Raw cheese has a far superior flavour and texture to the plastic blandness of the widely available commercially produced and wrapped cheeses you often find in supermarkets. They are more expensive but they are worth it in my opinion.
As a nutritional therapist, I am very conscious about what I eat and drink. Raw cheese is made from unpasteurised milk and for this reason it has so many potential health benefits which pasteurisation destroys.
Raw cheese is alive with the beneficial bacteria and enzymes intact. Many people experience digestive and other problems when they consume pasteurized milk, but have no trouble with raw milk. This may be due to the probiotic effect of the beneficial bacteria and/or the enzymes such as lactase that helps to digest lactose milk sugar. Also, epidemiological evidence suggests that consumption of raw milk during childhood may protect against asthma, allergies. Furthermore, raw milk is thought to have an elevated nutritional value. Because it comes from cows that graze on grass, raw milk contains higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and essential fatty acids as well as other nutrients. The heat treatment in pasteurisation destroys a substantial portion of the vitamin C and many minerals. Beta-lactoglobulin, also destroyed by pasteurization, increases intestinal absorption of vitamin A, so the supplemental vitamin A in conventional milk may be harder to absorb.
There are other benefits too. Consumers are reconnected with their food supply, because raw milk is almost exclusively produced by local farmers. Raw milk production is more environmentally friendly and cows are healthiest when they eat grass, rather than the grain they are fed in confinement dairy operations.
There are, however, risks associated with consuming raw dairy particularly for young children, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women. The pasteurisation process was introduced to control these risks, although many of the benefits are also removed. Today, hygienic milking processes and excellent quality control by the Food Standards Agency help to mitigate potential risks.
As a result it is not easy to access raw milk, which can only be sold direct to the consumer and must be labelled to let consumers know that it has not been pasteurised. Raw cheeses however are more widely available for sale. The cheese production processes i.e. salting, acidification and maturation should reduce the risk from pathogens. Nonetheless, it must be labelled as being ‘made with raw or unpasteurised milk’.