One of the reasons I’ve been so fascinated with the issue of raw milk—I didn’t, after all, launch this blog as a “raw milk blog”—is that it is a proxy issue affecting a variety of food and health issues.

The debate taking place on my two previous posts provides additional confirmation. Before explaining, I must say that I find some of these discussions so amazingly articulate and well thought through that I feel like I’m on intellectual overload after reading through them.

To me, much of the recent discussion can be related to the emerging issue of world food shortages and price rises. There was a fascinating Wall Street Journal article last week arguing that the problem of food shortages and rising prices can be partially blamed on small dairies in New Zealand. If only they listened to economists, and allowed the necessary billions in investment, there could be less land devoted to pasture and more huge confinement dairies that would be more “productive,” helping solve the problem of high food costs.

The WSJ’s implied argument—if only you’d give up your silly little farms—is similar to the argument made by concerned2 in a comment on my previous post: “I think there would be a swell of support from many in public health looking for solutions to chronic disease, obesity, and poor nutrition problems that plague the poor and disenfranchised populations in the inner city in the US (due in part to limited access to affordable, nutritious food). Maybe CDC and others would even pony up funds. But, if such proposals include ‘raw dairy products,’ the unfortunate reality is that the controversy over food safety (and hot button situation with raw dairy) could eclipse and end an otherwise wonderful effort.”

In other words, give up this craziness about raw dairy, and everything becomes possible with regard to “affordable, nutritious foods,” including “an otherwise wonderful effort,” whatever that is.

But, of course, we have enough experience now to know what they have in mind when they throw around euphemisms like “improved productivity” and “solutions to chronic disease.” They want more of the same. More confinement dairies with their sick animals and pollution. Fewer small farms and less pasture feeding. More processing to eliminate all bacteria and enzymes. More commoditization. Ever less emphasis on locally grown food and the community it encourages. More regulations to control what foods farmers can produce and sell. In the end, cheap and ever-less-nutritious food.

They shake their heads, yes, in favor of more locally produced food, but when push comes to shove, the economists, agriculture officials, and public health people see food as just another commodity, like oil and copper. Simply produce more of it at lower cost, with more regulation for “safety.”

But we here in the U.S. have been to the other side of the mountain. And now we are left to literally battle against all the power the state can throw at us—police stings, surprise raids, undercover agents—for the simple right to drink milk and eat butter and yogurt that hasn’t been treated according to a faceless bureaucracy’s dictates. I sure hope other countries follow the lead of New Zealand’s dairy farmers, while they still have the leverage. Tell the money men and economists what they can do with their grand food plans.