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Guest Column: Fight for your right to raw milk

Daniel Patterson, Guest Author

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EDITOR’S NOTE:
This column is written as a guest column by Daniel Patterson, a student from Cherise Lopez’ Creative Writing class.  As such, the opinions in this column do not necessarily represent the opinions of RBHS, the Clarion, or the Clarion staff.

Look for more guest columns from different sources soon.

For years, the government has been raiding homes, clubs, and farms, looking for one thing.  Not drugs or weapons like you might think, but the government feels the need to control milk.  Specifically, unpasteurized milk.

Unpasteurized milk is whole milk straight from the cow, with naturally rich vitamins and beneficial bacteria, unharassed by humans.  The process of pasteurization is milk being exposed to high temperatures in order to destroy microorganisms and prevent fermentation.

Since 9000 B.C., humans in Iran and Africa have been herding cattle and drinking unpasteurized milk.  From there, it spread quickly through Greece and Europe, and in the 1600’s, the first cattle were grazing and producing unpasteurized milk for the early American colonists.

So, why the change?  In the cities of the 1800’s, workers unworthy to call themselves farmers sold what was called ‘slop milk.’  This was the milk produced from cows raised next to whiskey distilleries and fed a diet of distillery slop, hence the name.  Similar to the meat market of the time, milk product from these cows was watery, diseased, and often mixed with flour, starches or sugars to trick the consumer.  Of course, consumers drinking this milk got sick and the government blamed many of the diseases on milk.

Instead of regulating what cows consumed and making sure they were housed and milked in sanitary conditions so that unpasteurized milk could still safely be sold, the government jumped to the conclusion that milk from all cows was of this quality and could still be sold to consumers if heated to become pasteurized slop milk.  By the 1900’s, most major cities were requiring pasteurization.

Today the government holds you back from drinking fresh cow’s milk in 10 states, and in 30 states it can only be sold by certain farmers.  A Missouri family farm was put under surveillance and then prosecuted for selling milk from its own cow.  Underground food clubs are on the rise, but at the same time, these clubs are being raided by government agents, and in one case, guns were drawn for search and seizure of the milk.

Americans are fighting back for their rights to this whole food they’ve been drinking for centuries.  Milk activists are trying to get rid of a 53-year-old ban on unpasteurized milk in the state of Wisconsin, which would get unpasteurized milk back in the markets.  Not only would this get beneficial bacteria, enzymes, vitamins and amino acids back into the diets of Wisconsin people, but also it would greatly benefit Wisconsin farmers, who already on a tight budget, have to pay to get their milk picked up by a truck and pasteurized.

The FDA stands by what they are doing, claiming “unpasteurized milk is a major health concern and… it should not be consumed by anyone at anytime,” a representative told TIME magazine.  But milk activists are standing their ground, stating it’s their right to drink what they want, and there is no other taste when it comes to untouched, unpasteurized milk.

For only so long can we allow the government to keep this up.  How long until the government starts regulating other raw foods such as almonds and honey?  How long before we can only look back at the country farmer who, as John Steinbeck puts it, “lives off the fat of the land”?

The time to stop is now.  Go to rawmilkrights.com to keep your rights while you still have them.

REFERENCES:

http://boingboing.net/2009/12/08/farm-family-put-unde.html
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pasteurized+milk

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Guest Column: Fight for your right to raw milk”

  1. Clark Wang on November 5th, 2010 2:07 pm

    Great job! You are learning the politics of food, educating others, and offer hope with suggestions of direct action. I was a member of the Weston A Price Foundation, which has a program called A Campaign for Real Milk, and was in a North Carolina raw milk clandestine milk cooperative. Keep up the good work as you learn more about our food system in this country!
    Clark J. Wang, MD
    Durham, NC

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  2. Clark Wang on November 5th, 2010 2:11 pm

    I may be so bold as to suggest another topic that might interest you for writing: Green Burial. Here are some sources:
    http://www.vimeo.com/14588279
    http://www.greenburialcouncil.com
    http://www.thestory.org (search “green burial”)

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Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs
Guest Column: Fight for your right to raw milk