Raw Milk As Political Theater: Lawyers Join Media in Jockeying for Competitive Position

It continues to amaze me how controversial and provocative a topic raw milk is. Every few weeks, it seems, more media outlets are writing and broadcasting about it. In media lingo, raw milk “has legs.”

Most recently, a Washington, DC, NPR station promoted a debate between Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Bill Marler, the product liability lawyer. The two debaters threw brickbats at each other, including not a few exaggerations and half-truths.

For instance, they traded jabs about the illness outbreak affecting six children attributed to Organic Pastures Dairy Co. five years ago, in 2006. Fallon continued to say, as she has on a number of occasions, that the two children who became most seriously ill had eaten spinach (the outbreak occurred in the midst of an outbreak of illness from raw spinach) even though the genetic imprint of the E.coli 0157:H7 isolated from several of the children was different from that of the spinach oubreak. I’m not sure why she dwells on that particular inaccuracy, which upsets the families involved no end.

And Marler? He argued as if it’s a simple fact of law that the Amish farmer Daniel Allgyer (the target of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration suit last April seeking a permanent injunction against the shipping of his milk to Maryland) was guilty of “the sale of raw milk across state lines, which is illegal and has been since the late ’80s…” Never mind that the private distribution that occurred wasn’t necessarily “interstate commerce,” and hasn’t been decided by a court–details, details.

And he repeated his cute little quarter-truth about “the reality of the science that raw milk, you know, is a product because of the location of the cow’s teets to the cow’s anus, the likelihood of getting it contaminated is high…”, ignoring the reality that most dairies use automated milking machines that prevent milk from ever coming close “to the cow’s anus,” and that the likelihood of contamination is in fact quite low.

But debates about raw milk attract consumers, and get them riled up. Just look at the comments following the Fallon-Marler debate. (Yes, I’m part of this media obsession, though like to think I’m different because I’m not partaking on a one-shot or sometime basis.)

The anti-raw milk Web site Real Raw Milk Facts has just come out with documentation of its success in attracting visitors, in an academic “poster” being presented at a conference next week.

The media competitiveness is rubbing off on lawyers, more of whom are angling for business representing individuals allegedly sickened by raw milk. Ron Simon (“My Food Poisoning Lawyer”), has been bragging about his new client in Texas*, growing out of allegedly contaminated raw milk there a few months back.

Link here to Simon’s post: http://www.myfoodpoisoninglawyer.com/2011/07/simon-luke-pursues-raw-milk-salmonella-claims-against-lavon-farms

And as I reported last week, a Minneapolis law firm is handling a case involving Michael Hartmann, the Minnesota farmer being blamed for selling raw milk tainted with E.coli 0157:H7.

Certainly a big part of the reason raw milk is such a provocative discussion topic is that the public health people have used it to deflect attention from truly serious public health problems that the professionals seem unwilling or unable to deal with. As the discussion following my previous post makes clear, there is much disagreement in the scientific community about how campylobacter acts as a food pathogen.

Several of the links highlight the issue. One scientific publication says campylobacter can’t survive with oxygen, yet adapts by creating a biofilm.

Another says it survives in meat by attaching to pseudomomas. And there is much disagreement about how long it survives in any event.

Yet the public health community acts as if it knows everything it needs to know, as if it has ownership of “truth.” Never mind that it can’t figure out a to keep campylobacter (and salmonella) out of two-thirds of our chicken supply. Do public health officials worry about that? No, they just ignore it, and the many thousands of illnesses a year that result, and obsess instead about raw milk.

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41 comments to Raw Milk As Political Theater: Lawyers Join Media in Jockeying for Competitive Position

  • Milky Way
    David,

    Good point. What's you opinion on the other points?

    MW

  • Bill Anderson
    MW-

    The Doyle and Roman study is not about competative inhibition. Rather is it about the natural death curve of campy in millk (both raw and steralized milk).

    Here are my comments about that study, which I will post once again:

    Though this study confirms what many in the raw milk movement have said (that campylobacter can only expire in milk, and cannot grow) I have criticized this study in the past as being completely unrealistic.

    Why? Because the researchers have inoculated an unrealistic quantity of campylobacter into the milk — around 10^7 per mL (or 1 million campy cells per mL).

    As a reference point, the standard for Grade B milk for pasteurization and Class 4 manufacturing (aka very low-risk products like butter, cheese, or powder), is 300,000/mL bacteria standard plate count (SPC) at the farm, and 1,000,000/mL at the creamery tank. That is total bacteria, both good and bad types. Any CERTIFIED raw milk should have an SPC of no more than 15,000/mL — a totally different order of magnitude than anything being suggested by the authors of this study

    Additionally, IF on an off-chance, campylobacter was present in a batch of certified raw milk, it would still be a very small player in the larger microbial eco-system of the milk, and would quickly expire. There is likely a synergistic relationship when there is a large monolithic population of campylobacter (like the scenario in the study) as opposed to a small population with much more competative microflora.

    In other words, I don't think we could simply take the death curve for a population of 1 million campy per mL with comparatively little competition, and extrapolate that curve onto a smaller population. Protective factors and the relative population of competative flora (and types of competative flora) will all play a role in the death curve of the campy.

    And regarding the institution which conducted the study… The University of Wisconsin Madison dairy research facilities are notorious supporters of BIG AG policies, and ran early test runs on Monsanto's rBGH in the late 1980's, before it was even approved for use by the FDA, sellling the dairy products produced with this hormone-laden milk to the university students and general public without even informing them that it contained unapproved rBGH. Talk about unethical…

    They still use rBGH to this day in the university herd (and still refuse to place labels on their products stating that they are produced with rBGH) and receive most of their research funding from big business, because of how our public institutions have been so thoroughly privatized by neo-liberal economic policies (such as those promoted by the Walker administration, and to a lesser extend by the Obama administration). Therefore, it does not surprise me about the author's conclusion about the neccessity of milk pasteurization — the study was probably commissioned (directly or indirectly) by some large dairy agri-business corporation.

    I would like to see more peer-reviewed research done in this field. The biggest barrier, as usual, is the corporate power structure which has such an iron-clad grip on the thrust of scientific research. It is too bad that the public health community is more concerned about the non-issue of raw milk than with the very real issues of lifestyle diseases and unhealthy eating habits. It would seem that they are very much in the service of the same corporate powers which the dairy researchers are.

  • Ken Conrad
    Rather then test animal waste and/or their product perhaps officials should be setting up fly traps and testing the flies?

    We all know how flies tend to land, scurry around and defecate on the rim of a glass, cup or beer bottle especially after we have just placed our lips there to have a drink. Since flies are known to act as vectors this is all good in my opinion, nevertheless for those who think it is not good perhaps they should add fly shit to their blame list.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC555947/

    Could flies explain the elusive epidemiology of campylobacteriosis?

    Unlike salmonellosis with well-known routes of transmission, the epidemiology of campylobacteriosis is still largely unclear. Known risk factors such as ingestion of contaminated food and water, direct contact with infected animals and outdoor swimming could at most only explain half the recorded cases.

    http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1603/033.046.0526

    All fly species were found to carry an array of different pathogenic bacterial and fungal species. Among these were human pathogens such as Campylobacter jejuni and Escherichia coli-strains (EHEC, EPEC, and ETEC) and the fungi Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis. The germs could be detected in the intestines as well as on the exoskeletons of the flies. The current study confirms and supplements the general knowledge about pathogens that may be transmitted to domestic animals and humans by synanthropic flies.

    Ken Conrad

  • Bill Anderson
    David was nice enough not to point out Bill Marler's startling hypocricy on the Hartmann situation. But I will pull no punches on this one.

    I couldn't help but notice how incessant Marler was in his demonization of Hartmann, early this year and late last year, because of Hartmann's many food safety trespasses. For a while I thought this may be because Marler actually had a genuine concern for the victims of Hartmann's dirty milk.

    Today, there is a strikingly different tone on Marler's blog. I have not heard one peep from him about Hartmann. Instead he has decided to create red herrings, going on about "dead milk vs magic milk" and other silly debates that are really just political theater… the very things that David is talking about in this post.

    It is unsettling that Hartmann is trying to rally his customers against another customer whose child was seriously sickened because of E. Coli in Hartmann's milk. But this pales in comparison to Bill Marler's unbelievable hypocrisy on the issue.

    Marler didn't get the client, so now he is silent. He missed out on the opportunity for a quick buck. How completely disgusting… Marler couldn't even so much as offer a word of support when I was embattled by the conspiracy theorists here who would defend Hartmann and demonize his victims.

    No Marler, does not really care about the victims of food borne illness. His actions speak far louder than his words.

    Do you see now why the profit motive is a really poor way of organizing society?

  • damaged justice
    I see that your concluding question presents a false dichotomy. But since I no longer feel the need to argue why freedom is more efficient than slavery, I'll instead remain silent and continue to learn from those like you who know more about real practical science, as well as my own experience.
  • Bill Anderson
    So either we must accept the profit motive as the only "free" way of organizing society, or we must be slaves? Say what? False Dichotomy?

    Humans naturally have strong egalitarian instincts. We are tribal animals with an incredible capacity for cooperation and empathy. It is only under capitalism (where our instincts of solidarity and empathy are systematically undermined by the corporate power structure and competative "free market" system) that greed flourishes.

    Bill Marler is as good an example of this as any. I continue to empathize with the victims of Hartmann's dirty milk, and have been attacked left and right here for daring to suggest that Hartmann is a big problem for those of us who want legal raw milk. Yet Bill Marler, because the profit opportunity is gone, no longer cares about these victims.

    Marler's actions are very telling… he may try to play like he is the good guy, but the truth is that his motivations are not really food safety. Follow the $$$$$$

  • Bill Anderson
    Here's another peice of corporate propoganda coming from the same dairy research institution who proved to us that campylobacter can't grow in milk:

    http://news.cals.wisc.edu/agriculture/2011/07/29/uw-study-finds-bigger-farms-tend-to-have-better-milk-quality/

    Of course, the study totally fails to looks at other factors like fatty acid composition, mineral content, or the richness of the milk, much less factors like the presence of cancer-causing agents because of the use of rBGH and GMO feeds.

    Talk about biased greed-driven research!!

  • Mark McAfee
    David,

    I know that OPDC is an interesting pioneering subject to write about and discuss. But….what about the little discussed 1600 CA people sickened in 2006 from pasteurized milk and campylobacter.

    http://www.outbreakdatabase.com/details/california-state-prisons-spoiled-milk-2006/

    Never understood how 2 people becomes more interesting and important than 1600 people.

    Kill one person….you are guilty of capital murder….kill tens of thousands you are a celebrated conquerer.

    Pasteurized milk is not perfect….here is the latest outbreak from dead ( or not so dead ) milk.

    http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/pasteurized-milk-sickens-five-with-yersinia-enterocolitica/

  • Sylvia Gibson
    From Mark's link: ""Our first goal is the safety of our customers."

    Hmm, when was the last time you heard a statement like that when raw milk was recalled? If I am not mistaken, you will have a hard time finding a similar quote. However, you will have no trouble finding – "the outbreak did not happen," "the illnesses were caused by spinach," "the illnesses were caused by the doctors," "the illnesses were caused by the victims," "the lawyer made it up," and the old favorite, "it is a conspiracy between public health and big ag."

    Perhaps he should read more carefully. I've read "first goal is the safety of our customers." In newspapers and various blogs, I believe I've also heard it from interviews on TV in regards to raw dairy. Tsk tsk…. Just reinforces why not to go to his various web pages.

    Was the dairy shut down and all products seized? That appears to be the norm for raw dairy.

  • Mark McAfee
    2 people more important than 1600……
  • Mark McAfee
    I guess the real numbers do not matter….this is a war to get rid of raw milk. This is a battle for raw milk survival so consumers have choices and a nutritional options for immune rebuilding, asthma prevention and true health.

    So….to me all that matters is the production of the safest raw milk possible and avoidance of wearing a target.

    The pasteurized milk producer that was associated with illnesses, should take public media management 1A one more time.

    Shut your mouth and just ask for everyones prayers for the quick recovery of anyone that is ill….refuse to respond to any other questions and blame it on a continuing investigation.

    Anything else is a screaming invitation to a summary judgment.

  • The Complete Patient
    Mark,
    I actually wrote about the outbreak from pasteurized milk that sickened 1,600 prisoners in California, in "The Raw Milk Revolution". One of many that don't get a lot of attention.

    I'd say the reason "two people becomes more interesting…than 1,600" stems from the continued inaccurate statements about the 2006 E.coli 0157:H7 outbreak in California, most likely from raw milk. Those inaccurate statements, such as the one I cited in my post, give opponents to nutrient-dense foods a great opportunity to deflect attention from sometimes-larger events, like the California prison outbreak from pasteurized milk. They love distractions, seek them out. I think that acceptance of the investigation results of the two illnesses would put the matter to rest, and not allow opponents to repeatedly capitalize on what is now a five-year-old event.

    Milky Way,
    Not sure what "the other points" you refer to are.

    David

  • Concerned Person
    Mark, how can you say it was the milk that sickened 1,600? Where is the proof? They never found the Campy in milk samples. Are you saying you accept epidemiological evidence for this outbreak, but not for raw milk outbreaks?

    Also, nice to see you using the Marler Clark Outbreak database.

    You have your numbers wrong for the OPDC outbreak. There were 6 kids who became ill, not two. Too bad the other 4 never had a chance to have a voice.

  • Mary Martin
    David, remember this video.? http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011399591_rawmilk21m.html?prmid=related_stories_section

    I think this is what Bill is referring too. Poop comes out of the anus and onto the teats and if they are not cleaned properly before the milking machine is attached, contamination can occur. I doubt this farmer would pass the new RAWMI standards.

    Mary

  • Mark McAfee
    As a raw milk freedom fighter and food safety advocate you guys have given me a very target rich environment.

    Let me start by saying that the recently developed raw milk chart shown by Marler and gang was produced in part by Dr. Mike Payne of UCDavis WIFSS and is a hard core raw milk hater and not a scientist.

    Secondly, The chart refers to the Stanford Lactose Intolerance study. This study has yet to be officially published or peer reviewed. I met personally with Dr. Chris Gardner right after the initial study was completed and the first data was in…. The conclusions are far from black and white. In fact the study raises massive questions and had no answers for them.

    What the study did say was this: 440 people who thought they were Lactose Intolerance applied to the study, but after screening of the applicants only 16 were allowed into the study because the rest failed either the HBT ( hydrogen breath test ) or other pre qualifying requirement. Yet all of the 440 were Self diagnosed as lactose intolerant with pasteurized dairy products.

    Marler has again failed the scientific test of balance and non bias. Thanks Bill

  • Steve Bemis
    Bill – thank you for explaining the Doyle and Roman study, with its typical reductionist attempt to study the real world in a test-tube, and attendant distortions and ambiguous meanings.

    Quite aside from its behavior in raw milk, there is little doubt that campylobacter is adversely affected by both oxygen and by passage of time. Given such characteristics, I am truly puzzled by the vigorous reaction which the previous string of comments elicited, apparently directed against the simple handling suggestions for raw milk, e.g. rotate the supply so that the oldest milk is consumed first (thereby permitting time to work against any campy which may exist in the fresher milk) and make sure there is an air-space in the top of each container (capped, obviously – the recommendation is not to leave the cap off!).

    Have there been studies to verify the effectiveness of these handling suggestions? None of which I'm aware. It would be difficult if not impossible, given the extremely low rates of illness caused by campy (the Beals paper in the current WAPF issue is now available online: http://www.realmilk.com/real-milk-pathogens.html), to design a study which could pass statistical muster, given 9,000,000+ raw milk drinkers and low- double-digit numbers of illnesses annually caused by campy. Even the Doyle and Roman study found only 0.9% incidence of campy from the industrial-model herds which they sampled. Besides, who cares? The handling suggestions literally have no downside. I should think everyone on this blog could relax a bit, regardless of their politics on raw milk, and accept a no-cost step in the right direction toward ever-greater raw milk safety.

  • Mark McAfee
    What the Stanford study did was clearly identify a new syndrome called Pasteurization Intolerance.

    Now we need more money to study Pasteurization Intolerance. No money standing in line for this question. Research questions are studied by the money brought to the universities.

    No money no research.

    Each and every raw milk consumers has completed their own irrefutable studies and they do not need a university to tell them that they do not have gut cramps or gas pains with raw milk

    One simple thing tells all raw milk markets show that people trust their own studies alot.

  • Amanda Rose
    David,

    I am lactating right now and agree with Mary's assessment above. What separates the relative cleanliness of my milk from a cow's is that I don't sleep naked in manure. My child also only gets my milk, is exposed only to my crap, and develops an immunity. It's easier for them to adapt to the milk of their own mother than to a herd of cows 100 miles away.

    On 2006, was consumer fraud (outsourcing) involved in that prison case? If so, it would make that outbreak suck just about as much as the OPDC outbreak.

    What I don't get is why the leadership is in fantasy land about the spinach when there was serious consumer fraud behind the OPDC outbreak. It's as if they don't care. They stand behind OPDC anyway because it was *raw* — it doesn't matter if the sourcing didn't fit the values of the community and that we have verified outsourcing from 2005-09, that the market has grown and the herd hasn't. What makes it suck even more is Mark's refusal to let us verify that the outsourcing has stopped via his proprietary Milk Pool records.

    Maybe RAWMI can look at the Milk Pool records and verify it. *winkedy**wink*

    I'm glad I have five acres.

    Amanda,

  • Violet Willis
    Until we can answer this question:

    Why does Tyson, Pilgrim Pride, Purdue, etc. . . . have the ability to sell raw poultry with a 70% or more contmaination rate of Salmonella (my husband was infected by one of these industial food producers with Salmonella in the late 80's and spent over a week in the hospital and btw no one from the FDA was on his case)?

    I need to see the Marler's out there going after the CAFO farms before the raw milk producers. David is right . . . . raw milk is nothing but a red herring. The real problems are those that are cogs in the Industrial Food Production. . . . CAFO's.

    As a raw milk producer you need to care . . . for your animals and your customers. I have no problem with voluntary testing as a raw milk producer . . . . certifications should not be necessary . . . . but your barn should smell sweet and your animals should look healthy to me as a consumer. . . . and your milk should taste like unsweetened ice cream and be loaded on top with yellow cream high in omega-3's:)

    Kind regards,

    Violet
    http://www.kilbyridgefarmmaine.blogspot.com

  • Mary Martin
    Steve,
    The danger with the Campylobacter recommendations is that it can be constructed into, If you wait a few days before drinking raw milk and make sure that some oxygen is in the bottle, all campylobacter will die and the milk is safe to drink. Best practices is not the same as saying, Do this and it will kill the pathogens.

    These are Sallys exact words: Campylobacter is very common at this time of year. It does not last in raw milk. In fact, if you keep raw milk in the refrigerator for a couple of days with some air at the top that will get rid of the Campylobacter if there is any in there. That doesnt sound like a best practices recommendation to me.

    I see the Campylobacter recommendations as the BSK study all over again. Again, these are Sallys exact words, And if you do a challenge test with raw milk and put in large numbers of pathogens, these diminish over time and then go away. So we really don't need pasteurization.

    These kinds of statements hurt the raw milk movement. Just call a spade a spade. If raw milk is contaminated, it can cause harm to the human body. There is no magic pathogen killing substance in raw milk.

    Mark,
    Many people are also casein intolerant and it can mimic symptoms of lactose intolerance. Also, I think it is time for you to call Sally and have a little talk about the spinach. It is time to let go of the 2006 OPDC spinach theory. The facts clearly show that this is a fantasy. Agreeing that it wasnt spinach is not agreeing that OPDC products made the kids ill. You can still hold the opinion that it was not the milk, but just dont use a lie to back up the reason for this belief.

    Mary

  • Steve Bemis
    Mary, I agree, there is no perfectly safe food, raw milk or otherwise, nor is there a perfectly immune gut, for reasons which we will probably never understand.
  • Mark McAfee
    In September 2006 13 kids in Louisiana became ill after eating green smoothies from CA spinach. The DNA did not match the CA spinach finger prints.

    Bottom line, there were multiple spinach finger prints. The investigators refused to look at this hard core data. It was politically incorrect.

    Now…..why should I agree to epidemiologic evidence when those that compiled the evidence hate raw milk. They have shown this hatred many times after 2006. They are irrational and make nothing of 1600 illnesses and a mountain-range out of 2 illnesses

    As much as I would like to roll over and agree to surrender. I know too many little things that do not match.

    Amanda Rose. What can I say to you? Not one drop of raw milk has ever been bottled at OP that did not come from OP cows. Not one drop.

    Your horrible statements about OP raw milk are regretful and baseless. You have some weird witchy.

  • John M
    Bill,

    "Humans naturally have strong egalitarian instincts. We are tribal animals with an incredible capacity for cooperation and empathy. It is only under capitalism (where our instincts of solidarity and empathy are systematically undermined by the corporate power structure and competative "free market" system) that greed flourishes."

    I would suggest you read Mises and others, from places such as these mises.org or other perhaps lewrockwell.com as a start. I was a trained economist and finance major, and started out with a more middle of the road position on economics, societal structure, government, etc.

    I have come to realize that much of what you state above is little more than loose handling of important words and a misunderstanding of the most basic aspects of our economy and society, coupled with a few red herrings or favorite red headed step children for easy beating.

    Greed flourishes in all sorts of societies that are not "capitalistic" in nature – have you not read about Russia under communism, how things go in China, etc.? Greed is inherent in human nature, not in economic systems – greed exists in almost every corner of the globe across thousands of years of history.

    Now, different systems (like different milking methods) may increase or decrease the opportunity for us to act out of "greed," (but if by greed you mean merely the desire for gain, which is not the same as greed whatsoever), just as milking systems can increase or decrease bac contamination. But the greed is a problem in us, as multiple thousands of years of human history prove. And even if a system provides more opportunity for "greed," it may provide other benefits that outweigh that one drawback. Just like we discourage over simplistic analysis of real milk safety and issues, so also with economics.

    Now, also a student of ancient and modern history, and of human nature, I can say your above analysis is both wrong and distorted. What you see in modern America is not a "competitive free market system" with the profit motive at its core. Name one product, one activity you engage in that is not altered or affected by government action – I guarantee that you cannot. We wouldn't have this website if we lived in a capitalistic free market society… the very place you post your comments disproves the heart of your arguments.

    The sidewalks you walk on and roads you drive on are not the result of a free market. The food we eat, the energy we use, etc. So please stop blaming something that does not exist (capitalism in America/free markets driven primarily by individual choice and motivation).

    It is also very debatable that we are "egalitarian by nature" as well. But that is a different matter for discussion elsewhere. But where your economics views impinge on your cultural and economic analysis, I would suggest your rethink your assumptions, because they don't fit the facts, and facts are stubborn things.

    John

  • Mary Martin
    Mark,

    If 13 kids became ill in Louisiana in 2006 and they all had the same matching blueprint, then this information would be in the PulseNet database at the CDC. This is typically who spots that an outbreak is occurring. A cluster of matching blueprints of a pathogen start showing up.

    To know that it was a different blueprint from the Dole spinach outbreak, they had to have had fecal samples taken. So they drank green smoothies made from spinach. If it was California spinach, what was the brand that they ate? Was it a different brand of packaged spinach, or Dole?

    Let me see where you are going with this. It has been documented that the batches of Dole spinach that were contaminated were shipped to other states. But in this situation you believe that 6 kids in California, who all happened to consume OPDC products, also consumed the same spinach as the children in Louisiana and therefore that is how they became ill. Even though it has been documented that all 6 children in the OPDC outbreak did not each spinach. Lets take this one step further. Did the kids in the alleged Louisiana outbreak have the same matching blueprint to the kids in the OPDC outbreak, which had never been seen before, or are you claiming this is a third strain of spinach?

    Or is this all an attempt to prove that Chris did not become ill from OPDC milk, but the others 5 did?

  • damaged justice
    Protecting someone may be fine, depending on their age, wisdom, and your relationship with them. Protecting them against their will may even be a regrettable necessity, depending on those factors. But I will never agree that it is right and proper to put a gun to the head of someone who is not violating anyone's rights and say, "If you don't obey me, I'll blow your brains out." Who will protect us from that kind of mafia-style "protection"?
  • Bill Anderson
    Hi John M,

    I am very familiar with Austrian economics and with closeted-racist Lew Rockwell's website. I cannot help but be extremely skeptical of an economic theory that is so certain of itself that it does not see the need to test its own assumptions using the scientific method. To suggest that the study of economics is "A Priori", is to blindly accept the unspoken class biases built into the structure of our society.

    In America, our ruling class is the business and banking class — in other words, the capitalist class. There is never and never will be such a thing as a truely free market (as envisioned by Mises) driven solely by individual choice. Humans are social creatures, and most of our actions are driven by culture, custom, empathy, and even peer pressure (for better or for worse). I do not think that greed is inherint to human nature. Rather, it is a product of a social system which encourages greed at the expense of solidarity and empathy. As I'm sure you are familiar, Adam Smith wrote about the importance of these egalitarian emotions to a free economic system in "The Theory of Moral Sentiments."

    You are correct that some human civilizations have encouraged greed more than others. However, the ability for excessive greed is very much a product of class-divided civilizations with coercive state mechanisms and the accumulation of durable goods — in particular, annual cereal grains.

    Here is an interesting article about the evolutionary origins of human egalitarianism:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/science/05angier.html

    Also, another great book to read about this topic is Peter Kropotkin's "Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution"

  • miguel
    http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/299

    "A TOTAL ECONOMY is one in which everythinglife forms, for instance,or the right to pollute is private property and has a price and is for sale. In a total economy significant and sometimes critical choices that once belonged to individuals or communities become the property of corporations."

    "A total economy is an unrestrained taking of profits from the disintegration of nations: communities, households, landscapes, and ecosystems. It licenses symbolic or artificial wealth to grow by means of the destruction of the real wealth of all the world"

    "In default of government protections against the total economy of the supranational corporations, people are where they have been many times before: in danger of losing their economic security and their freedom, both at once."

    "How are they to protect themselves? There seems, really, to be only one way, and that is to develop and put into practice the idea of a local economysomething that growing numbers of people are now doing. For several good reasons, they are beginning with the idea of a local food economy. People are trying to find ways to shorten the distance between producers and consumers, to make the connections between the two more direct, and to make this local economic activity a benefit to the local community. They are trying to learn to use the consumer economies of local towns and cities to preserve the livelihoods of local farm families and farm communities. They want to use the local economy to give consumers an influence over the kind and quality of their food, and to preserve land and enhance the local landscapes. They want to give everybody in the local community a direct, long-term interest in the prosperity, health, and beauty of their homeland. This is the only way presently available to make the total economy less total. It was once, I believe, the only way to make a national or a colonial economy less total. But now the necessity is greater."

    "So far as I can see, the idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence. In a viable neighborhood, neighbors ask themselves what they can do or provide for one another, and they find answers that they and their place can afford. This, and nothing else, is the practice of neighborhood. This practice must be, in part, charitable, but it must also be economic, and the economic part must be equitable; there is a significant charity in just prices."

  • The Complete Patient
    Steve,
    I agree there were some interesting points of agreement, or sort-of agreement between Bill Marler and Sally Fallon in the radio debate. If this were a rational disagreement between parties, it might signify important common ground. Unfortunately, the conflict here is at heart an ideological one, and as such, overladen with heavy doses of emotion. You can get more of that feel in Bill Marler's recap of the debate on his site.
    http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped/dead-milk-23-magic-milk-202/

    Lots of haughtiness and condescension. Not till you get to the point of respect from each side of the other will serious bridge-building be possible, I'm afraid.

    David

  • Violet Willis
    Mary,

    Was the e-coli strain that your son was sickened . . . . actually found on Mark's farm?

    Remember . . . . e-coli can be found on hands . . . and transmitted that way.

    Drinking Mark's milk and eating spinach was coincidental . . . no e-coli matching your son's strain was found on Mark's farm.

    I have a hunch that someone who washed the spinach that your son ate . . . harbored the e-coli that sickened him. . . . anyone else out there agree with me?

    My husband had a MRSA infection years ago right before we moved to Maine. . . . he had never been in a hospital or even was exposed to anyone with MRSA . . . the doctors concluded that he was bitten by an insect that carried MRSA?!?!

    Microbes are everywhere in our environment . . . .somehow we need to think about priming our immune system to combat these microbes. . . . Unfortunately, my husband grew up on a SAD as a child (lots of processed foods). . . . his immune system will never be like our children's who have grown up with raw milk, organically grown produce, and grass raiised meats and poutry . . . . our kids are never, ever sick.

    The NIH needs to do a study on kids like ours and others that are raised this way. . . . but they will not do so because all of the corporations that feed us through the SAD . . . . will be implicated and the recommendations will destroy the Industrial food model. K street in DC will have a fit and those highly paid lobbyists for Big Ag will be out of a job.

    Kind regards,

    Violet
    http://www.kilbyridgefarmmaine.blogspot.com

  • John M
    Bill wrote

    I am very familiar with Austrian economics and with closeted-racist Lew Rockwell's website.

    ***Hmm… give me one clear example of him being a "racist." Oh, I bet… you disagree with his views on immigration? Strange. He has many African American contributors to his site… that seems very racist, doesn't it, to have people of other races and nationalities write on your site… But anyone who doesn't agree with a certain view of immigration must be a xenophobe. You just pulled a "glen beck." Now I see why so many are terrified of RAWMI if this is how you handle other issues.

    I cannot help but be extremely skeptical of an economic theory that is so certain of itself that it does not see the need to test its own assumptions using the scientific method. To suggest that the study of economics is "A Priori", is to blindly accept the unspoken class biases built into the structure of our society.

    ***Hmm… lets see. They rightly predicted,
    a. The rise of gold and silver over a decade ago
    b. The housing bubble and economic collapse
    c. The failure of the stimulus programs, especially the housing one that would merely shuffle buying around

    While the dominate Keynansian system has
    a. destroyed the dollar's value by a whooping 97%!
    b. Gave us deficits so large that we are pretty much doomed to become the next Argentina
    c. Enriched a select few companies and corporations

    Among other misdeeds and foibles…

    ***
    In America, our ruling class is the business and banking class — in other words, the capitalist class.***

    Wrong. A capitalist is anyone who owns "capital." Capital is the means of production of goods or services – obviously, this word has been used, like many others, for political/media ends at times and thus the definition, when in the hands of some, means something very different than what the word means (same with the word liberal).

    Now, we have seen unprecedented concentration of capital over the past 100 years in America – but that is the direct result of the government. Government regulation favors the concentration of capital because it is easier for them to tax, control, etc. In return, they protect those very industries/people from competition that would more evenly distribute capital among all a societies participants. It becomes the evil, parasitic system that our founding fathers warned against and gave their lives to prevent.

    ***There is never and never will be such a thing as a truely free market (as envisioned by Mises) driven solely by individual choice. ***

    Again, you misquote or misunderstand Mises and the Austrian views. He does incorporate other factors – he just points out that at the end of the day, human choice is the primary factor – others help shape it, but they do not determine it.

    ***
    On the other things, we will disagree, as I do not hold to evolution as the theory is morally bankrupt. But since you appear to, it is rather ironic that someone who believes in the "survival of the fittest" doesn't like when that theory works itself in practice (greedy people praying about work people by manipulating government to their advantage as we knew would happen).

    People are inherently evil so says the bible, and the idea that they only act evil based on the "social structures" or external they find themselves makes no sense. It kicks the can on where and why evil exists, offering no explanation at the end of the day. Social structures are the result of… people. The evil/greed/etc. is found within us, which is why all these attempts at changing things "out there" around people have never, ever worked to reform society… on the contrary, as CS Lewis has pointed out, this move has resulted in soceity's slide into ever and greater evil, because it ignores the root problem – us.

    Miguel, you are quoting Wendell Berry. I would just point out basic issues/questions with things like

    "equitable…" "just prices…" aka, who gets to set them? Who decides what is a "just price…"

    Or my media favorite of late, people need to "pay their fair share…" These are loaded words, and often they are a cover for something very simple. Theft. Someone else has something that I don't have control over, so I will use the gov't to force them to do what I think they should do with what they have. I think the poor (itself a strange word in America since they now consider CELL PHONES a must have for the "poor…") should be cared for… so I FORCE another person to give their money from their labor to the government to care for the poor…

    God has a word for this – it is called stealing when you take another's property against their will to accomplish your purposes. Man has a word for this as well – it is called tyranny.

    It is sad that the connection between RM and these issues is lost. The local economy and a free market are in no way antithetical to each other (by, I live not far from Wendell and have meet with him many times – I have read every single one of his non-fiction books, almost all of them twice) – the whole real milk issue is driven by the reality that there is no free market in food in America.

    Rather, a truly free market economy will by nature be mostly localized, since our "total economy" is the end result of a government run amok, politically (regulation), militarily (cheap oil that makes crap food cheaper than local real food) and the like (but not solely local, as some items will always be better and more wisely produced via a larger system and structure. This for some items is also what is best for the environment as well).

  • Ken Conrad
    Violet

    I agree with you.

    It is a complex issue that needs to be better understood. We are being led astray by an asserted ability to genetically identify organisms, a process that in reality that does little more then cater to our ascendant nature which in turn fuels our obsession to control that which for all intents and purposes is beyond our control.

    As a result we are faced with officials who are more concerned with manipulating and saturating life forms and the environment with numerous toxins while at the same time living in denial of the harm that they forcibly and forcefully inflict on society as a whole.

    Did officials consider synanthropic flies for example as a possible route of infection? The flys ability to harbor human pathogens such as Campylobacter jejuni and Escherichia coli-strains (EHEC, EPEC, and ETEC) and the fungi Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis in their intestines and exoskeletons is well established, so during the summer months when diseases such as ecoli are most prevalent and fly populations are at their peak one would think that such a scenario would have been considered.

    Perhaps it is easier for them to focus on a particular food source rather then tenacious flies.

    Ken Conrad

  • Ken Conrad
    John M

    People are inherently evil so says the bible, and the idea that they only act evil based on the "social structures" or external they find themselves makes no sense. It kicks the can on where and why evil exists, offering no explanation at the end of the day. Social structures are the result of… people. The evil/greed/etc. is found within us, which is why all these attempts at changing things "out there" around people have never, ever worked to reform society… on the contrary, as CS Lewis has pointed out, this move has resulted in soceity's slide into ever and greater evil, because it ignores the root problem – us.

    I agree.

    In paraphrasing Hellen Keller it can be said (the words emphasized in brackets are mine), I can say with conviction that the struggle which (vice) necessitates is one of the greatest blessings. It makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of (vice), it is full also of the overcomings of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of (vice), but on a glad belief in the preponderance of (virtue) and a willing effort always to cooperate with (virtue), that it may prevail.

    Ken Conrad

  • Don Neeper
    The Weston A. Price Foundation just issued the following post on Facebook:

    "Rawsome Farm Buying Club is being raided again at this moment! If you live in LA, please take a video camera over there! 665 Rose Avenue, Venice, CA"

  • Bill Anderson
    Ken-

    I hope you are aware than Hellen Keller was a socialist.

    John M-

    There is some very damning evidence of Lew Rockwell's racism, or (perhaps?) his willingness to pander to racist elements as a way to build a right-wing political movement. Please see this:

    http://reason.com/archives/2008/01/16/who-wrote-ron-pauls-newsletter

    And yes, I do take exception to Ron Paul's and Rockwell's reactionary position on immigration. If implemented, it will result in a massive expasion of police-state powers, and systematic racism on a scale we haven't seen since the days of segregation in the old south.

    As far as the general philosophy of "libertarian" economics goes — It is pure escapism from social responsibility to suggest that the conditions in which humans are born and raised do not influence our behavior and choices later in life. We are alll born as helpless babies, into a collectivist institution also known as the nuclear family, and the particular structure of this family (in its modern form) is very much a product of industrial capitalism. In other types of pre-industrial societies, the family has taken a very different structure with different outcomes, and I bellieve it is entirely possible for the structure of the family to change for the better if we so choose.

    It is true that human choice plays an important role in all of this, including both individual choices, and societal choices made on a macro scale. I am simply proposing that we make a different choice than we have been for the last 150 years of industrial capitalism. Instead of the dog-eat-dog society envisioned by Ayn Rand and the "tea party", we should choose a society which values grassroots democracy, social justice, ecology, and sustainability.

    The free market is not magical. It is not a snake-oil which will cure all of our ills. The free market can play an important role in a democratic society, if it is kept in check by civil society (including such institutions as labor unions and cooperatives) but it is not the end-all-be-all that the capitalist class wishes it to be. In fact, everywhere that neo-liberal capitalism has gone on the planet, it has resulted in genocide, murder, and dispossession of traditional subsistance cultures from the land, all in the name of corporate profit and "progress."

    Your fallacy, John, is that you seek to seperate the political and social consequences of neo-liberal capitalism from the pure economic philosophy of it. Whenever neo-liberalism fails and results in massive social problems (such as what has happened in, say, Somalia since the 1970s), the answer is that they didn't follow neo-liberal philosophy closely enough.

    Frankly, this sounds like fundamentalism to me. This is no different than a Christian fundamentalist who blames the faillure of heterosexual "therapies" designed to "cure" gay people of their homosexuality, to a failure of the individuals to adhere to the philosophy of the therapy.

    I would gladly defend the historical record of Western democratic socialism/leftism any day, against the atrocities committed by our own corporate capitalist regimes. We could start the discussion with Chile in 1972.

  • Ingvar Odegaard
    Wasn't Rawesome raided last year?
  • Don Neeper
    More information on the current Rawesome Foods raid:

    http://www.infowars.com/raw-food-raid-armed-agents-bust-raw-milk-cheese-sellers/

    "Devon Read reports on our wall:
    Rawesome's proprietor has been arrested on $123,000 bail and $10,000 of raw milk has been poured out"

    "CDFA says they are not 'dealing with' the Rawesome raid and to call the District Attorney's office 213-974-3512. Ya'll call!"

  • milk farmer
    They want war, that's what they're gonna get.
  • Amanda Rose
    Mark McAfee said,

    "Amanda Rose. What can I say to you? Not one drop of raw milk has ever been bottled at OP that did not come from OP cows. Not one drop.Your horrible statements about OP raw milk are regretful and baseless. You have some weird witchy."

    I'm sorry if I said something about your *milk,* I meant your butter, cheese, cream, and colostrum, all of which you yourself have admitted to outsourcing. Eager readers can search this very blog to find lots of confusion on that matter — mainly by you. An examination of your proprietary Milk Pool records would help all of us be a lot less confused.

    I for one still have a burr up my saddle that you sold these items to me to feed my children and now, instead of manning up about it, you call me a witch. Until then, let your 200 cows keep pumping magically and feeding 50K customers.

    Amanda

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