|‘Got Raw Milk?’: The Pasteurization Scam|
|Monday, 25 January 2010 14:00 | Written by Guest Contributor | Commentary|
Rather than bow down and revere raw milk as ‘a holy nectar of the gods’ (as many of its hundreds of thousands of consumers do; 40,000 in California alone), I would like to more objectively examine the process of pasteurization and its broader role in conscientious living. Pasteurization, a process developed in the late 19th century by (quelle surprise!) Monsieur Louis Pasteur, exposes milk to brief stints of high heat, in order to kill off all bacteria and enzymes. And no bacteria means no scary germs, right? That’s what officials and dairy-industry moguls would like you to believe. But in actuality, raw milk, teeming with friendly bacteria, has many proven health benefits.
The Industrialization of Milk
The Insignificant Risk of Raw
Schmid, after extensive research on raw milk, speculates that in the past 25 years, a few hundred incidents of minor illness have been connected to raw milk. Additionally, he found records of a few dozen more serious incidents, as well as a few isolated cases of death, for people with preexisting medical problems. Although Schmid is cautious when he writes that some “prominent advocates for raw milk have been inaccurate in their declarations that raw milk never leads to acute illness,” he still asserts that the intense and biased focus of public health authorities on the safety hazards of raw milk are unprecedented.
Schmid proceeds to give some perspective: “Some 200,000 people are sickened each day in the US due to food-borne illness, about 90 each day are hospitalized, and about 14 each day die.” Furthermore, “eggs are said by some authorities to sicken 300,000 and kill hundreds of Americans every year,” and “a nationwide study published by the USDA in 1996 found that 7.5% of the ground beef samples taken at processing plants were contaminated with Salmonella and 11.7% were contaminated with listeria.” And listeria, unlike coliform, is disease causing. Eric Schlosser writes in Fast Food Nation that “Food poisoning caused by listeria generally causes hospitalization and proves fatal in one out of every five cases.” So the big question is, why aren’t health officials going after meat and egg producers? Why is raw milk being singled out?
The Numerous Benefits of Raw Milk
Katz’s book also emphasizes that raw milk is more easily digested, and that it retains its inherent nutritional value and excellent taste. For example, “calcium is a major nutrient people seek in milk, and pasteurization renders it largely unavailable…” The obvious conclusion: real milk from healthy, happy cows provides important nutrients and health benefits.
In addition to bacteria, milk naturally contains many enzymes, almost all of which are inactivated by pasteurization. Again from Katz, “One enzyme, lactase, digests lactose, the milk sugar that so many people cannot digest. Pasteurization is what makes milk indigestible for many people; among people who do not drink milk because they cannot tolerate lactose, many find that they can digest and enjoy milk raw, due to the presence of lactase.” Furthermore, the bacteria found in healthy milk also protect the milk from developing pathogenic bacteria, functioning as a built-in immune system.
Regulating the Type of Milk Mustache You Can Have
California is one of only four states in which the sale of raw milk in stores is even legal, while in 24 other states, consumers must get in contact with a willing farmer. In the remaining states raw-milk enthusiasts must resort to illegal and super stealth farm operations. But word has spread about the wonders of raw milk, and lots of people are doing what it takes to get their hands on the goods. Demand for raw milk is booming! So, if Californians lose their right to decide how to nourish themselves, the rest of the US will soon be on its way.
The Model of Mass Production
It’s hard to run a monopoly sustainably and with care. The health authorities’ targeted attack on raw milk seems to be fueled by a corporate agenda. Suzanne Nelson, in her article “Drink it Raw”, from the Independent Weekly, asserts that “20th-century fear [of bacteria] becomes a powerful agent in 21st-century greed. And as one online commentator to Nelson’s article so poignantly writes, “Anyone who believes this [raw milk] issue is primarily about health, and not about running small dairy farmers out of business (or at least into the arms of the large dairy processors), is profoundly ill-informed.”
Raw Power in Action
Thanks to the infuriated calls and letters of raw-milk consumers along with the strong case presented by the participating dairies, the California Assembly’s Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to support a reevaluation of the standard. Raw milk will continue to be available and most likely the technical corrections will raise the limit from 10 to 50 per milliliter. Great news! McAfee proclaims it was “a very exciting day.”
However, he points out that “it wasn’t a 100% win.” Many are still skeptical about the results. Coliform bacteria are proven to be harmless. So, whether the limit is 10 or 50, and regardless of whether producers will be able to meet the new standard, the fact that a limit exists at all is a reminder of the dominant corporate paradigm of food production. This isn’t just about raw milk! The issue is indicative of many battles going on between local agrarian communities and the market-driven agribusinesses. In agricultural states such as California, as well as most traditionally agricultural regions worldwide, small farms have for many years been forced to compete with international big-box producers. This competition has devastated the sovereignty of many a community. The large number of people in support of the California raw-milk issue are a pertinent example of how consumer awareness and action can be successfully used to effect change.
Unfortunately, big businesses are doing all that is in their power to squash these popular uprisings of sorts. It is up to the concerned citizenry to continue to act locally and vocally in order to preserve the ways of living that we believe are supportive of good health and happiness. Let there be raw milk!
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[This piece was written by Cora Albrecht & Anya Kamenskaya and provided courtesy of the Society for Agriculture and Food Ecology. - Ed.]
Written by linz , January 26, 2010Report abuse
Written by linz , January 26, 2010Report abuse