I launched this blog 16 years ago to report on raids by state and federal regulators on small farms in Ohio and Michigan for illegal sale of raw milk. As a business journalist, I was puzzled as to why regulators were intent on forcing small farms out of business for producing a food product many people felt was healthier than the mass market pasteurized version.
Over time, the conflicts over raw milk extended to many other states—Massachusetts, Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Maryland, Maine…..and even to Canada. In addition to raids, there were criminal charges leveled at farmers, couriers, and retailers selling raw dairy.
It became clear that federal and state regulators were sometimes coordinating their actions. Sometimes, it appeared as if they were hyping the occasional illnesses that resulted from raw milk consumption, even when the overall data wasn’t alarming. It even seemed at times like they were serving the interests of large processors of pasteurized milk, who clearly were nervous about the marketplace potential of large-scale raw dairy sales. The battles over raw milk became emblematic of conflicts over food sales by small producers of a variety of fresh foods.
But never in all those years did I suspect that the crackdown on raw milk was part of a larger conspiracy….say, involving globalist plans to degrade our health in pursuit of some kind of ‘world government,’ as some readers speculated. To me, these battles in some cases illustrated power struggles in which food-safety regulators became overly concerned about food safety, or else felt a need to assert their authority over farmers and consumers who had a different vision about what foods should be available, and in what ways.
I do this recollecting because over the last couple years, I’ve shied away from posting much here because of the increasingly toxic tone of discussion—discussion not dissimilar to what’s happened on social media and various other large platforms. No matter what the topic, some readers seem obsessed with expounding endlessly about conspiracies having to do with vaccination (anti-vax), climate (climate-change-denial), gun violence (anti-gun-control), and political fraud (coverups). Covid just exaggerated the entire trend, with raw milk proponents like Sally Fallon Morell applying their conspiracy mindsets to explaining covid (in her case, arguing it came from 5G wifi).
I discussed my frustrations over these trends in a talk I did together with a journalism colleague last fall about the “Upheaval of Journalism” over the last 50 years. The slides and discussion about how all the craziness asserted itself here covers three minutes (beginning at 1:04 and going through 1:07), though you may find the rest interesting as we chronicle the huge shifts in media influence and economics. (It was based on a book I contributed to, Inside the Upheaval of Journalism: Reporters Look Back on 50 Years of Covering the News.)
Many raw milk proponents have dealt with the raw milk challenges and obstacles as a battle against entrenched interests, rather than as a search for conspiracies. These individuals have employed tried-and-true lobbying techniques like pressuring their state legislators and testifying at state hearing, and made much progress in shifting the tide in favor of raw dairy and other healthy foods. These proponents have also pressed raw dairy producers to take stricter precautions in production, and that led to formation of the Raw Milk Institute, which has worked hard to educate farmers about best practices for producing safe raw milk.
Earlier this year, Iowa became the latest in a long line of states to legalize raw milk distribution. All that prompted USA Today a few days ago to declare: “Public health has lost the war” on raw milk; ironically, that quote comes from a long-time blogger here, Mary McGonigle Martin, whose son was seriously sickened by raw milk he consumed in California back in 2006.
I’m thrilled to know this blog played a major role in the shift highlighted at long last by the mainstream media. Educating the public about food rights has been an exciting project for me over the years, which led to me writing three books about various aspects of food rights.
As for this blog’s future direction, no final decisions have been made. I do have a few options in mind, and will be posting about them as appropriate. In the meantime, thanks for all the great support over these years.