Raw Milk Action Alert

In my opinion, the less food is processed the healthier it is. While I’m not afraid of the fat in butter or whole milk, I am terrified of 100-calorie snack packs.  Perhaps one of the most processed foods most Americans consume in abundance every day is pasturized and homogenized milk.  From a young age we are promised that dairy consumption protects our bones.  But, as a country we consume more milk than anyone else, yet we have the highest incidence of osteoporosis in the world.  Something just doesn’t add up…

For the most part, my family doesn’t drink much milk; we probably drink half a gallon a month.  Mack is the only one who sorta likes it, so he’ll have a small glass every now and then.  However, we do buy a gallon of raw milk from our co-op every month for homemade yogurt and soups (here are some fun ways we enjoy raw milk).  Unlike its supermarket counterparts, raw milk hasn’t been subjected to high temperatures and it can’t sit in the fridge for months.

Unfortunately, here in Illinois legislation severely limiting consumer access to raw milk is slowly working its way through the state.  The proposed law would prohibit dairy farmers from selling more than 100 gallons of unpasturized milk per month.  For many dairy farms servicing families all over this state, this law would be devastating.

Even if you don’t drink raw milk, legislation like this is dangerous. I don’t think a state should arbitrarily set a limit on the quantity of fresh food a farmer can produce.  Fresh spinach and cantaloupe sicken people every year, but there’s no limit on how much produce (factory) farms can grow.  In my opinion, a law like this gives too much power to a state that already functions on corruption and shady politics.  Raw milk today – but what natural food might be legislated tomorrow??

The worst part is that this legislation will take away options from informed consumers.  No one at our co-op stumbles onto raw milk.  Finding a raw milk source requires time and research, during which you will learn about the potential hazards (and many benefits) of milk in its pure state.  While the FDA points out that “raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family,” here in Illinois there have been no cases of foodborne illness from raw milk since at least 1999.  Drinking raw milk carries some risk, but so does smoking and cigarettes are perfectly legal.

If limiting the role of small family farmers sounds wrong to you, please take a moment to politely share your opinion with Molly Jo Lamb, the division chief of the Illinois Department of Public Health.  Molly.Lamb@illinois.gov

Support the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, an organization that defends the rights of sustainable family farms and artisan food producers to make their products available to consumers in a manner that protects, preserves and enhances the environment and its natural resources http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/

Thanks to Anji Sandage from the Facebook Raw Milk page https://www.facebook.com/FindRawMilk for sharing her painting above.  It captures this movement perfectly!

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6 Comments for this entry

  1. Amanda says:

    While I agree with your sentiment about processed food, I don’t think milk is really in the same category (and definitely not worse). Fat is skimmed off and homogenized back in which just a way of dispersing the fat droplets with pressure to keep the fat from separating back out. And then it’s heated pasteurization. I don’t know… it’s not that scary… I’d take that over most meat processing.

    My husband grew on dairy and drank raw milk his whole life. He also works with a lot of dairy producers through his job now. He is vehemently against raw milk. He sees a lot of dairy farmers that sell raw milk that have bad hygiene practices. My FIL was visiting this weekend and we happened to have another raw milk discussion and he agreed with my husband. The only reason he ever fed his kids raw milk was because it came from his own cows, he would never trust anyone else. He’s been around, seen a lot of dairy farms, you couldn’t pay him to drink raw milk from someone else.

    I do think that raw milk should be available and that choice should exist, but I would be very weary of feeding it to my children. And as for some magical health benefit tied to raw milk, it doesn’t seem to have had any magical effect on my husband or BIL, they both have allergies, cholesterol and weight issues… pretty average americans really. I do always try to by my milk from our local dairy coop. Dairy farming is a hard life and it’s good to support local farmers and it’s comforting to know exactly where my milk is coming from… opposed to some gigantic “organic” dairy farm in the middle of the desert producing their milk with grain fed cows and then ultra-pasteurizing it. That’s just my 2 cents.

    • Maureen says:

      Thanks, Amanda! We do not drink raw milk (even though I completely trust our co-op), but to think that the state can so severely restrict it really irks me.

  2. Antonella says:

    Hi Maureen,
    I am from Chicago (probably neighbors – in LP) and I was hoping to start buying from a co-op. Would you please share the name of yours? Thanks

  3. Yelena says:

    Hi Maureen, I was wondering if you have suggestions for milk substitutes for toddlers…My daughter is a little over one and I recently switched her from breast milk to dairy. we live abroad with no access to raw milk…we are sticking to organic milk and yogurt, but I would like to decrease her dairy consumption without compromising the calcium and other nutrients. Thanks!

    • Maureen says:

      Hi Yelena,
      My kids don’t drink a lot of milk, but they love cheese and (homemade) yogurt.

      Some kids like fortified nut and coconut milks, but mine aren’t crazy about them. I do use fortified almond milk in our morning smoothies, which are one of their favorite breakfasts. I will freeze left over smoothie in popsicle molds so they enjoy a healthy, calcium-rich snack later in the day.

      Take care!

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