In a win for farmers, deliciousness, and just plain common sense, Wyoming’s governor signed a bill this past week which will “stop overregulation of locally produced foods” by making it illegal for the state government to require “licensure, permitting, certification, inspection, packaging, or labeling” when farmers sell food directly to consumers. In practice, this means that farmers markets and small food stands will be able to proceed without the interference of government busybodies. As the bill explains, its purpose “is to allow for the sale and consumption of homemade foods, and to encourage the expansion of agricultural sales by farmers markets, ranches, farms and home based producers.” The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Tyler Lindholm, says it will “take local foods off the black market. It will no longer be illegal to buy a lemon meringue pie from your neighbor or a jar of milk from your local farm.”
Government bans on the sale and distribution of raw milk and raw milk products are enforced in the name of public safety. But many people enjoy the health benefits of milk that has not been pasteurized, and some farms want sell it. Are the health threats from raw milk significant enough to warrant a ban on its sale? Government data and the lack of regulation of other raw foods suggest that they are not.
More research continues to come in from Europe showing the many health benefits of consuming milk fresh from the animal in its raw state. Such information is vigorously opposed here in the U.S. to protect the large, subsidized processed milk industry. Raw milk is so popular in Europe that many countries allow you to buy it from refrigerated vending machines that are stocked fresh each morning. The latest study appeared in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study followed 983 infants from rural areas in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, and Switzerland, for the first year of life, covering 37,306 person-weeks. Acknowledging that breast milk is the best way to build a child's immune system in the first year of life, the study looked at cow's milk consumption from both processed milk and fresh raw milk.
The government-sponsored dump of nearly $5,000 of milk, eggs, butter, and cream from Michigan's My Family Co-Op yesterday (July 21, 2014) carried a very clear and powerful political message to all Americans: We control your food and we don’t like you buying your food outside the corporate food system. Every now and then, we are going to remind you of what bad children you are being by taking your food and throwing it in the garbage. In fact, we are going to do more than remind you, we are going to completely humiliate you by preventing you from even feeding it to farm animals and instead forcing it to be disposed of in a landfill or dumpster. If you think I am exaggerating the intent of what is going on here, ask yourself this question: When was the last time you saw government agents seize and condemn food from a place like Foster Farms or Taco Bell or Del Monte or Kellogg’s or Trade Joe’s when their food has been found to contain pathogens, or made people sick? There’s been not even a suggestion that food at My Family Co-Op contained pathogens or made anyone sick.
David Gumpert is reporting that agents from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development pulled over the My Family Co-op's refrigerated truck this week, and placed a seizure order on their private food which was being delivered to food club members. My Family Co-op operates a "herd-share" program that allows private club members to contract with them and share in the ownership of their farm operations to produce and deliver farm-fresh food. These types of private food clubs are popping up all over the country, bypassing the commercial retail distribution of commodity food found in grocery stores. Big Ag, Big Dairy, and others are obviously opposed to such systems that allow farmers to sell directly to consumers, and use government regulations to go after peaceful farm operations trying to produce healthy food for those who want to bypass the commodity processed food market. David Gumpert, however, brings up a good point in explaining that most ag inspectors that try to seize private food really have no police powers, and can be resisted. Some food clubs have successfully resisted some seizures, forcing government officials to get court sanctioned orders that can be enforced by law enforcement officials. They key is to know your rights and not be intimidated, and David Gumpert posted on his blog: SIX WAYS TO PUT A STOP TO GOVERNMENT SEIZURES OF PRIVATELY-OWNED FOOD
A new study published in Sweden shows that children who live on small dairy farms run one-tenth the risk of developing allergies as other children. This study confirms the same results observed among small Amish dairy farms last year, where the drinking of farm-fresh raw milk was shown to be a cure for many allergies. The authors of the study suspect that the development of a healthy gut flora, as a result from living on the farm and being exposed to many different types of bacteria, is a major factor in developing immunity to allergies.
As we have frequently reported here at Health Impact News, the federal war against raw milk is NOT over food safety, but over the economic threat to Big Dairy and their subsidized milk pools that go into processed food. When farmers bypass the system and market a premium product directly to the consumer, such as farm-fresh milk directly from a healthy cow, they are threatening the system. The FDA should have no jurisdiction at all at the state level in trying to regulate raw milk, but as Pete Kennedy writes below, they are influencing the Illinois Department of Public Health to restrict consumer's rights to purchase milk directly from the farm.
Does the FDA have a legitimate concern when it comes to aging cheese on wooden boards? Is it true that they can’t be “adequately cleaned or sanitized?” Simply put, no. As thoroughly documented by the American Cheese Society, there are a number of effective ways that wooden boards can be safely cleaned. Some of “the most awarded and well-respected” American artisanal cheeses are aged on wooden boards, since it brings a richer, more complex flavor that can’t be duplicated when aged on other materials. In fact, many artisan cheese recipes are specifically formulated to be aged on wooden boards. This rule could have irreparably harmed thousands of small artisans and businesses. The business about wood boards is just an excuse, a distraction, from the issue at hand, which is the FDA’s determination to harass and even shutter as many artisanal cheese makers as it can. The FDA’s demand that artisanal cheese producers, which depend on friendly bacteria for the taste and nutritional benefits of their product, essentially create a sterile environment, isn’t unlike what’s happened to the rest of our society with a push for sterilization of food and the environment, all the way to the ever-present hand sanitizers. Unfortunately for small cheese producers, the only entities that can successfully produce cheese in a sterile environment are the corporate producers, whose cheese fewer and fewer people want.
David Gumpert recently published an insightful blog post demonstrating how the mainstream media treats outbreaks of illnesses due to milk. If there are illnesses due to drinking fresh raw milk, it is presented as a public health hazard and something that should be banned, even though there have been no recorded deaths due to drinking raw milk in the past 15 years. When illnesses and deaths occur due to pasteurized milk, however, it is glossed over in the mainstream media, and the fact that the milk was pasteurized as commercial processed milk is not even mentioned in the story. The official position in the mainstream media is that fresh raw milk directly from the farm is dangerous, while store-bought pasteurized processed milk is safe. This is a false belief not supported by the data. As we have previously reported, the raw milk debate is not a debate about food safety as the government, Big Dairy, and the pharmaceutical industry would like you to believe. The most dangerous foods in your local grocery store, causing the most outbreaks of deaths and illnesses, are in the fresh produce department, and the meat sections. And then if you want to include deaths due to FDA approved prescription drugs, the comparison becomes even more absurd.
Under current Illinois law, farmers can sell an unlimited amount of raw milk on the farm without a permit. Legislators and health officials were working hard to completely banish farm-to-consumer agreements in some sneaky ways. This was not lost on Illinois' thriving raw milk market. Now, a proposed bill in Illinois banning the sale and distribution of natural or “raw” milk, has come to a screeching halt this session after legislators heard from thousands of natural milk supporters.