This is America, goddamnit— land of the free! So, why is the Food and Drug Administration attacking small scale milk producers because they are selling raw unpasteurized milk, cheese, and butter to enthusiastic, fully informed customers who would choose of their own accord to buy it? Even if the Center for Disease Control’s latest study were unbiased, does its relatively imperceptible number of illnesses associated with raw milk and cheese compare to the prevalence of food related acute sickness, chronic disease, and overall poor health characterizing today’s America— due in part to convenience food, alcohol, cigarettes, and over-medication (all inherently dangerous yet sanctioned by the FDA)? And, do independent vendors deserve to suffer outsized governmental rebukes and the militant action seen, for instance, on 3 August, 2011?
The idea of somehow sanitizing the national food supply is something only an obsessive / compulsive mysophobe such as Howie Mandel, or a crazed despot could rationalize! Yet, this appears to be the agenda, and raw milk is routinely demonized. Recently, in Minnesota, Oregon, California and elsewhere raw milk use tends to be persecuted with peculiar zeal. Never mind that humans have been thriving on raw milk— germs and all— for at least ten thousand years. Even the official 2012 Republican Party of Texas platform calls specifically for raw milk accessibility, if only to underscore the American ideals of personal choice and responsibility.
Consider too that other foods are routinely contaminated. Just read these recent reports—
- Salmonella in Cantaloupes Sickens 141, Kills 2.
- Company Expands Cantaloupe Recall to Honeydews.
- 33 Sick in 7 States from Salmonella in Beef.
- Dry Dog Food Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 49, CDC Says.
- Giant Foods recalls Apple Snax Over Concerns About Listeria.
- Supplier Recalls Lettuce Over E.Coli Fears.
- After 147 Sickened, and 37 Killed in 2011: Cantaloupe, One Year Later.
- Salmonella Outbreak from Raw Sushi Tuna Scrape.
Raw milk hardly stands out on the landscape of food borne illness.
While it’s certainly possible that a batch of raw milk could be tainted with some sort of pathogen, it’s nonsensical to think that milk from healthy, pasture grazed cattle presents any intrinsic threat. It’s far more probable, despite official howls to the contrary, that raw unpasteurized milk is indeed better for us than its pasteurized counterpart! More than opinion, there’s evidence, as described by Ron Schmid, ND in his book, The Untold Story of Milk.
A quick aside—
While in Poland, in 2007, a girl I met had me over for dinner. It was August, and hot, and when I arrived she put a glass of milk in my hand. “Here,” she said, “we drink this in the summer. It’s refreshing.” As I took a long swallow she continued, “It’s sour milk. We put it under the sink for a day or so, and then it’s ready. You can’t do that with your [pasteurized / homogenized] milk in the USA.” I paused for a moment. Then, realizing it was like Kefir or yogurt, drank on. Delicious! (I’d finally find Organic Pastures raw milk at the Co Op in Santa Monica, CA!)
Now, I haven’t visited the larger dairy farms, but many times while traveling I’ve winced at the stench of the farm alongside the I-5 Freeway, north of Los Angeles, where a big group of cattle stand and lie idle, in fields of dirt, and mud, and stare in bovine wonder at passing traffic. And, on the flip side, a couple hours farther up and off a winding highway I’ve smiled in amazement at the rolling green hillsides supporting herds of happy cattle, grazing contentedly under California sunshine. While food handling is a separate issue, living conditions speak volumes and can certainly reflect the prevailing hygienic attitude and practices of the farm. I’ve also seen documentaries, and have read reports of pervasive filth and pestilence that is characteristic of industrialized food processing. Yes, pasteurization does provide a protection of sorts, but like the fire and sword edict along the lines of, kill ’em all, let god sort ’em out, it takes the bad and the good. (You see, even some bad flora can be good for our immune systems.) Ultimately, pasteurization is a production expedient that makes it possible for offensive and unhealthy farm industry conditions to persist and fester. But it’s only a bandaid on the pulsing blood flow of a larger problem.
Industry doesn’t care about the health of any raw milk drinking hippies. Neither does the CDC, nor the FDA. That’s because as the fringe of society they possess more tie-dye than clout, representing less than one percent of the consumer population. Or do they? A few have the celebrity or other resources to churn some rational thought in milk drinkers, en masse. What’s more, isn’t there still a fair number of real red blooded Americans who have grown up in good health on or near farms, drinking raw milk? That’s right, and such a groundswell can threaten the status quo. Ultimately, industry is less concerned with safeguarding your health, and more interested in securing their profit stream— whether by hook or by crook.
For all the good work they do otherwise, when it comes to raw milk, the FDA and the CDC seem more interested in bull-dozing anything that might constitute a speed bump on the highway of “progress” than in thoughtfully considering what would protect the overall health and well-being of America. Would industries hire lobbyists to cozy up to our legislators if they didn’t expect return on their investments? And— incredible as it sounds— could some of our law makers enjoy concomitant enrichment for crafting policy that’s unduly favorable to industry? One hand washes the other, but both remain soiled. That government bodies such as the FDA and the CDC reveal their partisanship reflecting industry agendas is hard to deny, but evidently easy to ignore. Their collective, sardonic endgame would seem to further America’s unnatural reliance on technological manipulation of food, and dependence on the pharmaceutical treatment of ensuing disease. To be sure, a virulent pathogen threatens American milk drinkers, but pasteurization isn’t killing that germ.
One final thing—
In my book, Fitness, Straight-Up I advocate milk as a recovery beverage. I still do, pasteurized or raw. The carbohydrate, protein, and fat of milk are effective in replenishing and rebuilding muscle after exercise, and overall may be superior to the dedicated, highly processed recovery beverages and mixes, too. I also point out that dietary concessions might be made for the sake of performance— we’re still free to choose. Though I intentionally omitted the “controversial” issue from the recommendations in my book, I’m saying here that for health (and taste) I drink raw milk.