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Raw Milk And Dirty Produce:
Perfect Together

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, February 16, 2007

As the produce industry spends what will wind up to be billions on enhanced food safety it is worth noting that there is a whole movement afoot to allow consumers to expose themselves to food safety risks.

Raw, unpasteurized milk is generally restricted and often illegal to sell. And for good reason. As a Washington Post story explains:

The Food and Drug Administration, which banned interstate sales of raw milk in 1987, has likened drinking unpasteurized milk to “playing Russian roulette with your health.”

Pasteurization, federal and state health officials say, kills bacteria that in some cases could cause life-threatening diseases.

But some proponents seem willing to take the risk:

Proponents describe raw milk as an elixir with almost magical properties. With anecdotal testimony, enthusiasts say it has eased arthritis, prevented such ailments as tooth decay and scurvy, and successfully treated a host of diseases.

In fact proponents have their own theories about why sale is often restricted:

“There’s a big push for raw milk from parents whose children have health problems like autism, asthma and failure to thrive,” said Fallon, founder of Weston A. Price Foundation, a natural-foods advocacy group that has spearheaded much of the raw milk lobbying. The prevailing theory in her camp is that proponents are facing an organized effort against raw milk driven by the country’s massive dairy industry.

“The real concern is not health at all, it’s economic,” Fallon said. “Raw milk has a fantastic way of reviving small farms, sustaining them. They don’t want that.”

Health officials are agog:

It is a notion that Elkin from the Maryland health department calls ridiculous. “There’s a large body of scientific evidence for pasteurizing milk,” he said. “There’s a reason for it — to kill pathogens.”

The raw milk advocates are trying a new technique to get around laws which, generally speaking, restrict the sale of raw milk, not its consumption. They sell “shares” in an individual cow, the farmer feeds and boards the animal and the “shareholders” get raw milk as a dividend.

The article was prompted because a farmer is suing Maryland which clarified a regulation to ban the cow-share practice as a ruse to sell raw milk, which it is.

You can read the whole piece right here.

We just think it is interesting that everyone assumes that people are so risk adverse that the whole produce industry must be turned upside down, and then you read about the risks many are prepared to take to have raw milk. Wonder if anyone is going to start a club to eat only fresh, unwashed produce pulled right from the field? They say exposure to dirt may help children build immunities.

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