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Bizarre fuss in Missouri over raw milk

Show Me the Milk!

By Jenny Thompson | The Health Sciences Institute

Advocates of raw milk owe Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster a big Thank You.

Mr. Koster has probably done more than anyone in recent memory to draw attention to the healthy advantages of consuming raw milk instead of homogenized and pasteurized milk.

But Mr. Koster isn’t some health nut bent on winning over his Show Me State constituents to the nutritious benefits of unprocessed, whole foods. In fact, just the opposite. Mr. Koster recently brought a lawsuit against a Missouri family farm, claiming they broke a law that curbs raw milk distribution.

Funny story…

Months ago, in April 2009, two daughters from the Bechard family farm became victims of a sting operation. They were distributing raw milk in a parking lot in front of Mama Jean’s Natural Market in Springfield. They weren’t actually selling anything. They were simply there to fill orders for customers who had pre-ordered gallons of raw milk.

On two different days in April, undercover inspectors from the county health department approached the young women and asked them if there was any extra milk for purchase. In each case, a couple of gallons were available because customers hadn’t shown up. So the girls sold the milk to the inspectors.

Seven months later, Mr. Koster filed a lawsuit to prevent the Bechards from distributing milk.

Now, you might get the impression that Missouri has some pretty tough laws prohibiting raw milk sales.

Actually…no.

Missouri dairy farmers are allowed to sell raw milk on their farms. And they’re allowed to deliver it to customers. They’re even allowed to set up a distribution point in a parking lot to deliver pre-paid orders of raw milk to customers.

What they’re NOT allowed to do in that parking lot is sell milk to walk-up customers.

So in the annals of crime, the Springfield Health Department action was a little like running a sting operation on a lemonade stand. And the lawsuit just looks silly. As you might suspect, it has a lot of Missourians baffled and wondering: Is this really the best use of state resources?

Putting on the spotlight

It’s a shame the Bechard family has to go through all this foolishness. They’re fighting it tooth and nail and will probably win out in the end. As an editorial in the Springfield News-Leader accurately put it, the whole situation would be “better handled through a conversation than a courtroom.”

But two good things have already come of this controversy: 1) The Bechards are getting plenty of free publicity for their farm store: bechardfarm.com, and 2) this case probably has a lot of people asking for the first time: What the heck is raw milk?

Excellent question.

Milk that’s genuinely raw is cooled and bottled. That’s the entire process. Ideally, the cows that give that milk have fed on fresh grass that’s organically grown. So no traces of pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers end up in the milk.

What IS in the milk is conjugated linoleic acid. As I’ve mentioned before, CLA is an essential fatty acid that’s been shown to help reduce abdominal fat and boost the immune system while lowering insulin resistance and triglyceride levels. Organic raw milk contains FIVE TIMES more CLA than commercial milk.

Meanwhile, pasteurized and homogenized commercial milk comes from cows raised mostly on factory farms. So start with the feed: It’s generally grains, not grass, so there goes the CLA and other nutrients. Factory farm cows are often given hormones to unnaturally hype up milk production. This creates health problems for the cows. The treatment: antibiotics.

I’d much rather buy my milk in a parking lot.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson

Sources:

“Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster Sues Family for Distributing Raw Milk” Chad Livengood, News-Leader, 11/29/09, news-leader.com
“Going After Family Sends Wrong Message” Editorial, News-Leader, 12/6/09, news-leader.com

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