Pictured: A cow. (Photo credit: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

Some very stupid lawmakers in West Virginia are sick, presumably with the shits. They lifted the state’s ban on raw, unpasteurized milk a few weeks ago, then drank some raw, unpasteurized milk to celebrate, and, well, they are feeling bad lately. This seems an opportune moment to point out that actually, pasteurization is good.

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I know it’s cool right now in certain privileged sectors of society to be a hysterical, credulous dipshit about “natural” food pseudoscience and to insist upon consuming only foodstuffs marketed using such meaningless trend-words as “organic” and “whole” and “paleolithic” and “bone broth” and “the measles” and so forth; I know, as well, how this dovetails with the rank anti-intellectual and anti-gubmint paranoia of certain rusticated communities. Probably therefore many readers will dismiss anti-gastroenteritis arguments out of hand. Those readers—whom we love—are stupid. The toilet paper industry thanks them for their generous support.

Pasteurization is neither a barren, mechanized alternative to healthful “natural” living, nor a sinister Communist/secularist scheme to pollute the precious bodily fluids of God-fearing Americans. It is good. It makes things like beer and sardines safe to consume long after their production. Crucially for the breakfast habits and healthful diets of many generations of non-farmers, it also drastically slows the rate at which milk turns into a revolting sour disease broth, so that you can go to your fridge to get some for your corn flakes, rather than holding the bowl beneath the hairy teat of a cow in the barn you do not have and will not ever have.

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Raw milk is just milk that spoils faster. But mewwwwwwww, you are mewling, it has “macro-whatevers” or some shit in it which are deflavinated by the pasteurization process, as detailed by Dr. Buh or whoever on Oprah’s show. Shut up. Pasteurized milk has plenty of macro-whatevers. It has macro-whatevers out the ass. Pasteurized milk is good for you. I drank pasteurized milk all the time as a growing lad, and now I am not dead, also gainfully employed, and my children have the correct number of extremities and not diarrhea. (When they get diarrhea it is from jamming their filthy fingers in their mouths, and not from raw milk.)

Yes, unfortunately, many cheeses cannot be made with pasteurized milk. My friend, I take no joy in telling you this, but the time has come for you to face facts: You were not going to make those cheeses. You will not be a cheesemaker. If a cow moved into your home this evening and paid its rent in fresh milk, you would still not make cheese. You do not need raw milk, because you will not make cheese in your life.

If you want to buy special milk that also doubles as a certificate of your rigorous dedication to principled consumption, buy “organic” milk. Lots of “organic” milk is bullshit, too, but possibly in some instances it might come from cows that have lived better lives than the ones that produced the non-“organic” milk, and in any case they probably are not treated worse. Then you can feel good about your milk choices without shitting yourself inside-out, like those doofuses in West Virginia.

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If you are a gourmand who is seriously into exotic dairy products; and you have established a relationship with a trustworthy local dairy farmer who has milk/cheese products that can only be made with raw milk; and you really need to find out for yourself that there’s not much difference at all between raw milk and pasteurized milk, because the flavor profiles of raw milk are really just proxies for the profiles of fresh milk from well-treated, well-fed cows, by all means go for it, I guess, but this is strictly an aesthetic thing and has nothing to do with microflavinoidization or any other putative benefits—nutritional or libertarian or otherwise—of unpasteurized milk.

In conclusion, pasteurized milk is good. It tastes good and is good for you; I bet you are craving some right this minute. If you are reading this internet blog post, probably you are within a mile of a place where you can buy some nice, cold, refreshing pasteurized milk. Go get some. Do not drink raw milk, because that is stupid. No offense to cows, who do their very best.


Contact the author at albert.burneko@deadspin.com.