What’s the Difference Between Pastured and Pasteurization?

Clearly, this is not intended to be a treatise on these subjects, rather, a quick discussion of “pastured” and “pasteurization” as they relate to food. What inspired me was a woman who wanted to buy my backyard eggs. She was very adamant that she was looking for “backyard, pasteurized” eggs. She meant “backyard, pastured-raised” eggs. Because the terms are similar, they can be confusing.

Pastured and pasteurized sound alike, but they have nothing to do with each other. Knowing what each term means will help avoid confusion when buying foods in a grocery or farmer’s market.

Personally, I prefer to eat natural, GMO-free, pastured, and non-pasteurization foods. Plenty of people vehemently oppose my position. That’s fine. I am not writing this to start an argument on the subject, only to educate what the differences are. Think of this post as “Pastured or Pasteurization 101” as it is intended for people who are not familiar with the term “pastured.” You can’t start to have an opinion if you don’t know that these two similar sounding words mean. I hope someone finds this useful and explores his or her boundaries beyond this very basic starting point.

We all probably know what pasteurization is. Pasteurization is the process of heating up a food in order to kill dangerous pathogens. All the bad bugs are killed in this process, and that’s good. But along with killing any potentially dangerous microorganisms, you also kill the beneficial and necessary ones. The concept was originated by Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard in 1862. You can read more about pasteurization here at the Disabled World Towards Tomorrow.

Pastured is entirely different. A better term might be “pasture-raised” foods. The concept is simple. Animals that naturally live on the pasture, eat grass, and scratch through dirt for their food, are allowed to do exactly that. They live their whole lives in a more natural environment. It is better for the animal (who is not just a source of food but is an actual being) and it is better for the consumers of that animal. Pasture-raised animals are not fed unnatural foods (cows should not be fattened with corn or–heaven help us–poultry litter), they are healthier, and they are not in need of constant bombardment of antibiotics to keep them from dying from being raised in poor conditions. You can read more about pastured animals here at Grace Links.

If these terms have ever confused you,   I hope this helps. There are may books on the subject as well as scads of websites.

Eat well, my friends!

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3 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between Pastured and Pasteurization?”

  1. Great question, Kristin. And your question made me realize that my sentence suggested two things that are incorrect.

    First, I worded that in such a way that I lumped them together as if they were related–and right after I made the point that they had nothing to do with each other! My bad. I have rewritten the sentence.

    Secondly, I try to avoid pasteurized foods, but I do eat some pasteurized cheese and butter and probably other things. My goal is to avoid it when I can, but it is hard to do.

    To answer your question, milk and yogurts are the big ones for me. Sometimes I’ll see juices that say they are pasteurized, I don’t buy those. I also eat few canned foods, but sometimes they make their way into something. The only example I can think of right now are canned fruits as some of them make for easy dehydration and some make great sangria.

    I pulled up a list of foods from Wikipedia that shows these as typical foods that are pasteurized. Wikipedia did’t mention eggs, but I know that there are some pasteurized eggs out there (I know of at least one brand, also I think those eggs that come in a carton (like Egg Beaters) are pasteurized. Here’s what Wikipedia listed:

    Cheese
    Canned food
    Dairy products
    Juices
    Low alcoholic beverages
    Syrups
    Vinegar
    Water
    Wines

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