News for July 20, 2010
The War Over Raw Milk: A Battle Heats Up
In the holy war over raw milk, the lives of our children are at stake, or so the faithful on either side of the battlefield assert. And, if you had been at the Rawesome food buying club on June 30, when Los Angeles police officers, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Food & Drug Administration and at least one Canadian agency knocked on the door, guns drawn, you might believe the war was more literal than figurative. As one Rawesome member said, "Why do you need guns?" when the enemy is, as far as anyone can tell, millions of microbes too small for the human eye to see, and surely, for the man-made bullet to destroy.
The FDA has long banned interstate sales of raw milk, and many states restrict or prohibit the sale of raw milk entirely. Raw milk drinkers and would-be sellers, who had previously purchased raw dairy products through legal loopholes began fighting back in early 2010, filing suit against the FDA claiming that banning interstate sales is unconstitutional. The FDA responded in late April, insisting that "plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish." The case is now pending while the crackdowns continue.
[ READ MORE (DailyFinance) ]
The Despicable Reason Behind Raw Milk Bans
Government, public health and dairy industry officials want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw milk, citing safety concerns. But small dairy farmers, organic consumers' advocates and raw milk drinkers say that safety isn't the real issue -- it's control of the dairy market.
In January, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) proposed new regulations that would ban off-the-farm sale and distribution of raw milk. Prior to making the regulations public, MDAR issued cease-and-desist orders to four milk-buying clubs.
[ READ MORE (Mercola) ]
Is Raw Milk Really Dangerous?
The best thing about Deborah Blum's attempted takedown of raw milk in Slate today is how she describes the quasi-religious attitudes found among enthusiasts for a product that is unadulterated except when it's adulterated with potentially deadly bacteria. Such attitudes are present among enthusiasts of all manner of supposedly "pure," unprocessed, or locally grown foods—but raw milk seems to attract the nuttier ones.
It's really just another venue for what seems like an alarming trend toward anti-intellectualism. Confront some people with facts that counter their beliefs, and they hold even tighter to those beliefs. This is the kind of thing that brings us "birthers" and "truthers" and makes national heroes out of people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.
[ READ MORE (Slate) ]
Farmers making move to organics
Organic food has become more popular over the years, as concerns have grown over health problems and their possible relation to chemicals, fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides.
In the last decade, local farmers have started to get on board with the idea of organics, with varying degrees of success.
[ READ MORE (Sturgis Journal) ]
What do 88% of (raw milk drinking) dairy farmers know, that we don’t?
Recent Court decisions in Ontario and B. C. have done little to resolve the raw milk debate.
In January, an Ontario judge dismissed all 19 charges against Michael Schmidt, upholding the legality of his cow-share operation, which provides raw milk to members. Justice Paul Kowarsky ruled that, because Schmidt isn’t marketing the milk to the general public, he isn’t contravening the provincial Milk Act or Health Protection and Promotion Act.
[ READ MORE (The Bovine) ]
Quinn signs laws promoting local food
At the state's longest-running farmers market on Saturday, Gov. Pat Quinn authorized legislation aimed at making it easier for schools and low-income consumers to obtain locally-grown food.
The Farm-to-School database will create an electronic database on the state Department of Agriculture Web site that allows schools and local farmers to connect on the purchase of fresh produce. The Farmers' Market Technology Improvement Act makes it easier for sellers at the markets to accept Link cards, state-issued debit cards for food stamp recipients.
[ READ MORE (Chicago Tribune) ]
As E. coli concerns mount, produce finds itself in crosshairs
A spring foodborne illness outbreak linked to a previously obscure strain of E. coli bacteria highlights an era of heightened public scrutiny and safety regulation for produce growers, industry observers say.
The nation’s produce industry is in the crosshairs of the public health surveillance system following recent E. coli outbreaks, said Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety, which has published more than 50 E. coli reports over the past seven years.
[ READ MORE (The Packer) ]