Sally Fallon has long been the whipping girl of raw milk opponents, portrayed as uncaring of victims of illness from raw dairy and an advocate of crazy safety ideas, like the one that the good bacteria in raw milk from grass-fed cows kills off pathogens.
When the head of the Weston A. Price Foundation had the temerity a couple years back to suggest that food safety investigators look into the possibility that tainted water rather than raw milk might have been responsible for a Pennsylvania man’s serious illness from campylobacter, lawyer Bill Marler practically pushed for tarring and feathering. “Denying (illnesses) does not alter reality,” he proclaimed on his blog. “Ms. Fallon Morrell, have you no shame?”
I thought of those and other such accusations against Sally Fallon as I listened to her describe her milk and cheese production methods at her 95-acre Maryland farm, the P.A. Bowen Farmstead, yesterday. She was hosting the fifth anniversary celebration of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which she was instrumental in establishing. She and husband Geoffrey Morrell purchased the farm a couple years ago, and they have been busy since then restoring it and turning it into a world class cheese production facility. The center pieces are the ten Jersey cows that provide the milk for the blue cheese, cheddar, and “dreamy creamy” cheeses.
What struck me as Fallon went through a video of the milking and cheese making process was her emphasis on safety. Actually, that is initially apparent just by looking around. The milk parlor is so clean one could eat off the floor. The ten Jersey cows grazing in a shady pasture are immaculate.
The cows are milked only once a day, which she says results in a richer milk, highly suitable for cheese. than if they were milked more. They are coddled, with a brushing-massaging machine and the playing of Mozart music as they are being milked. She showed how the milk is immediately tested for mastitis via something called the California Mastitis Test that indicates elevated somatic cell counts. By showing sub-clinical mastitis–signs of mastitis before they become visible via symptoms–Fallon is able to take quick action to deal with a cow, and to segregate its milk by using it only to feed calves.
She noted that she sends her milk off for lab pathogen and other testing once a month, even though Maryland regulations require only annual testing. She is setting up the farm to do in-house listeria testing, since listeria can be a problem in raw cheese production facilities.
While Fallon and family consume the milk, strict Maryland laws make it illegal to sell or even privately distribute raw milk. (For a look at the farm and facilities, there is a slide show on YouTube.)
Why all the emphasis on testing? In actuality, the Weston A. Price Foundation has long been an advocate of strict safety standards, and Fallon has been a big booster of the Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI) launched by Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy Co. (despite statements indicating skepticism about whether raw milk was the culprit in certain outbreaks). But there is something else at work as well, according to Fallon. Given the growing federal intrusion into food safety via the Food Safety Modernization Act passed last year, “We want to have records in case the feds do” begin involving themselves in raw dairy testing and safety requirements, she said.
By the way, I bought some of the blue and cheddar cheeses on sale at the farm store, and can attest that they are wonderful. And kudos to Fallon and others, including Cathy Raymond and Maureen Diaz, for not wilting in the 104-degree heat yesterday. Everyone looked as if they had just run a marathon once they walked across the road from the parking area to the farm, but not only did the picnic lunch come off without a hitch, even the ice cream survived. About 140 people celebrated the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s fifth anniversary, and heard Pete Kennedy, the organization’s president, describe how the organization is not only representing raw milk producers, but taking on other kinds of cases as well, like the Food Sovereignty case in Maine and a zoning case in Michigan in which a farmer is being challenged in his farming under zoning laws.
So if Bill Marler and his pals at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are looking for raw dairy models of safety and sanitation, I think I know of one in rural Maryland. Don’t worry. They really don’t want to know about success models.
Have a cow, as Bart would say.
Remove the word “illnesses” and insert safety…. Denying (Safety) does not alter reality, this is what those against the consumption of raw dairy (among other foods) have screamed. As many have pointed out, it would be suicide for a farmer not to be as sanitary as possible.
Raw milk doesn’t seem to be in Mr. Bittman’s or others’ vocabulary or radar:
I agree. No single food is a cure-all for everyone. Different people have different needs, and different sources of aversive reactions. But it’s also true that the subject of raw milk is not politically correct for many at The New York Times.
If I do say so myself, it is a nice set of documents.
Another lie and gross misrepresentation from the US government- soymilk is NOT dairy and for many it tastes awful. Isn’t soy gmo?
As for most with chronic heartburn/GERD/reflux etc. Most often it is the whole of the routine diet consumed on a regular basis that is a major contributor to the symptoms. SAD comes to mind, which includes over processed dairy.
“Osteoporosis? You dont need milk, or large amounts of calcium, for bone integrity. In fact, the rate of fractures is highest in milk-drinking countries, and it turns out that the keys to bone strength are lifelong exercise and vitamin D, which you can get from sunshine. ”
This statement is true. He neglected to include that bones require the other nutrients found in foods for bone health, it isn’t just Vit D and calcium, if one is decreased the body compensates from other areas. They work in conjunction with each other.
Bill Marler, just to be clear, I said you (and other raw milk opponents) weren’t interested in success models for raw milk safety and sanitation. I didn’t say you don’t want a solution to people getting sick. Important distinction that I won’t dwell on, but suffice it to say, there are always going to be instances of people getting sick from food, and if the standard is that a food can’t be sold because someone might get sick, then you’ve set the bar at a level where it’s possible to veto any food you happen to have a bias against.
More to the point, what I was getting at in my post is the importance of judging people by their actions rather than their words. Sally Fallon has said some things about raw milk and raw milk safety that, like you, I don’t agree with. But in the end, I believe it’s important to judge people by their actions rather than their words. I was impressed during my visit to her farm Saturday by her actions in acknowledging the importance of raw milk safety, taking serious actions above and beyond regulatory requirements, and in the process serving as a model to other raw milk producers, many of whom hold her in very high esteem.
The article you link to in Food Safety News, listing the conditions under which you would “allow” raw milk, are interesting words. But your actions, at least those I am aware of, have all been geared toward sabotaging or rejecting sincere efforts to allow the private sales and distribution of raw milk (apart from retail sales). I am thinking in particular of Wisconsin and Minnesota, where the anti-raw-milk lobby has worked like crazy to reject, though I suspect from the fact that you are sending a “legislative kit” around the country, you are engaged in a national campaign.
The way it looks from here, you have this list of conditions under which raw milk can be made available, but if there is, in your judgment, any deviation from it, in the slightest, you have an excuse to reject and sabotage. Maybe the question I should be asking is this: Is there any legislative effort in the recent past or upcoming to support private availability of raw milk that meets your conditions and thus deserves your support?
But, the fact is everyone has their own ideas about food and I’m not here to change their minds. I just think misinformation and re-arranged facts won’t help people make proper nutritional decisions. But at some point common sense must play a role (such as buying boxed, powdered eggs!). I mean, really?
The NYT and many other papers of like kind and quality are just rags. They only print what is currently popular and they print it as if it were factual. That’s their job. Which is why we need to dig deeper for real information and facts. Much deeper.
Call it a “field guide to microbes and other interesting ideas concerning microbes”.
He talks about manure tea (he called it poo tea). I give it to my plants. Never thought much about using it myself. =8-0 And the fecal transplants for C-Diff aren’t new. I posted information about that a couple of years ago (on my own forum). So people are curious about microbes, good and bad. Maybe we should all be taking a closer look.
And I don’t remember reading anything in David’s article where he said anything about you NOT wanting a solution to people getting sick. Not a factual statement on your part at all.
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-uridine.htm Maybe a beer will improve memory…. or maybe there is something to the colostrum
Excellent TED talk…thank you!! We are indeed “BacteriaSapiens”.
I envision, in a very short time, that small raw milk farmers will complete for low bacteria count numbers on a national scale. Each proudly demonstrating their ability to transparently and consisently produce extremely clean and delicious raw milk. I see this already happening as I discuss raw milk safety and see how proud each farmer is of what they do. The evidence is clear, the lab tests varify the results of hard work and being clean. This completely connects to food safety and in turn consumer trust and health. This can not be industrialized. Thank God!!
I just wish that Bill Marler would acknowledge the hard work of high quality raw milk. When coliforms are at less than 1 and SPC are at less than 500….that beats pasteurized milk anytime.
The most telling thing that beats pasteurized milk….is pasteurized milk itself. It is the most allergenic food in America….people can not eat the stuff. Market dollar voting could very well show pasteurized milk the exit door with a swift-kick to the backside on the way out. Dairies are going bankrupt left and right in CA with milk price below $14 per CWT and falling. Hay costs higher than ever.
It is dairy torture by processor profits and consumer lactose intolerance. Pasteurized milk is easy to over produce…but damn hard to sell because it causes GUT illness. Simple as that.
Your advise to only allow raw milk to be sold on farms is a very short sighted vision. I always took you for a visionary with a longer view. How about high standards and systems that help farmers do better??? That is truly visionary. Your vision is pro-processor, pro-allergies, pro-asthma, anti farmer and anti consumer. Under your vision, few people could have access to raw milk. Your vision is expensive, dangerous and is un-green and requires moms with cars filled with car seats, ice chests and pissed-off kids to travel miles and miles to get their raw milk. Your vision denies people a living green choice in the market place. Before denial of choice and cars filled with pissed-off kids…lets try investment in and enhancement of standards first.
Your vision does not work. All it does is motivate the grass roots to dislike the FDA and you even more.
I always thought you wanted to be considered a good looking savior with a vision. You should consider attending one of our RAWMI training days. We talk all about illness and pathogens…but we also show farmers exactly how to reduce this risk and control the quality of their precious raw milk…..and create a food which protects against: bone density loss, asthma, excema, ear infections, GERD, IBS and Crohns.
I would absolutely love to have you come and join us sometime. You can even milk a cow with us and learn how we control every aspect of cleanliness from Grass to Glass. All of your concerns are addressed 110%. ( plus much more ) ….with raw milk there is no hiding place or excuses. It is innately and inherently ethical and good. Something not well understood by the FDA or processors.
Seeing as how it links to animals, I think it’s appropriate to post it here. If not, David can haul it off!
It reminds me of my friend who stayed at my home in Tampa,FL years ago, after his place was damaged from a hurricane. He lived off of frozen meals, cooked absolutely nothing. He did make coffee. He also lived off anti-ulcer medications that were not effective. Had chronic stomach pain. I don’t recall how long he had been at my place when his GI symptoms subsided (they never went totally away-could have been the Mountain Dew he sucked down daily), his brother commented that his GI problems decreased greatly at my place. He ate real food at my place. He was there not quite a year and reverted back to his ‘normal’ diet at his place, with resumption of GI issues.
There are pathogens everywhere and the way to deal with them is NOT to insulate yourself, but to expose your self to those risks. There is a reason why humans normally won’t eat plastic and synthetics, unless it’s fabricated, advertisied and marketed as healthy. Milk, I’m not so worried about. Maybe someone can come up with organic, garlic milk? http://www.doomandbloom.net/2011/12/garlic-as-an-antibiotic.html
They don’t mention cows or chickens, but you can bet they make your life and health better too:
A promotional tool may be, in a nutshell: If you are going to teach, then teach it all.
Informing of the potential of all foods being contaminated, what you are doing to prevent contamination and offer the most healthy product. A comparison of what you do and what the majority of dairies, similar in size to your dairy, in the US are doing and be specific on what the differences are. Pictures are great. Also inform of smaller dairies and the huge cafos. Compare what your labs results have to be by-law to what all other dairies have to be. Inform on what the facts are in relation to outbreaks for both raw and boiled dairy. Also show the relation to raw/boiled dairy to other foods.
If people see what the facts are, they can make informed choices and hopefully avoid illness with all foods. I think the consumption of boiled milk will decrease when eyes are opened to what they are really getting.
It’s the drugs, foods and the environment they are raised in. An easy fix…feed what is natural to them, open range environment, etc. If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same results…
You will be happy to know that the RAWMI training content contains a substantial amount of Bill Marler data and information. After all he is the shark that will eat your lunch if you screw it up with raw milk safety. It is essential to know thy challenges and thy enemy. In the end…Bill is not our enemy at all…he is a catalyst and a stimulant for change and improvement. Not a very fun pathway for change…but none the less a stimulant and catalyst.
There is no possible way to get the attention of raw milk producers unless illness from raw milk is shown and deeply discussed in an open and honest training enviroment. Good progress can only come from an honest redress of the facts. Not made up stories or hope….but real facts and real data.
At RAWMI training we also talk about the real data on national statistics on all foods. When compared to raw milk…my political statement and lesson is learned. Stats on raw milk illness are borderline irrelevant especially when considering the life saving value of a strong immune system and the discontinuance of toxic killer drugs for asthma, IBS, Osteoporsis and Crohns etc…
The truth is buried underneith the need to protect markets. When was the last time anyone spoke of the 8 kids that died from allergies to pasteurized milk??? Never mentioned. It is as if the pasteurized milk industry would prefer to blame the kids for allergies as if it was a separate individual defect or problem with the kid and not a defect of their own making.
Does not happen…pasteurized milk allergies kill kids far more than milk pathogens in the USA. My data shows 8 to 0 on the deaths from pasteurized milk allergies verses any source of raw milk deaths for any age group at any time in the last 50 years from raw milk!!
Raw milk is absolutely the place to see the pure political climate and the miss use and abuse of data to scare consumers with a desparate pasteurized milk market system.
The truth is the truth and RAWMI teaches the pure truth so that the farmer is prepared to prevent illness and feed his customers with the lowest risk raw milk possible.
Raw Milk is a rising emerging market and raw milk producers are heros for all the kids with weak immune systems. They are damned heros if they are ignorant and or poorly trained.
I look forward to presenting a recap after July 23rd and the RAWMI training day in Oregon.
I grew up around animals of all kinds and I love them (except cats), but they were outdoors whenever I was around them. My Mom didn’t permit animals in the house (except an occasional visit from one of the dogs for a minute or two). Consequently, I’m the same way – animals belong outdoors. Besides, it’s much easier to keep my house clean, since I run my business from my home – and clients expect my home to be clean even if their’s looks like a junkyard. That’s just the way people are.
I suppose it’s a mixed bag of opinion, but I can’t say I agree 100% with the article in that last link you posted.
As you said, the truth is the truth!
All that matters is that I have an inalienable right to choose what I put into my body, and that government has no legitimate say so in that decision. Doing other wise makes government illegitimate, and a criminal aggressor which I have the right to defend myself from.
Have you all forgotten why we instituted government? From the looks of the world the graduates of the government indoctrination centers were never taught this central fact, and are too dull to discover it on their own.
Lists of what some of the Founding fathers did for a living. They came from all walks of life. Broom and Few were small farmers.
“Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”