Raw Milk on NPR: a Riposte
Lauren Ayers, until recently co-leader of the Sonoma County chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation, wrote this delicious response to the recent NPR blog post Why Some States Want to Legalize Raw Milk Sales. In this day and age, there is no excuse for inadequate research. Lauren sets a few things straight, adding an aside to us: "Of course, a big inspiration has been WAPF. If the reporter had contacted even one chapter leader or called the national office, she would have had much better content." Touché. Dear Ms. Wendle, There have been a lot of movements that aroused tremendous righteous indignation when they began, only to be broadly accepted some years (or decades, or centuries) later. All these started small: ending slavery, women’s rights, banning DDT and asbestos, ending Jim Crow, getting the lead out of gasoline and paint, reducing tobacco use, gay rights, legalizing pot for very ill people. Pause a moment to recall how people justified their fierce opposition to these movements, and how misguided they appear to us now. That’s why NPR ought to stifle the temptation to belittle raw milk adherents for their “fierce resistance,” “despite the health warnings,” because 3% of the population regularly drink raw milk (2007 survey by CDC). The explanations that convinced me to drink raw milk were nowhere to be found in your article. Bacteria levels are much lower than standard requirements in raw milk if the cows are outside eating grass much of the year and if the dairy has good cleanliness practices. Healthful milk enzymes aren’t ruined by heat. The fat globules aren’t broken by homogenization, and there is a higher vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K2 content. That’s why, despite the higher cost and the inconvenience of acquiring it, I’ll keep on drinking raw milk. The Untold Story of Milk, Green Pastures, Contented Cows and Raw Dairy Products explains why so many people want this food. See also the Weston A Price Foundation's Rebuttal to FDA Position on Raw Milk for plenty of well-researched info. Most of the 10,000 years that humans have milked livestock, the milk we drank was raw. Somehow Death by Milk wasn’t a big threat. Then, in the 1870s, pasteurization was a necessity to cope with dairies adjoining city breweries where cows were fed swill from beer fermentation, which led to sick cows, which led to high bacteria count. The milk I drink has no such provenance!
“According to the CSPI report above, approximately 5,000 people are killed every year by foodborne illness. From 2009 - 2011, three high profile outbreaks involving peanuts, eggs and cantaloupe alone accounted for 2,729 illnesses and 39 deaths. Yet there have only been a handful of deaths from pasteurized dairy products in the last decade, and there hasn’t been a single death attributed to raw fluid milk since the mid-1980s, in spite of the fact that almost 10 million people are now consuming it regularly.” So reports Chris Kresser in Raw Milk Reality: Is Raw Milk Dangerous?
When I first saw the words Raw Milk in the title, I wondered if this would be one more of the smug-but-out-of-date articles echoing the CDC about the Great Hazards of raw milk, taking on idiots (like me) who want to kill their children with raw milk, or an even-handed analysis. My verdict: the segment wasn’t outrageously inaccurate, but it could have been much better. I still don’t recognize my NPR-subscriber, scientifically-informed self and my like-minded friends in your article. Please remember the classic 5-word graduate course in journalism: “Follow the money. Governments lie.” You could have asked more raw milk consumers and googled a few more raw milk articles to get the full story. We live in disruptive times. Who knew that pastured meat and eggs would be so popular, that farmers markets and the locovore movement would catch on?! When Safeway offers raw milk under their own label then we’ll know who was on the right track: the CDC or us ‘raw milk nuts.’ The mainstream pays attention to organic now, and has entire aisles of it. Big Milk is worried that Americans will be clamoring for raw milk, once they know how safe and nutritious it can be. Lauren Ayers GoodSchoolFood.weebly.com Photo by Photo: Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media.