What’s the truth about raw milk, and is it really healthy for you?
It’s a question that’s being hotly debated not just among government officials and small farmers, but also among people who believe that human beings should only eat plant-based diets and those who still enjoy milk, meat, and similar foods.
At the end of the day, the anecdotal evidence is strong in favor of the healing potential of raw milk: after all, humans have been practicing animal husbandry for hundreds of years while surviving and even thriving off of milk directly from the cow.
Of course, there is a small health risk regarding raw milk that should be taken into account, but it’s far more healthy than the FDA and public perception says it is, and provides an undeniable boost of nutrition compared with pasteurized milk because its enzymes remain intact.
One thing’s for sure, however: raw milk has been under attack from government agencies for years, as evidence by the numerous raids that have been conducted against small farmers over the years.
And the latest one serves as a reminder that we may not be as truly free in this country as we believe we are, after all.
“It Makes Me Very Unhappy to Be an American”
On May 3, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture showed up on the doorstep of The Uptown Locavore, a private buyers club that connects farmers and club members, in an unannounced inspection that quickly turned into a raid, according to this report from the website Return to Now.
The Locavore is a farm store that sells fresh, raw milk as part of a private raw food buying club, but that right was taken away in a move that the store’s upper management is not happy about to say the least.
“I feel used, I feel abused, and I feel violated,”said founder Will Winter to the Weston A. Price Foundation, stating that he has the right under the constitution and the Minnesota state constitution to “sell and peddle the products of the farm” without licensing.
“It makes me very unhappy to be an American.”
Across the country, thousands of farmers sell everything from corn to strawberries to homemade apple pies on the side of the road without licenses, but Winter and his employees have been given the cold shoulder by the state of Minnesota for selling products their customers would be unable to find on store shelves otherwise.
Raw Food Items Seized Despite “Zero Complaints of Illness”
As noted in the article, all of the customers were said to be 100% aware of the risks of drinking the milk, and zero complaints of illness were made against the store’s products.
But every one of them was reportedly seized by the officials, and an “Unlicensed Business” notice was posted stating that “further operation of this business is a criminal act and subject to criminal complaint and/or arrest.”
It was the second raid against one of Winter’s clubs, with the first coming in 2010 during which three armed policemen and two city officials showed up at a club member’s door at 8 in the morning, ordering her and her children to go downstairs before searching the family refrigerator.
The pattern of repression has continued over the years, culminating in the last incident this May.
This time, the state said that the facility was selling raw food items without proper identification, as well as uninspected beef, and other items placed on store shelves at room temperature.
But Winter maintains that his facility and employees maintain strict quality control and safety standards.
“This is about control and preserving industrial Ag’s market share by denying freedom of choice,” said Pete Kennedy of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense fund about the most recent raid.
Is Raw Milk Really Safe to Drink?
According to statistics taken between 1993 and 2006 which many believe form the basis for today’s climate of oppression, there were 1,571 cases of foodborne illness associated with raw milk, out of 121 cases, including 202 hospitalizations and 2 deaths.
Another study undertaken between 2007 and 2012 showed 81 outbreaks, 979 illnesses and 0 deaths. In Minnesota prior to this particular raid, 22 people got sick including 2 children according to Gretchen Musicant, the Minnesota Health Commissioner.
But compared to the yearly total of deaths caused by all foods, the damage done by raw milk is minuscule.
The CDC estimates that about 3,000 people die each year from foodborne illnesses in the United States, with the health problems caused by a wide variety of foods ranging from eggs to shellfish, vegetables, eggs, sprouts and many others.
So, is there an extra risk to raw milk that we all need to be aware of, or are government officials simply exercising their right to control an industry that is cutting into the bottom line of pro-GMO businesses like Land O’ Lakes, which operates right in the co-op’s backyard?
That is of course up to the observer to decide, but one thing’s for sure: there’s something decidedly un-American about raiding people’s homes and places of business simply because of the types of food they sell as part of a private buying club.
It’s a fight that has continued for decades according to David E. Gumpert, author of the book ‘Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights.’
“If secretive government regulators are successful in their efforts to deprive consumers of unpasteurized dairy products, they will be emboldened to push us farther toward their vision of reliance on sterile factory food,” he says in the book.
For their part, Uptown Locavore says it plans to continue to fight the confiscation and shutting down of their club: a story well worth keeping an eye on in the coming months as food freedom continues to remain a hot topic.
Watch a news report of the incident by clicking below from Fox 9 in Minnesota:
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