The raw milk wars are heating up again. Raw milk is illegal in New Jersey, so many people who wish to drink pure, unadulterated raw milk direct from the farm, need to cross state lines into neighboring states in order to obtain it. Not satisfied apparently with restricting the production, sale, and distribution of raw milk in New Jersey, state regulators, allegedly backed by the powerful FDA, is going after citizens in New Jersey for mere possession of the banned substance. Furthermore, they are apparently targeting immigrants in the state, mainly from India, where raw milk is a big part of their culture and cuisine. Terrified citizens of New Jersey today fear fines and possible civil action simply for possessing raw milk.
Increasing numbers of Americans are seeking out unpasteurized, or raw, dairy products — both for the health benefits and the flavor. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meanwhile, has released a report that's clearly an attempt to squelch the growing enthusiasm for obtaining farm-fresh foods like raw milk and cheese. The war against raw milk has been one of the most successful, fear-based campaigns ever created to monopolize an industry. As long as farmers are prevented from selling to consumers directly, processors can and do price fix the market, ultimately leading to the intentional destruction of small, family dairy farms and consolidation of CAFO dairy farms using taxpayer-funded subsidies.
The misinformation campaign continues. The Montana and Idaho legislatures are currently considering bills that would loosen restrictions on the sale of raw milk. The Montana bill has already been approved by the state’s House of Representatives and is now being considered by its Senate. Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) think consumers aren’t qualified to make this decision for themselves. In response to the Montana bill, the CDC issued the following warning: "Raw milk can contain harmful germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which can make you very sick or possibly kill you. If you’re thinking about drinking raw milk because you believe it has health benefits, consider other options." This is nothing new; it’s been the position of government health officials for years. The FDA in particular has taken an aggressive stance against purveyors of raw milk. The vendetta against raw milk is completely unjustified. As our friends at the Weston A. Price Foundation point out in their campaign for “real milk,” raw milk has a proven safety record and has shown to be superior to pasteurized milk in protecting against infection, diarrhea, rickets, tooth decay, and tuberculosis. Children drinking raw milk also have better growth rates than those drinking pasteurized milk.
A USDA investigation of Pennsylvania farmer Amos Miller’s meat production practices has taken an ominous turn in recent days, apparently morphing into a national dragnet to collect the food purchase records of thousands of food club members around the country.
For more than a decade, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has had an undeclared war on raw milk cheese, until [last] week, when the FDA finally beat a retreat. At the conclusion of its latest assault against raw milk cheese–a research study of more than 1,600 cheese samples to test for pathogens–the FDA made this remarkable admission: “The data collected by the FDA indicate that the prevalences of Salmonella and pathogenic Shiga toxin- producing E. coli are relatively low and similar to the contamination rates in many other foods.” I added the emphasis, just to highlight the significance of that statement. The FDA has never before gone so far as to suggest that a raw-milk product is as safe as “many other foods.” Instead, the FDA and its buddies at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have gone out of their way to foment fear about raw milk products of any kind, warning people not to consume them under any circumstances.
Could the consumption of processed dairy products be a leading cause of childhood asthma? That is a question researchers in Europe recently looked at, and their results were just published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Significant reduction of risk for developing childhood-onset asthma is related to continuous consumption of high-fat unprocessed cow's milk, according to these European researchers. The longitudinal study looked at 1133 children from birth to age 6 years living in rural areas of 5 European countries: Austria, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, and France. The study was able to demonstrate that "continuous consumption of unprocessed farm milk contributes to protection from childhood-onset asthma." And the good news is that one does NOT have to live on a farm to enjoy these benefits. Drinking the high-fat unprocessed farm milk alone was beneficial.
Yogurt is one of the most recognized cultured foods in North America. Often over-sweetened and generally made with low-quality ingredients, it is one of the few fermented foods easily accessible at any grocery store. But it isn’t all it could be – not by a long shot. Good quality, probiotic-rich yogurt can be cultured fairly simply at home using the best milk available to you. Unprocessed cow’s milk, goat milk, and raw milk of all varieties can be used to make yogurt from thick to thin. It can then be sweetened with raw honey or fresh fruit, making a delicious breakfast or creamy treat.
Are you still eating low-fat or no-fat dairy products? If you are, you probably think you’re doing the right thing for your health. And if you check with virtually any public health agency, they’d wholeheartedly agree. The American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and American Cancer Society, for instance, all recommend low-fat or no-fat dairy. The US Department of Agriculture, in their nutrition guidelines for Americans, also advises, “Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat.” So what’s the problem? The advice to eat low-fat foods, including dairy, is antiquated, at least back to the 1970s, when low-fat diets were first recommended. It’s also not scientifically supported, and if you’re choosing low-fat over full-fat, not only are you missing out on taste, flavor and satisfaction, but you’re missing out on valuable benefits to your health – benefits that come from eating full-fat foods.
Federal bills have been introduced that will make it easier to sell raw milk across state borders—but they need our support to succeed. Late last week, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and a bipartisan coalition of sixteen other lawmakers including Jared Polis (D-CO), have reintroduced two important bills, the Milk Freedom Act and the Interstate Milk Freedom Act. The Milk Freedom Act would prohibit the government from interfering with the interstate traffic of raw milk products. The Interstate Milk Freedom Act would explicitly allow the shipment of raw milk between two states where the sale of raw milk is already legal. While the goals of these bills may seem rather modest, their passage would mean a huge step forward, given the lunacy of the government’s current stance on raw milk.
Now it appears that Barack Obama’s FDA is going after our best domestic artisanal cheeses, also often made from raw milk. What is the stated rationale for this? The FDA and Health Canada issued a joint assessment claiming a higher incidence of listeriosis—the disease caused by the food-borne pathogen listeria—in cheese made from raw milk as compared to cheese made from pasteurized milk. Consider these facts about listeria. Recent evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that, between 2009 and 2011, cheese made from raw milk accounted for one listeria outbreak and fifteen illnesses, whereas cheese from pasteurized milk caused five outbreaks and thirty-six illnesses. Let’s put this in further perspective. The CDC determined that between 1993 and 2006, all raw milk products combined caused 202 hospitalizations and two deaths. If the FDA is truly motivated by food-safety concerns, why not take a more aggressive stance towards Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), since contaminated meat and poultry sicken an estimated one million people and kill at least one thousand each year? If the FDA receives enough messages protesting the path they are clearly on to ban raw milk cheese, they will likely back off for fear of offending Congress, which has to listen to the voters—so please take action on this issue!