By Dr. Mercola
Life is about making choices. But today, regulations, red tape, and massive industry lobbying efforts are eroding some of our most basic freedom of choice.
It's hard to fathom how we have come to a point where natural, unadulterated, and wholesome foods are forbidden, while foods containing concoctions of untested synthetic chemicals and toxic pesticide residues are permitted; but such is the case when it comes to raw milk and a number of other artisanal foods.
In support of food freedom, two members of the US Congress recently sat down for an "illegal" meal. As reported by The Independent Journal:1
"Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) ate their meal... at Jezebel's, a Denver restaurant.
The reason they aren't under criminal investigation, though? Because they were in Colorado, and while the dishes they ate are against the law to buy, they brought the food themselves.
Their meal of 'forbidden and restricted foods,' as Polis called it, was to bring attention to federal rules they hope to change that limit how food can be sold."
On their menu were hemp scones (which, despite the fact they cannot get you "high," are made with a controlled substance, as far as federal law is concerned); non USDA-inspected steak from Massie's own farm; non-inspected organic pastured eggs from a relative's backyard chicken coop; kombucha; and raw milk.
PJ Media2 quotes Rep. Polis saying:
"These are decisions — what do you put in your own body? What's a more intimate decision than that? It really should be entirely up to people. It should be up to the person. You shouldn't have the federal government telling you what you can and can't eat."
Members of Congress Push for New Raw Milk Legislation
The two Congressmen are promoting a number of bills aimed at improving consumer choice by loosening regulations on small farms that sell foods such as raw milk, beef, kombucha (a fermented beverage), and hemp.
HR 4308 would also prevent the federal government from interfering with trade of raw dairy products between states where distribution or sale of raw milk is already legal.
Last year, Rep. Massie said:6
"As a producer of grass-fed beef, I am familiar with some of the difficulties small farmers face when marketing fresh food directly to consumers.
Our bills would make it easier for families to buy wholesome milk directly from farmers by reversing the criminalization of dairy farmers who offer raw milk.
The federal government should not punish farmers for providing customers the foods they want, and states should be free to set their own laws regulating food safety."
Other Farm- and Consumer-Friendly Legislation in the Works
Together with Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Rep. Massie also introduced the PRIME Act7 (Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption Act, HR3187) this past summer.
Passage of the bill would allow states to pass laws allowing the sale of custom processed meat. The Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund wrote a must-read paper detailing the benefits of the PRIME Act.
In a press release,8 Rep. Pingree, who raises grass-fed cattle in Maine, said:I urge you to take action today and let your representative know you support the PRIME Act. A vote for the PRIME Act is a vote for supporting local farms, rather than factory farms.
"More and more people want locally produced food, but because of the way the system is set up for processing meat, farmers and ranchers sometimes end up sending their animals hundreds or even thousands of miles to a giant slaughterhouse.
That is just crazy and defeats the whole point of locally produced food. If we can change the federal regulations a little to make it easier to process meat locally, it's going to help farmers scale up and give local consumers what they want."
Will Efforts to Decriminalize Hemp Finally Succeed?
A fourth bill, introduced by Rep. Massie in January, is the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 (HR5259), which would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." A complementary bill (S.134) has been introduced in the Senate.
The first bill to try to extract industrial hemp from the controlled substances list was introduced in 2005, by former Rep. Ron Paul. He reintroduced similar bills in 2007, 2009, and 2011 — all of which failed.10
Senator Ron Wyden tried getting an industrial hemp bill attached to the Farm Bill in 2012 and 2013, and both of those attempts failed too.
Considering all the benefits of hemp (the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis), it doesn't make sense to prohibit its use. It certainly does not belong on the controlled substances list!
Consider this: The US government now allows OxyContin — a supremely potent and addictive opioid drug — to be prescribed to children as young as 11,11 but they won't allow you or your children to eat hemp?! Where is the sense in this? There is none.
In the same vein, raw milk is banned in many states on the basis of claims that it's unsafe and may make you sick. Yet toxic pesticides are dumped on our crops by the tankful, and that's touted as perfectly safe and completely unrelated to skyrocketing rates of health problems.
It's also well worth noting that the vast majority of foodborne illnesses in the US are actually linked to factory farmed and highly processed foods, not raw foods.
Raw milk from organic grass-fed cows is teeming with bacteria, yes — but they're the health-promoting kind. Disease-causing bacteria are the result of industrial farming practices that lead to diseased cows, which then produce contaminated milk.
The Main Opponent of Raw Milk Is the Dairy Industry
While Congress has never outright banned raw milk, it's the only food banned from interstate commerce. This makes it challenging for small farmers to share their raw milk products with people living across state lines. As a result, private agreements called herdshares are often formed between farmers and individuals, which entitle you to the benefits of owning a "share" of a cow, such as a certain amount of milk each week.
Despite these legal agreements, federal agents have repeatedly conducted aggressive armed raids against peaceful raw-milk farmers. The question as to why that is can be easily answered when you consider that major milk manufacturers are a primary lobby within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the US food system revolves around money.
What we have is not a "free market" but a massive collusion between government and big business, which are facilitated through lobbying.
Regulators often take their power and influence and join private lobbying firms in return for big paychecks, going from regulating an industry to working FOR that industry, and then back again, like a perpetually revolving door. Laws are adopted behind a public interest veneer — such as protecting your health by restricting raw milk sales — but underneath they are products of negotiation between industry leaders and government officials to eliminate the competition and enhance their economic status.
Raw Grass-Fed Milk Is Actually Safer Than Pasteurized
Producers of organic raw milk, which is a far superior food product, present a significant economic threat to the larger pasteurized milk industry, so when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sends in armed agents to shut down a raw milk producer, it's really nothing more than a Mafia strong arm tactic aimed at shutting down the competition. It has absolutely nothing to do with consumer safety.
The FDA warns that raw milk can carry disease-causing bacteria, but what they completely overlook is the fact that these bacteria are the result of industrial farming practices that lead to diseased animals, which may then in turn produce contaminated milk. The two are not interchangeable, yet they make no distinction whatsoever between disease-riddled factory farmed milk and the milk from clean, healthy, and grass-fed cows...
You definitely want to avoid drinking raw milk from a conventionally-raised feed-lot cow. But drinking raw milk produced by grass-fed cows from clean, well-run farms is actually far LESS dangerous than drinking pasteurized milk. Not only does raw milk contain good bacteria that are essential for a healthy digestive system and help "crowd out" pathogens, high-quality raw organic milk also has its own built in "immune system" that actually protects you against food poisoning. Pasteurized milk does not have this protective quality.
The reason why the dairy industry is so threatened by small-scale organic dairy farms is because they simply cannot produce safe raw milk in a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO), and therefore they cannot compete for a share of the raw milk market.
In fact, CAFO milk is so hazardous that despite pasteurization, data12 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows there are about 412 confirmed cases of people getting ill from pasteurized milk each year. Meanwhile, only about 116 illnesses a year are linked to raw milk. Yet you never hear about armed raids on CAFOs, do you? That's because they don't occur, despite the fact they pose a far greater risk to your health.
According to research by Dr. Ted Beals,13 MD, featured in the summer 2011 issue of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, you are about 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk, so truly, if the government allows us to play Russian Roulette with pasteurized dairy products and other inspected-yet-still-contaminated foods, we really should be allowed to drink raw milk and eat privately slaughtered beef if we so choose...
But the fight for food freedom isn't just for those who happen to love raw milk — it's for everyone who wants to be able to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice.
Where to Buy Raw Milk, and What to Do If It's Not Legal in Your State
Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com are two excellent websites to peruse if you're looking for raw milk. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state. On a positive note, in the last 12 months, 33 states have opened up the legal status for raw milk. So, it's getting easier to obtain. EatWild.com and WestonAPrice.org also provide lists of certified organic farmers known to produce safe, wholesome raw dairy products as well as grass-fed beef and other organic produce.
You can contact your local Weston A Price chapter leader directly if you have questions. Other organizations that can help you locate raw and farm-fresh foods in the vicinity of where you live include:
- Local Harvest – This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies
- Farmers' Markets – A national listing of farmers' markets
- Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals – The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada
- Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) – CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms
- FoodRoutes –The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you