Friday, 23 November 2012

Traditional milk in Germany: raw and hay milk

In the ancestral health community raw milk and milk from grass-fed cows is highly praised. See Chris Kresser for an excellent overview of the benefits and the small risks of raw milk. Mark Sisson gives a nice overview of the more healthy fat composition of pastured butter. It took me some time to understand the situation in Germany, until I knew the two magic words: Vorzugsmilch and Heumilch.


Raw milk is not pasteurised and not homogenized. Pasteurisation is quickly heating and cooling to reduce the bacteria concentration. Milk is white because of all the small fat droplets in the water. In homogenization, milk is pressed through a valve at very high pressures to make the droplets smaller, which prolongs the time until the droplets combine to form cream at the top of the milk.

In Germany, retail of normal raw milk is forbidden, but a farmer is allowed to sell his raw milk directly to consumers. Raw milk sold in shops is called Vorzugsmilch, let's call it merit milk in English, I like alliteration. Cows and farms producing merit milk are inspected regularly and the milk has to get to the consumer within 96 hours. According to Andrea Fink-Keßler (agricultural scientist) the diet of the cows producing Vorzugsmilch is similar as for hay milk; see below.