I don’t understand how some segments of the population believe that “natural” always equates to “better.” I certainly get the appeal of being close to nature; the romanticism of living simply and from the earth. I grew up and live currently in a rural area where people are close to animals and the land. But I also know that some of the most deadly poisons in the world are “natural.” I know that, while most microbes out there are harmless, and many are even helpful, there are many that can make you violently ill as well. After all, tetanus, anthrax, and Ebola are all “natural.” Especially in cases where potentially pathogenic organisms like the latter can be fairly easily avoided, it seems like a no-brainer to do so, even if it removes something from “nature” by a step.

However sensible it may seem to me, though, others are willing to put their health at risk to keep that “close to nature” feel–including buying raw milk, despite the fact that it may be contaminated with a host of pathogens. More after the jump.

When I wrote about outbreaks related to unpasteurized milkpreviously, author Nina Planck (“Real Food: What to Eat and Why”) stopped by to comment. She claimed both that “raw milk is sterile when it leaves the cow” and also that it “contains healthy bacteria.” While it is possible that cow’s milk may contain some “healthy bacteria,” I find it highly unlikely that you’ll find any that’s completely sterile.

Indeed, last year at a conference I attended, I also heard reports from Wisconsin noting that Coxiella burnetti–the causative agent of Q fever, was found in 76% of tested samples. Listeria monocytogenes, a more common food-borne pathogen, was found in 5% of samples. Previous outbreaks have been due to E. coli contamination as well, and at least 1000 cases of illnesses and two deaths linked to consumption of raw milk were reported between 1998 and 2005 in the U.S. (and keep in mind that food-borne diseases are frequently under-reported).

Despite this, demand is rising for raw milk:

“Raw milk is like a magic food for children,” said Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates consumption of whole, natural foods.

Advocates dispute reports from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies. They claim raw milk relieves allergies, asthma, autism and digestive disorders.

Big. Red. Flag. Milk’s great and all, but it’s not some kind of silver bullet–raw or pasteurized.

Is it legal to sell raw milk? Isn’t this regulated? Well, yes and no:

Wisconsin has banned the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk, although it allows “incidental sales” by farmers. It also permits farm owners to consume their own milk.

That prompted Wisconsin farmers, like those in a number of other states, to make a variety of arrangements to sell raw milk legally. Farmers have sold shares in their cows, herds and milk licenses.

As the article notes, these types of arrangements are only increasing. There are also groups that promote raw milk consumption, and cite published literature (such as this study and this editorial) suggesting that “the more raw milk consumed, the less risk of asthma and allergies.” And indeed, some studies have found this correlation (however, others haven’t been able to replicate such a finding). Additionally, in this study (which should have been cited instead of the editorial which accompanied it), it was noted that a protective effect was still found even in families who boiled their milk–suggesting it could be something other than the live bacteria in the milk that’s responsible for the protective effect. Other research has suggested that whole milk, even pasteurized, can also be protective against the development of allergies and asthma. Clearly there’s something going on here, but as the linked editorial lays out, no one is sure just what in the milk may be protective–and if pasteurization destroys it or not. In the meantime, we know that drinking raw milk can lead to disease, and that even if it may help protect against some conditions, it’s no panacea.

Works Cited

PERKIN, M., STRACHAN, D. (2006). Which aspects of the farming lifestyle explain the inverse association with childhood allergy?. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 117(6), 1374-1381. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.03.008

Perkin MR. Unpasteurized milk: health or hazard? Clinical & Experimental Allergy Volume 37 Issue 5 Page 627-630, May
2007. Link.

Waser et al. Inverse association of farm milk consumption with asthma and allergy in rural and suburban populations across Europe. Clinical & Experimental Allergy Volume 37 Issue 5 Page 661-70, May
2007. Link

Image from http://www.moograssfarms.com/images/Raw%20milk.jpg

Comments

  1. #1 Sven DiMilo
    April 11, 2008

    You’ve seen the article in this month’s Harper’s on this very subject? Let me know if I can e you a pdf.

  2. #2 Matt Penfold
    April 11, 2008

    Having tried raw milk from cows, and currently milking a goat who’s milk I drink raw, I can confirm that there is a definite difference in flavour between raw and pasturised milk. Cheese made from unpasteurised milk also has a better taste.

    That said there you do need to be much more careful when it comes to raw milk. I do not keep the goat’s milk more than 24 hours, and am scrupulous about keeping the containers used to store it clean (the stuff used for babies bottles works well), and I would not drink raw milk from a source I was not totally familiar with.

  3. #3 Tara C. Smith
    April 11, 2008

    Nope, haven’t seen Harper’s–I’d love a .pdf.

  4. #4 Lab Cat
    April 11, 2008

    Pasteurized milk is not sterile – the process only kills some of the bacteria as the more heat stable ones survive it. Of course pasteurization changes the flavor – have you eaten a raw potato recently? What about unmilled and uncooked wheat? I find the idea that “processing” food is bad very odd. Raw food diet, any one?

    You can use raw milk to make cheese. Cheese making prevents more bacteria from growing because of the low moisture and high salt levels. So the FDA allows the manufacture and interstate sale of raw milk cheeses that are aged for at least 60 days at a temperature not less than 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

    The article I got the FDA information from also discusses this whole issue in more detail. I get the impression that FDA officials are banging their heads against a brick wall in frustration.

  5. #5 Kathryn
    April 11, 2008

    This is an interesting topic. A few months ago the local Independent weekly newspaper had a long expose/story about raw milk. The gist was it’s a conspiracy by Big Milk to keep people from the good stuff.
    http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A155882

    It kind of came off romanticizing the “it’s more natural” aspect.

    quote from the article: “…its devotees are people who have allergies, eczema, autoimmune diseases, cancer, difficulty digesting processed milk, and parents who say it has helped their children overcome behavioral and health issues.”

  6. #6 pat
    April 11, 2008

    the upside of this is that N America will never be mistaken for a great cheese producer.

  7. #7 traumatized
    April 11, 2008

    Infectious disease concerns are certainly important, but don’t be too hasty to chastise people for their food choices. Dairy is an excellent example of how corporatization, centralization and regulation of production have severed the connection people [ought to] feel with the food they eat and where it comes from. And there are good reasons to suspect that these changes in how we eat have had massive public health consequences of their own. Being healthy is about more than just avoiding known pathogens.

  8. #8 usagi
    April 11, 2008

    Tangentially related, some older recipes don’t work with recent changes to food processing. I’d never dream of using raw cream baking (unless it was hitting the oven long enough to kill anything nasty), but I also don’t use ultrapasteurized cream unless there’s no alternative (and I go in knowing it’s going to behave differently than pasteurized cream). Same with “zero trans fat” vegetable shortening. Cookie recipes that never fail don’t work with it. The texture changes radically.

  9. #9 Trisha
    April 11, 2008

    I don’t understand why people drink raw milk either!

    Or why ‘some segments of the population believe that “natural” always equates to “better.”‘ A lot of people seem to think that ‘organic’ equates to ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ too. I always wonder – have they ever taken an organic chemistry class? Do they think benzene is ‘healthy’?

  10. #10 MEC
    April 11, 2008

    And I don’t understand why you, Tara Smith, are incapable of writing an unbiased article that doesn’t contain at least a couple of shots at complete strawmen.

    “Staying close to nature” is all about “romanticism” is it? well I guess the same could be said for all you proud Reason over Emotion guys who’d like to stay a little closer to the “natural” climate by stopping excessive emission of greenhouse gasses.

    And Tara, be a darling and tell us all which “segment of the population” is it exactly that sleep naked in the snow, eats dogshit burgers and kiss king cobras cuz its all natural? That population segment X is non-existent outside your cozy little, unreflecting propaganda-verse But I guess Traumatized’s Comment touched on issues far too complex to find space under the goldilocks. It’s too bad you feel you constantly have to pay this inane tribute to the perch you’re sitting on, because the post would otherwise have been reasonably fair, balanced and informative – but alas never unafraid.

  11. #11 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 11, 2008

    Bleagh…between the raw milk freaks and Greg Laden’s little note about human-milk cheese, I’m ready to go vegan.
    And MEC, if you can stop your obnoxious sneering enough to listen, pasteurization of milk has nothing to do with Traumatized’s leftist boilerplate. Local dairy operations can easily pasteurize milk, it’s a simple process.
    However, feel free to have a nice tall glass of bovine tuberculosis.

  12. #12 MEC
    April 11, 2008

    Mr. McNeely.

    You are free to disregard the no doubt entirely imagined leftist boilerplate part about corporatization, mass production and regulation – matters in which corporate interests aren’t the least bit favoured e-v-e-r – and focus on the last part of the post, if you can get them soft and curly goldilocks out of your eyes long enough to actually read.

    No I don’t think either pasteurization is a huge big deal in the overall picture, just as a few waterboardings or secret American prisons in Syria, or a few abuses of civil liberties in that other Great War ain’t a big deal, but such a picture exists – Purely coincidentally corporate interest may even be served disproportionately and indirectly at times by continuing certain trends, pursuing certain ideologies even if the neatly isolated cases never amount to big biggies, cuz, well, nothing taken in isolation is all that big. How’s that fer leftist boilerplate for ya?

  13. #13 Jeremiah
    April 11, 2008

    How can sterile milk contain ANY bacteria? Sterile defines an absense of bacteria, not the absense of “bad” bacteria. Which tells me right away there is an obvious lack of understanding about exactly what comes out of a cow’s boob.

    I think someone tried awfuly hard but was tripped up right out of the gate.

  14. #14 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 11, 2008

    MEC:
    So you’re saying that pasteurization of milk is equivalent to waterboarding, secret prisons and abuses of civil liberties?

    And what’s with the goldilocks shit?

  15. #15 Kevin
    April 11, 2008

    “Dairy is an excellent example of how corporatization, centralization and regulation of production have severed the connection people [ought to] feel with the food they eat and where it comes from. And there are good reasons to suspect that these changes in how we eat have had massive public health consequences of their own. Being healthy is about more than just avoiding known pathogens.”

    A very good point, traumatized.

    Too bad our blog host is too stupid write such intelligent commentary.

    Kevin

  16. #16 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 11, 2008

    Kevin and MEC,
    I won’t dispute your right to disagree with Dr. Smith, but could you lay off the abuse? It’s disgusting.

  17. #17 Kevin
    April 11, 2008

    And I don’t understand why you, Tara Smith, are incapable of writing an unbiased article that doesn’t contain at least a couple of shots at complete strawmen.

    You’ve answered your own rhetorical question, MEC…Tara is incapable of writing intelligently. When a person lacks the intellect to formulate worthwhile thoughts, that person will frequently resort to rhetorical ploys, such as strawmen, as a defense mechanism to compensate, and rhetorical ploys are inherently biased. Unfortunately, in Tara’s case, she’s been given a virtual megaphone with which to demonstrate her windbag tendencies. On the other hand, Tara’s biased drivel often incites inspired commentary from her readers (see “Traumatized”‘s post).

    This blog would be udderly worthless if it depended solely on Tara’s contributions ;-)

    Kevin

  18. #18 Ron
    April 11, 2008

    I don’t think Tara is unintelligent nor is she particularly more ‘biased’ than any of the rest of us. However, there is a tone on this blog (common to other SB blogs) that speaks of a certain arrogance with respect to ‘science’. I think the point that there is more to health than just avoiding pathogens, is well taken. Also, it is unfair to accuse people who are concerned about what industry does to their food of slavishly believing that ‘natural is better’ out of some kind ‘romanticism’. People are right to be skeptical of the ‘benefits’ of industrially processed foods (not food at all, says Michael Pollan, but “edible? food-like substances”) which often result in high-calorie, low nutrient-density products laced with salt, sugar and unpronounceable ‘additives’. A diet based exclusively on these products may well be as health-threatening as infectious disease.

  19. #19 jen_m
    April 11, 2008

    Gosh, do you guys spit in the soup when your hostess says something that displeases you in real life, too? I don’t usually read the comments after there are more than about 50 of them because we always devolve into the same fight, but calling Dr. Smith names right off the bat is a new twist. (And dumb blonde comments are repulsive no matter who’s targeted, and sexist if the target’s female. Very tacky.)

    Topic – Pasteurization isn’t some corporate mass-manufacturing technique. It’s just heating milk (and, if you’re going to store it for a bit, cooling it quickly) and you can do it in your kitchen in a double-boiler if you get your milk raw.

    I believe that many of aspects of large-scale food manufacture and distribution are dangerous to our health – but that doesn’t justify a reactionary stance on fundamental food safety measures. In fact, some of the big food companies want to cut safety measures, reducing labelling, oversight and bacterial testing, in the name of efficiency and profit. I think that a lot of smaller producers take pride in providing more nutritious, fresher and tastier foodstuffs – and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be proud of having higher safety standards, too.

  20. #20 jen_m
    April 11, 2008

    Gosh, do you guys spit in the soup when your hostess says something that displeases you in real life, too? I don’t usually read the comments after there are more than about 50 of them because we always devolve into the same fight, but calling Dr. Smith names right off the bat is a new twist. (And dumb blonde comments are repulsive no matter who’s targeted, and sexist if the target’s female. Very tacky.)

    Topic – Pasteurization isn’t some corporate mass-manufacturing technique. It’s just heating milk (and, if you’re going to store it for a bit, cooling it quickly) and you can do it in your kitchen in a double-boiler if you get your milk raw.

    I believe that many of aspects of large-scale food manufacture and distribution are dangerous to our health – but that doesn’t justify a reactionary stance on fundamental food safety measures. In fact, some of the big food companies want to cut safety measures, reducing labelling, oversight and bacterial testing, in the name of efficiency and profit. I think that a lot of smaller producers take pride in providing more nutritious, fresher and tastier foodstuffs – and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be proud of having higher safety standards, too.

  21. #21 MEC
    April 11, 2008

    Jeremiah,

    It was your Science Host that perpetuated the confusion about the difference between “good” bacteria and no bacteria. what Nina Planck tried to say, a little clumsily, was that if the disease causing bacteria are sa result of post-production contamination.

    Mr T McGoldilocks thank you for following excellent demonstration of my point that you have no grasp of neither the wider picture nor analogies:

    MEC:
    So you’re saying that pasteurization of milk is equivalent to waterboarding, secret prisons and abuses of civil liberties?

    Just so you don’t feel left out of the rest the discussion, let’s go back to statements you are intellectually capable of assimilating: ” Yeah, I agree with Tara, them there Pasteur-denialists they sure are cranks just like those damn, dirty anti-vaxers. Boy, I just don’t know where they get off. Right on Tara! good one! you tell ‘em yeah, yeah!!”.

    Jen, I see dumb blonde comments get your sweet little knickers all in a PC knot there. How about denialist comments, do they tickle your tacky bone? Do you happen to know who is fond of using them?

    I must confess I’m mighty tempted to pull a DB seeing you repeating that drivel about pasteurization not being hi-tech so what’s that got to do with corporate mass-production? Gee, I just can’t figger it out either. For sure it’s nothing to do with the circumstance that fresh untreated milk not only demands a higher standard of animal health and general care during and post-production, but also a shorter way from udder to consumer, cuz it don’t always keep so well. I’m sure Nestle would love that concept. Or didn’t you notice what the Pasteur deniers have said here, that they deal directly with the farmer on a basis of trust in him and his care for animal and product?

  22. #22 MEC
    April 11, 2008

    Continued @ Jen. . . Almost all of which you actually have just said yourself, so why on earth did we need the repeat lecture about pasteurization not being a mass-production technique (it is but not a hi-tech such) Do you think we’re stupid or something?

  23. #23 guru
    April 11, 2008

    Hi

    In India, in rural areas, people do get raw milk (and, in some places, only raw milk); but, we always boiled it before drinking it (though, drinking it raw occasionally wasn’t uncommon).

    Guru

  24. #24 MEC
    April 11, 2008

    I see Tara carefully monitors all those bad raw milk cases:
    How about adding this to the collection – a real article:

    By Lois Rogers – Medical Correspondent
    The Sunday Times
    http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/00/02/20/stinwenws03034.html?999
    2-21-00

    Government scientists have produced evidence that a form of tuberculosis bacteria is present in Britain’s pasteurised milk supply.

    Early results from a survey of 1,000 pasteurised milk samples, destined for supermarkets and doorstep delivery, showed that four out of 129 samples so far analysed were contaminated with the germ.

    Results from tests for nine other disease-causing bacteria have been withheld. The dairies that provided the milk, all mainstream commercial suppliers, have been given anonymity.

    The discovery has led to renewed concern over pasteurisation and the possible dangers from milk. Latest figures from the Public Health Laboratory Service show that more than 420 people have developed food poisoning from pasteurised milk since 1992.

    Many of the victims have been children. One died and others received hospital treatment for kidney damage, which could mean they will need organ transplants.

    A spokeswoman for the service said the figure was probably a small fraction of the real number of victims because people were more likely to blame foods such as chicken or eggs for their condition.

    The bacterium so far identified in the study by the agriculture ministry is mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (Map), which is suspected of causing Britain’s 80,000 cases of Crohn’s disease, a disorder that involves chronic inflammation of the intestines.

    John Hermon-Taylor, of St George’s medical school in London, who likens the effect of Map to leprosy of the gut, said there was an urgent need for more research into the condition and stricter controls on pasteurisation.

    Standard pasteurisation until the 1960s involved heating milk to 63C and maintaining it at that temperature for 30 minutes. The method was superseded by a high-temperature short-time technique, where milk is heated to 72C for 15 seconds. Some of the big milk processors are said to have increased the time to 25 seconds because of the Map scare, but Hermon-Taylor believes this is not long enough.

    “Wild strains of Map are very resistant,” he said. “Mass milk production has created the conditions that have favoured these bugs.”

    The last serious outbreak of food poisoning involving pasteurised milk affected 111 people in Cockermouth, Cumbria, last year. A number of children had to be admitted to hospital, including 11-year-old Joseph Tiffin, who spent a week at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

    His father, Stuart, received confirmation from the hospital last week that his son’s kidneys had not sustained permanent damage. “When it happened we thought we would lose Joseph,” Tiffin said. “It has taken a year, but we are so relieved finally to get the all-clear.”

    In one of the previous outbreaks, which affected 60 people in 1994, 18-month-old Claire Davison from Bathgate, West Lothian, died and Michael Reilly, aged three, needed a kidney transplant.

    Hugh Pennington, professor of microbiology at Aberdeen University, helped to advise on the source of the manure-related E-coli 0157 bacteria which had contaminated the milk in both outbreaks.

    “There have been enough problems with milk in recent years to show there is an issue here,” he said. “Most of the time farmers will get away with dirty milk, but when things go wrong it can be disastrous.”

    Fragmentation of the dairy industry – since privatisation in 1994 disbanded the Milk Marketing Board – has meant that milk processors do not reveal details of problems.

    The Milk Development Council charges farmers 0.04p per litre to pay for its research on milk marketing, but it does not investigate safety or levels of diseases such as mastitis, which causes dead cells from pus residue to pass into milk.

    Farmers receive a bonus for producing cleaner milk and the National Dairy Council, which represents the processors, said most milk was well within European safety limits for total bacteria and dead cell counts.

    The survey is due to be completed by the end of this year.

  25. #25 Tara C. Smith
    April 11, 2008

    traumatized,

    Dairy is an excellent example of how corporatization, centralization and regulation of production have severed the connection people [ought to] feel with the food they eat and where it comes from.

    While I agree that many dairies are like this, I’m not sure I agree with your “ought to” opinion. Again, I think this is a bit of romanticism–living closer to the land, having more of a connection to where one’s food comes from. Not that I think that’s necessarily a bad idea (living in the country makes it easy to buy local), but I don’t think it’s critical for everyone either, as long as suppliers can provide a safe food supply.

    And there are good reasons to suspect that these changes in how we eat have had massive public health consequences of their own. Being healthy is about more than just avoiding known pathogens.

    Absolutely–I’ve never suggested otherwise. Indeed, I’ve written a post on this topic before.

  26. #26 Tara C. Smith
    April 11, 2008

    Ron,

    Also, it is unfair to accuse people who are concerned about what industry does to their food of slavishly believing that ‘natural is better’ out of some kind ‘romanticism’.

    Ah, but I’m not saying that. As jen and others mentioned, this isn’t necessarily a strict dichotomy between corporation and family farm.

    People are right to be skeptical of the ‘benefits’ of industrially processed foods (not food at all, says Michael Pollan, but “edible? food-like substances”) which often result in high-calorie, low nutrient-density products laced with salt, sugar and unpronounceable ‘additives’. A diet based exclusively on these products may well be as health-threatening as infectious disease.

    And again, I agree. Why does this have to be so black and white? There *is* a middle ground here. As I mentioned, I get a good deal of my food locally from people I trust, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wash off produce when I get home, or use safe handling procedures for meat. Why should milk be any different?

  27. #27 Tara C. Smith
    April 11, 2008

    MEC,

    Re: your link, I don’t see how that goes against anything I’ve said. I already mentioned that even pasteurized milk isn’t sterile, but it does certainly decrease the number of infectious bacteria. If they can isolate that much from pasteurized milk, how much must raw milk from these dairies contain?

    And regarding Planck’s post, yes, she was saying that post-harvest contamination is one source of bacteria in milk, but she also did say that both that raw milk is sterile, and that fresh raw milk contains good bacteria:

    Furthermore, raw milk is sterile when it leaves the cow. Thus all contamination is, of course, post-harvest. A clean food chain is what we’re after, here. Fresh raw milk also contains healthy bacteria that crowd out unhealthy ones. (If milk is left to stand at room temperature and contaminated with pathogens, they spread faster in pasteurized milk than in raw.)

    Clearly, it can’t both be sterile and contain “healthy bacteria”–and if those “healthy bacteria” are from post-harvest contamination, then gee, wouldn’t that be a good thing? Perhaps Planck doesn’t understand microbiology like she thinks she does?

  28. #28 Griff
    April 11, 2008

    MEC:
    The article you provided didn’t state that pasteurisation caused the tuberculosis, only that the tuberculosis was found in the pasteurised milk.

    “Standard pasteurisation until the 1960s involved heating milk to 63C and maintaining it at that temperature for 30 minutes. The method was superseded by a high-temperature short-time technique, where milk is heated to 72C for 15 seconds. Some of the big milk processors are said to have increased the time to 25 seconds because of the Map scare, but Hermon-Taylor believes this is not long enough.”

    Did you even read this article MEC?

  29. #29 baryogenesis
    April 12, 2008

    Just a passing comment from a lurker. Having checked into Dr. Smith’s site regularly over the past year or so, I have noticed that there are those who are ready to jump all over nearly anything she posts. As the young-uns today say:”They’re haters”.The credibility of anything some of these posters have to say is lost in the noise of defensive bleating and it’s just so transparent that there is an agenda; of course it all comes out “black or white’. To engage in an intelligent discourse (rather than–laughably– accuse everyone else of being ignorant), involves being able to honestly analyse and comment on the matter dispassionately. Immediately making it a black or white situation is the lazy, *unintelligent* way to comment. More on the specific topic: Over 25 years ago, I was involved with people who were very anti-dairy, and claimed that allergic symptoms were alleviated by the elimination of dairy from their diets (among other things, such as claims by my female restaurant staff that their periods were less chaotic and became harmonized with the full moon!). Let’s see a study on that!

  30. #30 moocow
    April 12, 2008

    @baryogenesis, re the connection between dairy and certain kinds of problems, check out the A2 protein milk controversy in New Zealand. Some very interesting theories.

  31. #31 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 12, 2008

    Well, MEC, I’ve seen some guys get pretty nasty after drinking whiskey. Does drinking raw milk have the same effect on you?
    And again with the goldilocks…what’s MEC? Short for meconium?

  32. #32 Susan
    April 12, 2008

    Man, I clicked an this site because I’m actually interested in the raw milk debate. I didn’t think people could be so hateful about something as dumb as dairy products. Really, some lurkers need to get out of their parent’s basements once in awhile. There are those who say we shouldn’t be drinking milk at all (I’m not one of them, but there are those…)Anyway… I did read the article about raw milk in Harpers that was mentioned above and it did make some interesting points. I’m not anti-pasturization but I have had both kinds of milk, the raw milk tasted better and I didn’t get infected by bovine TB or any other nasty bug after I had it. The reason why milk has become pasturized is because the standards on some farms aren’t very high. If You were to buy milk from a farm that didn’t pasturize it’s milk it would have to be scrupuliously clean and the cows would have to be in perfect health, they would have to be allowed to live in uncrowded unstressful conditions and not be given any hormone injections that would up the yeld. In modern North American factory dairy farms it’s all about quantity not quality and that’s why it’s safer to get your milk pasturized. If we wanted to drink milk that came from such a top quality farm I don’t think people would be willing to pay what they would have to pay for it.

  33. #33 MEC
    April 12, 2008

    @ McNeely – Peace. And no, it’s the whisky that makes me all mellow and loving, not the TB-infected milk you offered me.

    @ Griff: Bravo! You’re onto something. Definitely worth repeating:

    The article you provided didn’t state that pasteurisation caused the tuberculosis, only that the tuberculosis was found in the pasteurised milk.

    Now try to hold that thought, see where the logic takes you. If it’s still too hard, try reading Susan’s Comment
    again.

    @ Baryogenesis: Sorry I got confused there being merely a young-un. Could you please restate the dispassionate scientific and unbiased approach you favour? It was something about the correlation between Pasteur denial, some females’ chaotic periods and belief in moon magic wasn’t it? Hey, I bet you did your own informal study back then, you know when the world wasn’t all polarized, and found a higher rate of cannabis users among the, no doubt shifting, boyfriends of your raw-milk drinking staff.

  34. #34 Patrick B
    April 12, 2008

    MEC,
    Don’t you have better things to do than hijack a science blog with personal attacks and insults? I have no issue reading a dissenting viewpoint. But the endless attacks that are actually just well-worded “Your momma” insults are just annoying. Granted, this is not a scientific journal, but try sticking to a more academic tone. For an example, read Tara’s replies to you and others. She does not return your insults, but rather responds on point to your particular arguments (when you make any).

  35. #35 Cherish
    April 12, 2008

    Having spent a good chunk of my childhood drinking raw milk, I can say that I really miss it.

    I have to agree with Matt Penfold above. I suspect that you should be careful when drinking it (although I don’t recall that we ever were when I was a kid). I also wonder if some people become used to “dealing” with the presence of bacteria in the foods they eat if they eat unprocessed/unpasteurized foods more often. Maybe their immune systems rev up to deal with it…which might explain the asthma connection.

  36. #36 MEC
    April 12, 2008

    Patrick, I’m sorry if you thought my last post was made up of pointless insults – actually I don’t think it contained anything but answers to insults. For example, Griff suggests I haven’t read the article I pasted, and Tara comes on wih a snide remark aboout Planck not understanding
    microbiology as well as she thinks (just how well does Planck think she understands microbiology, Tara?), and you call that sober discussion of the issues?!

    What did Planck do to deserve that one, can you tell me that, Patrick? The host is the one who sets the tone here. How do you define the issue? Is there anybody here who happens to “dissent”, as you call it, who is not constinually being called names directly or indirectly,/i> by the Scientific Authority in Residence?

    For your benefit the points contained in my last comment:

    Tara, Jen, McNeely et al, is squeamish lot who’re good enough at dishing it out (name-calling, wishing other people off the face of the planet), but not quite so good at taking it. Patrick, that goes for you too it seems.

    @Griff (and Tara). Tara one-sidedly collects and posts incidents of diseases among raw-milk products, then suggests that it is the raw milk itself that’s the cause of the disease. That’s an embarrasing fallacy for a trained epidemiologist, who routinely opts to condescend rather than argue the issue as we saw just above. Griff immediately saw the logica fallacy when I posted the data on pasteurized milk. No need to jump to conclusions and blame the milk.

    Now look at Tara’s response. Agaiin it ‘s so off target that it’s hardly worth answering, but for Patrick I’ll makeanexception.

    your link, I don’t see how that goes against anything I’ve said. I already mentioned that even pasteurized milk isn’t sterile, but it does certainly decrease the number of infectious bacteria. If they can isolate that much from pasteurized milk, how much must raw milk from these dairies contain?

    Patrick, did you notice that small qualification, “from these dairies”? well let’s have a look at the parts of the article Tara didn’t find it worthwhile commenting on and see who “these dairies” are, shall we?

    The dairies that provided the milk,[were] all mainstream commercial suppliers . . . “Wild strains of Map are very resistant. Mass milk production has created the conditions that have favoured these bugs.”

    So what do you think Patrick? Tara thinks the dissidents are simply Pasteur-deniers. Out of principle and adherence to romantic philosophies they just refuse to boil their milk. Just because. . .

    Methinks these “segments of the population” are not so much against boiling their milk, as they’re for a cleaner environment, cleaner food sources, more humane (animal friendly) production methods, better quality products, and, yes, a more intimate connection with that which sustains us and our children. Cranky eh?

    Here’s the nub (we’re still talking about “these dairies”):

    Most of the time farmers will get away with dirty milk, but when things go wrong it can be disastrous.

    Oh, but why would the farmers want to get away with dirty milk, hormone treated cows full of antibiotics? And WHO ARE THE ENABLERS TAHT LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT? More importantly, HOW do they get away with it? Pasteurization, my friend. So maybe pasteurization isn’t all about some we romantic wifee with chaotic periods and a tenuos grasp of microbiology. What do you think?

    Oh but Tara agrees with all that when it’s put to her. So you see she’s all fair and balanced right? Wrong. She’s a political propagandist whose only tack is to smear
    “dissenters”. Here’s reasonable middle-ground Tara deploring the inexplicable black and white antagonism – of others…

    And again, I agree. Why does this have to be so black and white? There *is* a middle ground here. As I mentioned, I get a good deal of my food locally from people I trust, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wash off produce when I get home, or use safe handling procedures for meat. Why should milk be any different?

    Once again, who are those people that don’t believe in safe handling procedures for milk? It’s a repeated smear, an obfuscation tarted up as a reasonableness. What these imagined people Tara is talking about are asking for is safe handling procedures from A to Z, and they are personally willing to participate in the process.

    Tara’s solution to farmers wanting to get away with dirty milk and dirty inhumane mass-production methods is more pasteurization and more smears of people who care.

  37. #37 Tara C. Smith
    April 12, 2008

    “Safe handling procedures for milk” include pasteurization, MEC. It doesn’t matter how “clean” a cow is. Indeed, there is a spectrum of cleanliness and hygiene that varies from dairy to dairy, but even the best ones aren’t going to have sterile milk.

    The reason I noted Planck’s quotations are because she presents herself as an expert on the topic, when clearly, she’s making elementary mistakes. You say I make similar elementary mistakes, but note that the outbreaks I cited aren’t simply correlations; they’re outbreak investigations where the illness has been traced back to the contaminated milk as the source.

    Methinks these “segments of the population” are not so much against boiling their milk, as they’re for a cleaner environment, cleaner food sources, more humane (animal friendly) production methods, better quality products, and, yes, a more intimate connection with that which sustains us and our children. Cranky eh?

    You’re still talking either/or unnecessarily. One can have all of that you suggest and still get contaminated milk that would be made safer with pasteurization.

  38. #38 spike
    April 12, 2008

    (a little history grabbed from a stanford site): The FDA ban on interstate sales of raw milk can be traced to earlier times. In 1938 milk was found to be the source of 25 percent of all food and water-related illnesses. After nearly universal pasteurization of milk, the number of milk related illnesses fell to 1 percent by 1993.

    i suspect most problems with milk isn’t because of the farmers, but rather with the retailers. They fail to keep the milk cold continuously during transport. Its quite remarkable in NYC- milk from the local bodegas last three or four days, from the big supermarkets 2-3 weeks. Its the same milk- the big supermarkets have the facilities to keep the milk cold.

  39. #39 Nomen Nescio
    April 12, 2008

    i like the idea of buying local produce. living off what’s grown near you to minimize transportation costs doesn’t seem too bad, and eating what’s in season around you probably isn’t too much of a sacrifice to make. (although i’ll have to insist on my imported coffee and chocolate. moderation in everything!)

    but the thing is, i grew up in dairy farming country. i’ve walked into dairy stables, seen cows up close and personal, watched milking done, avoided glide mines in the pasture… and frankly, there’s only so closely i’m willing to be connected to cattle. pasteurized and skim sounds quite good enough for my milk, thank you.

  40. #40 MEC
    April 12, 2008

    You’re still talking either/or unnecessarily.

    Either/or Tara Sweetie? So when are you gonna stop focusing on one aspect exclusively? When are you gonna get all outraged about the dirty mass-production methods instead of “segments of the population” that don’t exist?

    Of course we can pasteurize as well, just to make absolutely sure, and UHT treat,and radiate, and gene-manipulate, and vaccinate, and wear body condoms. What’s your germaphobic limit? Where does your sense of proportion kick in? I could insist on only powdered, radiated, gene-tech foods, delivered directy to my bubble-boy sphere. Where do you draw the line? Hey, there’s E-coli on every f-ing college-dorm kitchen table. Should we have CDC employees in space suits working there spraying everything twice a day? Where do you draw the line? How about a law against double-dipping your party snacks? How about a law against hand-shakes? You know it’s all “One Less”, as Merck puts it.

    Either/or? You’re killing me ever so softly, Goldilocks. Are you gonna start on the “or” anytime soon?

  41. #41 franklin
    April 12, 2008

    Tara comes on wih a snide remark aboout Planck not understanding
    microbiology as well as she thinks (just how well does Planck think she understands microbiology, Tara?), and you call that sober discussion of the issues?!
    What did Planck do to deserve that one, can you tell me that, Patrick?

    As Tara explained in the original post and in the comment to which you objected, Planck has claimed that:

    1. Raw milk is sterile.
    2. Raw milk contains healthy bacteria.

    These claims are mutually incompatible and demonstrate a lack of understanding of basic microbiological principles. This ignorance of microbiology undermines Planck’s further arguments concerning the microbiological implications of Pasteurization.

  42. #42 LudditeFool
    April 12, 2008

    MEC, don’t you know anyone that questions the technological imperative or cruel production methods or corporate greed or toxic chemicals in our food or pus in our milk or drug metabolites from other people’s piss in our tap water or fake fats or terminator genes or the destruction of whole economies by enforced removal of diversity or millions of deaths by IMF-orchestrated famines is a romantic Luddite fool?
    No Tara, the wishy-washy romance is entirely restricted to those wedded to the system. Could one of Tara’s masters quietly tap her on the shoulder and tell her the honeymoon is over?

  43. #43 Jennifer Emick
    April 12, 2008

    It’s hardly about nature, it’s about taste. Because a few folks got ill drinking apple juice, my favorite orange juice is now pasteurized- and tastes like garbage. I can certainly empathize with these folks and they ought to be allowed to choose to assume the risk if they prefer it that way.

  44. #44 Texas Reader
    April 12, 2008

    Its really very simple – pasteurized milk is safer and there’s no evidence that raw milk is healthier, therefore it does not make sense to take the risk of drinking raw milk.

    I know nothing about microbiology but anyone who claims a substance is both sterile and has good bacteria is ignorant and should not be cited as a source on food safety. It makes more sense to listen to people like Tara who have actually studied microbiology and disease.

    Tara – MEC made no logical comments to help the discussion and is downright hostile. I’d be pleased if you banned this person to save space for rational and respectful commenters.

  45. #45 rokujolady
    April 13, 2008

    Wow. There are some wankers on this thread ( you know who you are…kevin. MEC. ) Keep your catty, junior high grudges to yourself or resolve them like adults, because the rest of us don’t give a crap that Ms. Smith stepped on your toes at one point or another.
    This is hardly the snarkiest blog on scienceblogs..it’s one of the more articulate and relevant blogs, so I don’t think you guys have any right at all to be reactionary about this post.
    And enough with the sexist patronizing “sweetie/honey” BS. You obviously have nothing to be patronizing about.

  46. #46 Donalbain
    April 13, 2008

    A rather simple explanation as to why I occassionally drink raw milk.

    It is yummy! Much yummier than pasteurised.

  47. #47 MEC
    April 13, 2008

    Rojukolady, sweetie, it’s Dr. Smith to you. Where are your manners?

  48. #48 Chrissl
    April 13, 2008

    I’ll second what Matt Penfold says about the difference in taste: I’ve had unpasteurized milk only rarely, but it’s wonderful.

    However there is such a thing as *certified* raw milk, which comes from operations whose cows and processing plants are regularly tested and certified free of pathogens. It’s more expensive to produce than pasteurized milk (of course) but the last I knew you could still find it.

    But certified milk pretty much has to come from small local operations, because if you combine the milk from tens or hundreds of dairies with thousands of cows — as is routinely done in modern mass-produced dairy products — it only takes one bad batch to ruin the whole thing. Hence, pasteurization.

    I think this is one of those tradeoffs that are inevitable as long as we insist on mass-producing food.

  49. #49 MEC
    April 13, 2008

    I apologize for almost all the posts on this board. I left my computer unlocked, and my teenage son got on here and decided to smart off.
    Wow. Yeah. That kid is going to be in deep shit.
    Apparently he’s been doing this for a while, too.
    I’m very sorry for any hurt feelings he might have caused. He’s just a dumb kid, and thinks the anonymity of the internet gives him an excuse to be a jerk without facing the consequences.

  50. #50 waaahwaaah
    April 13, 2008

    @MEC, if you haven’t lost me before, you lost me when you totally tried to patronize the blog owner by calling her ‘sweetie’. Talk about a classic sexist attack, maybe you should be reading Zuska’s blog instead. As for the rest of your rants, it’s milk, get over it. If you want to drink raw milk and get poisoned some day, go right ahead. I’m guessing you haven’t seen a cow up close lately. While you’re at it, drive without a seatbelt too. Get over yourself.

  51. #51 MEC
    April 13, 2008

    @MEC, if you haven’t lost me before, you lost me when you totally tried to patronize the blog owner by calling her ‘sweetie’.

    O well, can’t win ‘em all.

  52. #52 MEC
    April 13, 2008

    Ok, I see its not only the blog host who is worried about cows being dirty animals, so with all due respect to the exalted microbiology and epidemiology experts residing here, against whom layfolk should not presume to lift their voices, allow me to point out that dirty udders (which won’t be so dirty if the cows are bred, fed and kept properly) are not a major source of contamination. The milking equipment is.

  53. #53 DT
    April 13, 2008

    …allow me to point out that dirty udders (which won’t be so dirty if the cows are bred, fed and kept properly) are not a major source of contamination. The milking equipment is.

    MEC, you are entitled to voice your opinion. However, until you provide some evidence to support it, it remains an uninformed opinion, and not a fact.

    Feel free to post citations for any research supporting your claim. I won’t hold my breath.

  54. #54 ElkMountainMan
    April 13, 2008

    I read that raw milk is supposed to be better for you because it is both sterile and has good strains of bacteria. Farms that sell raw milk are supposed to be good farms because they are usually small-scale, “organic”, and completely natural places where farmers care about their animals. If there’s any unfortunate contamination, it’s supposed to be because of milking equipment (industrially produced, probably by a Merck subsidiary, and one would guess also inoculated with pathogenic bacteria, which of course don’t exist).

    This is all fine and good, MEC, but what are these exemplary small-scale farmers doing with Merck milking equipment?

    And when, for the love of clean cows everywhere, did Tara call bovines “dirty animals”?

  55. #55 MEC
    April 13, 2008

    Sir Elkie, just as my opinon of you (which I’m sure you don’t care any more about than I care about your opinion of me, but still…) was improving, you start by repeating the apparently endlessly repeatable, certainly endlessly facile, smear about Nina Planck getting one word wrong, therefore we can disregard everything she ever said and anybody who might be sympathetic to her point of view.

    But on to your request. Our all-natural Cowgirl shares her expert phobias here:

    My previous landlord had beef cattle, and he’d move them twice a year to the pasture behind my house to graze. You’d see them occasionally with their side covered with shit from brushing up against each other or what not. And even if the udders are treated with an antiseptic prior to milking, that’s no guarantee of 100% cleanliness.

    http://scienceblogs.com/aetiology/2006/09/e_coli_grass_and_pasteurizatio.php#comment-230517

    Dr. Smith is particularly worried about contamination from cows brushing against each other and “what not”. . . She is also worried about the fact that the udders may not be 100% sterile. However, she does not seem to experience the same kind of anxiety about the milking equipment or any other external circumstance, which seems to indicate that her obsessive thoughts are focused on the cows,
    specifically the mental image of the cows’ behaviour, their
    unclean udders and “what not”. Her behaviour corresponding to the obsession is seen as compulsive pasteurization as well as a general hetz against those who don’t share her phobia.

    Now DT, far be it from me to doubt that Dr. Smith is the Absolute Authority on all things dirty-dairy, or that Nina Planck has forever discredited herself by her misuse of the word “sterile”, but here’s what PAtrick F. Fox, the deranged dirty udder denier and shameless author of the best-selling “Fundamentals of Cheese Science” has the pseudo-scientific cheek to write:

    During milking, milk can also become contaminated with bacteria from the air, the outside of the udder, the bedding, the feed and the milker, but these are generally minor sources of contamination.

    We see this Arch-Denialist has elegantly anticipated every possible obsession. But his devilish foresight knows no boundaries, so he makes a specific example of Dr. Smith’s expert fears:

    However, extremely dirty udders may contaminate milk with up to 10 in 5th cfu/ml . . . Therefore it is important to wash the teats and udders thoroughly before milking.

    That certainly sounds sinister, and yet he makes slight of these grave, udderous dangers to life as we know it and proceeds without further ado:

    The major source of contamination of raw milk is improperly cleaned milking equipment [a lot of stuff about how to clean the equipment and the kinds of bacteria that thrive at certain temperatures] . . . It is more important to use properly cleaned milking equipment than to cool the milk rapidly.

    It should be obvious by now that this subversive character has no Microbiology degree and therefore no sense of proportionate danger. Dr. Smith of course knows better than that, and don’t forget that Nina Planck once misused the word “sterile” in a reader Comment!! That is after all what the American People cares about – Well that and John Edwards’ haircut obviously.

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=-oRp5VCVTQQC&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=dirty+udders+cheese+raw+milk+&source=web&ots=P_o1vAf0nv&sig=nvv6LkkCZ7cSeKiSuFMM2A3QSZ8&hl=en

  56. #56 Tara C. Smith
    April 13, 2008

    MEC, I mentioned that to point out that despite animals being raised as you suggest (well cared-for, open spaces to roam, etc.), they’re still animals (as a commenter noted at DailyKos, do you think they use flush toilets?) For example, the author you cite notes that even in healthy animals, contamination can occur from the teat canal–and this contamination increases in subclinical mastitis, and moreso from clinical mastitis. You also quote that the main source of contamination is from the milking equipment, but fail to note that improvement in milking equipment is one thing that has lead to reduced colony counts (but again, this doesn’t equal sterility). And who do you think has the money to buy the top-of-the-line milking equipment?

  57. #57 Calli Arcale
    April 13, 2008

    Personally, I just have to wonder how ANY cow, no matter how well-run the farm is, could possibly be guaranteed to produce clean milk. I mean, when I was lactating, the consultants were warning *me* to wash my hands and breasts before pumping to avoid contamination of my milk. And as I am a human and not a cow, I obviously have some major advantages over the cow — the biggest being that my mammary glands are not in proximity to my backside. Cows are cows. They poop. They lie down in fields. They lie down in barns. No matter how fastidious the farmer, there will be poop in these places. There will be bacteria, and not all of them will be ones that coexist happily with the human gut. Ergo, it is unreasonable to expect that the milk will be clean. Therefore, I think that for most purposes, one ought to use pasteurized milk. (Plus, it keeps a heck of a lot longer than raw milk, which makes it WAY more economical. That’s a serious issue, considering how the price of milk keeps going up.)

    Cheese made from good-quality unpasteurized milk is unquestionably superior, and there are taste reasons for preferring raw milk. But health is a really stupid reason to choose raw milk.

  58. #58 franklin
    April 13, 2008

    MEC,

    What makes you think Planck “misused” the word “sterile”.

    She made an argument that:

    Furthermore, raw milk is sterile when it leaves the cow. Thus all contamination is, of course, post-harvest. A clean food chain is what we’re after, here.

    Sounds like she used the word correctly and drew a logical inference based upon the accepted meaning of the “sterile.”

    However, in the very next sentence, she the goes on to argue that:

    Fresh raw milk also contains healthy bacteria that crowd out unhealthy ones.

    This argument is logically incompatible with her argument that raw milk is sterile.

    The problem is not one of “misusing” a word.

    The problem is that her argument suffers from a fatal logical flaw, a flaw that in classic denialist fashion you simply ignore.

  59. #59 chicharronita
    April 13, 2008

    The Organic Pastures dairy uses modern milking equipment, and tests its fresh milk for pathogens. I’ve been drinking it for more than five years.

    Yes, it is “natural,” in that the dairy’s cows are fed grass rather than grain. Ruminants fed the proper way hardly ever get sick and require little or no antibiotics, unlike the unlucky grain-fed cows wasting away knee-deep in excrement on factory farms (likely the birthplace of E.coli O157).

    Many people are discovering this natural fresh milk and reject “sterile” pasteurized milk filled with dead pathogens. This may well be the real reason why the FDA and state Ag departments have been cracking down on dairies like Organic Pastures, which can hardly keep up with consumer demand.

  60. #60 Fred X. Quimby
    April 13, 2008

    I tell the tale that I heard told.
    Mithridates, he died old.

  61. #61 Udderpus
    April 14, 2008

    Yes, these champions of science are never happier than when meddling with molecules – whether human or animal. Never mind whether a grain diet suits the cow’s metabolism or keeps it healthy. We can provide maximum milk yield by combining low calorie diet with rBST. Read starving cow + rBST = mastitis + pus in milk. What an amazing improvement! Take that Mother Nature; trounced by science again!

  62. #62 MEC
    April 14, 2008

    For example, the author you cite notes that even in healthy animals, contamination can occur from the teat canal

    Tara, WHY do you not mention that the same author says that the first squirts of milk tend to clear out the contamination? That doesn’t sound too hi-tech for a conscientious organic raw-milk farmer to deal with. And again what is this obsession with 100% sterility? Not only are you confusing Franklin, but as an epidemiologist and microbiologist you know very well that absolute sterility is not the goal. The goal is to keep certain bacteria out if possible, and the rest at appropriate levels, with the last part of the goal aiding us in achieving the first, just as Nina Planck has already explained.

    The rest of your concerns, including the strange idea that improvements in the quality of milking equipment and consequent improvement in milk safety is an argument against raw-milk dairies, have already been answered perfectly by Chicharronita and Udderpus. Let me just add that you have again shown your true colours by inventing another fallacious argument in support of a society where only mass-production facilities and Big Business can logically exist, by pronouncing ex cathedra that all other ways of doing things are not economically viable.

    As the saying goes: “The first thing a tyrant must do is convince the people that tyranny is inevitable”.

    Dr. Smith, I think you will find that, with a little bit of grasroot support and political will, alternatives to your particular version of corporate capitalism can and do exist.

  63. #63 Tara C. Smith
    April 14, 2008

    I think Calli Arcale summed up pretty well what my position is. I’m tired of your strawmen arguments, MEC, though I admittedly find it rather amusing that here I’m characterized as a champion of “corporate capitalism” and in most other threads I’m sneered at for being too far left. Perhaps sometime y’all will start to focus on the science rather than changing the discussion to address my politics or hair color.

  64. #64 MEC
    April 14, 2008

    Haha, Dr. Smith, if it’s any consolation, I can assure you those who would call you a leftie don’t know what they are talking about. It takes more than feeling generous towards the Third World and voting for Hillary Clinton.

  65. #65 TaraDefender
    April 14, 2008

    Yegads Tara – someone accused you of leftist views? Why, your honor sorely needs defending. I don’t have a gauntlet as such, so my oven mitt will have to suffice.
    Cads, bounders and general scumbags come out of the woodwork (or closet) and receive your just desserts. A slap with an oven mitt for all those heinous bodkins that would besmirch the good neo-conservativist (and eminently delectable but alas not quite blonde) defender of the scientific paradigm. A POX on you wanna-be unruly proletariat; go home and take 10mg valium STAT.

  66. #66 DT
    April 14, 2008

    At least MEC did come back with “evidence” about his claims on the source of milk contamination, I’ll grant him that. I guess he thinks we will defer to the author “Fundamentals of Cheese Science” as the final and definitive word on the subject. I trust MEC read on a bit further tho, and appreciates that raw milk is in no way sterile, and that if any contamination of milking equipment occurs, it has originated from the milk in the first place. Perhaps MEC can show Planck the sections where his favourite author lists the range of different pathogens that exist in raw milk.

    I wonder who MEC believes now, Planck (raw milk is sterile), or the author of his new bible on cheeses (raw milk is inundated with potential pathogens)?

    Also interesting is the concept from Chicharonita that only Organic Pastures use modern milking equipment. Of course, other commercial dairies wouldn’t dare do anything so, er… radically modern, would they? I have heard the Big Farmer has at his disposal an army of buxom milk maids sat on milking stools (and he even saves more money by not having to give any of them smallpox vaccine).

    The true commercial element seems to be glossed over here. If a dairy is found to be the source of an infection it will suffer the financially crippling burden of being closed/investigated. The most profitable companies are likely to be the ones with the best record of producing milk free from pathogenic contaminants.

  67. #67 Dutch Delight
    April 14, 2008

    You gotta love people coming over to scienceblogs and then complaining about the arrogant scientists.

    It’s like people coming over to astronautblogs and berating astronauts for being so arrogant about spaceflight.

    I wish people would just ask about what they perceive as conflicting data, instead of starting personal attacks and leaving some hardly relevant links to show how right they are in their convictions.

  68. #68 ElkMountainMan
    April 14, 2008

    MEC,

    Thanks for the quotes re Tara and “dirty cows.” I still don’t see that phrase anywhere, but you’re welcome to read into Tara’s words what you like. What do you think of DT’s interesting notion that milking equipment doesn’t just create its own bacteria de novo? And if DT is correct, do Merck saboteurs inoculate the milking equipment, or do the bacteria come from somewhere else?

    TaraDefender, udderpus, Truthbendsover, etc.: your parody of the dairy industry goes like this:

    We can provide maximum milk yield by combining low calorie diet with rBST. Read starving cow + rBST = mastitis + pus in milk

    Underfed cows don’t respond well if at all to somatotropin (Chalupa and Galligan, J Dairy Sci, 1991). No one is starving cows to maximize milk production.

    Perhaps you refer to the University of Arizona/Tarazon-Herrera, et al, study in the Journal of Dairy Science, 2000? These cows aren’t exactly starved. The “low energy” diet is 1.49 Mcal/kg while the “high energy” diet is 1.71 Mcal/kg. The study concludes that extra dietary intake doesn’t enhance rBST gains in milk production.

    Your “defense” of Tara would be more believable if you hadn’t called her a “neo-conservatist”. Tara was juxtaposing the mutually contradictory (and off-topic) guesses at her politics. And just out of curiosity, why do you include “(insert a drug name you know here) STAT” in so many of your comments?

  69. #69 Nomen Nescio
    April 14, 2008

    Tara gets ridiculed for calling cows dirty? what next, insult her for stating the sun rises in the east? it seems some folks here are all hat and no cattle. me, as i mentioned, i’ve actually seen cows.

  70. #70 Gruenhexe
    April 14, 2008

    Quote: “A lot of people seem to think that ‘organic’ equates to ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ too. I always wonder – have they ever taken an organic chemistry class? Do they think benzene is ‘healthy’?”

    Trisha,
    Organic refers to an agricultural production method. Not the same meaning as organic vs. non-organic chemistry.

    And yes, by the time you get a degree in applied entomology, plant pathology or agronomy, most programs will make you take organic :P

    Since organic production methods means, for the consumer, no conventional chemical pesticide or fungicide residues, once could argue it was more healthy, at least for pesticide sensitive individuals.

    In addition since organic methods protect beneficial insect populations, or even introduce them in the micro (field, orchard) ecosystem them, for example using parasitoids (Trichogramma, ect.) or viruses (CpGV) in order to control pests, once could argue it is more ‘healthy’ from an ecological viewpoint, as it encourages species diversity.

    It is more than just carbon rings.

    -Gruenhexe

  71. #71 Adele
    April 14, 2008

    Hi Green Witch

    Purple cone snale excitoxin is organic
    Golden poison frog is organic
    Pufferfish tetrodotoxin is organic
    and ecological, diverse
    Are they healthy to for you, it pleases me you to ask.

  72. #72 Luna_the_cat
    April 14, 2008

    FWIW, my friend Heather had, for a short while, drunk raw milk as it was “healtheir”, and undoubtedly did taste better. She also always preferred raw milk cheeses.

    As a result, her firstborn was in hospital for a month of intensive care as a result of early-onset listeriosis, acquired during the pregnancy. Heather had passed off her nausea and headache as simply being part of the misery of her pregnancy, never realising it was going to result in weeks of misery for her, and a life-threatening fever and sepsis with a 50% chance of death for the baby, and over $340,000 in medical costs. Yeah, that turned out real healthy, didn’t it…all just part of the “big dairy” conspiracy, no doubt.

    Fevers and diseases from contaminated milk used to be a fact of life. It’s just like with vaccinations, though; programmes to make people’s lives safer have worked so well that now the original threat is completely discounted, by those with no experience of it.

  73. #73 anonymous
    April 14, 2008

    I drink raw milk, but only because I am lucky enough to live near a small farm that is meticulous about their milk production and the care of their cows, and whose owners care about their neighbors.

    Not all farms meet all these conditions, even small ones.

    My personal opinion:

    The milk tastes much better.

    I would not feed it to young children, elderly people, or immunocompromised people without boiling it first.

    I am sure it has bacteria in it, but pasteurized milk can also be contaminated. Yes the microbe load is usually lower in pasteurized milk, but with lax enforcement of regulations, there is no guarantee that the pasteurized milk is safe to drink. Contaminants can be introduced after the pasteurization stage (for example, from bottles that were inappropriately stored or handled), and contaminants that survived the pasteurization process can grow in improperly stored/shipped milk.

    Both may be risky, raw milk, generally, is riskier.

    The question of whether the microbes, enzymes, etc., in raw milk provide significant health effects is still being explored. It is possible that there are positive health effects. It’s also possible that there is a placebo effect that makes people feel healthier even if the milk isn’t really responsible. No one knows conclusively which is the case, yet.

    If there are health differences, they may not necessarily be related to pasteurization, but could, for example, be related to homogenization, or some other aspect of large-scale processing. Perhaps it’s simply related to the time that passes between harvest and consumption.

    Like many of the issues of our day, there’s work to be done to find out what’s really going on with raw milk. I hope the work continues, so we can better understand our food supply.

    In the mean time, I am willing to take the risk only because of the relationship we have with the farmer providing our milk. If it does turn out that elements in raw milk help maintain health, then we’ll have been fortunate to be on the “leading edge” of the health trend. If it doesn’t, then we’ll have been fortunate to be able to help a small family farm survive.

  74. #74 John
    April 14, 2008

    I grew up on a dairy farm and drank raw milk (lots and lots of it) for the first 25 years of my life. I come from a relatively large extended family of dairy farmers and we were all raised on raw milk as were our ancestors going back probably 4000 years or more (in Friesland – one of the places where the Holstein was raised before it became the milk factory it is today). Certainly you can get sick off of raw milk – the evidence is there. I’ve never seen or heard of it happening to anyone I know in the business.

    In fact, I think it’s possible I may be even healthier because I was raised that way. I’m certainly the healthiest (i.e. the least likely to be laid out by the flu or a bad cold) among myself my wife and my two young sons. I have little doubt my resistance to e-coli is also much higher than in the general population.

    I would suggest you’re more likely to catch a deadly infection by having minor surgery in the hospital.

    What interests me (and what I haven’t seen any research on yet) are the many different compounds in milk that – AFAIK – have not been reproduced by scientists yet. And how many of them are damaged or destroyed in pasteurization. Healthy bacteria can be added later.

    That’s not to say I insist my family drink raw milk. Like I said the risk is there.

    As to the taste – like most body fluids it very much depends on the diet of the animal producing the fluid. That kind of thing gets smoothed over when you blend milk from many farms together) and then heat it).

  75. #75 Melissa
    April 14, 2008

    Wow, a lot of comments. I just want to step in the refute this:

    “Local dairy operations can easily pasteurize milk, it’s a simple process.”

    it’s not– the equipment required for the mandated pasteurization is expensive for small farmers and a lot of farmers I know simply shift to beef rather than pay for it since pasteurized milk that it’s not worth it…whereas grass-fed beef commands a high price.

    If they could sell raw milk they probably would, since it commands a high price, but a lot of this “increase in demand” is so overblown. I know farmers that did sell raw milk and closed not because of regulations, but because people wouldn’t pay more to cover high hay and gas prices. I would also note, from personal experience, that the terrible taste of average milk results from the fact that most milk is subject to a lot more than just pasteurization. Un-homogenized pasteurized milk tastes pretty damn good.

    I think that if the government wants to mandate pasteurization, they should help small producers cover the costs. The scientific debate can wage on, but it does cost a lot of money to pasteurize.

    I would also venture that like all things made illegal, demand will wage on and that perhaps it’s better to just set up a certification system like in some European countries so at least the small supply would be as safe as possible. We did have certified milk in this country in the past, but it was privately certified and the organization doing it did a terrible job. A lot has changed since then and since raw milk does command a high price, it’s possible farmers could follow HACCP to make risk pretty low. From what I’ve seen, the risk of the European certified milk is far lower than what the US accepts for products like hot dogs (eewww).

    I would even dare to venture that this is all pretty unnecessary if the law accepted scale differences. A small raw milk farmer can implement labor-intensive safety controls like HACCP a lot easier than a large operation and has more incentive to do so because well…one lawsuit for food poisoning would shut down a raw dairy.

    In terms of cheese, the EU has made it clear that it values its small producers and it believes pasteurization isn’t the only way to make cheese safe. For cheese this is more important since it’s pretty undisputed that raw milk cheese is different with its distinct flavor. In fact, the EU is getting the Codex on its side, so maybe we can expect some fun (for spectators) trade disputes a la the beef hormone case and more EU-sponsored research. In the past, cases involving raw milk (Public Citizen v. Heckler) were pretty one-sided since most of the research was done on pasteurized dairy products.

  76. #76 Melissa
    April 14, 2008

    Wow, a lot of comments. I just want to step in the refute this:

    “Local dairy operations can easily pasteurize milk, it’s a simple process.”

    it’s not– the equipment required for the mandated pasteurization is expensive for small farmers and a lot of farmers I know simply shift to beef rather than pay for it since pasteurized milk that it’s not worth it…whereas grass-fed beef commands a high price.

    If they could sell raw milk they probably would, since it commands a high price, but a lot of this “increase in demand” is so overblown. I know farmers that did sell raw milk and closed not because of regulations, but because people wouldn’t pay more to cover high hay and gas prices. I would also note, from personal experience, that the terrible taste of average milk results from the fact that most milk is subject to a lot more than just pasteurization. Un-homogenized pasteurized milk tastes pretty damn good.

    I think that if the government wants to mandate pasteurization, they should help small producers cover the costs. The scientific debate can wage on, but it does cost a lot of money to pasteurize.

    I would also venture that like all things made illegal, demand will wage on and that perhaps it’s better to just set up a certification system like in some European countries so at least the small supply would be as safe as possible. We did have certified milk in this country in the past, but it was privately certified and the organization doing it did a terrible job. A lot has changed since then and since raw milk does command a high price, it’s possible farmers could follow HACCP to make risk pretty low. From what I’ve seen, the risk of the European certified milk is far lower than what the US accepts for products like hot dogs (eewww).

    I would even dare to venture that this is all pretty unnecessary if the law accepted scale differences. A small raw milk farmer can implement labor-intensive safety controls like HACCP a lot easier than a large operation and has more incentive to do so because well…one lawsuit for food poisoning would shut down a raw dairy.

    In terms of cheese, the EU has made it clear that it values its small producers and it believes pasteurization isn’t the only way to make cheese safe. For cheese this is more important since it’s pretty undisputed that raw milk cheese is different with its distinct flavor. In fact, the EU is getting the Codex on its side, so maybe we can expect some fun (for spectators) trade disputes a la the beef hormone case and more EU-sponsored research. In the past, cases involving raw milk (Public Citizen v. Heckler) were pretty one-sided since most of the research was done on pasteurized dairy products.

  77. #77 Calli Arcale
    April 14, 2008

    That’s probably true — that you’re more likely to get an infection from surgery than from raw milk consumed soon after collection on a well-managed farm. That’s why hospitals are required by law to tell you that before opening you up. Breaching the skin is serious business. However, for commercial purposes, I still think it’s best to pasteurize the milk. The handling required for shipment and mass marketing means that for most people, raw milk will be spoiled by the time it can be used. Pasteurized milk is much more economical. Any modest health benefits due to being exposed to more pathogens (and thus exercising the immune system, which of course has its own risks too) are, for most people, outweighed by the need to pay for the stuff. To say nothing of the need to avoid being off work for a week due to listeria or whatever. (Not everybody gets paid sick leave.) So I think that most of the time, the risks and costs of unpasteurized milk outweigh the benefits.

    Most of the time. I can certainly see using raw milk for special occasions, or for special preparations (eg cheesemaking). I treat eggs the same way. Once in a while, for a special occasion, I’ll use raw egg in a recipe. Hasn’t killed me yet. ;-) (There are pasteurized eggs available, and I do use those for eggnog. Takes a little more effort with the whisk; they’re a bit gooier than raw eggs.) But for everyday use, I cook ‘em thoroughly. (Eggs do have a big advantage over milk — they come out of the chicken in a watertight package.)

  78. #78 gene
    April 14, 2008

    Hey, somebody finally brought up HACCP (hazard analysis critical control points).

    Now all we need is an “organic” vs “pasteurized” comparison based on an HACCP for each production process. This is something our regulatory agencies would be doing as a matter of course … uh yeah if there was funding … for a head to head contest might even be called scientific!

    But it’s so much more fun to make charges of denialism.

    To go back to the beginning, let’s not forget that AIDS OIs were not “pathogens” in and of themselves but the product of iatrogenic antibiotic over-prescriptions way back around 1978.

    And there’s no such thing as “directed mutations” in prokaryotes. Of course.

  79. #79 boomer0127
    April 14, 2008

    I don’t see the problem here – didn’t most of us drink raw milk for the first few months of our lives? There’s nothing raw with raw milk until it goes bad. I wish they sold human milk at the store, frozen in small aliquots. Now that is some tasty stuff.

    Come on ladies! Get pumping!

    (yes, I am serious about human milk. Why get it from cows when you can get the stuff we’ve evolved to ingest?)

  80. #80 chicharronita
    April 14, 2008

    This is from the Organic Pastures FAQ:
    In more than 32 million servings, and more than five years of intensive testing, not one single pathogen has been found or detected. [...] Tests performed by UC Davis, Dr. C. Berge DVM revealed something quite startling: Fresh manure from OPDC cows did not contain Salmonella. At other dairies tested, many of the findings were positive (31% of conventional milk tanks tested showed a human pathogen present).

    The handling required for shipment and mass marketing means that for most people, raw milk will be spoiled by the time it can be used. Pasteurized milk is much more economical.

    FYI, raw milk doesn’t spoil, it sours. You put some in a closed container overnight, and the next morning, you have wonderful clabbered milk. Pasteurized milk spoils, and of course can’t clabber. As for pasteurized milk being more economical, I think it’s certainly economical for the mass dairies who don’t need to worry about cleanliness or treating the cows properly, since pasteurization covers up all these ills.

  81. #81 chicharronita
    April 14, 2008

    This is from the Organic Pastures FAQ:
    In more than 32 million servings, and more than five years of intensive testing, not one single pathogen has been found or detected. [...] Tests performed by UC Davis, Dr. C. Berge DVM revealed something quite startling: Fresh manure from OPDC cows did not contain Salmonella. At other dairies tested, many of the findings were positive (31% of conventional milk tanks tested showed a human pathogen present).

    The handling required for shipment and mass marketing means that for most people, raw milk will be spoiled by the time it can be used. Pasteurized milk is much more economical.

    FYI, raw milk doesn’t spoil, it sours. You put some in a closed container overnight, and the next morning, you have wonderful clabbered milk. Pasteurized milk spoils, and of course can’t clabber. As for pasteurized milk being more economical, I think it’s certainly economical for the mass dairies who don’t need to worry about cleanliness or treating the cows properly, since pasteurization covers up all these ills.

  82. #82 hibob
    April 14, 2008

    here’s more raw milk fun-
    69 people began treatment for rabies after being exposed to raw milk from an infected cow:
    http://www.rense.com/general69/rabdies.htm

    I don’t doubt the aesthetic qualities of raw milk, but the woo surrounding it doesn’t seem likely to dissipate until some kids die and it makes it in the news.

  83. #83 cms
    April 14, 2008

    In more than 32 million servings, and more than five years of intensive testing, not one single pathogen has been found or detected.

    I’m quite skeptical of this claim, as I’m sure you would be if some “corporate dairy” was making those claims on its own website–and especially if said website had claims like “…with raw milk (exercise, good hydration, a whole-food diet, and plenty of love) you need not become ill, ever” and links to Mercola.com.

  84. #84 Pockts
    April 14, 2008

    I am a complete layman in the microbiology area, but the one comment that stuck with me was (paraphrase) “cure or help with autism”… is it me or does that make no sence…

  85. #85 MEC
    April 14, 2008

    Testing for censorship

  86. #86 Pockets
    April 14, 2008

    I am a complete layman in the microbiology area, but the one comment that stuck with me was (paraphrase) “cure or help with autism”… is it me or does that make no sence…

  87. #87 Brian
    April 14, 2008

    Is it really such a mystery? Raw milk tastes much, much better than pasteurized milk and is far more versatile.

  88. #88 Adele
    April 14, 2008

    Hi CHicharronita great!! they didn’t get Salmonella at OP they got a human pathogen at 31% other places, what pathogen was that, cause Salmonella they found at 2.7% from dairies aphis.usda.gov/vs/ceah/ncahs/nahms/dairy/dairy02/Dairy02bulktank.pdf so OP is one from 97% of dairies wo salmonella great.

    I love raw milk, it can be dangerous some people may be like their cows more then customers kids??

    No salmonella what about hat Campylobacteriosis in eight people, strain same one from Dairy As’ cows, guess whose Dairy A people, marlerblog.com/Cluster%20of%20Campylobacter%20infections.pdf

    Listeria from Organic pasture big ole recall, fda dot gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/organicpastures09_07

    marlerblog dot com,
    The Associated Press reports that the families of two children sickened by the E. coli bacteria are suing a Fresno dairy. The lawsuits filed Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court accuse Organic Pastures Dairy Co. of shipping raw milk tainted with the bacteria to stores in September 2006. That’s when at least five children fell ill after consuming the dairy’s products. Testing at Organic Pastures did not detect the strain of E. coli that sickened some of the children, but a government report last February said the dairy was likely responsible. Organic Pastures has also had problems with listeria according to the FDA and it is rumored to be under investigation by the State of California for a campylobacter problem as well.

    Eleven-year-old Lauren Herzog (complaint) and 9-year-old Chris Martin (complaint) both consumed raw milk produced by Organic Pastures in early September of 2006. Lauren became ill with symptoms of E. coli infection on September 6. Her illness subsequently developed into HUS, a life-threatening complication of E. coli infection that can cause kidney failure and central nervous system impairment, and she was hospitalized on September 8. Lauren suffered acute renal failure and required approximately two weeks of daily kidney dialysis. She remained hospitalized until October 18, 2006, when she was discharged with over $250,000 in medical bills.

    Chris became ill with symptoms of E. coli infection on September 5, 2006 and he was hospitalized on September 7. Like Lauren, Chris suffered HUS. His condition worsened and he was transported by helicopter to a Children’s hospital and was placed in pediatric intensive care. Chris’ kidneys failed and he required weeks of daily dialysis, as well as multiple blood transfusions. He was placed on a ventilator as a result of impending congestive heart failure, and remained on the ventilator for five days, was briefly taken off the ventilator, and later returned for several more days. Chris suffered a number of seizures as a result of his HUS. He also developed high blood pressure and pancreatitis. Chris was discharged from the hospital on November 2, 2006, nearly two months after he was admitted, with over $450,000 in medical bills.

    poor kids may be they should of drunk more raw milk, it doesn’t spoil it sours!!

    OMG!! wooo wooo!!
    Its the Gene express on track number wierd!!

    AIDS OIs were not “pathogens” in and of themselves but the product of iatrogenic antibiotic over-prescriptions way back around 1978

    Yup no TB CMV Salmonella Herpes or what not before 1978, good one Gene. My mum got hepatitis in like 1955 must of been all those antibiotic over prescribed she got in 1979 love that SEmon time travel!!

  89. #89 MEC
    April 14, 2008

    Hibob, I’d advise you not to hold your breath. Here’s what your article says:

    Most healthy people who drank the milk or cream are not at risk for contracting rabies, Garner said. However, people with certain medical conditions, including suppressed immune systems or oral sores, should call the Health Department to determine whether post-exposure treatment is needed . . . There have been no documented cases of human rabies because of consumption of milk from a rabid animal, Rayno said,

    No wait, do hold your breath I have case for you here. . .

    In one of the previous outbreaks, which affected 60 people in 1994, 18-month-old Claire Davison from Bathgate, West Lothian, died and Michael Reilly, aged three, needed a kidney transplant.

    Unfortunately this was all pasteurized milk fun from slack mass-production dairies. But no need to be so picky, I’m sure it’ll dissipate some of the woo anyway.

  90. #90 MEC
    April 14, 2008

    Adele, with incoherently babbling enemies such as you, who needs to even argue their case?

    Testing at Organic Pastures did not detect the strain of E. coli that sickened some of the children, but a government report last February said the dairy was likely responsible. Organic Pastures has also had problems with listeria according to the FDA and it is rumored to be under investigation by the State of California for a campylobacter problem as well.

    Did you actually read this, Adele? Can you read? The FDA couldn’t find the strain, but just assumed OP was reponsible, cuz that there raw and organic shit sure sounds scary. Maybe that’s why a couple of weeks later:

    State clears Fresno County dairy’s raw milk in E. coli case
    30.sep.06
    Knight-Ridder Tribune
    Robert Rodriguez, The Fresno Bee, Calif.
    The state cleared a Fresno County dairy to resume shipping raw milk products Friday, finding no evidence they contributed to four cases of E. coli poisoning in Southern California . . . McAfee, the state’s largest organic raw milk producer, was the center of a three-week-long investigation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Health Services after four children became ill with E. coli poisoning. The agency forced him to recall his milk last week.
    Health service department interviews with the sick children initially linked Organic Pastures to the illnesses, but further tests at the dairy and of several of McAfee’s raw milk products proved otherwise, officials said.
    “Organic Pastures has passed every pathogen test and other bacteria test requirements with perfect scores,” McAfee said. “All pathogen tests are negative.”
    State officials said an order barring shipment of McAfee’s raw dairy products, including milk, butter and buttermilk, is no longer in effect.

    Before you begin teaching Gene about time-travelling, maybe it would be avisable for you to check up on what actually happened in the past.

  91. #91 wheatdogg
    April 14, 2008

    From a practical standpoint, pasteurization would be a requirement for milk delivered far from its source. Pasteurization increases the shelf life of milk.

    I live in southern Indiana, near Louisville, and so I have easy access to dairy farms selling raw milk (actually, they sell raw milk to part-owners of their stock — kinda like rent-a-cow). So, I can get raw milk within a couple of days from its leaving the cow.

    Contrast that situation to someone living in a big city who has limited access to fresh dairy. For that person, drinking raw dairy might be less advisable, since it has to travel longer to point-of-sale. And shop owners would need to turn their inventory over more quickly, to prevent the sale of spoiled milk.

    You can sick from raw milk. You can also get sick from pasteurized milk. What would convince me whether one is safer than the other is an unbiased study of the pathogen counts in random samples of raw and pasteurized milk. Anecdotal evidence and name-calling does not impress me a bit.

    So, until I hear otherwise, I’m sticking to my 2% from the Kroger dairy. I’ve never gotten sick from it.

  92. #92 j.t.delaney
    April 14, 2008

    I must respectfully disagree with you, Dr. Smith. Here in Germany, I enjoy delicious, safe, non-pasturized dairy products almost every morning, and I only wish that more people could do the same. At the local market, the cheesemonger brings in a wide variety of traditional cheeses, and most of my favorite French ones carry the sign of quality of “fromage d’Appellation d’Origine Controlée” (A.O.C.) — these things are works of art, with flavors that are just not possible from milk where key enzymes have been deactivated and several species of useful bacteria have been killed. Camembert, comté, and brie made the traditional way are safe and immensely superior to the industrial, rubbery, fart-in-a-styrofoam-cup-flavored stuff that Wisconsin churns out. Once you’ve tried the real thing, it’s hard to go back. It has nothing to do with misplaced romanticism or twigs-and-berries/back-to-nature crap; it’s about appreciating the subtle, remarkable qualities of some truly remarkable human creations.

    I think you may have been focusing on raw milk and cream, and not cheese. Here, I have to agree, in an economy where the milk from scores or hundreds of farms has to be pooled and bottled together for thousands of people to drink it, it doesn’t make sense to not pasteurize — at least from a public health standpoint. Still, I have fond memories of drinking raw milk at my uncle’s farm growing up, and I don’t recall me or my cousins getting sick in the process. It was fresh (sometimes still warm from the cow), and sweet, and the most delicious lactation I can recall. Last summer, I had the chance in Austria to try it again at a small farm (3 cows) in the Tirolean Alps, but I have to admit it was nowhere near as wonderful as what I had as a kid. Oh well…

    My point is, please don’t lump all of us lovers of (some) raw dairy products in the same basket. Industrial-scale wholesale raw milk distribution doesn’t make much sense, but you’ll get my Pouligny-Saint-Pierre from me when you peel it from my cold, dead, (stinky) hands!

  93. #93 Adele
    April 14, 2008

    Hi JT yes I love raw milk to. I won’t give it to my kids from a capitalist big business, Organic Pastures, I would get it from a nice farm I know may be I milk it myself!

    wow here’s time travel,
    State clears Fresno County dairy’s raw milk in E. coli case
    30.sep.06

    wow Clausey Jensen state cleared Organic Pastures, September 2006 before kids got out of their hospital in Oct and Nov??? wow their fast in Cali!! OR, state is in pocket of big business like Organic pastures!!

    Six kids from all over got crazy sick on same strain of E. coli September 2006 they all drank stuff from OP what else do they have common, and at OP was found similar E. coli strains what else do they have common.

    How bout the Campylobacter then the Listeria recall from OP, did they have negative test in 1995 so its not real 2007, cool. You got a news story they didn’t have Listeria in 200 so it can’t happen 2008, cool. Can I haz ride on ur time machinez Dr Jensen!! whoo!!

    FDA doesn’t want to do food safety bc they’re in pocket of big business like OP, very sad.

  94. #94 Pablo
    April 14, 2008

    With all the comments about the evil corporate conspiracy, I haven’t seen anyone mention the flipside: How much do you pay for “raw milk”?

    I have heard reports that it is as high as $15 US a gallon. That’s crazy.

    If I am a dairy farmer lucky to sell to the dairy at < $2/gallon, you darn skippy I’d be all about marketing
    “raw milk” so I could sell it to some sucker at almost 10 times the price.

    So while complaining about the dairy industry, does anyone stop to wonder about the “organic food” industry? You seriously think they are concerned about you? Heck no, they are about making money, too. And there is big money in “organic foods.”

    Two comments:
    1) Sterile milk out of the teat? Yeah, maybe, but then again, urine is sterile when it comes out the urethra, too. A milking operation cannot be kept that clean.
    2) I know folks who are organic dairy farmers. They aren’t in it for the good of the animals or your health. The ones I know are in it because they couldn’t manage a herd well enough to compete in the standard dairy market so moved to an area where it was easier to make money.

  95. #95 Pablo
    April 14, 2008

    Stupid formatting. taht was supposed to say

    “If I am a dairy farmer lucky to sell to the dairy at less than $2 a gallon, I too would be marketing “raw milk” so I could sell it to some sucker at almost 10 times the price.”

  96. #96 Erik A. Kruger
    April 14, 2008

    Today is the first time I’ve read anything at this blog (there was a link from PZ Myers’s Pharyngula), so I have no attachment to Tara one way or the other. I also have no particular attachment to raw milk–although I love milk in general, and have had raw milk in Germany and Brazil when staying in rural areas in both countries. Yummy.
    I think the true(r) argument between some of the more “negative” of the raw milkers and “The Establishment” is something tangential to this thread, however, since Tara’s comments about pasteurization are pretty straightforward and realistic–she never once seems to support the effigy being burned. We live an a society–at least currently–in which raw is not a viable option for the vast majority of people, so that point is moot.
    More tellingly, Tara’s comments about “romanticism” have been clearly misconstrued. There is a completely transparent and obvious (and not invidiously value-laden) way in which *any* attempt to get “closer to nature” is “Romantic” in the history-of-ideas sense. I can’t help but feel that several of the posters assume that accusations of Romanticism are essentially slurs. Perhaps they can become slurs, but the connotations of “romantic” should not interfere with the correct denotation of “Romantic.” Tara uses the term quite correctly.
    I, for one, much prefer the intellectual product of the Enlightenment Period–say, 1650 to 1790–to the Romantic Period–say, 1762 to 1860. Jonathan Israel’s great history of the “Radical Enlightenment” provides many important reasons why: democratic republicanism, science, concepts of freedom of thought and expression, the end to the intellectual monopoly of religion, human rights (including the right to revolution), and so forth. The Romantic Reaction was predominantly a response to the covert and overt atheism and iconoclasm of most of the more interesting Enlightenment thinkers.
    For many of the Romantics, the “return to nature” was therefore in fact a sort of recourse to a “natural supernaturalism” which accepted much of the Enlightenment’s negative assessment of organized religion, but chose to reject outright naturalism (with its almost ineluctable links to “materialism,” atheism, etc.). Kant–for one example–is, in many ways, more of a Romantic thinker than an Enlightement thinker in this regard. As is Rousseau, for another.
    I prefer Spinoza, Bayle, Diderot, Condorcet, Paine, et al. For me *personally*, therefore, “Romantic” is not very “romantic.” But it’s unclear why some of the raw milkers are offended by the term.
    The “negative” responses to being “branded” as Romantics seems to be mistaken. Moreover, personal mockery adds nothing to a conversation, and is no substitute for argument. Many of the comments seem therefore–albeit not ironically–pasteurizing: more aimed at generating heat than light.

  97. #97 Leon
    April 14, 2008

    Nina Planck’s comment is striking, when you think about it. How can milk contain helpful bacteria when it comes out of the cow if it is, in fact, sterile?

    That sort of thing is a red flag for voodoo medicine: it’s a sign the person makes a habit of misusing the language, either for purposes of gain or because they don’t know any better.

  98. #98 Moses
    April 14, 2008

    Raw Milk is like magic for children? I guess she’s never heard of TB and what it does to their little lungs.

    And don’t get me wrong, I do use a lot of organics in my gardening, for example. However, “organic” doesn’t mean safe and, frankly, it’s not always best practice. Many “oganic” solutions to pest, disease and weed problems are more dangerous, and with worse environmental effects, than man-made chemicals.

  99. #99 Moses
    April 14, 2008

    but the thing is, i grew up in dairy farming country. i’ve walked into dairy stables, seen cows up close and personal, watched milking done, avoided glide mines in the pasture… and frankly, there’s only so closely i’m willing to be connected to cattle. pasteurized and skim sounds quite good enough for my milk, thank you.

    Posted by: Nomen Nescio | April 12, 2008 3:38 PM

    I did the same when I was in high school. I didn’t even know about the risk of TB from milk even though my grandmother had gotten TB as a teenager from one of their cows.

    No raw milk for me. Or raw fish. Not after a number of people I’ve known in my life, most recently my daughter’s 4th grade teacher, have had to have portions of their intestines removed because eating raw “natural” sword fish can give you parasites.

  100. #100 Cath
    April 14, 2008

    Ew. I was hoping this was going to be about a rise in small producer cheesemaking, which has been an issue recently in Europe. But cheese is cultured with its own bacteria and moulds, and is quite safe, overzealous health regulators notwithstanding

    But drinking raw milk?? No thanks. Just say no to TB.

  101. #101 pat
    April 14, 2008

    Has anyone ever tried raw chicken? It is delicious and is abundantly served in japan. It is a little like raw salmon; mmmmmmmmhmmmmmmmm!
    For japan the solution seems to lie in the handling of the food.

  102. #102 pat
    April 14, 2008

    “So while complaining about the dairy industry, does anyone stop to wonder about the “organic food” industry? You seriously think they are concerned about you? Heck no, they are about making money, too. And there is big money in “organic foods.” -pablo

    all these conspiracies make me dizzy.

  103. #103 Richard Simons
    April 15, 2008

    Since coming to Canada I don’t believe I have ever seen pasteurized cows milk for sale that was not also homogenized, which to me always tastes stale (as does the cream). In fact, I heard a spokesperson for the dairy industry, taking phone-in questions from listeners on the radio, who clearly did not know that they are two quite distinct processes. Are there places in North America where pasteurized, non-homogenized milk and cream is readily available?

  104. #104 Melissa
    April 15, 2008

    Richard, it does exist. In the Midwest Kalona (http://www.farmersallnaturalcreamery.com/) and Trader’s Point (http://www.traderspointcreamery.com/) are great. I’m sure there are more. I found these at my local co-op.

  105. #105 ElkMountainMan
    April 15, 2008

    Pat, I take it you’ve tried the raw chicken in Japan? If so, how was it served? I’m curious, since I unfortunately haven’t been to Japan, and I’ve never seen it served in Japanese restaurants where I live. I hear they do a raw version as well as a near-raw (seared?) tori-masa. If you have a minute, please do give us a more detailed lesson on raw chicken cuisine.

    Relevant to food supply and safety, you might be interested in a little publication by John Moore (John E. Moore, that is) on this very subject: JE Moore and M Matsuda, Travel Medicine and Infectious Diseases, January, 2007.

    These authors report that C. jejuni and C. coli (they cause most food poisoning cases) have been reported present at levels up to 100% in chicken flocks. They are thought to be near-ubiquitous on many farms. But Moore and Matsuda also write that some published rates are much lower for Japanese farms, as low as 20-30% or so at the low end:

    There is anecdotal evidence that Japanese poultry farmers can indeed produce pathogen-free poultry in these regions, specifically for supplying restaurants that market [namano toriniku].

    Prompting the question: are dressing and meat handling practices safer in Japan (as you suggest, Pat), or are the pathogens simply as “rare” as the chicken on some farms (but why?), or both?

    It’s an important health question in my opinion. C. jejuni can cause problems beyond diarrhea, itself an acutely uncomfortable but rarely fatal condition (at least for adults). For one example, C. jejuni has been implicated in a third to a half of Guillain-Barre’ cases, which may occur at the rate of “1 in 3000 C. jejuni infections” (John E. Moore, et al, Vet Res, 2005).

  106. #106 Gruenhexe
    April 15, 2008

    Quote: “Hi Green Witch
    Purple cone snale excitoxin is organic
    Golden poison frog is organic
    Pufferfish tetrodotoxin is organic
    and ecological, diverse
    Are they healthy to for you, it pleases me you to ask.
    Adele ”

    Hi Adele,
    You forgot:
    Poison Ivy is organic (assuming you have not been trying to kill it with roundup)

    But you are purpousely ignoring my point.

    There are logical reasons people may view organic as healthier, and NOT due to ignorance, which you are implying.

    Or do you not understand the value of sustainable agriculture, genetic diversity in crops, and species diversity in an ecosystem?

    Or why some people may wish to avoid pesticides?

    Pesticide and fungicide residues on plant foods can cause health problems.
    This is why there are strict legal limits for residues on food.

    If you happen to be allergic / chemically sensitive, or a child (rapid growth makes one more sensitive) you may very well find it healthier to avoid food that has heavy pesticide residues.

    From the ecological ‘health’ perspective:

    It is also questionable if the current big factory farm practices of agricultural prodcution are viable over the long term.

    For example: Large monocultures can foster disease outbreaks.

    Come now… basic epidemiology here..
    What happens when acres and acres of almost genetically identical, susceptible plant hosts and its plant pathogen meet?
    Do we really have to replay the potato famine?

    Insecticide and fungicide resistance is rapidly increasing.
    Every time one sprays, you are placing selection pressure on the insect pest (or fungal plant pathogens).
    Production methods that rely on heavy pesticide / fungicide use quite quickly form resistant pest / pathogen populations.
    Often growers react by spraying more often, over and over with the same chemical. This effectivly quickly fixes resistance traits in the gene pool of the pest.

    Resistance and the management of resistance is a big issue in agriculture.

    Since organic methods do not use conventional chemical pesticides, they are often used for control of pest species in cases of extreme pesticide resistance.

    Organic methods also forster genetic diversity in both crop plants, and the local micro-ecoystem (preservation or introduction of benefical insects, co-croping)

    -Gruenhexe

  107. #107 Gruenhexe
    April 15, 2008

    Quote:”And don’t get me wrong, I do use a lot of organics in my gardening, for example. However, “organic” doesn’t mean safe and, frankly, it’s not always best practice. Many “oganic” solutions to pest, disease and weed problems are more dangerous, and with worse environmental effects, than man-made chemicals.”

    Moses,

    I am curious, what practices, specifically, are you refering to?

    Most of the organic methods I am aware of are things like phermone traps, release of benificials, using resistant varieties, mechanical weed removal ect. It is a whole set of management practices used together.

    For knock down treatments of pests, things like horticultural soap, oil, entomopathogenic nematodes, Bt (bacterial), CpGV (virus)… all have some risk and not all are available to hobby gardners… but still not the level of risk as say, from the organophosphates available to the general public to kill grubs in your lawn.

    But then there is alot of snake oil sold to the hobby gardner as ‘organic’, and confusion of the public as to which methods constitute ‘organic’.
    For example, some product catalogues that present themselves as selling ‘organic’ pest treatments also include a suprising amount of the safer chemical pesticide products, and some really archaic fungicides (which really are not for the beginner)

    -Gruenhexe

    -Gruenhexe

  108. #108 Adele
    April 15, 2008

    Organic food gimme a break all tomatos are organic, did they get one made from lead and silicone?? Sheesh.

    Gruenhexe my thing is not about diversity every one likes harmony alot of different plants animals fungi may be not Dick Cheney but I do. Your not only person that likes our planet, sorry, Every person hates toxic pesticides to may be not a stock holder on monsanto but I do.

    Organic has two good meanings they overlap, third meaning is like ten years old and its like a trillion meanings so it does not mean any thing.
    Organic like chemistry of organisms Hydrocarbons OChem nature or synth
    Organic like it comes form organisms and its natural
    Organic like when a dood makes a bastard from language and does their ooh I’m SO MUCH better then you thing, ooh it doesn’t have this pesticide or I crapped on that plant myself for fertilizer or what not its different for every one that uses it.

    srsly doodz get a definition if your saying organic, no-one agrees what it is.

    Its organic Gruenhexe
    phermone traps
    Oh yeah real organic guess where pheremones come from, synth. in a OCHEM LAB!! Yeah their organic not like Gruenhexe means it tho. Oh I guess some people grind on their beetles by hand for it?? Not.

    release of benificials
    Oh yeah great respect on local diversity, invade your garden with insects got shipped from 500 km away on a big smoke puffy Diesel truck. Hey insects you are gonna be diverse or we will force it on you kill you off!!

    using resistant varieties
    Yep that’s a good one genetic engineering. May be you just use resistent ones that got bred in 500 years not 50??

    mechanical weed removal ect
    Oh you want to have slavery, or tomatos for 700 bucks a kilo. The poor diverse weeds also. Nice for back yard not agriculture.

    Neem oil
    Good one it kills every body all the good and bad insects and spiders, what not. ORGANIC pesticide how people say it now is braod spectrum. kills everything nice diversity there its barren.

    OK its not I’m being nasty, all of it has use it can be good stuff. Just saying, organic phosphate stuff is bad some times, ‘organic’ stuff is bad to some times. Worst toxic stuff is natural, organic. Drive your car, gasoline is natural, organic. Natural organic doesn’t make it automatic great.

  109. #109 j.t.delaney
    April 15, 2008

    Totally raw chicken? Really? That’s a new one to me. I was under the impression that it was just not a good idea, but then again, I know some French-trained cooks that swear that rosé is the ideal for serving many chicken and duck dishes. So what are they doing differently in Japan with their chicken that they can get away with eating raw chicken, when we can’t do the same?

    Here in Germany, a popular local delicacy is Mett (a.k.a. Hackepeter), which is minced raw pork, seasoned with salt, pepper, a bit of garlic, and sometimes caraway. They typically spread it on crusty bread, and garnish it with some diced onions and maybe some chopped flat parsley. Such a dish would be unthinkable back home, but here it’s an ordinary food, without any controversy attached to it. Go figure.

    Like I said before, I’m not one who attributes any magical health benefits to raw milk (or meat for that matter), but people have been consuming it from domesticated animals for thousands of years. Rather than something to be avoided, it was a critical component of the diet of many ethnic groups in Eurasia and Africa for thousands of years, and helped make basic survival possible. I just don’t think it is rational to demonize a food source that allowed our ancestors to flourish and helped (in part) for Western civilization to transition from hunter-gathering societies into pastoralism and subsistance farming.

    Of course, the industrial revolution changed a lot of ways we do things. Most of us don’t live in small agrarian communities, and our milk has to pass through many hands before it reaches our kitchens, which gives bacteria plenty of opportunities to incubate: this is a key difference. In the current situation, where people may live hundreds of miles from the farms where the milk was originally collected, not pasturizing is probably asking for trouble.

  110. #110 pat
    April 15, 2008

    “Pat, I take it you’ve tried the raw chicken in Japan?”

    yes, many times over the years

    “If so, how was it served? I’m curious, since I unfortunately haven’t been to Japan, and I’ve never seen it served in Japanese restaurants where I live. I hear they do a raw version as well as a near-raw (seared?) tori-masa. If you have a minute, please do give us a more detailed lesson on raw chicken cuisine.”

    I am afraid I can’t give you a very detailed lesson in cusine for I am no chef. It is served in various ways with various sauces, some seared some not. I don’t know what the sauces were made from…the menu was in japanese and chefs aren’t really forthcoming with their recepies.

    “Relevant to food supply and safety, you might be interested in a little publication by John Moore (John E. Moore, that is) on this very subject: JE Moore and M Matsuda, Travel Medicine and Infectious Diseases, January, 2007. These authors report that C. jejuni and C. coli (they cause most food poisoning cases) have been reported present at levels up to 100% in chicken flocks. They are thought to be near-ubiquitous on many farms. But Moore and Matsuda also write that some published rates are much lower for Japanese farms, as low as 20-30% or so at the low end:

    There is anecdotal evidence that Japanese poultry farmers can indeed produce pathogen-free poultry in these regions, specifically for supplying restaurants that market [namano toriniku].

    Prompting the question: are dressing and meat handling practices safer in Japan (as you suggest, Pat), or are the pathogens simply as “rare” as the chicken on some farms (but why?), or both?”

    It was suggested to me by my japanese hosts. They did say that it was not recommended to waltz into any huge supermarket and try any random chicken raw but that these chickens were supplied by a very tight nit commuity of extremely devoted poultry farmers. They were adamant that the safety of the chicken lies in the way the chicken were..umm…”grown”(?) and the way the meat was processed right up to the point it hits your palate. Same goes for the famed Kobe beef. These cattle live a far more luxurious life than their human herders. For example, they get daily massages and even beer (apparently that helps the marbelisation of the meet) some farmers even install airconditioning in the barns for the cow’s comfort while forgoing the luxury for themselves.

    “It’s an important health question in my opinion.”

    It is. I wouldn’t dream of trying raw chicken in N. America or even Europe for that matter but for the Japanese food is literally a labour of love. I suppose you must love food and worship it like the Goddess it is to achieve the right “safety” levels in food processing. This does not mean that food poisoning doesn’t happen in Japan because it does but they are exceptionally rare and they are certainly not going to let a few rare deaths destroy their culinary traditions. If they did and we actually applied the same logic to car safety we would have banned those wheeled weapons of mass destruction long ago and would all be eating soylent green.

    Have you tried blow fish? I have and I must say it was nothing special. The chef was piss drunk while cooking so I wondered If that was not unwise but he reassured me:
    “you cannot cook blowfish wrong you can only cook the wrong parts” I nodded and ate and drank into the wee hours of the morning. We even smoked weed right there in the restaurant…some guy delivered it into my hands in a pack of Marlboro reds and I’m not sure on who’s prompting. It was a weird twilight zone moment for me in Tokyo but a memorable one surrounded by huge sumo-type guys in tatoos.
    I fully recommend you travel there at least once with a Japanese friend to show you what a tourist would otherwise be engineered to miss.

  111. #111 pat
    April 15, 2008

    j.t.delaney

    Here in switzerland they serve a similar dish to the one you described in Germany except for here it is made with beef and is called Steak Tartare and it is customary for the waiter to mix it up for you. I am not all that familiar with how to prepare chicken for raw consupmtion but I remember one Japanese explaing that they didn’t stack their chicken on top of eachother were they would shit on one another all day.
    On the milk topic, I was driving around today and payed special attention to the farms as I drove by and almost all were advertising raw milk “frisch ab Hof” and eggs and chickens and what not just as I remember. Maybe Wisconsin is alot like Switzerland although I wouldn’t wisper that one around these parts hehe.

  112. #112 pat
    April 15, 2008

    j.t.delaney

    you also ask “how do they get away with it”

    I know around most parts of this wobbly planet anyone can order a steak rare or even blue but you cannot try that in England anymore as I have found out to my astonishment. Thoroughly well cooked is all they are allowed to serve there nowadays (at least in the dozen or so eateries I’ve been to in London recently)…due to health fears. Of course the fears are founded in the rotten english meat distribution system and not in the “naturally inherent” dangers of eating raw beef.
    I wonder how long it will be before the English become astonished that some people can “get away” with eating a blue steak?

  113. #113 ozzy
    April 15, 2008

    pat,

    You may be confusing raising chickens for eggs with raising good ole broiler or roaster chickens. All of the coops for broilers and roasters I’ve been to did not have the chickens on top of one another. They all were enclosed in the big coop, all at the same level. I don’t think the difference in contamination comes from our chickens shitting on top of one another and their’s not. It definitely might be due to differences in slaughtering processes.
    I will tell you something. You haven’t experienced life until you stick your head in a 4,000+ bird coop in the heat of the summer. The stench will definitely take your breath away.

  114. #114 Gruenhexe
    April 15, 2008

    Adele,
    Organic in this case is a specific term that refers to an Agricultural production method.
    The ‘organic’ in organic agriculture has as much to do with organic chemistry as catching a ‘bug’ (viral) in the office does with catching a bug (cockroach). Definitions are important.

    “Organic food gimme a break all tomatos are organic, did they get one made from lead and silicone?? Sheesh.”

    Not all tomatoes are PRODUCED organically.
    Since you seem to be deliberately confusing the terms, here are a few web sites for you about organic agriculture:
    http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/ofp/ofp.shtml
    http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/recommends/11frameset.html

    “srsly doodz get a definition if your saying organic, no-one agrees what it is.”

    To agronomists, plant pathologists, entomologists and legally/regulatory (in the USA as well as the EU) it is fairly clear what constitutes organic agricultural production methods. Check out above links.
    But I can understand why you are confused, there is a lot of mis-marketing and fuzzy bunny newage fluffyness that puts out some misleading information.
    Most people do not know enough about how their food is grown / produced to really evaluate things

    “pheromone traps
    Oh yeah real organic guess where pheromones come from, synth. in a OCHEM LAB!! Yeah their organic not like Gruenhexe means it tho. Oh I guess some people grind on their beetles by hand for it?? Not.”

    Once again, organic refers to an agricultural production method.
    There is no way to grow large amounts of marketable crops without controlling insects pests and disease. Pheromones traps use replications of insect sex pheromone to lure insects, to disrupt mating or even to their deaths. Very species specific. Quite a different effect than spraying with an organophosphate.

    “release of benificials
    Oh yeah great respect on local diversity, invade your garden with insects got shipped from 500 km away on a big smoke puffy Diesel truck. Hey insects you are gonna be diverse or we will force it on you kill you off!!”

    You DO realise beneficials EAT or parasitize other insects? And that they tend to be rather genus or even species specific? Most of the time they get shipped out as insect eggs. A small box in the mail. For example you release parasitoid wasps to kill off aphids, instead of spraying. A spray will kill almost every insect in the field. The wasp only goes after its prey. What happens to species diversity is pretty clear.

    “using resistant varieties
    Yep that’s a good one genetic engineering. May be you just use resistent ones that got bred in 500 years not 50??”

    You ARE aware that resistant varieties of crop plants are easily conventionally bred? That many of them tend to be existing heirloom type varieties or offspring of? Breeding plants (or cats, or cows) in general, as we have been historically doing can be viewed as type of genetic engineering.
    But in answer to your question, genetically altered plants, such as BT corn, are not used in organic production.

    “mechanical weed removal ect
    Oh you want to have slavery, or tomatos for 700 bucks a kilo. The poor diverse weeds also. Nice for back yard not agriculture.”

    You can not grow large amounts of marketable crops without weed management. Weeds will outcompete almost every crop.
    Mechanical weed removal can be as simple as tilling at the right time, or using a special rake pulled by a tractor to pull out weeds between the rows.

    “Neem oil
    Good one it kills every body all the good and bad insects and spiders, what not. ORGANIC pesticide how people say it now is braod spectrum. kills everything nice diversity there its barren.”

    Still nowhere as broad spectrum as some of the synthetics, where a drop will do, and the chemical can even penetrate into the plant tissues and remain active for a while.
    ANY oil sprayed on an insect will kill it. The oil plugs up the breathing holes in the cuticle of the insect, olive oil, corn oil, ect. But it has to completely coat the insect to do so. Once the oil dries, it no longer can harm the insects.

    Sprayed in a field, it is not possible to coat all the insects, for many will escape the drenching, hiding on leaf undersides, burrowed in the plant, down on the ground, ect..In contrast conventional chemical pesticides often only have to make contact, one drop. (instead of completely cover).

    Further Neem itself (a phytochemical made by the Neem tree) is very bitter and has antifeedant properties. IF eaten, it interferes with the hormonal system of insect moulting, so that the insect can not shed its skin properly. But it has to be eaten. A spider does not eat plant tissues, thus will not ingest the Neem, neither will ladybugs or other predators. Nectar feeders (butterflies, bees) will be unaffected.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neem
    for a Neem overview.

    “OK its not I’m being nasty, all of it has use it can be good stuff. Just saying, organic phosphate stuff is bad some times, ‘organic’ stuff is bad to some times. Worst toxic stuff is natural, organic. Drive your car, gasoline is natural, organic. Natural organic doesn’t make it automatic great.”

    By that definition everything on the planet can be ‘organic’. The car is ‘organic’ because the steel is from ‘natural’ iron ore.
    Once again, mixing apples with oranges. Organic refers in this case to a production method (Organic Agriculture), that is pretty clearly outlined.

    -Gruenhexe

  115. #115 Kevin
    April 15, 2008

    With all the comments about the evil corporate conspiracy, I haven’t seen anyone mention the flipside: How much do you pay for “raw milk”? — Pablo

    The gist was it’s a conspiracy by Big Milk to keep people from the good stuff….(link removed)…
    It kind of came off romanticizing the “it’s more natural” aspect.
    — Kathryn

    Yeah, that turned out real healthy, didn’t it…all just part of the “big dairy” conspiracy, no doubt.

    Fevers and diseases from contaminated milk used to be a fact of life. It’s just like with vaccinations, though; programmes to make people’s lives safer have worked so well that now the original threat is completely discounted, by those with no experience of it. Luna the Cat
    ____________________________________________________

    While I certainly agree that pasteurization of milk is necessary for public health, particularly IF individuals consumers are not willing to do the extra work required to ensure a reputable local source for the raw stuff, I continue to be amazed at the naive sophistry that permeates this sad little blog. As is demonstrated in the specious rhetoric contained in the above quotes, the intelligentsia in Western society is currently of very poor quality, and the coming reckoning will only be magnified by the combination of academic ignorance and professional complicity, of which Tara is exemplar.

    Romanticizing a return to natural living is far more noble a delusion than placing ones faith in greedy corporate gangsters; I mean who could possibly argue with a straight-face that corporations have our collective best interest in mind, when stories like the following appear almost hourly to reveal the true wretched state of our “psuedo-democracy”:

    Ghostwriters for medical research criticized, reforms urged

    Kevin

    And, Pablo…if you think small-operation organic farms are more profitable than Big Milk, you are a bigger idiot than even your ill-informed posts already reveal. Let me make a book suggestion to you (and to anyone else who finds your delusions agreeable):

    Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy

    Kevin

  116. #116 ElkMountainMan
    April 15, 2008

    Pat,

    Thanks for your reminiscences. I hope I have a chance in my remaining time to experience some of the Japan you got to know….including the cuisine.

    Back to milk, any farm producing milk on a large scale should be treated equally by the FDA, “organic” or not. (And no, Gruenhex, a car’s steel is not organic, just natural.) Favoritism to organic producers based on customer demand is not just unfair; it’s dangerous.

    The economic pressures of large-scale farming (or any business) will tempt all but the most principled into cutting corners here and there. Maximizing profit, in other words, at the expense of the consumer, even at the expense of public health.

    That’s why regulatory agencies, as annoying as they can be at times (I’m thinking of the shame of no more rare steaks, not to mention j.t. delaney’s Hackepeter), are sometimes necessary. We do need an FDA monitoring the dairies and their bacteria. We do need an SEC looking over the shoulders of those tempted to make a fast billion unscrupulously.

    I have no beef with a local farmer selling raw milk from his five cows to demanding and loyal customers. The farmer and his or her customers are taking a known risk and this choice should be respected.

    A different matter is the pathetic travesty of justice that occurs when California authorities look the other way as an industrial dairy pretends to be the “local farmer,” muscling its way into the lucrative raw milk territory like a big-box retailer marketing “organic” berries. The industrial “organic” farmer gets top dollar for raw milk, but is not obliged to comply with the same safety requirements imposed on other industrial dairies. And why not? Because the “organic” raw milk producer is, legally speaking, selling “pet food”. Unregulated pet food that many trend-conscious enviro-hypocrites pump into their angelic sans-Oscar-Meyer-Lunchables young ones.

  117. #117 MEC
    April 16, 2008

    Sir Elkie,

    I’m impressed by your suddenly sober view on human, especially corporate such, motivations. I hope your new-found insights will extend to the extremely powerful pharmaceuticals and their equally powerful lobbies and ties high up in government (yes, yes people like Rummy) But what do you mean organic or raw-milk farmer are not obliged to comply with the same safety standards imposed on(other)industrial dairies?

  118. #118 pat
    April 16, 2008

    “I will tell you something. You haven’t experienced life until you stick your head in a 4,000+ bird coop in the heat of the summer. The stench will definitely take your breath away.”

    maybe thats the problem. gasp!

  119. #119 ElkMountainMan
    April 16, 2008

    MEC, your question:
    But what do you mean organic or raw-milk farmer are not obliged to comply with the same safety standards imposed on(other)industrial dairies?

    In general, organic and raw milk farmers are obliged to comply with prevailing standards…when they are selling a regulated product. When a similar product labeled for human consumption is sold in a store by two dairies, the industrial-scale organic enterprise should be subject to inspections, recalls and court orders just as is the average industrial-scale dairy.

    Big Organic reps circumvent restrictions by labeling their product as “pet food” before shipping it out-of-state. Imagine how our friend Cathy would react if Merck classified Gardasil as “jewelry” or “garden implements” before selling it in New Zealand, to avoid regulations and with the full knowledge it would be injected into “innocent newborns” of 17 years of age, not worn as strange-looking earrings. Everyone, farmer, consumer and FDA alike, knows that raw milk is consumed by humans not (exclusively) pets, but they maintain the charade. The farmer for profit, the consumer out of stupidity, and the FDA out of cowardice or slavishness to convenience.

    In a few states in the USA (including California), industrially-produced raw milk is approved for sale in supermarkets and it is regulated, somewhat: raw milk is treated to a different set of safety standards from other milk products. Some pathogens are tested for, but some potential pathogens are allowed at higher levels, or not assayed at all. Yes, levels of bacteria, beneficial or not, are predictably much higher in raw milk. But doesn’t this suggest that raw milk should be subject to more careful scrutiny, not less?

  120. #120 Luna_the_cat
    April 16, 2008

    pat:
    “…Tokyo…surrounded by huge sumo-type guys in tatoos.”

    …wait, what? Why were you surrounded by Yakuza???? That would NOT be the standard tourist experiece!

  121. #121 pat
    April 16, 2008

    “…wait, what? Why were you surrounded by Yakuza???? That would NOT be the standard tourist experiece!”

    Thats why I said to travel there with a local so you can get to see what “tourists are engineered to miss”. You might not get to meet yakuza types but you’ll get to see japan from the inside out either way. You should want to avoid the standard tourist experience is what I am saying.

  122. #122 Luna_the_cat
    April 16, 2008

    Ah, I misunderstood.

    I think, to be honest…that I might actually want to miss the Yakuza experience, too. In fact, I am sure of it.

  123. #123 pat
    April 16, 2008

    I don’t regret having met them, it was a valuable experience and as long as you are never in their debt they are quite safe and friendly and they for sure know Japan.

  124. #124 Adele
    April 16, 2008

    Hi Gruenhexe so I don’t get it, steel is organic?! Wha??

    Gasoline is organic its got hydrocarbons and its made from real old dead plants and animals what didn’t get any pesticides!!

  125. #125 Kevin
    April 16, 2008

    I hope your new-found insights will extend to the extremely powerful pharmaceuticals and their equally powerful lobbies and ties high up in government (yes, yes people like Rummy).

    I wouldn’t count on it, MEC.

    After all, neither Elkie, or any of the other lackeys here, had any comment on the link that I posted yesterday. Yet, that article clearly exposes the real sad state of professional research and its thoroughly incestuous relationship with Big Pharma. Perhaps, Elkie is too stupified, as I am, when faced with the realities of the situation:

    “The reports claim Merck & Co. frequently paid academic scientists to take credit for research articles prepared by company-hired medical writers, a practice called ghostwriting

    While Merck is singled out, the practices are not uncommon, according to JAMA’s editors. In an editorial, they urge strict reforms, including a ghostwriting crackdown and requiring all authors to spell out their specific roles.

    “The manipulation is disgusting. I just didn’t realize the extent,” she said .

    I agree with Dr. DeAngelis, JAMA’s editor-in-chief; the manipulation is disgusting and counter to sound scientific practice. What do you think, Elkie? How about you, Tara? Got any opinions about actual important matters facing scientific research or are you too busy preparing your next hit piece on all of us anti-science conspiracy theorists?

    (More quotes from the article)…

    The practices outlined in JAMA can lead editors to publish biased research that can result in doctors giving patients improper and even harmful treatment, she said. DeAngelis said doctors, medical researchers and journal editors bear some responsibility for those harms.

    “We’re the ones who have allowed this to happen. Now we’ve got to make it stop,” she said.

    I’ve been saying this for years but apparently no one on this blog has enough integrity to admit the culpability of the current status quo. Lord knows, Tara will never post anything that even remotely addresses such improprieties. Her track record is clear.

    “Sometimes companies and their own scientists are involved in some or all the steps, and those were the studies scrutinized in the JAMA reports.”

    Independent research, my ass!

    “One JAMA report says internal company data showed in 2001 that Vioxx patients in two Alzheimer’s studies had a higher death rate than patients on dummy pills. Merck didn’t publicize that “in a timely fashion” and provided information to federal regulators that downplayed the deaths, the report said.”

    “The other JAMA article says one Alzheimer study was designed and conducted mainly by Merck scientists. But when published, the lead authors listed were academic scientists not named in a study draft.”

    The next time one of the hacks on this blog starts singing the praises of so-called “independent peer-reviewed” research, perhaps he/she will sing a little softer, given this news which clearly demonstrates that many studies are either fraudulently performed and/or attributed to scientists other than ones actually performing the work.

    _____________________________________________

    “I admittedly find it rather amusing that here I’m characterized as a champion of “corporate capitalism” and in most other threads I’m sneered at for being too far left. Perhaps sometime y’all will start to focus on the science rather than changing the discussion to address my politics or hair color.” — Tara

    Ah, Tara, it’s not YOUR politics that I and others are addressing; it’s your total disregard for the ever-important role that Politics play in every stage scientific research, today. You’re a sychophant and a fool and far too generic a mind to be a contemporary “leftist”. I agree with MEC, wearing your “Vote for Hilliary” badge is hardly too liberal. Hillary is a Republican, for all intents and purposes.

    Nevertheless, Tara, your confused political state reminds me of a recent quote from James Kunstler’s clusterfuck nation blog (Kunstler is a true leftist) regarding Obama’s most recent snafu in Pennsylvania and the political ignorance that so dominates life in our once-fair Republic:

    It’s been illuminating to see how almost nobody has come to Obama’s defense in this matter — hardly anyone in the press, anyway. It shows what the mainstream media’s interest in the truth is (close to zero).

    In the background of these sad and sordid campaign doings, the financial sector — and the dog’s-body economy that the wagging financial tail used to be attached to — is whirling steadily down a big wide culvert, along with the rest of the debris shaken loose by the spring rains.

    These are issues that would, in a more mentally-healthy republic, occupy center stage of the political conversation — not whether a cohort of Cheez Doodle addicted rural Pennsylvania morons prays out loud for God to shoot all the Mexicans.

    It’s time for a national purgative, anyway. In fact, it’s way overdue. Are the Democratic and Republican parties anymore necessary than the Whigs? Neither of them can really articulate the problems we face (and when their honchos slip up and come close to the truth, they’re persecuted for it).

    This is the way the real left is thinking in the country, Tara. To understand the difference, you actually have to pay attention to the politics of day.

    Kevin

  126. #126 Pablo
    April 16, 2008

    And, Pablo…if you think small-operation organic farms are more profitable than Big Milk, you are a bigger idiot than even your ill-informed posts already reveal.

    Kevin

    I never claimed that small-operation organic farms are “more profitable” than “Big Milk.” In fact, I would argue the opposite. There is far more profit to be made in the standard dairy industry than there is in organic farming, mainly because of the magnitude of the operation. For example, standard dairies can run herds in the thousands. You can’t do that in organic farming.

    Moreover, good dairy farmers probably do as good or better than similarly sized organic farms, because their production is a lot higher.

    The problem, however, comes with the bad dairy farmers. The ones who are not capable of managing a healthy, productive herd, and so switch to organic, where they might not be able to manage a herd well, but they can sell their minimal product for a lot more.

    I’m not making this up. These are my cousins I’m talking about, and this is basically what they said. Well, not so much the part about not being able to manage a herd, and that part is what I’ve heard from others who ARE successful dairy farmers.

    So my cousins admit they weren’t making any money using conventional methods, but by switching to organic, they now can, so that’s why they did it. Others have said the reason they weren’t making money using conventional methods is because they were lousy farmers.

    My point is, don’t pretend that “organic farmers” are some sort of noble breed who are in it for your health and for the welfare of the animals. They need to make a living, too.

    So Kevin, will you answer the question: what is the cost of raw milk, and how does it compare to processed milk?

  127. #127 HoHum
    April 16, 2008

    Golly-gosh Pablo, what is a science blogger doing using only anecdotal evidence to support an argument that organic farmers are simply too inept to make it in the “real world”? The fact that your cousins are incompetent in the cut and thrust dairy world does not mean all organic dairy farmers are failed wannabes. I’m sure there are many organic farmers out there that do what they do from a sense of environmental and human health responsibility that is as foreign to you as a tasty, raw, full fat Normandy Camembert. Not all business owners have had a conscience-ectomy. Not all people on the planet are as greedy and ruthless as you suppose. Stop looking through a glass darkly and get yourself some nice friends.

  128. #128 Pablo
    April 16, 2008

    Not all people on the planet are as greedy and ruthless as you suppose.

    Sure. But then you will grant the same for the rest of the milk industry, too, right? See Kevin’s cries about “Big Milk”.

    But then again, HoHum, whereas my anecdotes are merely anecdotes, and shouldn’t be interepreted as anything representatitive, I have to say I’d put anecdotes up against “I’m sure” any day. Anecdotal evidence is at least evidence, and not simply assertions about what the evidence will be.

    Not all business owners have had a conscience-ectomy.

    This applies to those in “Big Milk,” too, right?

    And I should mention, this really isn’t just about “organic” farmers. In fact, non-organic farmers can also sell raw milk, and would still do so at outrageous prices. Like I said, if I were a dairy farmer, organic or no, I would absolutely be trying to convince people to buy raw milk, given that the profit margin is huge. If I can call it “raw milk” and sell it for 5 times the price of what I’d get from the dairy, why wouldn’t I do it?

  129. #129 Adele
    April 16, 2008

    KYinAZ says
    After all, neither Elkie, or any of the other lackeys here, had any comment on the link that I posted yesterday

    well gee may be thats bc its a thread about milk!! Like milk dearie not real estate Hillary Clinton and your idol Lyndon LaRouche.

    Get out and watch baseball KY live a little

  130. #130 oat
    April 17, 2008

    “In fact, non-organic farmers can also sell raw milk, and would still do so at outrageous prices. Like I said, if I were a dairy farmer, organic or no, I would absolutely be trying to convince people to buy raw milk, given that the profit margin is huge. If I can call it “raw milk” and sell it for 5 times the price of what I’d get from the dairy, why wouldn’t I do it?”

    What is the profit margin that makes raw milk so “outrageously” expensive? Is it as outrageously priced and marketed as bottled water? I personally have never heard of a farmer, let alone a dairy farmer being accused of making “outrageous” profits.

  131. #131 pat
    April 17, 2008

    hehe..pat that is

  132. #132 ElkMountainMan
    April 17, 2008

    Pat,

    Raw milk can fetch about 3x the price of pasteurized milk on the shelf. Even better for a farm are “cow shares” sold to city-dwellers….a very “sweet deal” indeed if the farmer can set it up. In such a program, the farmer transfers most or all initial costs to the customer up front, then charges top dollar for the milk, too.

    Customers buy one or more shares in a cow at a one-time cost of perhaps $100 per share (25 or more shares per cow, more than enough to buy a quality young cow and some fashionable barnyard decor and to make a small contribution to the Obama campaign). For each share, about $30/month is charged for boarding and milking. Since each complete group of shareholders legally owns their cow, they may be contractually responsible for her upkeep as long as she lives, including veterinary bills. Each group is responsible for picking up its own milk (in an approved cooler) every week. (Some dairies might deliver locally for an extra $10/week, doubling the price per gallon).

    One share generally means one gallon of milk per week as long as the cow is producing (say, ten months out of the year, for 40 gallons/share/year). The customer pays $360 per share per year in upkeep alone: $9.00 per gallon. This is in line with what raw milk costs in the store in states that allow it…and the farmer doesn’t pay for the cow itself, its veterinary bills, milk distribution, and more.

    That’s what I would call a fine business model. As for cleverly marketed bottled water, gullible customers will almost literally beat down the barn door to get their hands on the perceived elixir, expense be damned.

    For an existing large-scale dairy, switching to raw milk probably doesn’t make sense. Because of investment and other inertia, they’re locked in. But many smaller-scale operations, family farms once ready to call it a run like their neighbors and sell their land to a McMansion developer after year on year of losses, have found they can remain viable as organic raw milk producers. The states love it. One Massachusetts state ag official sees:

    the growing demand for raw milk as “a really important opportunity” for the state’s dairies to expand revenues and profits (“Got Raw Milk?” Boston Globe Magazine, 28 March, 2008, D. Gumper).

    There’s money in raw milk, and as “HoHum” (is that you ignoring the Gardasil issue again, Cathy?) writes above, there’s nothing inherently wrong with business. But the product should be regulated for safety, not labeled as pet food.

  133. #133 MEC
    April 17, 2008

    Sir Elkie,

    Can you be a bit more specific about this pet food labeling busines? Is there an article on it somwhere?

    What you’re describing above is the typical scenario that occurs when a product is still relatively rare and hard to come by. As a fellow card-carrying marxist, you will know that this situation will change in a capitalistic system as supply catches up with demand and distribution becomes increasingly effective.

    On the other hand, in a capitalistic society, any successful enterprise will be subsumed and assimilated into the capitalistic order to a certain degree, regardless of the ratio of principled amateurs to greedy entrepeneurs. Let’s keep in mind it takes only one aggressive country to impose its world order on a hundred pacifistic ones.

    This is what revolution means, public resistance to the over-arching system rather than simply an isolated demand for certain consumer goods. To the degree the raw-milk demand is a revolt against corporatism, it will be met with powerful counter-revolution measures, including distorting propaganda disguised as hard facts (see blog post), as well as subversion from within, which will seek to corrupt it and turn it into the very thing it set out to
    undermine. Regardless, the demand for raw milk is intrinsically a step, however small it may turn out to be, in the direction away from mass production, large monopolies and centralization of all kinds. Even the least gifted defenders of the status quo will instinctively recognize that and react violently, seemingly disproportionately and without distinction to this and all similar ideas.

  134. #134 pat
    April 17, 2008

    “That’s what I would call a fine business model. As for cleverly marketed bottled water, gullible customers will almost literally beat down the barn door to get their hands on the perceived elixir, expense be damned.”

    What you have described here sounds to me like nothing more than the “alpaca scam” wherein a bunch of adoring pet owners expand their pet empire. I do not think these exemplify the dairy “problem”. These people want to own dairy producing pets and drink their milk, well let them…I think we are powerless.

    “For an existing large-scale dairy, switching to raw milk probably doesn’t make sense. Because of investment and other inertia, they’re locked in. But many smaller-scale operations, family farms once ready to call it a run like their neighbors and sell their land to a McMansion developer after year on year of losses, have found they can remain viable as organic raw milk producers. The states love it.”

    you seem to fabvor “big” farms where tight ass regulation becomes necessary because people “will always cut corners” but you seem to blame the small scall farmers for it. In a round-about way you are right; small farmers are getting the f… out because they can no longer afford the price of complying with “code” written for the “big” milkers.

    Believe it, Wallmart Milk TM will take the day.

  135. #135 ElkMountainMan
    April 17, 2008

    MEC, please desist with this revolutionary talk; you’re getting me all riled up reminding me of my college days. And we all know where that leads: soon George Stephanopoulos will be asking Barack Obama why his campaign accepted a few hundred dollars from an unknown hick who was an admitted Marxist twenty years ago.

    If I remember correctly, MEC, you provided a link to an article (in SFGate?) about Organic Pastures and its owner, Mark McAfee, who admitted to labeling raw milk as “pet food” for distribution over state lines. This is a common practice both in state and for out-of-state sales in U.S. states with laws against raw milk sales. Did you not read the article, or did someone else link to it?

    For raw milk to be sold as “pet food,” the product must be clearly labeled “Not for human consumption.” Why is it that alternative medicine advocates will accept no proof or purity from a highly-regulated pharmaceutical company, but will gladly drive a hundred miles to purchase unregulated “pet food” from a winking farmer and pour it down their children’s throats?

    For more information, visit realmilk dot com.

    Pat, I don’t blame small farmers; who can fault them for making a living as best they can? And you’re quite right: Wal-Mart will eventually take over the organic market. They’re already doing it, and bending the meaning of “organic” in the process.

  136. #136 TLR
    April 21, 2008

    Raw milk tastes different. Some would say it tastes better. I can see putting a warning label on it, but why all the fuss? Is it that more dangerous than eating raw fish, rare beef, etc.? Since I don’t drink raw milk, this issue doesn’t upset me. But I am upset that I can’t get unpasteurized cheese in this country, or good aged ham. We have too much nanny-state and not enough patience for other’s preferences.

  137. #137 Heather
    April 27, 2008

    I find it curious the way you’ve stereotyped those who drink raw milk. I’m a raw milk drinker. It’s not because of some strange dividing of the world into the “natural” and “good,” versus the “artificial” and “bad.” I drink it for the taste and the nutritional good it’s done for my health. I’ve done quite a bit of research into raw milk vs. pasteurized milk. Did you know that raw milk from a cow living properly (that is, outside in the sunshine, in uncrowded conditions, eating a variety of grasses it’s designed to eat) has built-in mechanisms to reduce pathological organisms? Raw milk can turn cheesey-smelling when it starts to sour, but every time I’ve experienced this, it’s been safe for me to drink. I haven’t experienced any illness in the two years I’ve been drinking it. Then again, I’m familiar with the dairy and their constant bacterial counts. We live in an age where it’s possible to test frequently and communicate rapidly (via the internet) about the good and the bad farmers. None of that is “natural,” whatever that means, and yet I appreciate it and take advantage of it. Did you also know that people have died in this country from pathological bacteria contamination in pasteurized milk? The truth is, pasteurization of milk has allowed for a cruddy supply chain in the dairy industry. Heck, soy milk has proven to have alarmingly high pathological organism counts when tested. Food safety is much more than pasteurization. Animals whose lives are compromised become sickly and breed deadly strains of pathogens. Not knowing the supply chain your food travels along can be deadly as well. Meat gets transported around this country in trucks, frozen at first, then thawed as truck drivers cut off the refrigeration controls for most of the trip. I don’t expect you to believe what I’m saying blindly, but if you do some research, you can find that pasteurization has its disadvantages health-wise, and isn’t clearly “dangerous.” There are some things we may not understand for years about why raw milk from a properly-raised cow is nutritionally superior, but for now, many people who drink it can attest to health improvements that simply weren’t there during their years of drinking other milk (or no milk at all). I’m curious to know if you’ve taken bacteria counts from everything you’ve eaten just before it enters your mouth, to know what you’re truly up against. I can tell you right now, though, that the USDA and the FDA don’t have the resources to truly inspect every angle of the food supply, so there’s lots of room for contamination.

  138. #138 Adrienne Auchmoody
    May 11, 2009

    People are becoming more and more aware of the contamination of our food source. Milk is loaded with preservatives, antibiotics fed to the animals, and the worse being hormones so that the animals will go to slaughter quicker, by getting larger faster, making it more profitable and forgetting the harm it can cause the population. There is so much cancer especially now in children then ever before. Read labels, everything is filled with chemicals that are definitely harmful and carcinogenic. Little girls are developing younger and getting their menstrual cycles as young as 7 and 8 years old due to the hormones. Nothing we eat is safe, even though the government states that it is.

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