The host of a Washington, DC, NPR program, Kojo Nnamdi, had a great idea for a recent show: he’d have a debate between pro and anti raw milk experts. So he invited representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to join with Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and include a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin as a kind of interpreter.

When show time came on Monday, everyone was there…except representatives from the FDA. According to Nnamdi, the FDA “declined to designate a representative, saying ‘this is not a debatable issue.’” Talk about arrogance. There is one view, and it’s the FDA’s view. Case closed.

So Nnamdi played the part of critical questioner, and stimulated an interesting discussion with Sally and the professor, Michael Bell, who were joined during the program by Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures Dairy Co. Listeners got to ask questions as well. I recommend listening to it if you get a chance; it’s the third item down on the page. Among the points made during the program:

–The growing interest in raw milk is partly a reflection of “a lack of trust in contemporary institutions…a sense of wanting to turn to a local face-to-face society,” according to Michael Bell, the sociologist.

–Sally scolded the FDA and state agencies for relying on “science that is forty years old” to justify harsh restrictions on raw milk distribution. She said there is much recent evidence to suggest that dairies are capable of producing highly safe raw milk, via pasture feeding and sanitary processes. She repeated a point she has made previously that “we would not recommend” that consumers use raw milk “from confinement dairies.”

–Mark was questioned by Nnamdi about “four children who got sick from E.coli” last September. Mark said the situation was a classic example of the government’s tendency with raw milk to “shoot first and ask questions later.” He explained that when he heard children were sick, “I immediately recalled all of our products.” He said two of the four children “recovered at home without being treated.” The children who were hospitalized, he said, became ill from “different bacteria.” One (presumably Lauren Herzog) became ill from E.coli 0157:H7, which he suggested might have come from spinach, and the second (presumably Chris Martin) became ill “from chigella.” He added, “The state never found any pathogens in our milk.”

–Sally said the raw milk movement is “where organic food was twenty years ago.” What will it take to change government attitudes? “An outpouring of consumer demand,” she said. “It is unstoppable.”

I agree on the last point, especially after experiencing yet another example of government arrogance on an issue that should be very much debatable. The sociologist’s observations about "trust" come to life.