Some people, especially those in government agencies like the FDA, say that I don’t have a right to choose and eat any particular food, even if I believe it is good for me, even if all the evidence points to a health benefit to me and my family. Here’s what they’re doing about it: there was a raid on a private club distributing raw milk in California (no one had ever complained or gotten sick from the raw milk or other products sold there) and a year-long sting on an Amish farmer, Dan Allgyer, in Pennsylvania, (again, no one had complained or gotten sick from the raw milk). What is going on? The claim from the local and federal government agencies who instigate these raids is that they are only interested in our safety. If that were really true, wouldn’t they first target producers and farmers who are making a lot of people sick, like maybe Cargill, where 36 million (yes, million!) pounds of turkey were recalled after salmonella in the turkey killed at least one person and sickened 76 others in 26 states? Now that’s a safety issue! But the recall was voluntary, the FDA did not raid or close down the Cargill plant where the contaminated turkey was processed. Why then is safety the FDA’s justification for armed raids and year-long sting operations targeting raw milk that has never made anyone sick? When they tested Dan Allgyer’s milk, they did not find any pathogens and had to fall back on the charge of interstate commerce. People in Maryland wanted the milk but couldn’t buy it locally. There was nothing wrong with Dan Allgyer’s milk. The only problem was the ban on selling milk across state lines, a ban for which there has never been a good reason.
I’ve been drinking raw cow and goat milk for about 7 years. I also eat raw milk cheese, sour cream, butter, and kefir and eat homemade foods made from raw milk products, such as ice cream and salad dressing. Raw sour cream makes great salad dressing, much better (and healthier) than store-bought dressing made with soy oil, preservatives, and msg. I think it is important that I know my raw milk dairy farmers and have visited their farms. I feel comfortable about drinking their milk.
There are people who say that raw milk may be safe to drink, but only for those who were raised drinking it and have developed a kind of affinity for the organisms, like those who grew up on a farm. However, I was raised in the suburbs (as were my husband and children) where there wasn’t any raw milk, in fact, I quit drinking even pasteurized milk when I was in elementary school–I just didn’t like it, probably because the processed milk then available really didn’t taste good. But now, for the first time in decades, I enjoy drinking milk, and I have never had any problems drinking it. However, other foods have made me sick, and some members of my family were very, very sick, for days, most likely from sushi. I haven’t heard of anyone calling for a ban on foods like sushi or even raw oysters. Many more people get sick from these foods than from raw milk. Since making major changes in my diet several years ago, which included adding raw milk, I am now healthier than ever before. I rarely get sick and I have lots of energy. I simply feel better. Most important, I don’t want to stop feeling better; I want to continue being able to buy and drink delicious, raw milk and eat all of the other local foods that I really believe make me healthier and happier. I don’t know of any good reason to ban raw milk. Anyone who has looked into the claims and still wants to drink it should be allowed to.
Texas allows sales of raw milk and raw milk products, but only directly from the farmer on his farm. There were bills (HB 75/SB 237) introduced into the state legislature last session that would have allowed raw milk dairy farmers to sell their milk at farmers’ markets and other agreed-upon locations. HB 75 died because it couldn’t even get out of committee to be debated in the House. As I said in my previous post about HB 75, Texas House Bill 75 About Raw Milk Delivery, “It was defeated by testimony of the Texas dairy industry and the Texas medical establishment, who promoted unsubstantiated fears about the safety of raw milk.” The argument that simply delivering the raw milk would make it somehow less safe to drink was just an excuse to prevent customers having more convenient access to raw milk, since many customers live hours away from the nearest certified dairy. If the milk is safe for customers to pick up at the farm and take home, then it is at least as safe, if not more safe, when delivered by the farmer to a location closer to the customer. Another problem with Texas regulation of raw milk dairies: the requirements for licensing, preparation, storage, and testing of the milk for certified raw milk dairy farmers can significantly add to the cost of raw milk dairy farming and can make it difficult–if not impossible–for the smaller dairies to meet state requirements. As has been seen in all kinds of farming, the small, family farm is being regulated out of business by fees and restrictions that only large farms can afford to pay and implement.
Update 9/6/11: If our rights to food freedom are not upheld in the courts (see David Gumpert’s posts of 9/16/11 and 8/31/11 linked below under Related Posts) how can we ensure our access to the foods that keep us healthy?
9/6/11, The Failure of Raw Milk Prohibition: an excellent analysis of the war on raw milk by Karen De Coster
9/6/11, David Gumpert reports more bad news about food freedom in Wisconsin: State Regulators Can Do No Wrong–WI Judge Rules in Favor of DATCP in Craig and Zinniker Cases As FTCLDF Courtroom Losing Streak Continues
8/31/11, David Gumpert reports on the latest (and unfavorable) news about Dan Allgyer’s case: In First Ruling, Federal Judge Provides Clues to His Leanings in MD Food Club Case, and They’re Not Encouraging for Amish Farmer Defendant, Or Food Clubs