Sunday, July 18, 2010
Thoughts: The reason behind raw milk bans?
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."
Dr Mercola's comments; 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?
Got Raw Milk?
Small farmers and consumer advocates say unpasteurized milk bans are about protecting big industry. By Marie Landau
Despite being illegal in many states, thousands of Americans seek unpasteurized “raw” dairy products that enthusiasts say cure everything from asthma to autism.
'Look at hamburger meat, spinach, peanut butter,' says Gumbert. 'There’s no talk of banning these foods, even though they’ve been huge public health hazards.'
In Massachusetts, a controversy over raw milk regulations has cast doubt on our seemingly basic right to unprocessed food. Government, public health and dairy industry officials want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw (unpasteurized) milk, citing grave safety concerns. But small dairy farmers, organic consumers’ advocates and raw milk drinkers say the issue isn’t safety—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 revamped regulations public, MDAR issued cease-and-desist orders to four milk-buying clubs that buy raw milk directly from small farmers and distribute it among members. MDAR Commissioner Scott Soares insists the clubs’ activities are illegal and that the new rules are “intended to be a clarification over what has always been the case.”
Soares says MDAR began revising raw milk protocol in an “effort to align regulations with those outlined by the Food and Drug Administration.” And according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the bottom line here is safety. But Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, describes Soares as an “[a]nti-raw milk crusader.” And David Gumpert, author of The Raw Milk Revolution, says that regulation is “not about safety—it’s about protecting markets.”
“Conventional dairy doesn’t want raw milk tarnishing the image of pasteurized milk,” says Gumpert, who notes that while no one has died in Massachusetts because of raw milk, three people died in 2007 from Listeriosis from pasteurized milk. He adds that the “the [Center for Disease Control] and FDA have blind spots around raw milk. They don’t want to do research on it.”
The CDC and FDA, along with several other organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Veterinary Medicine Association, are unequivocally opposed to raw milk consumption, making it difficult for raw milk advocates to push for wider legalization. Nevertheless, 10 states allow raw milk retail sales.
Figures used by the CDC and others to demonstrate the dangers of raw milk consumption show it to be a blip on the screen of food-borne illness in the United States. The CDC reports that from 1993 to 2006, unpasteurized milk caused 69 incidents of human infections, with 1,505 reported illnesses, 185 hospitalizations and two deaths. That averages out to about 116 illnesses a year, or less than .000002 percent of the 76 million people who contract food-borne illnesses every year in the United States.
All the big agencies mobilized against raw milk consumption hinge their arguments on the potential bacterial dangers of the milk. The CDC claims that “disease-causing organisms can only be eliminated in milk through pasteurization” while realrawmilkfacts.com, a site managed by public health professionals and a personal injury lawyer representing E.coli victims, states that raw milk is “produced in environments that are unavoidably contaminated with fecal material.”
Mark McAfee, owner and operator of Organic Pastures, the largest raw milk dairy in California, says, “The state monitors and tests all of our raw dairy products multiple times per month, and has never found one pathogen in any of our products. Even more interesting is the fact that not one human pathogen has ever been found in the hundreds of environmental swabs that have been taken in our plant facility.” McAfee maintains that raw milk has natural enzymes that kill pathogens—enzymes that are destroyed by pasteurization.
Winton Pitcoff, raw milk coordinator for North East Organic Farming Association in Massachusetts, has no illusions about the milk produced by industrial dairies where cows eat grain and stand in their own manure. “That milk should be pasteurized,” he says. “Small, raw dairies are simply better suited to keep pathogens out of the milk in the first place.”
Agencies opposing raw milk consumption also deny its supposed health benefits. “There are no health benefits from drinking raw milk,” according to the CDC. But a 2006 European study by the University of Basel in Switzerland, one of the only major studies done on the health benefits of raw milk, showed a “statistically significant inverse association with asthma” in raw milk drinkers.
Considering the relative safety of raw milk and its possible health benefits, campaigns against its legalization are surprisingly intense, and not just in Massachusetts. In late May, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle (D) vetoed a bill that would have allowed the sale of on-the-farm raw milk.
Doyle, who in the weeks before the veto was lobbied by Wisconsin’s dairy industry, wrote that he “must side with public health and safety of the dairy industry.” But Wisconsin raw milk proponents say he succumbed to pressure from big agricultural corporations who feel financially threatened by the growing popularity of raw milk, which is something industrial dairy operations can’t safely produce.
Gumpert puts it this way: Foodborne illnesses are unavoidable when food is produced for hundreds of millions of people, but “neither raw nor pasteurized milk is particularly risky. Look at hamburger meat, spinach, peanut butter—there’s no talk of banning these foods, even though they’ve been huge public health hazards.”
What it comes down to, Gumpert says, is choice: “People have a fundamental right to access healthy food.”
Challenges: Every man dies. Not every man really lives. William Wallace
Triumphs: Present to so much love. 'All mankind love a lover.' Ralph Waldo Emerson
What I Ate Today:
Food fest 1: A beet, carrot, celery and ginger juice!
Food fest 2: A avocado
Food fest 3: Another avocado!
Food fest 4: It was my husbands birthday so we took a boat at sunrise to a restaurant on the water ... beautiful! And had salmon with wild rice and asparagus, raw tuna, and Wigleys which was the juiciest largest chunky prawns with a spicy, tomato and herb base! Oh delicious! What a treat :)
Exercise: A one hour full body workout at Big Al's Family Fitness :) And boating - I say boating is a physical exercise! My muslces, especially my legs and arms were solid in keeping me in the boat, I used my legs to wedge me so I didn't fall out! The boat was fassst! ;) I found when I incorporate fun and something I love to do, I forget I am exercising! It is then joyful and effortless!
108 days to go!!!