bigstockphoto_Cows_In_Pasture__1450768.jpgWhile we dither, Rome burns.

That is part of the message from raw milk advocate Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures in his commentary following my recent posting about the joys of eating local.

While he doesn’t name names (“We are all missing the point on frequency of raw milk illness”), he implies strongly that in searching so long and hard for the culprits in raw milk illnesses, like those that affected his farm last September, we are fighting the wrong enemy, almost like political liberals who quarrel bitterly about how aggressively to go after polluters, while the politicians actually elected want to do little or nothing about pollution.

He also suggests we are missing much bigger problems. One bigger problem he alludes to isn’t that of more frequent serious illness from other foods, but rather huge numbers of deaths from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals.

But the really big problem he hits on is fear. As he suggests, it’s easier to comprehend the simple idea of killer bacteria (find them and destroy them) than the more complicated idea of different types of bacteria, and learning to build up our internal supply of good bacteria as a way to improve our chances of co-existing with the bad bacteria. I like his term, “bacteriosapiens.”

In Mark’s world, it’s black and white, with no shades of gray. One thing Mark understands well is the array of forces massed against his view of the world. If you saw the cover of last week’s Newsweek magazine, you saw a clear picture of what I’m getting at. It showed a photo of man floating lazily on his back in a swimming pool, with the caption, “Back from the Dead” (about individuals with heart failure more often being saved).

When I saw that cover, and the supporting stories contained in the magazine, I could only think that at last the medical establishment has come up with a way to one-up antibiotics. If there is anything more impressive than making the symptoms of seriously ill people disappear, it’s bringing people back from the dead. As long as the scientists keep coming up with a new magic show every few decades to suggest that man can use technology to conquer all medical enemies, it’s a tough battle to sell natural alternatives.

Actually, I’ve found the discussions about the workings of a cow’s digestive system, and how it gives our human systems a boost, much more relevant, and intriguing. Nor had I realized how the antibiotic obsession extends even to bees, and that produce can be rated by nutritional value. Like Mark, I’ll take the beef over the sizzle any day of the week.