Raw Milk Cheeses – A Natural Source of Probiotics
September 09, 2012 | Posted in Friendly Facts

It’s all about the milk.

Great cheese starts with great milk – raw milk from grass fed cows.  As farmstead cheese makers using the raw milk of grass-fed cows, the question we are asked most often is “ unpastuerized milk – how can that be good for you?  While we have no interest in standing on any soapboxes, it is incumbent upon us to explain, in layman’s terms, the health benefits of eating raw milk cheeses.   The fact that raw milk cheeses from grass-fed cows are incredibly delicious is a whole other blog entry!

Let us first address raw milk. We have some pretty compelling information to make you feel better about choosing raw milk and raw milk cheeses, so keep reading.

The first thing you need to know is that all unpasteurized milk that is used to make cheese is  safe —  we continuously test for bacteria levels — it’s the law! And, unlike the days of Louis Pastuer, raw milk is always kept cold, which helps ensure the safety of the milk. Finally, New York State law (our dairy is in New York State; I can’t attest to the laws in the other 49!) calls for aging all cheeses made from raw milk a minimum of 60 days, in which time any questionable pathogens die out.

Now on to the health benefits of raw milk. It’s a complete food, containing proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, cholesterol, and beneficial bacteria (probiotics). This is one powerful  and perfect food!

Raw milk has all of the 8 essential amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks for proteins, and essential means we must obtain the amino acids from our diet).  Luckily enough we can get all of them just from raw milk.  And, raw milk is rich in colloidal minerals and enzymes which are necessary for the absorption and utilization of natural sugars and fats present in milk.  Conversely, heated, pasteurized milk becomes precipitated with minerals that cannot be absorbed, sugars that cannot be properly digested and fats in a form that contribute to a buildup of unhealthy  cholesterol.

Raw milk is all about  keeping  the good bacteria that are necessary to break down all the nutrients in milk and other foods we eat, which is vital to overall good health.  We’ve all been hearing a lot about these good bacteria – probiotics,   but what exactly are these mysterious bacteria?

Probiotics are living bacteria that when ingested, become located within the lower intestines, where they can do their work to help keep us healthy.  What’s very exciting is the fact that mainstream medical science is coming around to the important roll bacteria plays in keeping disease at bay.  A few weeks ago, a  terrific New York Times article ( Carl Zimmer June 18, 2012)  titled  Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden explains how medical science  recognizes the importance of “good bacteria” for  treating and preventing disease  (http://tinyurl.com/73yxmdx) “For a century, doctors have waged war against bacteria, using antibiotics as their weapons. But that relationship is changing as scientists become more familiar with the 100 trillion microbes that call us home — collectively known as the microbiome…. This new approach to health is known as medical ecology. Rather than conducting indiscriminate slaughter……. scientists want to be microbial wildlife managers. “

Bob Roberts, a Food Scientist from Penn State University, says that by the age of 2, humans have a full set of microbes. Thus  tons of bacteria are within your stomach, whether you like it or not!  The conflict is trying to get the probiotic (good) bacteria to outnumber the disease-causing bacteria.  Consistently ingesting probiotics (like those found in raw milk cheese)  will help to create an imbalance in the gut, with more good bacteria which is critical for maintaining a healthy body.   Probiotics have shown to improve recovery time for children’s viral diarrhea, build stronger immune systems, and reduce inflammation for those with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).


Most consumers are getting their probiotics via dairy products that are fortified with manufactured   probiotics. That’s because the heat used to pasteurize milk kills off all of the good bacteria/ probiotics.    On the other hand, raw milk cheeses are a natural source of probiotics, with all of the health benefits inherent to raw milk.  And,  like we mentioned earlier, raw milk cheeses are safe – by law they are aged a minimum of 60 days at 35 degrees or above; “bad” bacteria cannot survive in this environment for more than 60 days.Raw milk from grass

Just to be clear, not all raw milks are created equal.  -fed cows is a source of one of the most potent cancer fighting agent found in foods, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).  CLA is an omega-6 fatty acid, present in the cream of unpasturized, non-homogenized raw milk.   Cornell University Food Science Professor, John Brady explains in his Class Notes, that “The effects of heart disease are not clear, but there is accumulating evidence that small amounts of CLA are beneficial in preventing certain types of cancer.”  Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center explains that CLA may help with  reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, and osteoporosis.

At 5 Spoke Creamery, we believe that like riding a bike, balance is the key to a healthy lifestyle.   So, go ahead and eat delicious raw milk cheeses; just make sure to balance it out with physical activity. Might we suggest a bike ride?

If you’d like to read more about probiotic research, please check out the sources below:included the below sources. w 

Zimmer, Carl. “Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden.” NY Times. NY Times, 18 June 2012. Web. 20 July 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/science/studies-of human-microbiome-yield-new-insights.html?pagewanted=all

Eswara, Pallavi. “Probing Question.” Research|Penn State: What Are Probiotics? Penn State University, Apr.-May 2007. Web. 17 July 2012.  HYPERLINK “http://www.rps.psu.edu/probing/probiotics.html” http://www.rps.psu.edu/probing/probiotics.html

Reid, Gregor, Kingsley Anukman, and Tara Koyama. “Probiotic Products in Canada with Clinical Evidence: What Can Gastroenterologists Recommend?” NCBI. N.p., 22 Feb. 2008. Web. .

Bakalar, Nicholas. “Probiotics Can Ease Digestive Upset of Antibiotics.” Well. NY Times, 14 May 2012. Web. 17 July 2012. .

“Micropharma to Launch New Line of Clinically Proven Probiotics That Go Beyond Gut Health.” Micropharma to Launch New Line of Clinically Proven Probiotics That Go Beyond Gut…PRNewsWire, 5 July 2012. Web. 17 July 2012. .

At 5 Spoke Creamery, we  believe that like riding a bike, balance is the key to a healthy lifestyle. 

Our mission is to promote sustainable agriculture and environmentally friendly practices like bike riding while encouraging eating farmstead, raw milk cheese as part of a healthy lifestyle. 

Our decision to become farmstead cheese makers was driven by Alan's  passion for artisanal cheeses  he discovered while working in Holland. 

We are now the proud owners of a 100+ year old dairy farm just 1 hour from NYC.  And, we recently became 100% solar powered, harkening back to the days when the only power on the farm was provided by the wind.

From time to time we will share stories and pictures reflecting our passion for amazing cheeses, information about raw milk and life on the farm .

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