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.
Fresh raw milk is currently the only food banned in interstate commerce. And while the constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce, the current ban in place was not put there by an act of Congress, but by the FDA, preventing states where the sale of raw milk is legal from being able to transport and sell that milk in other states (where it is also legal). This action by the FDA is usually cloaked in the deception that it is for the sake of public health, however statistics clearly show that raw milk is no more dangerous than any other raw food, and in most cases is probably safer when sold by organic grass-fed small-scale operations. The sale of raw milk in the United States is first and foremost an economical issue, and deals with the rights of dairy farmers to be able to sell their products directly to consumers, bypassing the milk pools of Big Dairy, who enjoy tremendous political favor via farm subsidies. The ban on interstate commerce of raw milk and raw milk products is simply an attempt by Big Dairy to prevent consumers from having a choice between their highly processed commodity dairy products and fresh wholesome products produced by small-scale farmers. Congressman Massie (R–KY), Chellie Pingree (D–ME) and a bipartisan coalition of 18 other lawmakers have introduced legislation to improve consumer food choices and to protect local farmers from federal interference. The two bills – the “Milk Freedom of Act of 2014” and the “Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014” – are the first in a series of “food freedom” bills that Rep. Massie plans to introduce this year. These bills would make it easier for families to buy wholesome milk directly from farmers by reversing the criminalization of dairy farmers who offer raw milk. Encourage your representatives to support this bipartisan legislation!
The Oregon Department of Agriculture today agreed to stop enforcing that state’s ban on the advertisement of raw—or unpasteurized—milk. This comes in response to a Nov. 2013 federal lawsuit filed by Christine Anderson, owner of Cast Iron Farms in McMinnville, Ore. Until today, it was illegal for farmers like Christine to advertise that they sell raw milk, a perfectly legal product. This meant that Christine was banned from posting flyers at local stores, advertising sales online or via email, or displaying a roadside sign at the farm saying “WE SELL RAW MILK.” Christine was even ordered in 2012 to take down prices for her milk from the Cast Iron Farm website. If she did advertise her raw milk, she faced $6,250 in fines and civil penalties as high as $10,000—plus a year in jail.
This Country Has America Beat When It Comes to Handling Raw Milk - Illegal in many states, unpasteurized dairy is sold out of vending machines in Slovenia.
300 people turned out for a board of health hearing in Foxboro to support the Lawton Family Raw Milk farm which was being threatened with new regulations that would have put them out of business. Their farm spans 11 generations back to the 1700s, and town support for them was strong. In the end, the board of health backed down. One board member complained they had received: “Horrible emails, mean-spirited. Some very negative voice mails were left. It was uncalled for. We have been referred to as Gestapo. That being said, if you want to drink raw milk, have at it. If you want to sky dive, go ahead.”
Support for Lawton’s Raw Milk Family Farm Forces Delay in Board of Health Public Hearing to Shut Them Down
The town of Foxborough Massachusetts is proposing new stricter raw milk regulations which would put The Lawtons Family Farm out of business. The farm has spanned 11 generations dating back to the 1700s. But at a Board of Health public hearing, so many people turned out to support the Lawtons, that the hearing had to be postponed until they could find a larger venue. The regular meeting room only holds 80 people, and more than 140 showed up, most of them to show support for the raw milk farmers.
An Oregon raw milk farmer is fighting back against Big Dairy and the state of Oregon for limiting her free speech. The state of Oregon allows limited sales of raw milk from the farm. Based on a law passed in 1999, if a farmer has 3 or less dairy cows, with no more than two lactating, they can sell raw milk directly to the public. Yet, in spite of these tight restrictions, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association pushed for even more restrictions last year. So while it is still currently legal to sell raw milk from a 2-cow dairy farm, it is a criminal offense if you advertise your product. If a raw milk dairy farm even publishes the cost of their product online, they can face a year in jail and $6,250 in fines. All Oregon farmers who sell milk on the farm directly to consumers are prohibited from advertising the milk online, in fliers, via email or on signs. Being faced with the possibility of going out of business, Christina decided to fight back, with the help of the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm based out of Alrington Virginia. This week they filed a suit against the Oregon Department of Agriculture in U.S. District Court in Portland, claiming farmers' Constitutional rights to free speech are being violated.
In this N.Y. Times opinion piece, dairy farm life and the consumption of raw dairy milk is clearly shown to be associated with reduced allergies. But raw milk consumption is discouraged nevertheless, and people are encouraged instead to wait for new drugs which will mimic the same effect.