For reasons like availability problems and overcoming social conditioning some people just can't drink raw milk. I've been thinking about the cultures they sell for cheesemaking, which is my current obsession. If you can't get raw milk or can't drink it, is culturing fresh store milk a good alternative?
It seems to me pretty reasonable cost-wise. Kefir is a one-time investment. My cultures I used for making butter cost $6 something and are good for around 32 gallons of milk. At least then it has something alive in it, creating (hopefully) some enzymes and making some of the nutrients more bioavailable. (there are two categories of cultures for making cheese - mesophilic means active at room temperature, like kefir, and thermophilic means it requires heat to work, like yogurt). The cultures they sell on www.thecheesemaker.com produce different flavors and textures in the milk. We used one that kept the milk's fluidity but made it taste rich and buttery (day 1 - second day it had yogurt-y flavors but pleasant - made great ice cream!). Some will thicken it like creme fraiche.
Cheesemaking has some interesting additives - calcium chloride is added to milk, to as they say restore the damaged protein so it behaves more like raw milk. Huh. I didn't know that was so easily accomplished. It also adds calcium to the milk in a form that is bioavailable to yeasts and good bacteria which helps them thrive.
Lipase powder breaks down the fat molecules. I wonder if that would help people who have troble digesting the homogenized milk?? But I just read lipase is responsible for making milk taste rancid, so probably it would not be palatable.
There are a lot of interesting milk tidbits here: