I had some different ideas about what I would write about today but this news article HERE really needed to be discussed. It is not that the journalist, Mike Hixenbaugh of the Virginian-Pilot, is unfair in his treatment of raw milk producers or consumers but because of a single comment of a government official concerning parents giving their children raw milk. It boils down the public debate into one single sound byte:
"I can't imagine people who feed raw milk to their children," said Elaine Lidholm, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates food sales in the state. "To me, it's akin to the parents taking a 6-year-old girl to a crowded theater to see 'Batman' at midnight. She got killed."
It is an appalling statement, one she apparently later wished to take back given the recent violence in the Connecticut school. While Lidholm may have apologized for her "grisly analogy" it is not the "grisly" nature but its preposterous and fallacious nature that I find offensive. I live right by that theater and my family used to attend movies there and while I may question the judgement of taking a small child to a film for adults in the middle of the night, this girl's parents certainly did not take her there with the intention of having her shot and killed by a deranged man. How dare Lidholm be so callous. These are the words of a professional, experienced public relations official speaking in an official capacity and that makes it more troubling. I hope the child's family never see this article. Even if anyone ever did intend such a result, need I even address the rationale of having a child executed being analogous to feeding a child a food consumed regularly in all time and places in this world for thousands of years? Seriously? Does she really have that poor of a grasp of what analogy means? It is a wonder she passed the SATs.
In documenting producers, consumers, and their relationships to each other; Hixenbaugh makes an interesting point: raw milk draws together people of widely varying backgrounds, people who might not have much else in common. This is most certainly true, I have seen it myself. But as much as raw milk brings us together, it also divides in a deep and profound way. There is this vociferous, knee-jerk response to raw milk consumption that results in pretty vituperative language. You know, like when official spokes-persons for government agencies tell the press that feeding raw milk to children is akin to taking them to the movies in order to be executed. That kind of language.
The truth is that people die and sometimes it is because of something they ate and sometimes it is because the food was contaminated. But given the fact that there have been many recent, large scale and deathly food borne illnesses from foods such as hamburger, eggs, spinach, peanut butter, bean sprouts, jalapenos and the constant threat that seafood poses it seems strange to me that raw milk stirs up all the bile in the press. Even my husband's super-cool, ultra-hippy, neo-communist friend who happens to also hold an advanced degree in anthropology as well as being a medical doctor, will never let his kids consume raw milk in our house. When I asked him about it, he told me all about his medical school training (ahem, I would call it indoctrination). What about all those other foods? Should they be regulated or even banned? Not even he thinks they should. So why should milk? Why is it that milk divides us so much?
I recently had a conversation with a relative about Heifer International, a terrific organization that satisfies peoples' need for healthy food stuffs as well as income by giving them a milking animal. You can find out more about the charity HERE. It is fascinating to me that so many people tell me how wonderful they think this organization is but still they oppose raw milk. Do they not realize that there aren't pasteurization machines being passed out in equal numbers with the heifers? This organization improves health and prosperity by providing access to raw milk. Period. How can they hold both opinions, contradictory opinions, without their heads exploding? It is because they ignore the contradiction.
I will not ignore the contradiction.
Only one thing can be true.
I am not afraid of raw milk. Are you?
For more reading see:
Raw Milk and the Blame Game, This Mother, Mother Jones, and Raw Milk as well as Gary Taubes' must read article in the
New York Times: Do We Know What Makes Us Healthy?