So I’m reading the lengthy lead article in the Sunday Review section of today’s New York Times, headed, “A Cure for the Allergy Epidemic?” It’s by a science writer, Moises Velasquez-Manoff. 

It begins by asking, “Will the cure for allergies come from the cowshed?” It then goes on to explain that the prevalence of allergies and asthma has exploded, so today “one in five American children have a respiratory allergy like hay fever, and nearly one in ten have asthma.” Nine people die each day from asthma attacks. 

Next, it points out that Amish children studied for allergies in Indiana are “among the least allergic populations ever described in the developed world.” So far, so good. 

Then it gets downright serious: “The working hypothesis is that innocuous cowshed microbes, plant material and raw milk protect farming children by favorably stimulating their immune systems throughout life…” I’m not sure I read that reference to raw milk correctly, so now I’m glued to the article. 

It goes through a long exploration about how farm exposure early in life, including during pregnancy, helps build immunity later in life. One conclusion: “Farms with the greatest array of microbes, including fungi, appear to be the most protective against asthma.” 

After some hundreds of words speculating about the impact of farms on health and pregnancy , we get down to the serious business at hand, as the author transitions: “Which brings us to farm milk. In Europe, the consumption of unpasteurized milk has repeatedly correlated with protection against allergic disease. In America, 80 percent of the Amish studied by Dr. (Mark) Holbreich consume raw milk. In a study published earlier this year, Dr. (Bianca) Schaub’s group showed that European children who consumed farm milk had more of those regulatory T-cells, irrespective of whether they lived on farms. The higher the quantity of those cells, the less likely these children were to be given diagnoses of asthma. Here, finally, is something concrete to take off the farm.” 

I can’t believe what I am reading. Can it be that the NY Times is about to suggest that we can no longer ignore the clear health benefits of raw milk? That the NY Times is confirming what so many raw milk drinkers have long known about raw milk countering auto-immune conditions in themselves and their children? That raw milk possibly holds the key to countering the scourge of many chronic illnesses? That we should figure out how to safely increase production and get this product out to people who can benefit? 

Not so fast. It doesn’t take long before I come crashing back to earth…the next paragraph, in fact: “None of these scientists recommend that people consume raw milk: it can carry deadly pathogens. Rather, they hope to identify what’s protective in the milk and either extract it or preserve the ingredients during processing.” Yeah, maybe 25 years down the road. Once Big Ag and Big Pharma figure out a way to profit. 

I should have known. The author, Manoff, actually went further in assessing the likely powerful health benefits of raw milk than most any other mainstream writer I have seen. But in the end–despite reporting that nine people die each day from asthma attacks (with none having died from legally produced raw milk products in more than 20 years)— he sticks to the government/industry/university/mainsteam-media party line. He had to–otherwise his article wouldn’t have been published, just as the various research he cited wouldn’t have been published. 

The good news is that, slowly but surely, the word is getting out about raw milk. Intelligent people can read the NY Times article and appreciate the huge inconsistency between daily deaths from asthma versus the dangers of raw milk, so that the choice is obvious. They can appreciate that the infrequent serious illnesses from pathogens in raw milk are at least partly the result of a carefully crafted public health policy of driving raw dairy production underground, and thereby encouraging the illnesses, so as to further demonize the product….all for the sake of protecting a powerful industry. 

Eventually, the truth will win out. It is just a long, slow, bumpy road there.