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News for April 3, 2010

Raw Milk Debate Information Page

Raw Milk is in the news again because of recent (March 26, 2010) illnesses reported in Michigan. This page is to help provide you with information, news, and opinion about raw milk.

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Raw milk fans undeterred

MIDDLEBURY -- Raw milk isn't pasteurized or homogenized. About the only thing done to it is refrigeration.

Health officials view that as a public health hazard. People who drink the milk, though, view it as a blessing, something far better than what they view as the overprocessed liquid that shows up in grocery stores.

That's why even though various state health departments claimed a link between bacteria and milk from Forest Grove Dairy outside Middlebury, members of a cow cooperative are still drinking the dairy's milk.

Kyra Miller said of the milk in stores, "I would not call it a God-given food."

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It's a free country, isn't it?

When I was young, the rejoinder "it's a free country" was used frequently. "Mind if I sit down?" - It's a free country. "That will make you sick" - It's a free country. I don't hear that phrase nowadays. Perhaps that's because the country, and Wisconsin, are not so free.

Take raw milk. Current Wisconsin law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized raw milk to consumers, and the state has been stepping up enforcement actions against farmers they believe are selling it.

But many people passionately believe that raw milk is healthier than pasteurized milk. They argue, convincingly, that pasteurization and homogenization kill beneficial bacteria and enzymes in raw cow's milk. They also argue, quite correctly in my view, that if they want to purchase and drink raw milk, the state has no business telling them not to. After all, it's a free country, isn't it?

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Farmer hopes to sidestep raw-milk law with warning label

Chilliwack's Home on the Range Farm is continuing to distribute unpasteurized milk to its members although the Supreme Court of B.C. has granted an injunction to stop the practice sought by the Fraser Health Authority.

The cow-share cooperative run by dairy farmer Alice Jongerdon hopes to sidestep the ruling by labelling its milk "Not for Human Consumption."

"We still have the same private agreement with our share members and that private agreement states that I will take care of their cows and get their milk ready for pickup," said Jongerdon. "It's their property and what they do with their property is not up to me."

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Senate food safety bill doesn’t fit small producers

As part of its mission, the Good Earth Market purchases hundreds of locally grown or produced products from 81 individual producers/growers. Each of these growers or producers is a small family farm or business. Their products are fresh from the fields or minimally processed, if processed at all. Whether they grow produce, raise livestock or make jam and jelly, their businesses are small by every comparison, small enough that they personally know their customers or retailers on a first-name basis.

Unfortunately, well-intended legislation threatens these small farmers, food processors, and the Good Earth’s ability to serve its members, customers, and the Billings community. The worthy goal of the Food Safety Modernization Action, S. 510, is to prevent food-borne illnesses such as E. coli and salmonella. The bill, however, applies a “one size fits all” to food safety and does not recognize the differences between mega-farms and small farms. S. 510 would place fees and burdensome and costly regulations on small, direct market farmers and small food processors.

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