Controversially, drinking milk that hasn't been pasteurised or homogenised is now a thing
Forget semi-skimmed or whole, dairy or dairy-free. These days the question is: do you go raw or not?
Raw milk is the latest food to inspire cult-like devotion among its followers, who claim it has health benefits and can even cure conditions like eczema, with a scientific study linking raw milk consumption to fewer cases of asthma and allergies. Those in the raw milk movement rave about its delicious taste, lack of processing and the fact it can be consumed by those who are lactose-intolerant.
On the other hand, the FDA warns that raw milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria, with reports from the CDC stating that unpasteurised milk is 150 times more likely to cause foodborne illness than pasteurised dairy products.
Homemade spoke to Jonny Crickmore from Fen Farm Dairy in Suffolk to find out what it is that makes raw milk so s-moo-th...
What exactly is raw milk?
"Raw milk is milk which has come straight from the cow without any pasteurisation, pumps and processing involved," explains Crickmore.
"Generally, it is fresher as in most cases the milk is sold from the farm so it hasn't travelled, prolonging the age of the milk before drinking it.
"Another important point about raw milk is it has character: each farm's milk will taste different from another farm's, as each farm's surroundings will change the flavour and taste of the milk and every farm will have a slightly different butterfat, protein and lactose ratio.
"When milk is taken to a factory for processing, it's mixed with many more farms, which standardises the milk and the character is lost."
Why choose raw milk?
According to Crickmore there are many reasons why people choose to drink raw milk. Firstly, since the lactose isn't cooked, it means that those who normally struggle to digest lactose once heated are more likely to tolerate the milk.
Secondly, according to Crickmore, vitamins and minerals in raw milk are undamaged and there are more of them. The fat in the milk hasn't been cooked either, making it healthier.
Thirdly, people have recently turned towards raw milk to get away from processed foods and return to more traditional methods and in the UK, nationwide delivery services are available from local farms to bring raw milk to your doorstep each week.
"I think we as a nation are rediscovering many foods which have been forgotten about since factory-processed food became the norm," says Crickmore.
"We find once someone has tasted milk before it's processed they come back for more. It's been so long for many people that they just can't remember how great milk tastes!"
Ahh, the taste. Raw milk converts rave about its sweetness, even though the yellowish hue (due to increased beta-carotene levels) may put some off. In terms of flavour, Crickmore puts it this way: "I liken it to vegetables. If you boil them, they lose their flavour. It's no different to milk."
How do you drink raw milk?
Like any other kind of milk: pour it on your cereal in the mornings, use it to make porridge or add a splash to your coffee.
In terms of preparation, it just needs to go in the fridge as soon as possible. The next day, you'll see the cream has risen to the top. "Either shake it or be greedy!" says Crickmore.
What are the safety concerns?
According to Crickmore, there is potentially a higher risk to drinking raw milk if it hasn't been cared for in the correct manner once leaving the cow. He recommends always checking to see if the farm has a licence to sell raw milk - every farm is required to have been checked by the FSA before a licence is given.
Please note this article has been produced for information purposes only and is not condoning the consumption of these foods at the stated quantities. It should not be viewed as a replacement for any kind of nutritional advice.