Government, public health and dairy industry officials want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw milk, citing safety concerns. But small dairy farmers, organic consumers’ advocates and raw milk drinkers say that safety isn’t the real issue — it’s control of the dairy market.
In January, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) proposed new regulations that would ban off-the-farm sale and distribution of raw milk. Prior to making the regulations public, MDAR issued cease-and-desist orders to four milk-buying clubs.
While no one has died in Massachusetts because of raw milk, three people died in 2007 from Listeriosis from pasteurized milk.
According to In These Times:
“Considering the relative safety of raw milk and its possible health benefits, campaigns against its legalization are surprisingly intense, and not just in Massachusetts.”
David Gumpert, author of The Raw Milk Revolution, argues that regulation is “not about safety — it’s about protecting markets.”
The FDA and CDC have been particularly aggressive recently in their efforts to crack down on raw milk under the pretense of public health safety. But the truth remains that not only is raw milk a health-promoting food, it is oftentimes safer than the pasteurized varieties both state and federal governments are rallying behind.
David Gumpert, author of The Raw Milk Revolution, pointed out, for instance, that while no one has died in Massachusetts because of raw milk, three people died in 2007 from pasteurized milk tainted with Listeriosis.
And as In These Times reported, according to CDC data from 1993 to 2006 there were about 116 illnesses a year linked to raw milk — that amounts to less than .000002 percent of the 76 million people who contract a food-borne illness in the United States each year!
It is very apparent that the regulatory agencies have put blinders on to these statistics as they carry on with their ruthless crusade to ban raw milk and make it illegal for you to drink it.
Because they are looking out for the interests of Big Dairy produced in factory farms.
Industrial Dairy Farmers Cannot Safely Produce Raw Milk
Raw milk has been gaining popularity for years now. In Massachusetts, the number of dairies licensed to sell raw milk grew from 12 to 23 in just two years, while the Northeast Organic Farming Association stated that dairies are selling more raw milk than they were just five years ago, and consumers call in every week looking for advice on where to find it.
The conventional dairy industry, realizing this, has redoubled their efforts to make sure that raw milk sales are not able to grow, and certainly not able to become mainstream, where they could begin to threaten their very own livelihoods.
If raw dairy really caught on, you would think that the dairy industry would simply follow suit and begin producing raw products to meet the demand. But this would be virtually impossible.
Their business depends on pasteurization, and that is why their powerful lobbyists will stop at nothing to persuade government agencies to keep raw milk bans in full force.
Only Healthy Milk, from Healthy Cows, Can be Consumed Raw
There’s a vast difference between the quality and safety of milk from organically raised, grass-fed cows, and conventionally raised, grain-fed livestock. Conventional dairy farms are not typically set up to produce healthy milk, and really the very idea of producing mass quantities of milk from huge numbers of cows confined to one area is contrary to the very nature of healthy milk.
Cows that are fed grain and raised under substandard conditions will likely produce milk that is unhealthy to drink raw because grains, antibiotics, growth hormones, and filthy living conditions change the pH balance and the natural bacteria present in a cow’s gut, which in turn affects the natural bacteria and pathogens present in their milk.
In order for conventional dairy farms to safely produce raw milk, they’d be forced to clean up their production practices, raise healthier cows (and likely fewer cows), and give them access to pasture. This would cost them money … lots of money, if it were even possible at all – and that is a very big “if.”
This is why, when buying raw milk, it’s very important to make sure you’re buying milk that has been produced with the intention of being consumed raw, and not just raw milk from conventionally-raised cows that hasn’t gone through the pasteurization process yet.
It also begs the question, if the milk produced by most dairy farms has to be pasteurized to remove the filth and bacteria it ordinarily contains … is it really something you want to drink?
Who Should be Able to Limit Your Right to Unpasteurized, Unprocessed Food?
If you’re thinking “no one,” you’re going to have to duke it out with the FDA.
Earlier this year, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) filed a lawsuit against the FDA over their raw milk ban, claiming it is unconstitutional. The FDA’s rebuttal contained the following extremely concerning and outrageous statements, which make it very clear they believe you have no right to unprocessed food:
- “There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food.”
- “There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.”
- “Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”
- The FDA’s brief goes on to state that “even if such a right did exist, it would not render the FDA’s regulations unconstitutional because prohibiting the interstate sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk promotes bodily and physical health.”
- “There is no fundamental right to freedom of contract.”
Since when did the FDA have authority to tell you what you can and cannot eat and feed your children? Apparently they believe they’ve had it all along.
If you go by these assertions, it means the FDA has the authority to prohibit any food of their choosing and make it a crime for you to seek it out. If, one day, the FDA deems tomatoes, broccoli or cashews capable of causing you harm (which is just as ludicrous as their assertions that raw milk is harmful), they could therefore enact such a ban and legally enforce it.
What this means is that freedom of food choice is a myth if you live in the United States, and this simply is not acceptable.
Unfortunately, state governments have been dutifully following suit, no doubt after intense pressure from the dairy industry.
In May, for instance, after weeks of lobbying by the Wisconsin dairy industry, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that would have made sale of on-the-farm raw milk legal, stating he “must side with public health and safety of the dairy industry.”
In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources issued cease-and-desist orders to four milk-buying clubs and proposed new regulations to ban off-the-farm sale and distribution of raw milk.
In their lawsuit, FTCLDF also pointed out that the FDA is taking an unfairly harsh approach with raw milk compared to other raw foods. For instance, unpasteurized juices are sold with just a warning label letting consumers know the juice has not been pasteurized, while raw milk has been outright banned in many states.
Is it a coincidence that some of the states where raw milk sales are illegal are also among the largest dairy producers in the United States (namely Wisconsin and Iowa)?
Do You Want Easy Access to Raw Milk?
By joining the fight to make access to healthy raw milk a right for all Americans, you are not only standing up for raw milk; you’re taking a stand to protect your freedom of food choice.
No one, and certainly not any government agency or dairy lobby, should be able to restrict your access to pure, unadulterated food. Organizations like the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund are working toward true freedom of choice for American consumers, and I urge you to get involved in their causes.
For more information, I urge you to listen to my interview with Mark McAfee, the founder of Organic Pastures, one of the largest producers of raw milk in the United States, along with this video with health and business journalist David E. Gumpert.