The Raw Milk Fight

I can across an article online the other day about raw milk. I haven’t written about it before, but our family loves raw milk. When we lived in Virginia we owned a cow share and had fresh, straight from the farm raw milk delivered every Saturday morning.

When we moved from Virginia we were sad to lose our raw milk because in Maryland it is illegal to buy raw milk. Illegal. Currently in Iowa there is a raw milk case in federal court. Lawyers for the federal government have argued that individuals have no fundamental right to obtain what food they choose.

According to a brief filed in April:

“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish,” the government has argued.

I realize I don’t write much controversial stuff on this site, but I cannot sit by while the government argues that it is their right to determine what food I can eat.

In my opinion (and this is just my opinion- I’m not trying to convince you to drink raw milk), what the federal government is really concerned about is losing support from the factory farms, processed food industry, and the well financed firms that lobby for them in Washington. They don’t really care about your health or what you eat or drink, because if they were truly concerned for your health they would ban McDonalds, sodas, and Hot Pockets.

They primarily care about money, and this money is not coming from the folks at Weston A. Price, who are the most outspoken proponents of our right to buy, sell and drink raw milk. For years the government has been quietly creating laws that are putting the small farmer out of business. These small farms do not have the money to fight the excessive regulations that are continually imposed on them by our federal government, so many of them cease farming, leaving us with one less source of REAL food.

Here’s the deal. I have read the arguments for and against drinking raw milk. I believe the benefits outweigh the risks, and should be able to make that choice for my family. If I felt like eating tree bark was good for me, then I believe I have the right to do that too. And you know what, if you want to eat pop tarts or a Big Mac, go for it! While I don’t like that fact that there is a fast food restaurant on every street corner in America, I deal with it by not eating fast food, because it is my choice.

This issue isn’t really about raw milk, McDonalds, or tree bark. It is about our right to choose what food we purchase, prepare, and feed our families  If the federal prosecutors in Iowa don’t like raw milk, they don’t have to drink it, I just wish they would stop forcing others to do the same.

A few books that have changed my thinking over the years concerning our food choices are; Holy Cows And Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer’s Guide To Farm Friendly Food, Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front, Don’t Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Comments

  1. I think it comes back to freedom, as usual. I know we will never truly be free to do anything we wish but there is no reason to not have the freedom to choose. It does not hurt anyone to have the freedom to choose between raw or pasteurized milk. We bought a Jersey 18 months ago for our own use and “sell” it to people we know who want raw milk because I understand the health benefits of it. I’m just waiting for the day someone shows up at my door to question me about it. It’s very frustrating at times knowing by selling milk I am doing something illegal. And who am I hurting in the process? No one. It’s not the milk, it’s the freedom.

  2. Barbara says:

    We drank raw milk when we were stationed in Texas. It is delish! I am convinced that my children have perfectly straight teeth because of it. You do have to watch the calorie content, though. I has a lot of cream, especially the Jersey cow milk. My daughter, who cannot drink regular milk, can drink raw milk with no problems. If you get your milk from a reliable source, you should have no problems with the safety of it. I wish the gov’t would butt out and so we could get it now!

  3. Yeah, that’s right. Let’s hate the government and lawyers just one more time. The problem with citing such a small portion of a brief or petition or case law is that the true argument and context gets lost. The legislature SHOULD have a role in regulating the food distributed in the country. I’m not saying these always get it right, but deregulation is NOT the way to go.

  4. Crazy! I can’t believe that the citizens of these country allows for the gov’t to have so much control without saying a word. The gov’t is meant to be under our control not the other way around.

    I just watched the movie Food, Inc. and after seeing that and reading your article I am totally appalled. I don’t know what is safe to eat anymore. I worry about my own health, having eaten fast food so much growing up, but I am even more worried about my 8 month old son. What am I to feed him? What is safe? Does anyone know anymore?

    • Ragan, There is an organization which Toni gives a link to in her post; The Weston A Price Foundation. Their dietary guidelines are based on unbiased research and traditional methods of food preparation. They have an excellent resource called “Wise Traditions” and there is a baby edition. I highly recommend it.

    • Ragan,
      There are also a bunch of “real food” bloggers out there trying to walk people through dietary changes, especially after watching something like Food, Inc. I’m one of them, and I can help you find others (without cluttering Toni’s comments with links). Good luck!
      🙂 Katie

  5. Have you seen the documentary “Food Incorporated” ? Very interesting…and eye-opening….rent it and watch it if you get a chance…..

  6. The movie “Food, Inc.” changed the way we eat. I think if more people would see this movie it would certainly bring the better meats, veggies and dairy more to the front and help bring those prices down.

  7. While I wouldn’t give raw milk to my family, it shouldn’t be illegal. People should know that there are bacteria that those of us brought up on farms with animals have been exposed to. My family, all city dwellers, hasn’t been exposed to them and I wouldn’t want them to be potentially exposed with raw milk. Me, I grew up on a dairy and horse farm and drank raw milk straight from the cow frequently. People do need to be informed. Raw milk isn’t bad at all. But there are potential dangers that everyone should know about.

  8. I don’t really know much about this issue, but from reading many of these comments, I can tell that raw milk has lots of health benefits, and I understand wanting to have the right to purchase it for your family if you feel it is best. Interestingly enough, in my state of MN this week, four cases of E. coli were traced to raw milk from a local farm. In MN, the sale of raw milk is limited to the occasional purchase made directly from the farm. Sorry but this happening so close to home makes me understand a bit of the regulations. I’m not sure I want to jump on the raw milk wagon right now. Just my two cents.

  9. We did the raw milk co-op too. It was wonderful. We eventually stopped because the farm was just too far away to run to with a newborn each week, but I’d love to pick it back up again. It’s so good for you.

  10. I agree 100%. We should definitely have the right to choose. There are so many arguments for raw milk, and the benefits that are correct, but also it just comes to basic rights. I should be able to research and choose what is right for my family! Thanks for the post!!

  11. While the thought of drinking raw milk makes me nauseous, I agree that it should have nothing to do with the government!

  12. Thank you for this post. As a dairy producer, we know all too well about this debate. This debate is even fought by producers ourselves. On our farm, we drink our own raw milk, but we know many dairy producers who will not. In MN you can buy raw milk (but are many stipulations, like: you can only buy at the farm, you have to bring your own container and the sales have to be occasional). Check with your states Dept of Ag to make sure. There is a lot of misinformation out there.

    Just recently, there was a case where several people in our state got sick and they claim it is from raw milk. Unless your state regulates the sale of raw milk, I caution you. Make sure you are buying raw milk from a Grade A producer. You can ask the producer for their latest inspection summary (which has to be posted in the milk house). You can also check with your states Dept of Ag to see if the producer has any violations. Also, if you bring your own container make sure it is extremely clean and that the producer has a special spout for dispensing from the bulk tank. Also make sure this spout is cleaned between each customer. Check to see if the tank temp is reading 38-40 degrees and that it appears clean.

    Lastly, just because it is raw doesn’t mean it is not perishable. Refrigerate your milk within 30 minutes and thow it out after 5-7 days. Raw milk will have more bacteria than pasteurized milk. This is natural. Ease into drinking it, because your stomach is not use to those bacterias.

    I am encouraged that so many people are looking to support real food from family farmers. Thank you for your support!

  13. This from a dairy farm girl: People so over-rate the risks of drinking raw milk. My Mom had 14 of us kids and all we ever drank was raw milk. She drank it while pregnant too. Here in PA, farmers can legally sell raw milk but need a monthly inspection costing $60/month.
    FYI, for those of you still not wanting to drink raw milk: There is a brand sold on the East Coast under the name Natural By Nature (organic) that uses a short-shelf pasturization rather than the typical ultra pasturization.

  14. Drinking raw milk is a choice and life is full of them, which also means it’s full of risks. We take a risk when we get in our car each day and drive to work. We take a risk by having sex with multiple partners. We take risks every day with the food we eat, the places we go, the people we talk to and share office space with.

    We are not invincible. Even though I drink raw milk, I will still admit that yes, there is a risk I could get sick. But I could also get sick from eating raw eggs, peanut butter, spinach, undercooked beef, kissing a man I just met or breathing the air of a sick coworker.

    But that’s what makes life worth living: all the risks and chances we take.

  15. Great article. I m a guy from Iowa that stumbled upon this site referencing raw milk and peoples opinions and i couldnt agree with you more .These are the kind of words that congress needs to hear from us.Nofundamental right? Thts enough to make every single american angry.What kind of greedy evil person would say that? Oh one from the government.We are already forced to eat gmos unknowingly most of the time.Eat oxidated gmo oils in processed foods not to mention poisioned produce.how about labeling all the pesticide residues on that apple?The greed has gone too far and needs to stop!

  16. This is my first visit to your blog but I will be returning. Although I would not drink a glass of raw milk I do agree with the point you are making. Be it raw milk, Bailouts, anti-obesity laws, entitlement spending; these are all ways to take from most of us to protect some of us from themselves. I would rather make my own choices and my own mistakes and will not willingly grant to men a restraint on my will that God Himself does not compel. If it turns out I’m on the road to perdition, I will be the one behind the wheel. This is the common American faith. We believe in ourselves, in each other, and in our separate pursuits of happiness.

    Deborah

  17. A victim-less crime!! How can selling raw milk be a crime when there is no victim?
    As for another comment I read on here suggesting that the government regulate the sale of raw milk…
    I sure as heck don’t want them messing with THAT, too! The government ruins everything they touch, and furthermore, there’s really no need to regulate the sale of raw milk. If you’re the consumer, buying straight from the farmer, it’s YOUR job to make sure that the way they milk is satisfactory. I’d like to note, too, that farmers who sell raw milk generally take more care in the way they farm. What incentive does a commercial dairy have to have clean, sanitary milking practices and healthy, happy cows? All of THEIR milk is shipped off to be sterilized!
    Here’s some more food for thought–95% of dairy farmers drink straight from their bulk tanks. That’s before it’s sent off to a creamery to be pasteurized. As THEM what they think about raw milk!!

  18. We are raw milk drinkers in a state where it is illegal to sell raw milk to anyone for any reason. I am blessed to have a friend with some very high producing cows and she simply gives us the milk. (Have I mentioned how blessed we are?!)

    I completely agree, however, that this has nothing to do with raw milk, McDonalds, or tree bark. It is incomprehensible to me that the government can dictate such seemingly random regulations. It’s not about health. Ever.

  19. I too am a Joel Salatin fan. We love raw milk and drive an hour each week to get it (to and from). I keep teasing my husband that we need a cow, but the Lord hasn’t lead us out of city living just yet, so I’ll keep dreaming. When that day comes, I can’t wait to make our own butter, cream, cheese and to drink the thick, sweet raw milk of our own Jersey. Thanks for posting this. Sounds like you’ve seen the movie Food Inc. lately! 🙂

    Best wishes!

    Kelli

  20. So this post is over 2 yo as I write this comment, but I wanted to say “thank you” to Katie for making the comment about raw milk helping her hypoglycemia. I have recently been diagnosed with both functional and reactive hypo, and wondering if raw milk would help keep my blood sugar levels stable, I googled “raw milk and hypoglycemia” and lo and behold, this article was on the first page of the Google results – thanks to Katie’s comment! 🙂

    Will probably have to up our weekly purchase to 3 gallons per week…

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