Thursday, February 16, 2012

Raw Milk Cheese - The Food of Champions (guest post)

The ancient Greeks would often eat a diet rich in cheese before competing in the Olympic games. The Isle of Delos, which was the home of many Olympic games and was also the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, was a place that valued the nutritious quality of this food. So strong was their affection for cheese that, according to Anita Pearl in her book Completely Cheese, they had engraved an image of cheese on their currency. Parents also used cheese as a reward to their children for excellence in sports and academics. Because a diet of cheese was a staple in ancient Greek culture, it is fair to postulate that the Spartans were a people whose diet consisted heavily of cheese as well.

But it was not just the Greeks that would eat cheese for its nutritive value; the great Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his men subsisted on a diet rich in cheese and other dairy products. They would often travel with herds and would make cheese in order to have a more shelf stable food product to take into battle. Some of their best warriors were the most adamant about their diets of fermented milk products. In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon comments about cheese, saying it is, “one of those highly nourishing foods that has gotten the human race through history to this point in time.”

Cheese has played a vital role in health and fitness for many years and will continue to do so in the future. But not all cheese is created equal. We live in a Velveeta society and this type of processed cheese is very different from what the Greek Olympic athletes and the mighty men of Genghis Khan had eaten. They would have consumed a raw milk cheese product and the animals would have been fully pastured and grass fed. Raw-milk cheese from grass-fed cows is the optimal type of cheese to eat for nutrition. Raw-milk cheese from grass-fed cows contains essential trace minerals and enzymes that promote life and yield vitality. Hear this fascinating story from Dr. Ron Schmid in his book The Untold Story of Milk:

“Many stories relate longevity to the consumption of fermented milk, but that of Thomas Parris is perhaps the grandest. “Old Parr” was an English peasant reputed by some account to have lived 152 years, though modern researchers argue that 102 may be closer to the truth. He died in 1635, having lived a ribald life on a diet of “sub-rancid cheese and milk in every form, coarse and hard bread and small drink, generally sour whey,” William Harvey wrote. Harvey, the physician who discovered the circulation of the blood, performed an autopsy on Parr that was said to have verified his great age. Parr’s legend includes stories of extraordinary sexual endowment. At the alleged age of 105, he was ordered to do public penance for indecent sexual overtures to a woman, and 17 years later, he married a second time. After a suitable interval he was said to have become the father of a child.”

Whether or not the legend of “Old Parr’s” age is completely accurate, cheese has been associated with health and longevity for a long time. Recent studies are even finding that the ratio of vitamin A to D in products such as cheese can help fight autoimmune disease. Chris Masterjohn discusses the finding of a Japanese study showing synthesis of vitamin A and D suppressing the production of Th17 cells, the ones that elicit a negative immune response. The right ratio of vitamin A and D will keep these cells from creating dangerous chemicals like interleukin-17, which yield unnecessary damage to the body from an improper immune response. I believe that in the future the manifold benefits of a nutritional approach to health will be elucidated by the use of technology and that many will regret deviating from the wisdom of our ancestors. You can check out Chris Masterjohn’s article here

Cheese contains calcium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin b2 and more, just as raw milk does. The difference is, however, that cheese is a concentrated form of milk. I often refer to cheese as the espresso of milk. Therefore cheese is a more nutrient dense food per calorie and is a great substitute for those that have trouble digesting milk because it does not contain the milk sugar lactose. Cheese also has many of the enzymes present in raw milk and some medical practitioners will argue that enzyme presence in the body directly correlates to health and longevity. For more information on the importance of enzymes see Dr. Edward Howell’s work. (

Cheese also contains large amounts of high quality protein. The process of fermenting actually increases the bioavailability of protein so your body synthesizes cheese protein more efficiently than it does other forms. Cheese protein is a complete protein just like milk protein. This simply means that all of the necessary amino acids for building muscle and cell tissue are present in cheese. Some evidence suggests that the concentration of protein in cheese is the most heavily concentrated form in a food. A single ounce of raw-milk cheese has on average 10-12 grams of protein (depending on style of cheese).

The reason grass-fed is so important is because it actually enhances the nutrient value of the food. Cheese from grass-fed animals contains significantly higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids than factory farmed cheese. Omega 3 fatty acids are very important for many physiological processes in the human body, especially the brain. As Ron Schmid writes,

“The human brain is a storehouse of omega-3 fatty acids, and adequate amounts of these fats lower the risks and alleviate the symptoms for a number of mental disorders, including dementia, depression, attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia. Heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms are much less likely to occur in people with diets rich in omega-3s. In one French study, women with the highest levels of omega-3s in their tissues were least likely to have early metastasis in breast cancer; the authors also reported decreased breast cancer incidence was associated with diets high in omega 3s. Most Americans do not consume adequate amounts of these nutrients; 20 percent have levels so low as to be undetectable.”

So now you may be left wondering, how does one get their hands on good quality grass fed raw milk cheese? In our culture it can be a little more challenging than meets the eye depending on what part of the country you live in. Out of a passion for great quality raw-milk cheese from grass-fed cows and a desire to get it to as many people as possible our online cheese shop was born. We work closely with an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania that produces some of the most delicious cheese we have ever had and it is all from 100% grass-fed jersey cows. We offer it at a competitive price so that it is affordable for everyone. Lets eat as well as our ancestors did.

Kane Holbrook

Real Milk Cheese

1 comment:

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