The following is part 4 of Dale’s series - Raw Milk: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The battle between raw milk advocates and pasteurization advocates is heating up and it may get ugly. Here are some of the arguments.
Raw milk advocates:
“There are health benefits of raw milk.”
“Legalizing raw milk is a way to connect consumers with local farmers and it keeps dollars in the local economy.”
“I want to buy raw milk so that I can make my own raw milk cheese which is safe.”
“The government lets you smoke when we know that smoking kills, but you can’t drink raw milk.”
“Every year hundreds are killed by drunk drivers, but we still don’t crack down on them. If fact, legally you can have a couple of drinks and still drive. But you can’t drink raw milk and drive.”
“We are on the verge of legalizing marijuana, but you still can’t buy raw milk.”
“Outlawing raw milk is a conspiracy by the large milk cooperatives to put the little farmers out of business and to maintain control of their market.”
“The government wants to regulate everything, including what we eat.”
The Farm Bureau and dairy farmer associations:
“If the public hears of a case of food poisoning from tainted milk, demand for dairy products will plummet, even if it was raw milk. Remember what happened to the spinach farmers.”
Organic Valley and Horizon organic dairy cooperatives:
“We pay our farmers a large premium for their organic milk. It isn’t fair for our farmers to take advantage of our marketing efforts by selling the same raw milk directly to people.”
Health departments and health care workers:
“Food poisoning from dairy products is almost completely preventable through pasteurization. It seems a small price to pay for public health.”
“Pasteurized milk is not significantly different from raw milk and it is fortified with vitamins.”
“Pasteurizing is cheaper than the health care costs of food poisoning.”
“Uninformed consumers may buy raw milk from dairy farms that do not maintain proper cleanliness.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Human Society:
“Let’s close down all animal agriculture and eat vegiburgers and tofu.
“Soy milk is a great substitute for cow milk.”
I am torn by this issue. I agree with all of the above statements except for PETA and HS. I am a member of “People Eating Tasty Animals” and anyone who says soy milk is a great substitute for cow’s milk cannot be taken seriously.
A coworker of mine who is an animal scientist told me pasteurization does not change the structure of milk, that the enzymes and other components are unaltered by the heating process so that the claim of health benefits of raw milk are bogus. I am an economist by training, but I cannot believe that heating milk does not change it in some way. We may not be able to observe changes with our current scientific tests, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, we detect significant changes from pasteurization that diminish health benefits.
Maryland outlaws all raw milk sales. Pennsylvania allows regulated raw milk sales by farmers directly to customers. Virginia allows cow shares but in practicality it is a very cumbersome process for the farmer and customer. I haven’t researched the regulations in other states. A farmer in Ontario, Canada was acquitted of 19 charges of distributing raw milk because the judge said he was distributing it to joint owners of his cows and not the public at large. I hope that Myron Martin is successful in his crusade to legalize raw milk sales in Maryland.
My experience is that most people who want to drink raw milk are those who scrutinize everything they eat and that this leads to healthy diets that may reduce obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other diet related illnesses. What are your thoughts about raw milk?
This is a satellite photo of Threemile Canyon Farms near Boardman, Oregon. There are over 20,000 cows at this industrial milk factory. It put 200 family farms similar to Myron & Janet Martin’s farm out of business.
A group of Pennsylvania farmers (many Amish) at a “pasture walk” learning from each other how to improve their management so that they can try to compete with Threemile Canyon Farms.
Here is how I want my milk made - cows contently graze in the early morning fog of a bucolic Maryland pasture.