Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pondering the Raw Milk Debate

*Please note: This is a re-post from March 2009.

The Economic EMERGENCY (this is what our local TV station calls it anyway) has made us really think about cutting back. One of the easy things for my family to cut out of our grocery bill is milk. With my 3 kids ,and their love for milk,we can go through about 4 gallons per week. Instead of paying for it at the store, Jerry and I decided to start getting it out of the tank at the farm. I grew up on raw milk and I do attribute my amazing health and big biceps to it! But to tell you the truth, when it came to giving it to my kids for the first time last month I had some reservations.Now don't get me wrong, I am very proud of the quality of the milk from SwissLane dairy cows. Actually, our Somatic Cell Count numbers (quality indicator) have been amazing for the past 5 years and just keep getting better! If I were going to give any raw milk to my children it would have to come out of the tanks at our farm.I am a firm believer in bacteria. I think that the contributing factors to increases in allergies is due to our food supply being too clean, and excessive use of anti-bacterial soaps and cleaning products. I do not believe that the answer to this is selling raw milk at Meijer or your local grocery. We need to remember that there is a reason for these regulations being in place. If I am going to sell a product to the general public, I want to know that it is the best quality possible and have 100% confidence in it. With pasteurization we can have that confidence.There are several farms that have capitalized on people's belief in raw milk. They sell shares of their cows to customers so the customer is paying for caretakeing of the cow and not for the milk. I think this is a great opportunity for farmers. However, I do not agree with this article that I copy/pasted below. The farmer did not obey the law and should be punished. I am proud of the reputation that the dairy industry works so hard to make for milk in this country. If science and experience support pasteurization, I am thankful that the government will step in and ensure the integrity of our milk supply and the Dairy Industry.,0,4757880.story

Dear Friend,
In spite of the efforts of Big Dairy and their pals in state houses across the U.S., raw milk's popularity continues to grow. But now it seems that the gloves have come off in this fight. Recently, a Pennsylvania farmer was arrested – literally handcuffed and led away by state police – because he was selling raw milk. As hard as this is to believe, somehow I'm not surprised. Mark Nolt, a Mennonite farmer, has since been found guilty and fined $4,040 for his "crimes." The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture dropped the hammer on Nolt and closed his business after he declined to renew his permit to sell raw milk. "They swooped in … like a bunch of Vikings, handcuffed me, and stole $30,000 worth of my milk, cheese, and butter," Nolt said. It sounds like he was farming weapons-grade plutonium, doesn't it? But I'm sure that in a state with a large agricultural base, Big Dairy has an incredibly powerful lobby in Pennsylvania, and they chose to make an example out of Nolt. It seems that Nolt was the victim of a Department of Agriculture sting: Pennsylvania DoA employees testified at the trial that they'd purchased raw milk and products made from raw milk from Nolt at his stand at an area farmer's market at least three times in 2007. At least 60 supporters protested outside of the Cumberland County Pennsylvania courthouse while the conviction came down. I'm gratified that there was at least some stink made about this incident. Granted, 60 protesters isn't exactly a throng, but hopefully the needless Gestapo tactics employed will help stir some needed anger about this issue. Jonas Stoltzfus, president of the Pennsylvania Independent Consumers and Farmers Association put it best when he said of the Nolt protest, "This issue has very little to do with raw milk and health, and everything to do with freedom."Amen to that.Raw milk is one of my pet causes. The stuff is loaded with health benefits. It's got lots of vitamin D, and it also contains probiotics, good bacteria that aid digestion and can attack and destroy harmful pathogens. But in spite of its many upsides, raw milk is a tough sell for many people because of Big Dairy propaganda. That the federal government and the majority of states prohibit the sale of raw milk to the public is nothing new. But the iron- fisted tactics used against Nolt represent a dark turn in this battle. Keep reading…The All-American tradition that could save your heart It's one of the most maligned foods on the planet, but this concession stand staple can do wonders for your heart, brain, and lungs. It's all because of one key ingredient, which studies have shown to be able to nearly triple blood flow. It's the tastiest way I know of to prevent or even cure heart attacks, pulmonary hypertension, sickle cell anemia, and stroke.For years, the knock on raw milk from public health bureaucrats is that it's responsible for sickening hundreds with bacterial illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and others. But this is patently untrue. In fact, as I've told you, recent milk-related outbreaks of Listeria and E. coli that caused illness and even death were caused by pasteurized milk, not raw milk (typically, the health officials didn't have much of an explanation for this). But the FDA and the CDC never let the facts get in the way of a good story. I think that the Nolt incident will rile up more than just fellow raw milk advocates. Stoltzfus likened Nolt to Rosa Parks, saying Nolt "believes it is his right to sell, according to the constitution, just like it was Rosa Park's right to sit wherever she wanted on the bus." I'll be following this story to see if this particular injustice will help garner more support for the right to produce, buy, and consume raw milk. Raw-nerved about the government crackdown on raw milk, William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.

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