An article in the current issue of ACRES U.S.A called “The Right To Raw Milk: Consumers Fuel Legal Challenges to FDA Attacks” holds some information that media reports are not bringing out. With each outbreak of contamination government regulations are tightened and consumers lose more options to buy direct.
Mark McAfee has been in the national limelight for supporting production and sale of raw milk, publicly a product criticized for being a health threat. Mr. McAfee has a 600 acre family farm and in 1998 he was awarded “Best of the West” for his work in food safety and organic innovations. In 2000 a dairy was brought up with a Grade A mobile milk barn which takes the milking area to the cows, rather than bringing the cows to a barn as has been done for years.
The points are staggering and something most don’t think about in comparison and proportion. “You have 200,000 people a year dying from medications that are approved by the FDA – these are due to errors made by doctors and people who prescribe medications…In addition 100,000 or more people are dying each year from infections they contract in the hospital” – infections contracted AT the hospital. “You have things such as e. coli 0157, which is not surfacing in a variant that can’t be killed by modern medicine – and if you DO try to kill it with a modern medicine such as antibiotics, it releases its shigella toxin, which is extremely lethal.”
The fact is things like paratuberculosis lives through pasteurization – long upheld as the way to treat dairy products to make them safe! There have been outbreaks from pasteurized milk, and yet still many blame raw milk as an evil source of infection. McAfee noted “there are many, many different kinds of e. coli. Ninety five percent of them are all beneficial. Without them you wouldn’t have vitamin K, you wouldn’t have vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12. E. coli is essential to life on earth and is an indispensable group of organism in your intestines. If we start getting rid of those organisms, we also get rid of natural colicin, naturally occuring antibiotic-like sustances which inhibit the pathogenic forms of e. coli, such as the 0157:H7 strain.”
Read that again! 95% of e.coli is needed to sustain life!! The small percentage that is harmful cannot be killed by medicine – but CAN be affected by raw milk. Cattle get a bad rap but now in California there are moves to eliminate wildlife belts because birds produce manure. This spins so rediculously out of control it’s not even funny. How are farmers supposed to construct something to keep food sterile AND keep food costs low? Good soil is not sterile – it’s a living community! The good outweighs the bad, and usually does until we try to, in the name of progress or economics, make it “better”.
“Cows produce e. coli in their manure all the time, but those are the GOOD strains of e. coli. Now, you create an unhealthy cow that’s producing a lot of bad strains – such as 0157:H7 – if you give her a lot of grain feed and never grass feed her and put her in a big feedlot.” In one study over one in five cows in the big confinement dairies – 23% – were shedding the e. coli 0157:H7. That is scientific fact. Many dairies and feedlots are near large expanses of crop farms.
Some years ago I looked at the laws of selling goats milk raw – in California that was possible only as pet milk because of cited fears of disease in the milk. This fear was increased because of hand milking rather than having a system which milked automatically and pumped the milk directly into a tank, as required in most states for Grade A human consumption milk. Fact – when tested in a USDA test the salomenella and other ‘contaminants’ was MUCH lower than was *acceptable* from USDA terms for machine milked animals – in other words, the milk I was producing, raw and in the bucket, was cleaner than what is being shipped to the stores!! Despite the cleanliness of the milk and the fact I used it without any incident it could not be sold or given to someone else to drink themselves because I milked by hand.
It seems whenever someone gets sick raw milk takes the blame if it’s been consumed. Several sickened with e. coli 0157:H7 had, in reality also had spinach that was contaminated. In the case of a family in Oklahoma McAfee noted “four of the five children had the spinach smoothie. The fifth child did not have the spinach smoothie and didn’t get sick. They ALL drank raw milk, all the time, but the only child that got really, really sick was the one who went to the hospital and got the antibiotics. This is a really important part of the story, by the way, you need to get this out – if a child has e. coli 0157:H7, DO NOT GIVE ANTIBIOTICS. It can be a death sentence…what it does is it kills off all the good e.coli and you’re left with only the bad strains and the toxins they emit just tear up your kidneys.”
The California Department of Food and Agriculture announced to the world in a press release that McAfee’s products were under recall quarantine and had made four kids sick. There was no link between his products and the kids – but as a “name” it became a case of – as with other government ploys – eliminating the competition. Who will the public believe – the accused or authorities supposed to be insuring their safety? Consumers – keep in mind this small dairy supplies 50,000 people per week with raw milk – rebelled in anger, calling representatives – and the state changed their status. The two weeks cost the family farm close to a quarter of a million dollars…without having proved ANYTHING was wrong with the milk. The family made cheese…the milk was tested and it tested fine.
McAfee talked of the hundreds rallying at the farm and for the media. “The people who did make it were passionate, and the consumers got to talk to the media and tell them about their asthma or osteoporosis or Crohn’s disease going away. Crohn’s, by the way, is RESOLVED by raw milk – the pathogen is actually invigorated by pasteurization of milk.”
A few websites to check out – www.realmilk.com, www.westonprice.com, or www.mercola.com, and other websites that list literally 50 different illnesses that are directly, naturally, and positively effected by consuming raw milk.
There are producers having to sell clean, whole milk as “pet milk” due to restrictions by the state departments, even though it is cleaner than what the same state departments allow to be sold on store shelves! Some consumers have entered into agreements by purchasing a share in a dairy animal, usually a cow. They own the cow and take their milk – paying someone to care for and milk her much like boarding a horse. The cows are owned by shareholders and they simply take possession of their own milk – states have actually taken animals and equipment as well as harassed farmers for this practice. In effect, it denies people access to their own property (the milk) for having done nothing wrong.
McAfee noted “There’s another thing going on – the technology to verify and test pathogens is becoming very inexpensive and extremely rapid. So the ability not only to feed the cows on green grass but also to verify and test their milk is becoming excellent.”
The press including some here on AC still repeats raw milk is bad – despite much proof otherwise. Consumers must preserve their right to purchase raw products direct from the producer. One can only look at industries that have gotten “bigger and better” and more “modern and productive” to see the short term gain isn’t everything. There is NO WAY for government to absolutely insure your safety for food on your table. YOU can make a choice to buy it however.
Thirty years ago hog farms in many parts of the country ran thousands of hogs on pasture, with hog houses dotting rural landscapes. Hogs were raised in the stubble of corn fields and there was no “contamination” of lagoons of manures breaking and damaging local water supplies because there were no lagoons. It was said to be more efficient, lower costs, less labor to bring pigs inside and raise on particular diets…then that became the wave of the future. Today massive farms raise thousands of pigs which have massive manure lagoons. The production is in the hands of a handful of big companies. Look at the price of pork – which has done nothing but go up. So now we have megafarms that the corporate people usually don’t live at – and the small farmer with pigs to sell is viewed as not a good thing in many cases. Do you want to contribute to major pollution factors and questionable practices – or done where it isn’t a problem?
That can be said of beef cattle too as well as dairies. The cow in a herd of 5,000 is a vastly different animal, selected for efficiency in that specific environment, than the cow able to go out and produce a good yield of clean milk on pasture. Manure spread around on the land is not a contaminate! It provides vitamins and minerals to the soil and enriches the soil to feed that living environment beneath our feet, which in turn nourishes the grass or crops grown there which comes back to our food table.
So many bemoan food doesn’t taste like it used to – it doesn’t because it’s not GROWN and produced like it used to be! I issue a challenge to every reader – vote with your fork. Somewhere around your home grow one thing this year that you can eat. Compare, honestly, that product to the store – in price and in taste. Put a few pepper plants in containers on the deck, or grow a few tomato plants or some herbs. If you have a small flower box put some loose lettuce in it. Clip, rinse and have a truly FRESH salad! Research it and make the comparison. In many cases it is vastly different and once you taste the real, fresh food going back is a tough thing to do.
There are other points too. Over the years I’ve had many species of livestock and sold or bartered farm products. For a while I was selling eggs – and a customer came to pick up her eggs and commented in delight that she’d ‘lost’ one dozen from last time in the back of the fridge – three weeks had gone by and when they were pulled to the front to her surprise they were still fresher and better tasting to her than those she’d previously gotten from the store. The difference – the eggs she was getting had been laid the morning she got them! They were collected, brought in, gently rinsed and put in the fridge where she picked them up a couple hours later. Contrast that to farms which pick up eggs maybe twice a day – the truck might come the next day to pick them up where they’re processed then shipped to the supermarket – they might be a week old then. The eggs from my birds had bright yellow yolks that “sat up” in the frying pan. The birds were out during the day foraging for grains the larger livestock dropped, bugs, weed seeds and the various things unseen to the human eye that chickens peck at as well as the layer feed and cracked grains to get them to come in at night as predator protection.
Many years ago in Washington state I worked on one of the corporate dairies. There were 1,000 cows milked three times a day. The herd was divided in to five pens – pen 1 was the highest producing pen, typically cows from a few days after calving until about 60 days ‘fresh’, after which they’d be moved through the pens until pen 4, which were the cows late in their lactation, many which were “dried off” to give them a 60 day rest before having their calves. These cows went to the “dry pen” then the “close ups” (within a month of calving) and were not counted as part of the milking herd. The fifth milking pen was the “sick pen” – this pen had a mix of cows that had been treated for something and perhaps had antibiotics in their system, or cows the first few days after calving that were producing colostrum instead of milk. Colostrum was collected and fed to the new calves – it’s a thick, sticky milk intended to provide calves with immunity from illnesses. Also in this pen were cows with mastitis, an udder infection, that had been treated – cows in the sick pen, as a whole, their milk did NOT enter the food chain because of the medication withdrawal times and other factors. There was one morning I arrived to find cows I knew were “sick pen” cows in the regular herd – apparently during the night a gate came open and the herd was mixed with the regular cows – several had passed through the parlor before it was found. The bulk tank was tested and “didn’t show anything” – with 40 cows milk diluted in over 900 others it doesn’t show the concentration but it didn’t mean the medications and all weren’t in there. I was appalled but as a 20something farm worker I knew no one would believe me and found that to be true. To this day I refuse to buy Dairygold products (where the farm sold to) and it was the beginning of a long held belief that quantity is not better.
“Old time” farmers care about their animals – the animals literally provide their living and it’s in their best interest to take care of them. They would not think of damaging their reputation by in any way contaminating their product, which they consumed as well as sold. I hear people working at processing plants saying they wouldn’t eat (whatever product) and I think well why should the public?
There are so many convenience foods – we’re a nation of convenience. There’s little frozen bags you can stick in your crockpot and have a meal. The funny thing is – if you take a hunk of frozen meat, some peeled or chunked vegetables or whatever – it’s the SAME THING! You aren’t saving that much time – if it cooks for six hours on low it doesn’t matter whether it came out of a handy dandy little bag or you put it together yourself.
The guise of the government will protect us isnt’ real…they will protect who finances them and that is mega corporations with money. Court cases between small farmers whose crops were tainted with Montsanto GM seed have been ruled in favor of the corporations no matter the cost to the individual. A company like Smithfield with thousands of pigs or chickens holds a great deal more financial weight than the 10 little guys in “Nowhere USA” – no one even sees them!
Look at several factors – research your food! RESEARCH IT! People spend days – weeks – months – researching to buy a computer or a new car and yet that which sustains LIFE – their FOOD – they take whatever is handed to them by marketing people. If mixes are more convenient, get some storage containers and make up your mixes a month at a time…label them and you’re still eating convenient but YOU are doing the “processing”. Don’t look on research solely by government groups. Keep in mind that many times what is known for fact is there but buried.
Mr McAfee pointed out in Acres USA “The FDA knows about it, all right. They also know that hand cleaners are causing problems with cleanser-resistant bacteria. They know that. Their own publications are saying ‘stop killing bacteria because they’re becoming resistant.’ So the smarter of them understand this whole probiotic versus antibiotic thing and know that we’re already in a car wreck heading toward a worse car wreck with the whole hospitalization issue and the sterilization issue and all that stuff” including sterilized food. Look at tv and print ads and on the shelves how many products push killing bacteria – and keep in mind these super bacteria forming that are resistant.
Every consumer must decide and CHOOSE – not settle for what is available and what marketing people tell you that you need. Thousands, perhaps millions, of homes do not use products that sterilize every surface in the home – and the people are, not surprisingly, often healthier. A recent discussion of growing up in the ’50s and ’60s kids would eat mud pies they made in the yard and other nasty things – however did we survive?! It surely wasn’t sterile and we didn’t have handcleaners in our pockets and our moms didn’t run around spraying the counters in fear of germs.
Think about it, research, take the challenge and really make a decision as a consumer about your food supply. If you don’t want to buy raw milk or local eggs that is your right but consider someone that does want to and their rights to do so.