LYME, Conn. (WTNH) – With about 10 Jersey cows and 180 sheep, Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm is a landmark in Lyme where the same family has worked the fields for more than 100 years.
“We have 165 acres,” said Suzanne Sankow, who, along the way, began selling raw milk. “It just makes sense, it only makes sense.”
She said the milk we buy in grocery stores is a processed product while raw milk is a more natural choice.
“The more natural a product is, the less it’s processed, the better it is for you,” she said. “I always did raw milk for my children.”
“There’s definitely an increase in families reporting to us that they’re drinking raw milk,” said Kate Samela, a Pediatric Dietician at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
But, she said, the very real risks outweigh the potential health benefits, especially for the elderly, babies and pregnant women.
“When you visit the CDC’s website and see some of the stories from families who’ve purchased raw milk not knowing what the risk can be – it’s pretty scary,” says Samela.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics all warn against drinking raw milk. The organizations state that pasteurization is necessary – to heat the milk to a certain temperature which kills off the harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, E. coli or listeria, which could be present in raw milk.
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“It seems to have these perceived health benefits that by evidence don’t really exist,” said Samela.
Advocates believe raw milk contains more nutrients. “No, it’s not true,” said Samela.
Believers also said raw milk helps prevent allergies and asthma and is better for those with a lactose intolerance.
Again, Samela said these beliefs are false.
“What people don’t understand about bacteria is that a probiotic has to come from a human species in order to have health benefits,” she said.
20 states prohibit the sale of raw milk, while 30 – including Connecticut – allow it.
The state conducts tests at local farms like Sankow’s.
“They test once a month. We test every week,” stated Sankow.
She believes raw milk will never be accepted by the government because the process is too complicated to control.
But, she’ll continue to sell it and said the key is having a loyal, local, homegrown customer base who trusts the farm and their process.
“I do it because I have a demand,” said Sankow. “We almost know every customer by first name and that’s the difference.”