There have been a couple of very interesting glimpses into the real world of suspected pathogens and regulation around raw milk this weekend.
First and foremost, there is Scott Freeman’s disarmingly candid account (on the second page of comments, following my previous post) of what’s happened at his Kinikin Corner Dairy in Colorado (logo pictured above) since he began learning about possible campylobacter illnesses from among his shareholders. Before I say anything else, I want to thank Scott for sharing his experience. He’s dealing with a huge amount of stress and uncertainty right now—the Colorado Health Department’s lab analysis of his milk hasn’t yet come back—yet he took time to share with us. He could have shut down his phones and gone radio silent, but he didn’t. Very brave.
Big picture, what I get from his account is both the huge amount of responsibility Scott feels and his determination to do the right thing. He’s not defensive, nor is he locked into a particular ideological approach.
Three other things stand out here:
- Scott wants to learn from this experience. He honestly wants to determine if there is a problem and, if there is, to fix it and make sure it isn’t a problem again.
- His shareholders are standing with him. He wanted to suspend distribution, yet “I’m sure to the health department’s surprise, most wanted their milk,” he says. He finally shut off distribution after the state ordered him to last Tuesday.Goes to show, though, that raw milk consumers understand the potential risks associated with raw milk, yet see the health benefits from consuming raw milk as outweighing any concerns.
- If the campylobacter is from his milk, it has affected a small number of consumers—eight out of 175, it seems.
We’re all definitely eager to hear the rest of this story, and I hope Scott will continue sharing.
The second development was the airing by the Food Network last evening of its long-awaited program about raw milk (and raw honey). As Mark McAfee says in his comment following my previous post, Liz Reitzig was the star. She was articulate and animated. “I’m a raw milk freedom fighter,” she says during the program, which shows her traveling from Maryland to Pennsylvania to obtain milk, of her efforts to get raw milk legalized in her home state.
But there were some other stars as well. There was a man picking up his raw milk from a secret Maryland co-op (since raw milk is illegal in the state) who said he had worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for 25 years. “It took me 25 years to realize raw milk was good for me,” he said.
And then there was Ted Elkin of the Maryland Office of Food Protection. At the end of the 15-minute segment devoted to raw milk, Liz pays a visit to Elkin’s office to discuss raw milk. It is obviously staged, and the regulator is unyielding, but the simple fact that a state regulator goes toe-to-toe with a raw milk advocate in public is a first of sorts. When Liz challenges his statement that raw milk inherently contains pathogens, Elkin retorts, “It does, it does, it does.” Not much room for acommodation there.
Ted Elkin better watch out: His mentor at the FDA, dairy czar John Sheehan, isn’t going to take well to such shenanigans. Sheehan won’t even venture into the same building as raw milk advocates.
I’d like to share my regret over my previous posting, in suggesting that Concerned Person somehow was complicit with MarlerClark in its posting of documents from the California Department of Food and Agriculture filed in connection with a legal case. I only wanted to draw attention to the documents, and used CP’s link as an excuse.
I also would like to discourage participants here from engaging in personal attacks on others who comment. I know many of us are very passionate about the stakes in the raw milk conflict, but it doesn’t further anyone’s interests to question the personal motives or integrity of others.