The explanations and opinions of the California public health food regulator I’ve quoted in my previous two posts may not be very satisfying, but they provide at least the possibilities of dialogue…and progress. The wide variety of insightful comments and suggestions show once again how deep and complex the subject of raw milk, pathogens, and contamination really is.
Following on all this stimulating conversation, I read an article sponsored by, of all places, Harvard Medical School, and I had my head turned, yet again, as to how far the public health and medical communities have to go on the matter of raw milk and pathogens.
Here’s a sample: “Which symptoms someone gets after drinking raw milk depends on which bacteria are in it. The more common problems are vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain, fever, headache and body aches.”
And another: “There are parents who believe raw milk is more nutritious than pasteurized milk. Research has shown this is not true.”
This author makes the California regulator I interviewed sound nearly like a raw milk groupie. Aside from the ignorance of this Harvard physician, there is the equally troubling matter of the financial circumstance of this article.
It is put together by Harvard Medical School and then sold by a private company to places like msn.com. The revenues are then divided between the private company (StayWell) and Harvard. So Harvard not only uses its upscale “brand” to sell its expertise, but it profits off of such ignorance. StayWell claims such articles reach “hundreds of thousands of consumers daily…”
So this isn’t just Harvard babble into empty spaces. This is Harvard babble being read, and taken seriously, by hundreds of thousands of consumers.
The other side of this craziness, of course, is that if you were to challenge the Harvard people to argue that raw milk really does have important health benefits, they would challenge you to prove it via controlled-group research. I spent seven years at Harvard as an editor at the Harvard Business Review, and I can tell you from experience that not only would they challenge you, they would be quite condescending about their challenges.
Yet here, the Harvard people talk about research, and cite not a thing. (Thanks to Alexis Bogue for alerting me to the msn.com article from Harvard.)
The head of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture as secretary of agriculture? Let’s hope this report on The Daily Kos is totally misguided, and that this speculation about PDA chief Dennis Wolff being named to a high position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture by President-elect Barack Obama is just that–idle speculation. His PDA has been a one-man, or maybe two-man, wrecking crew for many raw milk dairies, not to mention his strong stand against labeling milk for added hormones Certainly some Pennsylvania dairy farmers (like Mark Nolt) would just as soon see him go–just not to USDA where he can do his thing nationally.
I’ve been in Europe a little over a week and I continue to be amazed at how much tastier the food is than what is generally served around the U.S. (I’ve been in Germany for Holocasust-related events, and now am in Denmark for some unrelated business.)
I expect such differences in France and Italy, where gourmet is an everyday thing. But Germany isn’t known for as an epicure’s delight, yet even at ordinary places like hospital cafeterias and Thai restaurants, the food is much tastier than what I’m accustomed to.
At the major medical center that now sits over the Darmstadt synagogue remains I wrote about last week, the cafeteria offers fresh beet and carrot salads along with cole slaws, to go with traditional German dishes like pot roast and potato salad. It all tastes fresh and wonderful. At a Thai restaurant in Frankfurt near the train station, the vegetables, fish, and duck are similarly scrumptuous. At the hotel breakfasts, the egg yolks are a deep orange, like the pastured eggs that are starting to become
available at farmers markets in the U.S. And I have yet to see a piece of iceberg lettuce. (Raw milk is pretty scarce in supermarkets, though available at a few on a hit-or-miss basis).
I can only think that it must be a matter of less factory food, and more support for small farms overall (though that’s been a contentious issue in Europe)–and more of an expectation that food will be of a certain quality level. Plus, they emphasize breads and cheeses and salads and fresh veggies cooked right. Is there more that I’m missing?