Opinion | Raw milk provides more choice to dairy drinkers

With recent legislation on raw milk, the decision to allow businesses to sell it will increase buyers’ choice.


Ben Allan Smith

Cows are seen at the Blomme family farm in Ladora, Iowa on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. The farm, which produces corn, soybeans, pork, and beef, has been in the family for over 80 years.

Chris Klepach, Opinions Columnist

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

To provide more freedom to those inclined or curious, some Iowa legislators are seeking to make the sale of raw milk legal.

According to realrawmilkfacts.com, Iowa is one of 19 states in the U.S. to prohibit the sale of raw milk, which may change soon. In April, Senate File 315 was introduced by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, to allow for the sale of raw milk, or milk that is ungraded or unpasteurized per federal standard.

After winning by a 64-35 vote, the bill added an amendment that would require sellers of raw milk to keep bacteria and bacteria test and antibiotic records and to prohibit sale if a bacteria limit is reached. It also requires that raw milk be stored at 45 degrees or lower and distributed within a week. Gov. Kim Reynolds should sign this bill as it reaches her desk.

Above the intrigue, it’s the freedom to choose that excites me.

“It’s just an option,” Kaufmann said. “Just like I can get eggs, a quarter of beef, honey, or an apple. We’re simply adding this to a list of foods that people can get without jiminy cricket, the government, sitting over their shoulder and whispering what’s best for their families.”

There may also be health benefits to drinking unpasteurized milk. The National Library of Medicine released a 2020 study where subjects who drank raw milk had probiotic bacterial growth of lactobacillus, which is a “good” bacteria that facilitate digestion and fights off infective or “bad” bacteria.

“While concerns in relation to safety need to be considered,” the study reads. “Intake of unpasteurized milk and dairy products appear to be associated with the growth of the probiotic bacterial genus, lactobacillus, in the human gut.”

Another study released by the National Library of Medicine found that early consumption of unpasteurized milk had the possibility to protect against allergenic health conditions like asthma, regardless if those who drank the milk lived in a place of residence and their farming status.

In Iowa, being caught selling illegal foods can incur thousands. But in other states like California, raw milk is legal to sell. There, products must include a consumer advisory to warn drinkers that the dairy product could contain disease-causing microorganisms.

In a country where our food is over-processed to the point where a single bottle of soda can contain more than 100 percent of our daily sugar intake, it shouldn’t feel like a stretch to drink the same kind of milk that our ancestors once did.

As someone who is privileged to have a lactose tolerance, I’m intrigued as to what raw milk would taste like compared to the common pasteurized version.

I am in favor of the choice that this can provide for those interested in raw milk. Nutrition is complicated, to say the least, as there are factors like diet timing, previous or existing illnesses, and family genetics that can change how someone is or isn’t benefitted from food. This option only adds a choice to someone’s milk-list, not to boot out other milks one might buy.

This is an addition to the market not worth having beef with.