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News for April 23, 2010

Read All About It—AWA Debuts Book and Film Reviews

In the changing agricultural landscape of the 21st century, Americans are rediscovering their connection to food and how it’s produced. In the process, they are also discovering a desire to hear the stories of the visionaries, farmers and ordinary people guiding how food is produced so that it better reflects our values and ideals.

The stories are out there—books and films that chronicle the people and events vital to ensuring safe, humane, nutritious food reaches every table. Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to be launching a new section of its website dedicated to finding and reviewing the books and films that inform, educate and inspire.

[ READ MORE ]

Raw milk bill passes state Assembly, heads to Doyle

The state Assembly early Friday morning passed 60-35 a controversial bill that would allow farmers to sell untreated milk at their farms.

The issue has struck a chord with many consumers and segments of the farm community who tout milk - straight from the udder - as a safe product with many healthful properties. The bill had already passed the Senate and now goes to Gov. Jim Doyle, who has said he would sign a raw milk bill under the right circumstances.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau), said the bill would help small farmers make a better living.

"What we’re trying to do is bring an industry that has been operating in the dark into the light," said Danou, who celebrated the vote afterward with – what else – a tall mug of what he said was legally obtained raw milk.

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Where Granola and Tea Partiers Meet

I read USA Today whenever I’m in a hotel, and was pleased to see a major piece on, of all things, the debate and craze over raw milk. This is milk that has not been pasteurized, which is a heating process that kills dangerous pathogens (if any are around), but also, according to fans of raw milk, degrades certain nutritional benefits. So, in defiance of the advice of all the official scientific and medical groups, they go to great lengths to get raw milk, which is actually illegal in most states except for limited personal use. There is now a website designed to provide a reasonably balanced approach to the debate.

I have no opinion on this subject. What I do know is that raw milk enthusiasm, like other “crunchy con” issues, defies a lot of simplistic social analysis. To the casual observer, this looks like a typical lefty, granola, anti-business cause. But, as it happens, there are lots of people on the “left” and “right” who are into raw milk. I know this from direct experience, perhaps because I live in Seattle and interact with not only your typical lefties, but also, say, ultraconservative homeschooling Catholics with a fondness for organic food. Any really serious analysis of American society somehow has to accommodate this dimension. I grappled with it a bit in chapter seven of Money, Greed, and God, but I felt like I barely scratched the surface.

[ READ MORE ]

Raw milk: Personal decision or public danger?

Most of the milk from the dairy cows on South Pork Ranch ends up pasteurized — heat-treated to reduce the chance that the people who drink it will get sick.

But every month, 300 gallons of the milk are sold raw, much of it to about five dozen regular customers who arrive at the central Illinois farm toting their own containers to tap the creamy drink from a squat, stainless-steel vat in a room next to the milking stalls.

That choice has put the farm's owners, Keith Parrish and Donna O'Shaughnessy, at the center of a particularly American food fight between passionate defenders of personal choice and health officials who warn that drinking farm-fresh milk can be life-threatening.

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Feds invade farm for 5 a.m. inspection

Federal agents invaded an Amish farm in Pennsylvania at 5 a.m. to inspect cow-milking facilities then followed up the next day with a written notice that the farmer was engaged in interstate sale of raw milk in violation of the Public Health Services Act.

A failure to correct the situation could result in "seizure and/or injunction," the warning letter from Kirk Sooter, district director of the Philadelphia office of the Department of Health and Human Services, told farmer Dan Allgyer of Kinzers, Pa., on Wednesday.

The farm invaded Tuesday is the one agents visited in February, driving past "Private Property" signs to demand Allgyer open his property for their inspection, saying, "You have cows. You produce food for human consumption."

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