for ANY restaurant. Or grocer, for that matter. I heard that someone got sick from meat from a local grocery store. I never buy fresh food from there anymore. Oh and the friend’s house where I got food poisoning? You think I’d ever eat there again? Probably not if I could help it. (It would depend on the situation and if I felt there were being careful in their food prep or not.)

      And the car argument. I love that one. You’re the second person who made that point. After a car accident, or a bike accident, or anything, people tend to be much more careful. Motorcycle riding is particularly risky (some vehicles, like some foods, are riskier than others) and after a serious accident, people do give up motorcycles. There are other methods of transportation that are probably safer. I purchased a Volvo last year after much research because I’m convinced it is the safest car I can put my kids into. It cost more than any other car I looked at, but the safety is worth it to me.

      My point is, after one gets sick or injured, they tend to take greater precautions and safety measures so it doesn’t happen again. Pasteurization is that safety measure with milk.

      I am not comparing drinking raw milk to eating grocery store chicken or any of the other foods people have brought up in the whole “if you got sick from x would you still eat it?” line of reasoning. I am not even comparing drinking raw milk to the industrial crap milk you get at Kroger. I am comparing drinking local, grass-fed, organic raw milk VS local, grass-fed, organic gently pasteurized milk. I am not yet convinced that benefits of drinking raw milk FAR outweigh the small risk of getting sick. I’d love to be able to measure the differences between the two, but so far no one has really been able to do that, as far as I can tell. Either way, that is a debate that will rage on and on and we certainly aren’t going to settle it here. Perhaps we’d be better off just avoiding milk altogether. That’s another option, although I think my family would revolt.

      I am open minded and interested to see how my kids fare with this change in their diet. But if I do decide to give raw milk another chance, it will not be due to comments such as this one. It will be due to the gentle, understanding, thoughtful comments that are sprinkled throughout this post and due to my family’s personal experience with this small diet change. You would do well to consider your tone and delivery when preaching the raw milk gospel. Otherwise you may do your message more harm than good.

      This is my final comment on this post. Since it’s my blog, I get to have the last word. 😉

  16. I should also add that my entire family had campylobacter last year. My daughter had it the worst and it was quite severe. I had it very mild – maybe an afternoon of trips to the bathroom and that’s it. It wasn’t the raw milk we drink, it was from a restaurant but there was a period of time we thought it was the raw milk.

    Did I for one second ever consider not drinking raw milk anymore when I thought there was a possibility that it might have been that? No. The benefits of drinking raw milk FAR outweigh the small risk of getting sick.

  17. Sarah, as I commented early on here, that if I were to get sick from it, I am sure I would continue to drink raw milk. I am quite sure that the benefits far outweigh the small risk.

    However, your comments come across to me as judgmental and disrespectful.

    It is very, very important that we respect each other’s right to choose what is best for us, for our family.


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