Raw Milk Is Just Milk That'll Kill You Faster

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Perhaps you've read about the heavy-handed irony that spread around the Internet like a listeria outbreak yesterday: West Virginia lawmakers are pretty sick, possibly from the raw milk they drank as a toast to a new bill permitting consumption of raw milk. Idiots! Backwards, backroad bumpkins who have received the scientific equivalent of divine justice, right? 

Anyone who argues passionately against raw milk in favor of pasteurized milk badly misses the heart of the matter; milk is an evil substance that has no business being consumed by anyone other than baby cows.

Raw milk is milk that hasn't been heated to kill bacteria

It's impossible to refute the fact that pasteurized milk is much less likely to get you sick, though it's nice of West Virginians to take a stand against the tyranny of French public health innovation. What's more, raw milk probably isn't better for you in any measurable way. OK. Got that out of the way.

Milk isn't good for you

"Wait a second," you interrupt confidently. "Don't tell me not to drink milk! Milk is necessary, especially if I want to grow up big and strong like Pop-Pop!"

Wrong. Milk isn't a great source of calcium. Ditto for vitamins D and A, except for milk that's fortified with vitamins D and A, and if you want to tumble down that slippery slope, you'll start saying things like, "Cookies are a great source of phosphorus!"

Milk isn't a great source of anything, actually, when you compare it to the nutrients you need in a day.

Most people aren't so great at digesting milk

According to pretty much any statistical model, 65% means "most." That's right: 65% of humans have a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. Lactose is a sugar in milk, and in those 65% of people, the body stops producing lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose) after weaning. Because you don't need to drink milk once you stop breastfeeding, duh. 

milk close up studio shots
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Why do I believe that milk is a health-promoting beverage?

Because it's what they want you to believe. And before you dismiss all this as government-conspiracy quackery, take two seconds to read Dairy Management Inc.'s description of the dairy checkoff program:

"Dairy farmers pay 15 cents and dairy importers pay 7.5 cents for every hundred pounds of milk (or the equivalent thereof) they sell or import... That money -- with USDA oversight -- is used to fund programs aimed at promoting dairy consumption and protecting the good image of dairy farmers, dairy products and the dairy industry."

So the dairy industry literally pays the government to protect its image. That's why you see national ad campaigns like "Milk: It Does a Body Good," complete with pathetically regressive commercials, or the equally sad ads featuring Kevin Love sort of claiming his now-irrelevant rebounding ability is due to chocolate milk. What's more, the checkoff program actively works with fast-food chains and public schools to increase the sale of milk and other dairy products, especially cheese, which everyone knows is basically crack.

The racial bias of milk

Any claim that milk is "good" for "you," implies that "you" are likely of Northern European descent, and are therefore genetically adapted to accept all the "good" stuff milk has to offer. Which isn't all that good, especially when the people least likely to be able to digest milk are African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans. When you connect the dots -- black, Hispanic, and Native American kids are disproportionately likely to be eligible for free or reduced-price public-school meals -- and you can see that, thanks to federal nutrition policy, America feeds many minority students food they might not be able to digest. Again, not good!

Don't drink raw milk. Don't drink pasteurized milk.

Milk sucks. Anyway, I'd rather have a beer.

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Anthony Schneck is the Health editor at Thrillist and has always hated milk. Share your pro-dairy concerns: @AnthonySchneck.