Raw Milk Rules: How To Drink Responsibly

We love raw milk! Here are 3 guidelines to follow to make sure you get high-quality, nutritious raw milk that's safe to drink.

Last week I shared why Eric and I choose raw milk over pasteurized. It’s a decision we were careful about making, but one that we’re incredibly blessed by. However, I don’t want to make a sweeping statement and say that everyone should drink raw milk no matter the circumstances! In fact, when I was researching the health benefits of raw milk, I also came across a lot of people cautioning against it. Did you know that for the popular pro-raw milk site Raw Milk Facts there’s an opposing site, Real Raw Milk Facts? Reading sites like that might make you think twice before drinking raw milk.

And really, that’s okay. You should be careful when considering raw milk. I believe that raw milk is a nourishing, time-tested food, but it is possible to drink raw milk that has been contaminated and it is possible to drink raw milk that will make you sick, just like it’s possible to get sick from contaminated lettuce, McDonald’s hamburgers, or pasteurized milk. When seeking raw milk, you should be cautious enough that when you find a good source, you’ll be confident to drink it. Here are three things you can do to drink confidently:

1. Know and trust your dairy farmer

You can find a farmer on Realmilk.com, which has state-by-state listings of local dairies. Once you make contact with the farmer, visit the farm and watch the milking! Ask questions about the cows’ diet, conditions, and health pedigree. Eric and I know our farmers personally, and  we know that they wouldn’t endanger their livelihood with dirty milk, or give something to shareholders that they wouldn’t feed to their own family.

raw milk

2. Drink milk from pastured cows

Raw milk should come from cows raised primarily on grass. Raw milk contains a high nutritional content, but many of the health benefits are dependent on the milk coming from grass-fed cows. Poor living conditions and garbage diets are what made pasteurization necessary in the first place. This article goes into more detail about the merits of grass-fed animal products.

3. Don’t drink raw milk that’s intended for pasteurization

Presumably, pasteurization can be an excuse for producing milk that’s not rigorously clean. If bad bacteria get into the milk via a sick cow or a lapse in cleanliness, the heating process acts as a safety net. Rather than striking a deal with a commercial dairy farmer, seek out one who produces milk specifically for raw consumption.

Raw milk seems to be a rather loaded issue, and it can be tricky to navigate the claims and biases surrounding it. I think it’s important to do your own exploring, and if you feel confident–give raw milk a try! I’m so glad we did. For a good article that skillfully covers both sides of the raw milk issue, read here.

Finding a good source of raw milk is one of the steps I recommend in my 20 First Steps to a Real Food Diet post. Get all the steps HERE!

Disclaimer: The information in this post is not intended as medical advice, and is for entertainment purposes only.


  1. I grew up on a dairy farm that supplied our neighbors with slightly pasteurized milk. It was a process of pouring milk over hot coils then cold coils. Parents this in order to be extra safe for the dairy business. I remember we had one of the cleanest farms anywhere around. We later sold milk to a milk company they were extra careful, sampled milk monthly for bacteria count and if it was not up to standard you literally dumped all your milk( we had a 2,000 gal. tank). Anyway I said all that to tell you whole milk is the way to go. Didn’t kill me I’m 65. Oh, but great memories! And yes I encourage everyone to check out the farm they purchase milk from. Your health is worth it!

    1. P.S. our cows always, always grazed in clean spacious fields. Barnyards were cleaned often and the cows themselves were clean. Never ever buy milk from a feed lot dairyman. You can guarantee high bacteria count and sickness.

    2. That sounds like a wonderful experience to have growing up! I miss having access to fresh, raw milk in my current state. Our diary in Michigan was extremely careful, and welcomed tours and questions about their methods!

  2. I grew up on a farm some 60 years ago, we had a small dairy where our dozen cows were milked every day, the milk was put into 5 gallon milk cans some was separated for cream which was sold to the butter factory, we used some in the house and the rest was soured and fed to our pigs, in the 20 years I lived at home there was never once a problem caused by raw milk in fact I didn’t know what raw milk was, one thing I do remember was filling a mug straight from the cow, I’m 63 now and not suffering from the health problems that affect my peers, one thing I learned and I’m doing is living off the produce of my small holding not from the over processed food of the supermarkets. Signed Peter

    1. That’s sounds like a fantastic way to grow up. I wish fresh milk wasn’t so hard to get in today’s world. And our food is so over processed and so depleted. It’s a fight to feed my family well sometimes, and it shouldn’t be so hard! One thing I want to do more of is grow our own food. We have some blueberry bushes planted in the backyard, and we’re trying to improve the hard soil elsewhere so we can plant something else next year.

      1. Hi Elsie keep up the work you are doing towards a better way I will keep watching your site and put my comments in now and then

  3. Hi again Elsie, something I came across not long ago was a system called vermiponics using a 1000 liter water cube, it was cut on half crossways the bottom half placed in the bottom of the frame then a pair of supports and then the top half placed on that, the bottom was filled with water and fish added and the top was used as the grow bed a drip system over the top a pump in the bottom have a look online you can find details about the units, you can purchase systems ready to go but they are pricey or put it together your self it’s called the self replenishing farm

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