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Freedom Milk

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Freedom Milk

Image: Food and Freedom Rally in D.C., 5/16/2011 (James Buck/The Washington Post)

Food is never really just about food. The need to sustain our bodies and the enjoyment that many of us find in sharing a good meal with loved ones, have never been so loaded with significance as they are nowadays. Simply put, how we go about fueling and refueling our personal machine daily, whether compelled by necessity or pleasure (or both), speaks tons about our vision of the world and about our values. And this is true whether we’re aware of it or not.

Take milk, for instance. The most basic, simple, primal even, food made available to us by Nature. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or are lucky enough to consume milk straight from your own cow or your neighbor’s, you’ve undoubtedly been confronted over the past few years with various concerns and questions about what to pick from the dairy refrigerated aisle, and probably have done your research too. Organic or not? Cow or goat? Does local matter? And the most contentious one of all: raw or pasteurized?

Milk (as a poster child for all foods, really) has become altogether an environmental issue, a private health issue, a public health issue even, not to forget an economic and a social justice issue.

Last but not least, it has become a political issue in America (and elsewhere, if the “criminal” sales of raw milk behind closed doors in Canada are any indication). One that involves governmental control v. citizens’ freedom to choose. In that respect, milk has become a tangible, straightforward militant vehicle to confront the most troubling trend raised ten years ago by the U.S. Patriot Act and the establishment of Homeland Security: the unmistakable encroaching by the Federal government on civil liberties.

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Laetitia Mailhes

Laetitia Mailhes is a French-born journalist. After many years as the technology and innovation correspondent of the French "Financial Times" in San Francisco, she decided to focus on what truly matters to her: sustainable food and farming. Find more articles and videos on her blog, The Green Plate Blog.

44 comments

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10:51PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

I had no idea raw milk was illegal in some states...that is so absolutely ridiculous! I can make a quick trip to the store to buy all the raw organic milk I please. I've tried it, and raw butter too, yum!

8:47PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

thanks for your article but, no cow milk for me, soy or rice milk taste better and nobody cries!

12:23AM PDT on May 24, 2011

Thanks for sharing.

2:40PM PDT on May 22, 2011

Thank you

2:16AM PDT on May 21, 2011

milk consist of many vitamins
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webdesign

12:49PM PDT on May 20, 2011

Thank you, Nicole.

James, have you ever been to a diary farm that provides raw milk? Have you ever been to a daily farm that doesn't? If no, how would you know?
Even without all of that, consider this: 65 years ago (prior to pasteurization being a law in the US), people drank raw milk every day. They didn't have the allergies that we suffer from now. They didn't have to deal with "superbugs" that are resistant to heat and antibacterials that we have now. Could that be because we've sterilized everything so much that we are no longer subject to regular disease, but "supersize" diseases? We need to get back to introducing the good bugs into our systems so that we can fight off these things. Raw milk, from cows that have been fed species appropriate food and not given high doses of antibacterials, has lots of good bugs that actually help us fight off the bad bugs. I prefer to be healthy enough to be able to fight off viruses and bad bacteria than to just hide and avoid it all. I want to have that choice.

9:28AM PDT on May 20, 2011

James, can you please explain how raw milk gives people TB? It is my understanding that Turberculosis primarily infects people through inhalation of the bacteria. Most cows raised properly for raw milk production have a very low incidence of harmful bacteria and farmers test their milk and cows regularly for illness and bacterial infection.

Pasturization of milk only became an issue when factory farms stopped caring about the health of their cows and allowed them and their milk to become infected as well as allowing contamination with feces and puss.

12:45PM PDT on May 19, 2011

Good Grief ! Raw milk is Illegal, because YOU and I can get
Tuberculosis from Raw Milk. It's A Good Law, and just because TB is not an issue anymore, doesn't mean that we
can forget about it. The only way we can Keep TB Away Forever Is To Never Allow Raw Milk Anymore. Period.

12:15PM PDT on May 19, 2011

i agree with other comments on how the government allows for all sorts of harmful substances to be sprayed on foods and yet something as harmless as raw milk is declared illegal...its a joke, really. people should have the choice to drink/eat whatever they want. there are a lot more dangerous/unhealthy foods or food additives that the government should be putting their focus on, instead of something so harmless as raw milk.
HOWEVER i myself am not a huge milk drinker (it makes be bloated!), the only dairy i eat is cheese occasionally...but maybe raw milk would be better...who knows!!

10:29AM PDT on May 19, 2011

In response to the question posed by Vasu M.
"Nicole D. concludes:

"And while I'm not a proponant of milk I don't think this is the right place to voice your opinions against it. This is a story about people's right to choose what they eat. Whether you agree with it or not."

Does this mean cannibalism is okay?"

I think you're taking this WAY WAY WAY out of context. I do think a government of humans for humans should dictate that one human cannot kill another human (I am against capital punishment if you'd like to stretch the conversation in that direction). I do not think our government should limit what we put into our mouths. You can eat plastic and and elephant dung for all I care and the government has no business to tell you you can't. Heck, eat horses and squirrels if that suites you too. Now it gets shady in the area of endangered animals. I think for the sake of keeping biodiversity the government needs to control the killing and eating an endangered species (i.e. not allow it) though honestly that's off topic too.

My original statement comes down to this: If people want to drink milk, be it pasturized or unpasturized, cow, goat, elephant, or human, that's they're choice. The government can regulate it but they shouldn't ban it all together.
And I support your right to try to convince them not to drink milk at all.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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