Sometimes they are meant to counter raw dairy production, other times to challenge private food organizations over whether they should be licensed as food retailers.
Grist offers the following advice for preparing for and dealing with a raid:
- Be wary of strangers who want to join your private buying group or herdshare
- Have a video camera at the ready
- Have a plan of action
- Read the search warrant fine print
- Keep computer backups
David Gumpert, who wrote the Grist article above, is the author of The Raw Milk Revolution, and if you’re looking for a concise reference into the raw milk war currently being battled across the United States, this book is it.
What many do not yet realize is that this issue is about much more than raw milk. It’s about your ability, your right, to purchase and consume pure, unadulterated food.
As regular readers know, I am an avid supporter of raw milk for many reasons, but even if you don’t intend to ever take a sip, if you have any interest in protecting your right to unprocessed food, this is one issue you should keep up on.
Farmers and Private Food Coops Persecuted
The idea of armed federal agents storming through small farms and barns, making off with milk cartons and computers, would be quite laughable -- if it weren’t a reality. Victims of recent government raids, as Grist reported, include:
- Rawesome Foods: A private food club run by raw-food advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz in California. Agents took thousands of dollars worth of raw honey and raw dairy products, and shut the group down for not having a public health permit (even though they’re a private food club). The FBI and FDA were also on the scene.
- Traditional Foods Warehouse: A food club in Minnesota that offers locally produced foods. Agents raided the club and shut it down.
- A private residence: Agents searched a home and took computers because a family allowed a raw dairy farmer to park in their driveway while distributing raw milk to residents who had ordered it.
- The dairy farm and farm store of Vernon Hershberger: Three raids in a three-month period!
- The farm of Sharon Palmer: Agents raided her farm three times in 18 months over issues with her labeling of goat cheese. A computer and milk used to feed chickens and pigs were confiscated.
- Manna Storehouse: An Ohio food club that has been raided over licensing issues. According to Grist, “Armed law enforcement officers actually held a mother and eight young children being home-schooled at gunpoint for several hours while they searched the home and food storage areas.”
Agricultural agencies along with the FDA and CDC have been particularly aggressive recently in their efforts to crack down on raw milk producers and buying clubs under the pretense of public health safety. But the truth remains that not only is raw milk a health-promoting food, it is oftentimes safer than the pasteurized varieties both state and federal governments are rallying behind.
Get the Facts: High-Quality Raw Milk is Safe
As Gumpert pointed out, while no one has died in Massachusetts because of raw milk, three people died in 2007 from pasteurized milk tainted with Listeriosis.
And as In These Times reported, according to CDC data from 1993 to 2006 there were about 116 illnesses a year linked to raw milk -- that amounts to less than .000002 percent of the 76 million people who contract a food-borne illness in the United States each year!
Organically raised, grass-fed milk naturally contains hundreds of healthy, “good” bacteria, including lactobacillus and acidophilus. It’s the presence of these beneficial bacteria that make raw milk such an outstanding food source to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestine, which in turn has a significant beneficial impact on your overall immune function.
Raw milk also contains vitamins, which are virtually eliminated by the pasteurization process of commercial milk, and provides a source of natural butterfat, which is homogenized or removed in pasteurized milk.
Without butterfat, it becomes very difficult for your body to absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals in the water fraction of the milk. Butterfat is also your best source of preformed vitamin A, and contains re-arranged acids with strong anti-carcinogenic properties.
Grass-fed raw milk even contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which fights cancer and may help reduce your body fat.
Unfortunately, the FDA and other health agencies do not acknowledge the inherent differences between pasteurized milk and raw milk.
They claim raw milk and pasteurized milk have precisely the same kind of nutritional values, completely disregarding the value of enzymes, the probiotic value of beneficial bacteria, and the importance of healthy fats.
Meanwhile, they maintain, incorrectly I might add, that pasteurization is the only way to ensure that milk is “safe,” when in reality it is only milk raised in unhealthy conditions, from unhealthy cows, that requires pasteurization prior to consumption.
So what is really going on? Why the major push to shut off people’s access to this healthy food source?
As Gumpert says, the regulation is "not about safety -- it's about protecting markets.”
Big Dairy Does Not Want You to Drink Raw Milk
The popularity of raw milk is growing strong, despite the government’s best efforts to scare health-conscious consumers away.
In Massachusetts, the number of dairies licensed to sell raw milk grew from 12 to 23 in just two years, while the Northeast Organic Farming Association stated that dairies are selling more raw milk than they were just five years ago, and consumers call in every week looking for advice on where to find it.
The conventional dairy industry, realizing this, has redoubled their efforts to make sure that raw milk sales are not able to become mainstream, where they could begin to threaten their very own livelihoods.
If raw dairy really caught on, you would think that the dairy industry would simply follow suit and begin producing raw products to meet the demand. But this would be virtually impossible.
Cows that are part of industrial dairy farms are fed grain and often raised under substandard conditions. They will therefore likely produce milk that is unhealthy to drink raw because grains, antibiotics, growth hormones, and filthy living conditions change the pH balance and the natural bacteria present in a cow's gut, which in turn affects the natural bacteria and pathogens present in their milk.
Their business depends on pasteurization, and that is why their powerful lobbyists will stop at nothing to persuade government agencies to keep raw milk bans in full force.
You Can Make a Difference in the Raw Milk Revolution
By joining the fight to make access to healthy raw milk a right for all Americans, you are not only standing up for raw milk; you’re taking a stand to protect your freedom of food choice.
The FDA never had any grounds for making the sale of raw milk illegal in the first place. Even a quick review of the data shows that this food, which the FDA claims is so harmful to human health, is less harmful than countless food products that have earned the FDA’s seal of approval!
If you are currently a member of a food coop that supplies raw dairy products, or if you take part in a cow-share program that allows you to purchase raw dairy direct from the farm, keep up the good work! You are taking a stand for your health and supporting the farmers that still supply real, nourishing foodstuffs.
As more people become aware of this important issue, as well as the health value of raw dairy, it will only become more difficult for the government to continue their ruthless chokehold on your access to raw food.
You can continue to learn more, and get involved in the raw milk revolution, by visiting the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund web sites. Both organizations are dedicated to protecting your right to raw milk and other nutrient-dense foods.