It’s been nearly a year since I sat in on a small discussion at the Weston A. Price annual conference in Chicago, and heard a number of raw milk experts discuss the ins and outs of A1/A2 milk. The issue had become a hot topic, stimulated by publication of a book out of New Zealand, “The Devil in the Milk”, which argued that A2 milk, which lacks a genetically-determined protein fragment, improves drinkers’ health, while A1 milk, which has the protein, might well detract from health.

One farmer involved in the discussion said he had shifted his small herd so it consists entirely of A2 cows. Another farmer said the evidence on A1/A2 wasn’t convincing enough for him to shift his entire herd. And a veterinarian and a few others with background said essentially that the jury is still out. That’s pretty much what I wrote in a post more than a year ago.

Then the issue seemed to die down, as far as I could see, replaced by growing concerns about simple availability of raw milk, any raw milk, in the face of a rapidly expanding market, as well as the ongoing debate about milk safety, and related issues like competitive exclusion, discussed extensively following my previous post.

But last Friday, at a special session on raw milk at the national conference of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, where I spoke, together with Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Michael Schmidt, the Canadian raw dairy farmer, the issue came up again. A woman attending the session, clutching her copy of “The Devil in the Milk”, wondered if the A1/A2 issue was being ignored, or even covered up, by raw dairy farmers and other raw milk proponents. She was concerned about the possibly damaging effects of A1 milk. A few other members of the audience of about 40 indicated they were interested as well, while others obviously had never heard of A1/A2 milk.

Sally Fallon explained her view that it’s not yet clear how important the A1/A2 matter is. “Let’s not start blaming the farmers and making their lives more difficult,” she said.

Michael Schmidt said a number of his herdshare members had asked him whether his dairy’s cows are A1 or A2. “My response is to ask them, ‘Have you had any health problems since you started drinking this milk?’ ” No one has had any difficulties, which he says indicates to him it’s likely not a significant issue.

The questioner seemed satisfied. My sense is that the A1/A2 issue is probably not a major one, at least as far as unpasteurized milk is concerned. But as people’s concerns grow about inadvertently consuming bad food, maybe it’s natural that there will be concerns about issues like this one.
James Stewart, co-founder of Rawesome Food Club, and Sharon Palmer, a long-time farmer supplier. The people who run Rawesome Food Club have a new web site and an appeal for donations to a legal defense fund.

The account on the site of Rawesome’s experience during and following the June 30 armed raid by at least five different local, state, and federal agencies says the authorities took 17 cases of food, without ice to keep them cold. Aajonus Vonderplanitz, one of the Rawesome founders, has said the food had a value of $11,000.

The web site indicates that the organization is mounting a legal defense against charges by the Los Angeles Office of Building and Safety that Rawesome is violating building codes. Vonderplanitz has also said he wants to sue the government for trespassing, kidnapping, and theft of goods.

In the meantime, the casualties mount. The web site says that Sharon Palmer, a farm owner who supplied goats milk to Rawesome under a lease agreement, and who was also raided June 30, has ended her agreement and sold the goats because of the trauma that raid and a previous one created for her young children. And MorningLand Dairy Raw Milk Cheese says in a blog post that it’s been ordered to destroy thousands of pounds of cheese after traces of listeria were found in some of the cheese seized in the Rawesome raid–this despite FDA tests at its Missouri plant showing no indications of listeria, and despite the fact the listeria was found many weeks after the raid. You’ll see from the comments on the company’s blog that there are lots of outraged folks.

No, the government doesn’t have to file charges against Rawesome. It can just periodically carry out such raids, and each time, harass a few small producers of nutrient-dense foods out of business. The American way of sterilizing the food supply?