Homogenization and pasteurization add a whole lengthy and energy intensive industrial process to milking and make milk processed that way a “product.” Homogenization and pasteurization require trucking the milk from the dairy in huge milk trucks to a facility with machinery that sends the milk through both processes, bottles it, then distributes it to stores and supermarkets. Simplified, homogenization is a process that applies high pressure to force the milk through little holes, rendering the fat globules so small that they won’t separate again. Pasteurization, simplified again, involves the quick heating and subsequent cooling of milk to destroy potential pathogens.
Raw milk from pastured cows, in comparison, is a totally low tech and unadulterated food from nature. Raw milk is something like an emulsion. Even if you shake it up, the milk fat (from which you could make butter or icecream or use it in a sauce or over hot cereal) separates from the skim milk again and rises to the top, leaving that famous cream line.
In recent years the potential benefits of raw milk have turned up on peoples’ radars as we have become more interested in our food supply, a bit more wary of the food industry’s motives, and, perhaps more importantly, how the food we eat influences our health.
Not only is raw milk a lot less labor intensive, ergo “green” as in sustainable and requiring minimal energy input; after all it gets bottled right after the cow has been milked, you can buy it the same day (it doesn’t get any fresher than that) – The End. It is also a local food since you buy it directly from a farm in your neighborhood. Moreover, recent research seems to indicate that raw milk is potentially easier to digest (many lactose intolerant people tolerate raw milk), might boost the immune system, potentially prevent various allergic and asthmatic conditions, and is generally a more complex and valuable food because it retains all its nutrients, which otherwise get destroyed during the pasteurization process.
Of course plenty of detractors, but also fearful and perhaps insufficiently informed people have lobbied against raw milk in recent years. Inform yourself, do your research, know your body and your dietary preferences, then do what’s best for you with.