Marler vs. Gumpert: A Raw Debate About Milk

Raw milk. In the past month, no two words have caused more controversy on Simple, Good and Tasty than these. In the wake of an E.coli outbreak that's been linked to raw milk from a small, Minnesota dairy farm, we have seen our readers line up in two distinct camps: those who can’t understand why anyone would risk drinking raw milk, and those who can’t understand why anyone would drink anything else.

I wanted to broaden the debate, to take it beyond the local story about the Hartmann Dairy farm, its customers, and the Minnesota Departments of Health and Agriculture. I wanted to know more about raw milk from the people who are considered the experts: so I e-mailed Bill Marler and David Gumpert.

Bill MarlerBill MarlerBill Marler was profiled here on SGT back in December. He’s the country’s most renowned attorney representing victims of food poisoning. We got to know Bill while covering the the story of Stephanie Smith, the young, Minnesota woman who became paralyzed after eating a Cargill hamburger laced with E.coli; Marler was her attorney. Marler is a bit of a paradox; he’s an avid supporter of local/organic/sustainably produced food, but warns locavores that the halo-effect of small farms does not protect them from food-borne illnesses.

David GumpertDavid GumpertDavid Gumpert is a journalist and writer who has become the standard bearer in the raw-milk movement. His book The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights, and his blog, The Complete Patient, represent the most well-informed thinking among a growing group of raw-milk advocates. Gumpert has written articles about raw milk for Huffington Post, Grist, Business Week, Food Safety News, The Nation, and Boston Globe.

I asked both men if they would participate in an e-mail debate about raw milk. They agreed. So I started by e-mailing them the same five questions (see below). When I received their answers, I let them read what the other had written and then write a response. At that point, we exchanged e-mails again, and they got one more turn to counter each other. What follows is mostly their exact words; almost all of them. A minor amount of editing was done for clarity and space, but about 95 percent of their digital conversation is intact. Most of the hyperlinks were inserted by them; a few, again for clarification purposes, are mine.

SGT: Question 1
Why are so many people
do either of you have an estimated number? willing to ignore the well-publicized risks associated with drinking raw milk?
David Gumpert:
I’ve seen estimates of between 0.2 and 4 percent of Americans consuming raw milk. No one knows because America’s public health and agriculture establishment – the FDA, CDC, USDA – don’t want us to know, since they strongly disapprove of people consuming raw milk. But the number seems to be increasing.
The fact that so many people are willing to ignore the well-publicized risks you mention is testimony to the loss of credibility of our public health institutions and agriculture establishment. I know when I first read warnings from the FDA about raw milk back in 2005, I didn’t even know people still drank unpasteurized milk. But I’d seen enough examples of FDA screw-ups in approving drugs that later caused illnesses and serious side effects, and in going after small food producers that weren’t creating problems, that my reaction to the raw milk warnings was cynical, as in: If the FDA says it’s bad, well, raw milk must be good.
Growing numbers of other people apparently have the same reaction. I’ve had several producers of raw milk in New York state, who have been temporarily shut down by  claims of listeria in their milk – even though there haven’t been any listeria outbreaks – tell me that the shutdowns generate many inquiries from potential raw milk drinkers. That’s a strange way to market your product: state agriculture or public health officials issue warnings about it, and business bumps up. But that’s the sad state of government credibility related to food and health.
This growing interest is really testimony to the perceived health benefits of raw milk. A major study of nearly 15,000 children in Europe a few years ago indicated that children who drank raw milk had lower rates of allergies and asthma than children who didn’t. And I’ve met dozens of raw milk consumers who can’t stop talking about how raw milk has eliminated their problems with lactose intolerance, or reduced their children’s throat and ear infections. In addition, nearly everyone who drinks raw milk says it tastes much better than the pasteurized variety.

Bill Marler:
First, I’m not sure the risks associated with drinking raw milk are well publicized. Many people who have been sickened by bacteria in raw milk had no idea how dangerous it could be. And many people who become ill do not come forward for fear of harming their source or because of embarrassment for allowing their child to consume the product.

Bugs that exist today are nasty. When John Boy milked the Walton’s cow, I bet that E. coli O157:H7 was never a concern. Personally, I can’t imagine ignoring that kind of risk and giving it to my family, so I have to believe that there is such a strong pull away from our highly processed, widely distributed, and heavily marketed food chain that even when someone has heard about potential dangers of raw milk, the information is seen as untrustworthy.

As stories emerge about dangerous chemicals in our foods (BPA, for example), it might seem the smart move to go as close as possible to the source of the food, so that you get it right from the udder, and don’t give big business a chance to mess with it, or mess it up. They’re hearing from the farmer/seller that outbreaks happen when someone isn’t careful, and that this farmer/seller is so careful that it will never happen to their product. But my experience is that it does, even to very, very conscientious producers.

Second, a lot of the information that people find online has to do with raw milk helping conditions that medicine has no cure for – asthma, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. People who are suffering from these diseases – or whose children are suffering from them – are desperate for help. When they read that raw milk might make a difference, it might seem worth a try – unless the dangers are clearly spelled out. That’s why I contributed to the public-private partnership that created the website Real Milk Facts so that people could evaluate the risks and possible benefits, and make an informed choice.

David Gumpert:
Here’s what I think about Bill’s claims that “the bugs that exist today are nasty.” Yes, they are (though nowhere near as nasty as those like typhoid and tuberculosis that got into milk and other foods in the late 1800s and early 1900s). But the important point to keep in mind is that these bugs can infect people via all kinds of foods. We’ve seen many outbreaks affecting ground beef, leafy green veggies, and fast food, not to mention peanut butter and pistachios. So people are coming to understand that there are risks of pathogens associated with nearly all foods. When it comes to raw milk, increasing numbers of people are deciding that it’s worth taking the risk to gain the health benefits perceived to be in raw milk. In our free and open society, we allow people to make all kinds of decisions about engaging in activities that are risky, from rock climbing to riding motorcycles to eating heavily salted and sugary foods to taking prescription drugs with often-serious side effects. Why should we treat raw milk so differently?

SGT: Question #2
What is the biggest misconception about raw milk? What is the biggest misconception about pasteurized milk?

David Gumpert:
For raw milk, the biggest misconception is that it is inherently unsafe, that there’s no way it can be produced safely. This stems from the large-scale illnesses that developed from raw milk in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when milk was often watered down, produced from sick animals, and without knowledge of the importance of sanitation and refrigeration.

For pasteurized milk, the biggest misconception is that you can’t get sick from it. You can, and we’ve had outbreaks affecting tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people within the last 25 years; I describe a number of these outbreaks in my book The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights. Such outbreaks don’t happen very often – they are invariably the result of after-processing contamination – but when they do, they are big problems, since pasteurized milk is distributed so widely.

Bill Marler:

For raw milk, the biggest misconception is just how risky consumption is, particularly for the populations especially at risk: infants, children, pregnant women, and the immune-compromised. When raw milk advocates tout the relatively small number of illnesses or deaths associated with raw dairy products, they ignore one of the most basic tenets of statistics: the denominator, e.g. how few people are exposed. In spite of the fact that less then one/half of one percent of all fluid milk consumed in the country is consumed unpasteurized, raw dairy products account for more than twice the number of outbreaks.

I would hope that people would weigh what could happen if they or their child got seriously ill with E. coli, Campylobacter or Salmonella, which are just some of the bugs that can be present in unpasteurized milk.   For pasteurized milk, few people understand the just how regulated the product is. Take a look at the bible of milk safety regulation, the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.

David Gumpert:
Raw milk opponents often raise the scary image of children becoming ill from raw milk. Children become ill, as well, from other foods that contain the pathogens Bill mentions. I’ve met many parents, including medical professionals, who regularly feed their children raw milk and are convinced their children’s health benefits. Now, granted, the stories about improved health are seen as “anecdotal” by the scientific community, but I’ve met enough of these people (and devote a chapter to their experiences in my book that I have come to respect and take seriously such experiences.

SGT: Question #3
The sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal in 22 states; 19 states  – including Minnesota – only allow raw milk to be sold at the farm directly to the consumer. What do State agricultural and health departments fear most about raw milk?

David Gumpert:

There are two fundamental schools of thought about raw milk at the state agriculture and health department levels. The one that tends to prevail in the states where raw milk is illegal is that raw milk is by its nature unsafe – end of argument. The second school of thought, prevalent in the states that allow raw milk, is that raw milk can be produced safely, with attention to proper sanitation and animal health. However, sometimes in states that allow raw milk, there is a difference of opinion between the agriculture and health departments. As one example, in Massachusetts, which allows on-farm sales of raw milk, the Department of Public Health has been pushing the Department of Agricultural Resources to clamp down on delivery services that bring raw milk from farms to consumers in cities. In May, the public health commissioner, in a letter, told the agriculture commissioner “in an ideal world we would prefer that all milk sold in Massachusetts be pasteurized...”

Bill Marler:
State agricultural and health departments are charged with preventing food-borne disease and the people in those departments take their responsibility seriously and very personally. For many their work is a calling, a job they are proud of. These professionals really do want to prevent the next child with kidney failure or the young woman with paralysis, like Stephanie Smith.

On a larger scale these agencies also worry that unregulated or under-regulated raw milk consumption will increase exponentially (exploding with the fervor in which Americans always embrace the next fad). This could lead to outbreaks, illnesses and deaths from raw milk, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the first half of the last century, when it is estimated that 25 percent of all food borne illness was associated with the consumption of raw dairy products.

From the regulators’ point of view this is not a freedom of choice issue, anyone can milk a cow or goat and drink the milk; it is about people making money ($10 to $16 per gallon in California) by selling a dangerous product. Regulators’ mindsets typically follow that dangerous or potentially dangerous products (like alcohol or cigarettes) should be regulated, and the dangers well publicized.

David Gumpert:
Bill is repeating what should be labeled as regulator hysteria that growing raw milk consumption “could lead to outbreaks, illnesses and deaths from raw milk, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the first half of the last century.” We are today talking about some dozens of people becoming mostly mildly ill versus many thousands who became seriously ill or died in the early 1900s; there hasn’t been a death from raw milk in at least 25 years. (The two deaths attributed to raw milk by the CDC actually resulted from so-called “bathtub cheese,” which most raw milk advocates avoid, since it’s often made from milk intended for pasteurization.)

The established dairy industry, with an estimated $140 billion in annual revenues, also likes to paint such a picture, since the dairy industry is increasingly coming to fear raw milk as a competitive threat. (Remember, each one percent of market share grabbed by raw milk is equal to $1.4 billion.)

In addition, to suggest that dairies producing raw milk are “about people making money … by selling a dangerous product” is unfortunate. The farmers I’ve met who sell raw milk are extremely dedicated and personally committed to producing a high-quality product they know improves the health of many of their customers. Yes, raw milk usually costs more than conventional milk, but that is because dairy farmers take special care in the feeding of their cows and the milking methods they use. And higher prices for their product enable raw-milk-producing dairies to become economically sustainable – something that is nearly impossible for small dairies that produce milk for conventional processors. We’ve lost 88 percent of our dairies over the last 40 years; let’s not be so quick to condemn the small ones trying to survive to the junk heap.


SGT: Question #4
If people are so intent on drinking raw milk, are there ways it can be made safer?

David Gumpert:
When you think about it, hundreds of thousands of people drink raw milk every day, without problems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in a report made available in 2008 to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (in response to a Freedom-of-Information Act request), showed an average of 54 reported illnesses from raw milk during the 33-year period between 1973 and 2005. That’s not a major public health problem by any stretch of the imagination.

There has been a spike in illnesses attributed to raw milk in the last year, but it’s still nowhere near a serious problem. But the spike points up the need for constant vigilance by producers of raw milk and other raw dairy products. There needs to be a focus on modern sanitation: availability of running water, careful cleanup of equipment, sanitary barn conditions. Keeping a closed herd – that is, not picking up cows at farm auctions that may have been exposed via feedlots to pathogens like E.coli 0157:H7 and campylobacter – seems important. Also, feeding the cows on pasture and hay, and avoiding a lot of grains, may well help reduce the incidence of pathogens.

Bill Marler:
There have been at least nine outbreaks since January 2010. Although I do believe that there are farmers that try and produce a safe product, there are other producers who seem to both shun all government regulation and have very little interest in the science of bacterial and viral pathogens that inhabit cattle feces – even those of grass-fed cows. If raw milk if going to be produced and people do not simply want to buy their own animal, and in lieu of banning raw milk products, some states have adopted regulations that attempt to protect public health and allow for consumer choice. Here is what I would suggest:

  1. Raw milk should be sold only on farms that are certified by the state and inspected and tested regularly. Make ambiguous black market milk/cheese sales and "pet food sales" meant for human consumption clearly illegal.
  2. Raw milk should not be sold in grocery stores or across state lines – the risks of mass production and transportation are too great. The risk of a casual purchase by someone who misunderstands the risks is too great, as well.
  3. Farms should be required to have insurance coverage sufficient to cover reasonable damages to their customers.
  4. Practices such as outsourcing (buying raw milk from farms not licensed for raw milk production) should be illegal.
  5. Colostrum should be regulated as a dairy product, not a nutritional supplement.
  6. Warning signs on the bottles and at point-of-purchase should be mandatory. An example: "WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and may contain harmful bacteria (not limited to E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria and Salmonella). Pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, and persons with lowered resistance to disease (immune compromised) have the highest risk of harm, which includes diarrhea, vomiting, fever, dehydration, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Reactive Arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, miscarriage, or death, from use of this product."

David Gumpert
Bill’s suggestions for regulating raw milk – particularly about outsourcing and warning signs – are a good start at coming up with a consistent approach. I disagree with his first two points about requiring sales from farms and not allowing retail sales, since it’s impractical to require consumers to travel sometimes an hour or more each way to a farm to buy milk. Raw milk is being safely transported all over California, a huge state, and sold in retail stores to thousands of customers every day. Same thing in Maine, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Let’s be realistic and treat raw milk like any other food, and let the marketplace determine whether it might be sold across state lines or in retail stores. Most consumers of raw milk today are highly informed and educated, and my guess is they will mostly prefer to buy their milk from smaller local producers in any event.

SGT: Question #5
Would broader legalization of raw milk be good for the local food movement?

David Gumpert:
It would. First and foremost, it would be good for local economies by keeping more revenues in local communities. Consider this: Farmers selling milk for pasteurization receive between $1 and $1.50 a gallon, and lose money at that rate. They have to cut back on all spending. Farmers who sell milk unpasteurized get $5 to $10 a gallon, and then spend those revenues in their communities, on tractors, vet services, new clothes or painting their houses. Everyone wins.
A 2009 study by the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA/Mass.) found that not only has the number of Massachusetts raw-milk dairies increased sharply (from 10 in 2006 to 27 today), but that the revenues generated by the dairies tends to remain in local communities, since the milk is sold directly to consumers, without the economic spillage to out-of-state corporations like Dean Foods inherent in conventional distribution and retailing models.
Keep in mind as well that milk sales keep people coming back for other foods, since milk supplies have to be replenished every week or two. When consumers return to a farm or farmers’ market for their milk, they buy other things as well – meat, eggs, veggies, cheese. Once again, everyone wins because people are buying more locally produced food, and encouraging expansion of the local food movement.
Wider availability of raw milk would also be much more equitable than our current system, which penalizes people according to where they live. There’s something wrong with a system in which people who live in California or Connecticut can go out to a local grocery store and purchase all the raw milk they want, and those who live in Florida or Georgia or Maryland can’t.

Bill Marler:
If legalization of raw milk proceeds the way it is now, in a state-by-state process that produces wildly different rules in different areas and a largely unregulated product, I think we’ll see a lot more outbreaks, sicknesses, even deaths. Then people who have put their trust in raw, unprocessed foods will take a hard look not only at raw milk, but at other local products as well. More outbreaks could drive the raw milk movement underground, which would only mean more illnesses. If a national regulation is put into place, and information about the dangers associated with raw milk is widely disseminated, perhaps we can avoid all those sick kids. I certainly hope so.

David Gumpert
I think the scary scenario Bill portrays could be avoided by having more involvement by agriculture and public health regulators in working with small dairies to ensure safe production. For example, there could be extension courses and seminars for farmers on “best practices” for producing safe and high-quality raw milk. Let’s try cooperation and education instead of the hostility and arrogance that have characterized regulator behavior toward raw milk.  

Bill Marler:
David’s responses seem reasonable to me – sideswipes at Public Health aside. I think we just both come at the issue from differing perspectives. David sees the low risk, in part, thankfully, because he has not seen the devastation of these illnesses first hand. I see the illnesses all too well and all too often – not all from raw milk.

So, where to find common ground? There have been nearly 10 recalls and less outbreaks related to raw milk since January. As demand increases and more folks have access to it, those numbers may well rise, if there is not some type of movement (governmentally or privately) to clamp down on producers who take short cuts. This is true for raw milk as it is in the broader context of food safety. As people see profits to be made, many times their focus becomes making a buck – not keeping their product safe. I think David is right, there are probably raw milk producers that are doing a great job that we never hear about – because they do not sicken anyone. The raw milk movement needs to move away from the anti-government, anti-science rhetoric (the “teat” party) and embrace that the risks are real and should not be denied or ignored.

David Gumpert:
I appreciate Bill's concerns about possible increases in illnesses, and think the emerging raw milk industry needs to take this bull by the horns. I'd like to see a raw dairy association established that would set and enforce safety and health standards, much like what now exists in the leafy greens and other food areas. Members who abide by the standards would get to say so on their milk labels. I hope such an association would be part of a movement toward greater cooperation among producers and government regulators, to move past the suspicion and even hostility that has been a hallmark of recent years.

And that was the end of Round 1.

Round 2 began nine days later. On Sunday, June 27, the Star Tribune ran an inflammatory editorial calling for a ban on raw milk in the state of Minnesota. It derided raw-milk buyers, saying they have a “dangerous sense of superiority” because “They don't go to supermarkets like regular people. Instead, after watching documentaries and doing Internet ‘research,’ they have ‘a philosophy about how you consume…’ ”

Here’s what I consider the most eyebrow-raising excerpt: “Those who continue to buy raw milk, particularly those who serve it to children, need to be called out for placing their families in harm's way. Grandparents, family and friends shouldn't tolerate this irresponsibility.”

I wanted to know what Marler and Gumpert thought about this, so I e-mailed them the link late Sunday night – 11:58 p.m to be exact. Turns out Gumpert was way ahead of me and had already written about it on his blog. Marler responded first:

Bill Marler, 2:06 a.m., Monday morning
IMHO and despite David’s last post on [The Complete Patient], I think that the editorial is a normal response to a bad situation at [Hartmann’s] dairy. When you combine anti-government, anti-science, and the profit motive, I think these outbreaks will continue and the majority will react as this editorial shows. If the raw milk movement has a chance, it will be by the social protesting that David appears to advocate – or it will be by embracing the fact that outbreaks happen, that science has its role, and protecting the consumer is the goal.

David Gumpert, 8:01 a.m.
As Bill indicates, I alluded to this editorial in my latest blog post about the current crackdown in Minnesota, including execution of a search warrant on a consumer's home (a first in the raw milk wars, as far as I know), as not dissimilar to old-time racial prejudice I am old enough to still remember...

I can remember when elites in the South worried about blacks' sense of superiority. Only they used the word 'uppity' to get their point across."

I am convinced that the food safety and ag people detest raw milkies and sustainable farmers in much the same way as sheriffs in the South detested blacks – as less than human – and that is a major force behind these Washington-directed crackdowns.

I worry about Bill's regularly expressed concern about "the profit motive" as being a big concern in the growth of raw milk. Isn't "the profit motive" a driver of all food producers? Isn't the lack of profit a big reason many dairies have folded over the last 40 years? To risk what many raw dairies are risking (search warrants, shutdowns, police raids) usually requires more than a focus on “the profit motive.” It requires a genuine interest in getting healthy foods to eager consumers.

Bill Marler, 8:20 a.m.
David, I find comparing human rights to the right to drink raw milk, well, perhaps as over-dramatic as the video of Chris Martin on a vent.

Re: profits. I am not opposed to them. My point is that like any business, people get into them and start them for many reasons. Some find a market, like raw milk, and they do a great job because they are selling directly to family and friends. Then they realize that they can sell it to others and continue to do a good job. But then others enter the market and care less about making a quality product and more about making a buck or a political point or two.

Unless the raw milk movement stops playing the race card (and denying outbreaks) and deal with these issues straight up, what you see is going to get worse, not better. David, most of the dairies – not all, but most – were shit holes like Hartmann's. They will be the nail in the coffin of the movement that you have pushed yourself to lead.

David Gumpert, 2:26 p.m.

Fortunately, Bill, you're not one of the farmers and consumers whose rights have been threatened, in some cases trampled on, as those in these cases:

  • 2006 – Kentucky dairy farmer Gary Oaks confronted by agents from FDA and Ohio Dept of Agriculture, escorted by Cincinnati police, in Cincinnati parking lot passing out raw milk to his herdshare members. He's questioned so intensively he collapses. He’s hospitalized three times over next few months with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Eventually he settles with ODA to avoid further stress, and pays $500 fine. Never any allegation of illnesses.
  • 2006 – Ohio raw dairy farmer Carol Schmitmeyer loses her Grade A dairy license when two Dayton raw milk drinkers become ill. Each subsequently submits affidavits contending they most likely became ill from other causes, and she wins her license back in a state court case in late 2006.
  • 2006 – Michigan farmer Richard Hebron, pulled over by Michigan state police and searched, has $8,000 worth of raw dairy confiscated; simultaneously, his home searched for five hours by Michigan Dept of Agriculture agents, and his computer and food confiscated. County DA spends six months deciding not to prosecute him, but he's not compensated for his loss. Illnesses that prompted the raid most likely the result of pasteurized milk contamination.
  • 2007-2008 – Pennsylvania raw dairy farmer Mark Nolt's farm raided three times by dozens of agents from FDA and PA Dept of Ag, during which thousands of dollars of dairy equipment confiscated, along with book by Joel Salatin, Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal. Never any allegation of illnesses from his milk.
  • 2006-2009 – Half a dozen New York raw dairy farmers shut down for varying amounts of time by NY Dept of Ag and Markets because of findings of listeria in their raw milk, yet not a single listeria illness attributed to raw milk during this time. One of the farmers has been shut down nine times, and is currently being prosecuted by the state agriculture agency for failure to pay huge fines.
  • 2009-2010 – Half a dozen Wisconsin raw dairy farmers either being prosecuted and/or lose their Grade A dairy licenses for selling raw milk, even though no illnesses from their farms. Plus, raw milk buying club owner Max Kane being prosecuted for failure to give up his Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination because he won't name his customers and raw dairy farmer suppliers.
  • 2009 – Georgia ag agents and FDA agent force more than 50 consumers to publicly dispose of raw milk legally purchased in South Carolina and being delivered by a buying club, as it had been doing for five years previously.
  • 2010 – Four Massachusetts buying clubs that deliver raw milk from dairies to consumers are served with cease-and-desist orders, despite years of having operated with full knowledge of ag officials, and despite not a single illness attributed to raw milk in the state in well over a decade.
  • 2010 – Minnesota ag agents accompanied by detectives execute a search warrant on a Minneapolis area family that consumes raw milk, supposedly because the family allowed dairy farmer Michael Hartmann to park in their driveway to drop off milk to area consumers.
  • 2010 – A private Minneapolis buying club, Traditional Foods Warehouse, shut down because of suspected connections to raw dairies, denying its several hundred members access to their food.

This is just a partial list, and it's no coincidence it's as long as it is. It is testimony to an official nationally directed campaign to deprive owners of small dairies of their right to distribute food either according to state regulations or via private contract, and the right of consumers to access the foods of their choice.

We see an ongoing difference between words and action. You suggest that raw milk proponents must admit to illnesses from certain dairies to gain respect and credibility. While some farmers and other raw milk proponents have been prepared to admit to a number of outbreaks from raw milk, it seems to make no difference whether there is admission of illnesses or no evidence of illnesses – the crackdown proceeds more aggressively than ever.

The only words I take seriously are those from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control as part of the national "Healthy People 2020" national health goals over the next ten years, currently in draft form: to "increase the number of states that have prohibited sale or distribution of unpasteurized dairy products."

Bill Marler, 2:28 p.m.

Well, more Hartmann dairies and the state will have a cake walk. Stop playing victim and clean this up.

SGT, 12:28 a.m. Tuesday morning
Um, Bill… David…
Can I assume that these e-mails are “on record?”
In other words, can I use them on SGT?

Bill Marler, 2:36 p.m.
I’ve been typing my responses on my iPhone. But do with them as you wish.

David Gumpert, 2:39 p.m.
Yeah, I’m fine with you using my material as you’d like as well.

And that brings us up to date. At least so I thought until I read the latest breaking news about raw milk, e-mailed to me last night by Bill Marler as he boarded a plane to London:

Longmont Colorado Billy Goat Raw Milk Dairy Sickens 16 with Campylobacter and E. coli O157:H7

David? Your turn.



Shari Danielson is editorial director at Simple, Good and Tasty.
You can write to her at


Thanks for publishing this interesting dialogue. I can see both sides
of this issue--I drank raw milk for the better part of a year before
deciding I wasn't comfortable with the risk. The milk was delicious,
but I felt like I was making a giant leap of faith every time I bought
it. I hadn't seen the farm; I was meeting the farmer at a rendezvous
point in an alley every two weeks to pick up the milk. That was a lot
of trust to put in a stranger.

Bill Marler's point about raw milk accounting for 0.5% of sales but
twice the outbreaks was a sobering one that I hadn't seen elsewhere.

I can't help but notice that for every question, you gave David
Gumpert the first and last word.

Thanks for an excellent discussion that remained reasonable and
level-headed, not a small feat for such a contentious subject. Both
Marler and Gumpert made thought-provoking arguments.

I am a raw milk drinker and would not like to have that option taken
away. I do believe that, overall, it is better for my health than
pasteurized milk. However, I am a public health scientist and agree
with Marler that we need to get away from the anti-government,
anti-science stance taken by many raw milk 'proponents'.

I buy my milk from a producer who is a friend of a friend. She is a
conscientious person who runs her dairy herself and takes excellent
care of her animals. Every day, she and her family drink the milk she
produces. She breeds her cows and raises her own calves. She can
tell me which cow (by name) each of my half-gallons came from. For
all these reasons, I trust that her product is at least as safe as
anything I can buy in the grocery store.

I am not so naive to think that every 'small' farmer has the same
standards or that every raw milk consumer is as informed as I am. As
Marler points out, as demand for raw milk increases and producers see
the huge profit margin for raw milk vs. pasteurized milk, we will see
more producers jumping onto the raw milk bandwagon. At best, these
people will be inexperienced in managing their operation to minimize
contamination; at worst, they won't care.

I hope that we can find some middle ground. I don't think raw milk is
inherently unsafe. However, our society is accustomed to leaving our
safety in the hands of regulators, and until that changes, there
should be some regulation of raw milk distribution. Let's just hope
that those regulations are based on solid science, not fear and
protectionism. It is up to those of us who drink raw milk to work
with the agriculture and health departments in our states to be sure
that happens.

Most of the current cases of illnesses attributed to raw milk have not been proven; and the reports published in the scientific literature tend to be highly biased, blaming raw milk for illness without proof. Marler is as guilty as the health department regulators of whipping anti-raw milk hysteria; see this response to his very sloppy report on raw milk safety: Marler did his best to take raw milk away from all the children who need it in California. Angry in Alameda

As someone who grew up drinking raw milk and has made the effort to track it down having just moved to Minnesota, I find the constant claims of raw milk drinkers being "anti-science". There are a *lot* of studies that show the benefits of raw milk, a lot of studies that show how milk is denatured once it is pasteurized, but the FDA and USDA do not accept these as they do not accept food is anything other than a collection of vitamins and minerals - take the facts that the new USDA health standards barely let you eat a single egg in one day and that they still promote formula over breastfeeding as examples of how they really do not have a clue of how our bodies really work & our dietary needs. How long will it be before there's a push to have breastmilk pasteurized "for the sake of the baby"?

Here is some more information you might find helpful in response to the WAPF document you cited.

"Comparing the Food Safety Record of Pasteurized and Raw Milk Products" (originally published as a 4 part series on the Marler Blog):

I do propose the use of raw milk but in much different form than most I'm sure. Being the "foodie" that I am, and having eaten amazing raw milk cheeses from France, that can truly not be recreated with pasteurized milk. I would love to see America quit with their vendetta against raw milk un-aged cheese. Raw milk is perfectly acceptable in this country when used for cheeses aged 60 days or more, and I'm certain that that specific milk has been regulated to some degree. I would gladly be corrected if I am wrong, but it is my impression that the French don't get sick from their delicious brie.

Anonymous says "Most of the current cases of illnesses attributed to raw milk have not been proven."

Well, the alleged "benefits" of raw milk have not been proven either.

Consuming raw milk is like playing Russian roulette. For a parent to give a child raw milk is child abuse. While there have been occasional issues with supposedly pasteurized milk, I do not remember ever seeing that such resulted in serious permanent damage.

Jake, Pharmacist/Lawyer

Child abuse? Really? For hundreds of years, it was the only way people drank milk. Today with refrigeration, disinfection, and stainless steel tanks, raw milk is very safe. My family and I have consumed it for 10 years and I regularly recommend it to my clients.

There is really no point in drinking pasteurized milk. All nutrients have been cooked out of it - thus the need to "fortify" it. Raw milk contains its natural lactase and easily digestible for most people.

The bottom line is this is a matter of freedom. The USDA does a horrible job of inspecting meat in this country - as seen with several outbreaks of e-coli over the last decade. And yet no one is suggesting we stop buying or eating beef. Why so much fear around milk?

I have a relationship with my milk producer. I see the monthly bacterial testing done. I can also observe the sterilization methods used and feel 100% confidant that the milk I drink is safe.

Why should I not be able to drink this?

Bottom line: Dean Foods and other big dairy processors is using the FDA to vilify raw milk because it is an unprocessed food superior in quality than any processed product that they could ever hope to produce. No amount of processing, branding, marketing, or additives would work. They need to squash these farmer-to-consumer direct sales in order to keep the price of their input depressed.

I have not seen any reliable data on what % of milk sales are raw milk, but it is certainly small, probably way under 0.5%. Think about it, 0.5% would be 1 gal of raw milk per 200 gal of pasteurized milk bought at main line retailers. There are not enough raw milk advocates that will pay 5x as much for milk to generate even that level of sales. Therefore, I doubt that major processors such as Dean Foods are concerned about that competition, and also am sure that the diversion of milk to raw sales has virtually no impact on the price these processors pay for their milk supplies. What I do think concerns them is that any illness blamed on fluid milk hurts everyone in the milk business. I'll go this far, I think any adult who wants to drink raw milk should be allowed to do it, just as they are allowed to smoke and drink. However, I think it should be a criminal offense to give raw milk to anyone under the age of 18, and any one selling raw milk should have to have insurance to cover the medical expenses and consequential damages caused by their raw milk, just as Dean Foods has insurance to cover such costs for anyone that gets ill from consuming their milk.

Jake, as someone who grew up drinking raw milk straight from a 500 gallon tanker, I strongly reject any claims that giving children raw milk is "child abuse" and the idea of making it a criminal offense is pure lunacy. More people die or are injured in road accidents in even the smallest States than are in any way harmed by consuming raw dairy, why not ban all cars?

Bill's repeated reference to the profit motive is the key here. This isn't about health, if raw milk was as dangerous as the FDA claims people would be dropping like flies in California. No, this is about farmers escaping the slavery that is the current industrial milk system. Farmers producing milk for the likes of Dean Foods loose money and rely on off the farm jobs to survive. But by selling raw milk direct to consumers they are able to make a living selling raw milk.

This isn't about safety, its about whether farmers will be free or slaves.

The story is much the same on the consumer side. People curing illnesses with raw milk don't make money for the drug companies (which control the FDA and CDC). Are consumers free or are they slaves to the corporations in control of the government.

We have no good data on how many raw milk drinkers there are. So any comparison between pasteurized and raw milk on the basis of sickness is really meaningless right now and Bill's claims are irresponsible.

My eight-year-old daughter wanted me to ask you this question (I've paraphrased her words, somewhat): Would you also be in favor of criminally prosecuting parents who feed their kids Poptarts for breakfast, Happy Meals for lunch, Domino's pizza for dinner, and Doritos and Mountain Dew for between-meal snacks? Aren't more kids harmed by eating these products than by drinking raw milk?

Here's my question:

How far should the government go in legislating what it deems is healthy (or not) for us? For instance, what if the USDA required irradiation for every fruit and vegetable we buy, just to eliminate any risk of Salmonella-tained produce? Or if all of our beef, pork and poultry had to be treated with ammonia to eliminate any risk of E.coli-contaminated meat?

Or (do you see where I'm going here?) if all milk had to be brought to a temperature of 280 degrees to ultra-pasterize it (and in the process, kill all beneficial enzymes and micronutrients), just so parents could give it to their kids and not face criminal prosecution?


Some observations. I'll note upfront that I advocate the legal sale of raw milk.

-Evoking the civil rights movement in this context is flatly absurd. Ditto child abuse.

-Those who drink raw milk are not anti-science. They tend to be well educated. Most of the people I know who drink it have an advanced degree.

What we question are the political assumptions of our regulatory agencies. Those who have turned their gaze to raw milk have gladly tolerated high fructose corn syrup, processed foods which strip away nutrients, and all manner of pesticides and bio-tinkering. Cargill's little ammonia-feces cocktail? The one that made Mr. Marler famous? A-OK by the FDA.

To paraphrase Anton Chgur, if your rules lead to ammonia and feces in our burgers, what is the point of your rules?

-One of the problems with this dialogue is that there is no proper sense of magnitude. Marler argues that we can get nasty bugs from raw milk, and Gumpert argues that we can get nasty bugs from anything we eat. For regulatory purposes, this is beside the point.

I did some quick work (here: based on a 2007 U of M study. Basically, if we assume that 1% of Minnesotans drink raw milk now, and that this number would escalate to 10% with broader legalization of raw milk, we'd be looking at about 15-20 extra cases of campylobacter (which is just travelers diarrhea) per year. If EVERYONE drank raw milk, we'd top out at 200 extra cases, or less than 20% total cases state wide.

The recent e.coli outbreak would change this dynamic, but a 21 year study should trump a single outbreak in terms of sample size, yes?

By my lights, this does not begin to meet the criteria for banning a substance. Also, not to be anti-science, but it's worth noting that the U of M study either dishonestly or ignorantly attributes the Schwan's Ice Cream outbreak to raw milk (rotten eggs were the culprit). I was able to eliminate this from the data set, but this raises questions about their findings in other cases.

-Per the real milk facts site, the argument that raw milk assuages lactose intolerance is dismissed on the basis that it is unpublished. Yet, no study has been published that refutes the conclusion. My guess is that researchers are afraid to study this, for fear that a positive correlation it might compel more people to drink raw milk.

-I'm all for making people aware of the dangers of raw milk. It seems like this would be easier if it could be properly labeled and distributed.

Kevin, Campylobacter is, as you state, "just traveler’s diarrhea" until it leads to Guillain-Barre syndrome and leaves you paralyzed. Watch Mari Tardiff’s video


The Real Raw Milk Facts website does not make a conclusion about lactose intolerance and raw milk. We used an evidence-based approach to assess available data on risks and benefits; at this time, we found anecdotal stories and testimonials to support the claims that raw milk aids lactose digestion. Stanford University is conducting a study, and we will update the table as new data becomes available (regardless of whether the results show a positive, negative, or "no difference" correlation).

"My eight-year-old daughter wanted me to ask you this question (I've paraphrased her words, somewhat): Would you also be in favor of criminally prosecuting parents who feed their kids Poptarts for breakfast, Happy Meals for lunch, Domino's pizza for dinner, and Doritos and Mountain Dew for between-meal snacks? Aren't more kids harmed by eating these products than by drinking raw milk?"

None of those foods present any danger to health as part of a total balanced diet. Dieticians are fond of saying there are no bad foods, just bad diets. Perhaps parents who feed their children in a manner that causes them to be obese or have nutrient deficiencies are as bad as those who would give them raw milk. [But I'd also favor jail for any parent that gives a child Mountain Dew. :)] But it is the acute illnesses from food that grab the attention, not the chronic ones.

My diet is probably a bit subpar as well - but I won't touch raw milk or raw seafood. Also learned a lesson about frog legs many years ago - once bitten, twice shy as they say.

I'm not a lawyer, scientist, doctor or public health official, but I *am* a raw milk drinker for almost my whole life, both cow and goat, and so is my husband, our grown sons, our grandchildren, our parents, our grandparents, etc. You get the picture. For *generations* we've been drinking raw milk on both sides of our family and have never been sick from it. And so have our extended family members and our neighbors. We know LOTS of people just in our area who drink raw milk who are not related to us and it doesn't make them sick, either. And yes, some of them are PhD's, etc. Some of those are BIOLOGY PhD's. One of them has fibromyalgia and colitis - drinking the store dairy is impossible for them and makes their health situation much worse. On the other hand, raw milk HELPS them. There *is* a difference.

Members in our family *do* get sick from store milk - my mother has to religiously stay away from store dairy as she reacts very badly to it, even life threatening (her lungs get so full of fluid that she about drowns!), but the raw dairy doesn't affect her. Same for me - I don't react as bad as she does to the store milk but I do react enough that it's alarming. The raw dairy doesn't bother me at all. For many years my mother thought it was something the cows were eating that she reacted to so badly but then she found that raw dairy wasn't doing this to her so she knew it wasn't the cows' feed. My father has had digestive issues (such as ulcers, diverticulosis, etc.) his whole 90 years of life. The store dairy tears him up...the raw dairy, especially goat milk, doesn't bother him and actually helps with the stomach issues. My daughter-in-law has colon issues - she grew up on store dairy and learned to stay away from dairy products or she suffered for it. After she married into our family she tried the raw cow milk - and discovered to her delight that it not only doesn't set her off, it is delicious!

I can tell you that there are millions of people using raw dairy in this country...just with dairy goats in the back yards for one thing. In our state alone there are hundreds of thousands of them. Amish, Mennonite, etc. also milk their own animals and drink the raw milk. You don't see people lined up at the ER every day from drinking raw milk. In Africa you have the marvelously healthy Masai tribe who milk their cows in what we'd consider terribly unsanitary conditions and yet they thrive on it...why do they do so well on the raw dairy in those kind of conditions but we are being told it's dangerous? The Mongols milk their horses and drink it without problems. No teat dip, nothing! Bedouins milk their goats, sheep, camels and thrive - citizens of Switzerland can buy raw dairy anywhere they want to and they're not keeling over! And I don't know of a single family owned dairy in this country who doesn't use their own milk for their families...raw. And they always have. Why is it that they and their children and grandchildren aren't being sickened? I'll address that in a second...

In this day and age of testing, vaccinations, animal health knowledge, milking techniques, and feeding knowledge there is no excuse for not having a healthy animal giving you safe milk (i.e. stop feeding GRAIN to dairy animals as that causes e-coli to explode in the animal's digestive tract such as happens in the stockyards with the beef animals and that's where the really bad e-coli originated at, thank you to the CAFO methods of producing our food). Our own dairy goats have been tested over and over for just about everything you can think of: Johnne's, CAE, TB, brucellosis, etc. and have NEVER tested positive for anything. We've exported scores of them and never had one rejected due to health issues (or any other reason). We have never tolerated an animal with abcesses or with mastitis - we don't treat, we CULL. And now we've not had a case of even mastitis in years and years.

Am I worried about giving my raw goat milk to my grandkids? NOPE. Not one bit.

We have friends who have had raw goat milk save their lives - one friend was born Amish and her mother had no milk so they put the baby on raw goat milk and she grew up strong and healthy. She went on to have 12 children of her own, including two sets of twins (and some of whom were born at home), and all of them were raised on raw goat milk. Rarely were these kids ever even sick with a cold or anything. Now the grandkids are being raised on raw goat milk. Another friend of our's had bad problems with stomach ulcers and migraines. He was not expected to live very long and was very thin. After he met us, he decided to get a goat. Not only did his ulcers go away for good but he was delighted to find that his migraines stopped. He became a serious breeder of registered goats as a result of this. That was almost 30 years ago. He's outlived his first wife and is married to second wife...he'll tell you, oh, YEAH, there's a difference between store milk and raw! His grandkids also grew up on the raw goat milk and are now adults who breed their own reg. goats.

And for the man who said feeding raw dairy to children is child abuse, I disagree - I'll even say that NOT feeding them raw dairy is abuse. For decades parents have been exhorted to keep their kids out of the dirt and clean as much as possible, sanitizing the house, etc. and now we find that kids raised on farms in the dirt have healthier and stronger immune systems and don't have the asthma, etc. with which the sanitized kids have problems. Same for animals - we are farmers and raise livestock in two states (our whole family on one side is generational farmers). For years the government in their omnipotent wisdom told us to use medications on our young animals to keep them from ever getting coccidia, etc. Low and behold, they finally found out that we were now raising animals to adulthood that never developed resistance to those parasites, etc. and this was a very bad thing. Raising the youngsters with the herd in a clean environment (well drained pastures with lots of sun for sanitizing, etc.) has turned out to be *the* best way to do it. Imagine that - doing it the way it was designed to work, works! This is just one example - here's another: for years our government/USDA told livestock owners to rotate livestock in order to control parasites (graze cattle in a pasture, then graze horses or sheep, etc.). Turns out that it really is best to let the animals all graze together instead - parasites are species specific and the horses eat the cattle parasites and keep them in check and vice versa. The government was WRONG. Again. And they told us to keep animals wormed on a regular basis to keep parasite loads as low as possible - now we know that it's not good to do that. Now they recommend that you worm horses, for example, only when they are showing signs that they need it, that the regular worming is causing parasites to become resistant to every wormer out there *and* the animals now have no resistance to the parasites - setting up a Very Bad Situation. These aren't the only times our all-knowing government was wrong - they've been wrong on things on a regular basis and people and animals have DIED. How many have died from heart disease due to drinking the "safe" pasturized/homogenized dairy products? Only time will tell...I argue that we don't have a "dangerous raw milk" situation, instead we have a "populace that has no resistance to anything" situation and we are compounding it by the way we are sanitizing our food, homes, way of living and way of eating. My husband and I haven't even seen a doctor in over 30 years (the last time I saw a doctor was to deliver our youngest son over 30 years ago so I wasn't even "sick"). We are healthy and strong. We credit our way of life and our way of eating - and God. Our way of eating includes raw dairy.

Our human youngsters are no different from the livestock - they are not being exposed to bacteria, etc. in order to build resistance and they are growing up as adults with all sorts of problems, astham being one. These kids are also not growing up on farms anymore and we have a society being filled with weak and soft adults with health issues like never before. My almost 60 year old husband and his 60 year old brother outwork 20 year olds that we hire - even the teens from the local high school football team are begging for rest after just half an hour of working on our farms while our own kids can still keep up with their dads - all raised working and eating on farms.

Speaking of asthma, we know a young man (his mother is our daughter-in-law's sister) who has had asthma his whole life and had to stay away from dairy products as they really set him off. Well, the *store* dairy that is...he finally tried raw cow milk a couple of years ago and was astonished to find that it doesn't bother him at all and he can drink it! This is just one story of many that we can tell from personal experiences. So don't tell us that the store milk is no different from the raw. Bunk! Add to this reports of using raw milk on grass/pastures and discovering that the soil screams to life and produces like crazy - if raw milk is no "different", why are even the PLANTS saying this is not true? Raw milk has been shown to protect plants that are prone to powdery mildew. It works in both of these situations because it's *alive*.

Taking raw dairy away from our family would mean that many of us would have to stop consuming dairy completely. We are a free people - YOU DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN OR CANNOT EAT. Only slaves are told what they may eat or not. If I go out and eat grass out of my yard, that is MY business and not your's. If I buy burger at the store (which I don't) and eat it raw (which I don't), that's MY choice and you are not going to tell me I cannot do that "because it might make me sick". I am responsible for my own actions. People eat raw fish and that makes people sick on a regular basis. The government is approving trashy junk as "safe food" almost daily and that's making more people sick than raw milk ever thought of doing. The gov. says MSG is A-Ok, but it gives my brother-in-law an instant migraine that puts him in the hospital on narcotics! And my father cannot eat it, either, as it's one of the things that sets off his digestive issues. My sister gained 100 pounds and was not losing it even under a doctor's care for four years - one of the things she discovered is that food with MSG in it packs the pounds on her almost over night. That's when I figured out that it was also affecting me like that and had to start avoiding it AND high fructose corn syrup for the same reasons...which is also "approved as safe to eat" by our government.

Just because the government puts its stamp of approval on something to eat means NOTHING. "Good science" my foot. The only thing they are interested in is the PROFIT MARGIN for their good corporate buddies.

Part of an article at

Raw milk doesn't even come CLOSE to these kind of statistics when it comes to making people sick and dying:

"The Starfield study, "Is US health really the best in the world?", published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, came to the following conclusions:

Every year in the US there are:

12,000 deaths from unnecessary surgeries;

7,000 deaths from medication errors in hospitals;

20,000 deaths from other errors in hospitals;

80,000 deaths from infections acquired in hospitals;

106,000 deaths from FDA-approved correctly prescribed medicines.

The total of medically-caused deaths in the US every year is 225,000.

This makes the medical system the third leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease and cancer.

The Starfield study is the most disturbing revelation about modern healthcare in America ever published. The credentials of its author and the journal in which it appeared are, within the highest medical circles, impeccable.

On the heels of Starfield's astonishing findings, media reporting was extensive, but it soon dwindled. No major newspaper or television network mounted an ongoing "Medicalgate" investigation. Neither the US Department of Justice nor federal health agencies undertook prolonged remedial action.

All in all, those parties who could have taken effective steps to correct this situation preferred to ignore it."

This study was done in 2000. We can only wonder at how bad it is *now*...

"This makes the medical system the third leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease and cancer."

And heart disease and cancer are often diet caused diseases; i.e. caused by pop tarts and fast food and a general lack of raw milk.

"It appears very BLATANT that prohibiting farm to consumers unpasteurized milk sales is an illegal and anti competitive practice by regulators and Big Dairy industry, by only allowing dairy processing plants to obtain raw milk and using pasteurization as the key to safety and control. If using this weak defense, then I would argue that consumers could also pasteurize or heat milk to 165º for 15 seconds.

Big dairy, regulators and lobbyists use mainstream media to spread smear campaigns that say ALL unpasteurized milk unsafe. Yes, factory farm raw milk from cows who suffer from mastitis, tails cut off for efficiency and can’t swat flies, never allowed to live outside and graze naturally as ruminants but instead fed unnatural grain based diets infused with antibiotic and growth hormones, wallowing in their own feces on concrete, bedded on recycled manure, living in factory farms or CAFO’s with manure lagoons replacing pastures, polluting the air with hydrogen sulfide and ammonia for surrounding neighbors and communities, and whose milk is then co-mingled into silo milk and shipped across the country, yes, this raw milk is probably is UNSAFE.

If pasteurization, by conventional dairy industry with this type of frightening standards and logic, is the answer to ‘sanitizing’ milk, then I do not want any industrial dairy products or want to feed it to my children.

All I want and hope for is safe healthy wholesome unprocessed milk directly from healthy cows grazing on healthy pasture from my small farmer who uses sustainable agricultural practices, and not be considered a criminal."


This is quite exciting and informative! Thank you to Anonymous 5:30pm for your boldness and commonsense, Thank you to Anonymous 5:45pm for your statistics, and thank you Milk Drinker 8:26pm you summed it up quite nicely.

As for Jake pharamacist/lawyer, who states "people who feed raw milk to their children are child abusers?" Really, can't you come up with something better then that?

Anonymous, the issue at hand is not about drinking raw milk produce at a CAFO. The issue is about raw milk produced by small farmers where the cows graze on grass. There have been 10 outbreaks since January of 2010.

Small family farmers are poisoning children with raw milk. The leaders within the raw milk movement need to have the courage to address this issue. Denial is not an option.

WAPF advocates the consumption of grass fed raw milk because of its perceived health benefits. They promote feeding infants with formula made from raw milk, as well as feeding children raw milk. They encourage people who are ill to use raw milk to heal. The very people who should not take the risk of consuming raw milk—infants, children and anyone with a compromised immune system—are encouraged by WAPF to drink raw milk.

People trust the information from WAPF (grass fed cows don’t harbor pathogens and raw milk has properties to kill pathogens). Many parents are looking for a healthier way to feed their children. They try raw milk because they believe in the benefits it has to offer, and for some, contaminated raw milk becomes their family’s nightmare. They really had no idea that something that is claimed to be so healthy could make you gravely ill or possibly kill you if it is contaminated with manure.

It also appears that many raw milk farmers are just as naive about the pathogen risk in raw milk as the customers they service. People have the right to choose the food they would like to eat, but they also have a right to correct information so that an informed decision can be made before taking the risk of consuming raw milk.

It is my sincere hope that national raw milk safety standards can be established.


****Anonymous, the issue at hand is not about drinking raw milk produce at a CAFO. The issue is about raw milk produced by small farmers where the cows graze on grass. There have been 10 outbreaks since January of 2010.

How Can you be sure of this? As pointed out and chronicled in numerous cases, small farms are often blamed for outbreaks even when
1. Their premises and animals and milk tests negative for the pathogen (wise farmers keep vials of milk from each batch frozen)
2. Their are other clear grounds for where the illness originated
3. Other people in the area who never drank the milk also became ill

Aka, as pointed out by many, the statistics side of this leave both sides in a lurch, because they are so heavily biased and poorly done. And as a real milk person, I would love to have ACCURATE statistics to work with. But when I see a person whose little girl falls down on a curb (15 month old roughly), clearly twists her ankle, the family who WATCHED her fall down then think "maybe it is the milk..." sorry, science and statistics are laden and laced with human stupidity.

***Small family farmers are poisoning children with raw milk. The leaders within the raw milk movement need to have the courage to address this issue. Denial is not an option.***

This is just over the top - are not Kroger's, Walmart, and pretty much every other grocery store in the US. What about all the denial every time you eat at a fast food establishment, consumung MSG, BHT, BHA, BpA, "hydrolyzed..."? If we knew anyone in America who put anything put gasoline into their car, we would call them nuts, but put a cartoon character on a box or a sexy model in a commercial and we will eat/use/consume ANYTHING from a store or eating establishment.

So please drop the poison rhetoric. It is unhelpful to the actual discussion and an emotive appeal rather than an educated or informed statement or argument.

Per denial, again, maybe some real milk producers and drinkers are in denial, but with the over 300-400 people I know involved in the movement, they are some of the most highly educated and informed people I know. Denial is the last thing to describe them.

***WAPF advocates the consumption of grass fed raw milk because of its perceived health benefits. They promote feeding infants with formula made from raw milk, as well as feeding children raw milk. They encourage people who are ill to use raw milk to heal. The very people who should not take the risk of consuming raw milk—infants, children and anyone with a compromised immune system—are encouraged by WAPF to drink raw milk.

People trust the information from WAPF (grass fed cows don’t harbor pathogens and raw milk has properties to kill pathogens). Many parents are looking for a healthier way to feed their children. They try raw milk because they believe in the benefits it has to offer, and for some, contaminated raw milk becomes their family’s nightmare. They really had no idea that something that is claimed to be so healthy could make you gravely ill or possibly kill you if it is contaminated with manure.***

Again, perhaps some, but WAPF is very clear about the risks of drinking RM, even for people with illnesses. I know a large number of the chapter leaders and they take great pains to make sure people understand the risks and rewards of real foods.

***It also appears that many raw milk farmers are just as naive about the pathogen risk in raw milk as the customers they service. People have the right to choose the food they would like to eat, but they also have a right to correct information so that an informed decision can be made before taking the risk of consuming raw milk.***

How many have you spoken with? Be honest. I have spoken with dozens. Perhaps more than dozens. They are all VERY AWARE and VERY CONCERNED.

What really is bothersome about many of the posts is the lack of good research and analysis skills, the use of unfair arguments or rhetoric, or the fact that many people claim things they have no evidence of first hand knowledge for with regards to the issue.

***It is my sincere hope that national raw milk safety standards can be established.***

National standards are what are killing the nation as is - shall we add more? The government is the most inappropriate group in the world to be involved in the nation's food system, given the clear ineptitude, biases, and other problems it brings to the table. Have you done any research on how "successful" the government is in other areas of health and wellness, and how their involvement usually results in both HIGHER COSTS and lower safety and value.

Regional and state wide real milk associations would be perfect. They could help create regional testing centers and education centers, help track herds for farmers, etc. in an affordable and efficient manner.

John, everything you wrote is all part of the raw milk rhetoric. Raw milk outbreaks are happening and family farmers are poisoning children. This is not intentional, but it is reality. Sorry you are offended by the word poison, but when a pathogenic bacterium contaminates a food source and someone becomes ill, it poisons their body. Maybe you’ve not viewed it from this perspective before. Did you know that E.coli 0157:H7 is listed by the Department of Homeland Security as a potential bioterrorist agent?

John, have you ever met someone who has become severely ill from a pathogen in raw milk? If you haven’t, here are five people who have.

Who said national raw milk standards needed to be initiated by the government?


I noticed you skipped actually engaging in any of the information put forth above, instead merely labeling me as someone who uses "the raw milk rhetoric." Why not instead engage my arguments/information?

I was not offended by use of the word poison, merely pointing out that it is a weak and emotive term, not one that at all illuminates the facts of this debate or engages in real dialogue.

Again, if you are concerned about children being poisoned, what about the thousands of other chemicals and toxins in the food chain, or the fact that peanut butter, spinach, etc.

Why the furor over a single item and a single pathogen in a single food?

And whether or not I have personally met someone who has become ill from raw milk is irrelevant to a discussion of the facts. This is the type of reasoning that has been used to destroy all fundamental freedoms and rights in our country. One person is bad at home-schooling, lets ban homeschooling. One person may use lye to make a bomb, lets not allow ANYONE to purchase lye anymore.

I have met people who have become ill from all sorts of foods - fast food chains and restaurants, from improperly done home cooking, etc. I don't see widespread bans being promulgated against these establishments or pushes for huge WARNING signs as you walk into these places.

We know a lady whose mom died after a piece of glass in her home canned goods somehow punctured her intestines and she bled to death... should we ban home canning, because canning can clearly kill. Or should we only allow "approved" people (with BpA lined cans, etc.) to provide our food for us? At the end of the day, people should be allowed to make their own informed choices.

Welcome to the real world. It involves real risks, regardless of what choices a person makes - vaccinating and not vaccinating involve risks. Walking out your door in the morning into the smog and traffic is dangerous, so is laying around in your bed all day afraid of the smog and traffic.

Some people may not like certain risks and therefor what take those risks for themselves/their families, but that in way gives them the right to pontificate what others should do.

"National" is usually the same as "federal gov't." I don't think reading the sentence that way is unjust to what you have articulated. Now, if you mean something different, then you can clarify.

John, you've turned this in to a debate about raw milk freedom. I'm talking about raw milk safety. In the majority of states in the U.S., raw milk can be legally obtained. I’m waiting for the leaders in the raw milk movement to address raw milk safety and have a realistic discussion about the outbreaks that are occurring.

I dismissed what you wrote because I can go the WAPF and read all of what you posted. It is the WAPF “spin” that occurs in all outbreaks. It is never the milk. They don’t want their followers believing it is the milk. Don’t you know that? So to address your questions:
1. Not every batch of milk is tested; usually the contaminated milk has already been consumed so it is not available to be tested to confirm the presence of a pathogen
2. If another food source caused the infection, then that means every person had to drink raw milk from the same source and eat the other “same” food that was contaminated. Think logically about the statistical chances of this happening.
3. People can contract a secondary infection. This means that didn’t eat or drink the contaminated food but can be in contact with someone who did and the infection is then passed to this person.

You seem to be in the know about WAPF and raw milk. How do you think the leaders in the raw milk movement should address raw milk safety?


This will always be a debate about FOOD FREEDOM so long as people like you use safety as an excuse to push for regulation.

The PMO is national regulation, and it resulted in the loss of most dairy farms, meaning most milk comes from dirty, filthy, approved CAFO's; operations so ghastly that the cows live shortened lives and the milk makes people sick despite being pasteurized. The same story can be told of meat processors. National regulation will not solve food safety problems, it never has and it never will.

But this isn't about safty, its about the freedom of people to buy food where and how they wish and the freedom of farmers to supply them.

Again, rather than engaging in discussing evidence, comparing risks with other foods, etc., you have a habit of "labeling" and dismissing others rather than engaging with the issues. Since you have made this clear, we can move on to your second area - real milk safety.

Per number 2, that is not as statistically unlikely as you think, especially in some of the outbreaks attributed to real milk. Since real milk drinkers tend to also be friends, coworkers, attend similar social circles (church, La Leche league, WAPF meetings, etc.,) all of them having a 2ndary exposure to another contaminated item and also being highly likely to have number 3 in common (the ability for them to pass an infection not related to the item that caused the original through 2ndary contact) is very likely, plausible, and possible. Think of the great pepper fiasco from a few years ago - one of the reasons it took them so long to track down the true cause of the food poisoning was because of the problem of overlapping exposures, etc. in the ingredients and in the people exposed. Thus your own argument breaks down at this point.

But I am just thinking logically (and from experience).

First, people within WAPF and others in the general local foods movement do a large amount of real milk safety and general safety education, both for farmers and consumers - to act as if they are ignoring this issue or somehow downplaying it is a gross misstatement. I have personally corrected people when making statements like "real milk is inherently safe," etc. I bet others are doing similar things, and if not, dialogues like this will hopefully encourage them to do so. But lets be clear - risk is a part of life, and the debate over how risky real milk is versus other foods, including pasteurized dairy, and how this relates to the broader discussion of real milk freedom, cannot be separated as easily as you would make it sound in the above.

The amount of safety education being done and made available is actually quite staggering, from Ted and Peggy Beals to the FTCLDF herd share programs, to what many local chapters leaders do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Again, I deal with dairy farmers and WAPF people on a regular basis and safety is always a top topic, always something being brought to the forefront of the table for discussion.

Most real milk drinkers are HIGHLY educated and MOTIVATED individuals. They take safety seriously.

I believe one of the WAPF journals had a whole article on RM safety. I have seen a number of chapter leaders disseminating handouts for people to take with them when they are considering a dairy or any other farm to support. More so, when problematic farmers are identified, that information is shared with others and with the farmer if they are willing to listen. Obviously, no one can make a farmer change what they are doing, but educating the public is a huge priority for many within the RM movement and certainly for WAPF. WAPF doesn't want any real milk pathogen outbreaks, period. Why on earth would they? They just also don't want the needless fearmongering around a single food item that is going on with RM either.

Because real milk safety is a very large issue, this is no place to outline a comprehensive real milk safety plan for farmers and farm supporters - it involves a great deal of education on both ends and in between. But at the least it would involve...

1. All farms should have monthly and quarterly testing for common pathogens, both in the animals and the milk and on their premises.
2. All farms should have protocols for isolating any animal that shows signs or tests positive for any pathogens and any animals they may have somehow possibly infected.
3. Farms should have good sanitation practices and cold chain practices, and should be instructing their supporters in proper transport, storage, etc. of their items as well.
4. Farmers should have educated people consistently visiting their dairies to make sure the above is happening, to help give ideas on areas to improve, etc., and to bring farmers in a region together to discuss new ideas, ways to improve herd health, etc.

We encourage families looking into real dairy to never get it from a person who is new to farming (under 2 years) unless that person is already a long time farmer (then they should have at least a year of clean milk before pursuing customers).

Farmers who are unwilling to do these things will usually have less business than farmers who can show via records and a large group of healthy supporters, a local certification, etc. that they have good practices and a clear record of safety.

But there will always be people looking to save a buck and people looking to make a buck - they should be left to themselves and bear the responsibility for their own actions. I can warn others about such dairies (and I can warn people about the dangers of skimping on food and safe food to save a buck), but I am not their nanny, nor should anyone else be, and they need to be left to live with the repercussions of their actions.

All of this best happens first in the context of the relationship between a farmer and a farm supporter and their local community, then locally with farmers encouraging and holding other farmers accountable/helping them improve their practices or warning others that a farm is not being honest about their practices, then regionally in groups that have already formed or are forming that can offer some sort of certification for farmers in their associations.

But again, this is just a bare bones sketch of what should be and is happening in many places.

I am sure there are some outbreaks caused by real milk, just like their are all the time from hamburgers and fast food chains and deli meats and... the list can roll on for pages. That is the world we live in, one filled with great risk. Different people see the risks differently. And because of the biases involved in this issue, at the moment it is very hard to know for sure how risky or not risky RM really is. But to act as if it is inherently more dangerous than what is already out there seems, to me, wrong and highly biased. But at least I would let others be free to hold that view.

I watched the videos on the realrawmilkfacts site listed above and was wondering how can they determine for sure that it was the raw milk consumption that caused these problems.
E coli 0157:H7 better known as the "hamburger disease" is seen mostly in fast food places. These restaurants have numerous outbreaks at once. Were there no other customers from these farms that were stricken at the same time? Did no one else in the family drink the same milk that was purchased that day and if so, why weren't they taken ill also?
Please know that I am by no means making light of these horrible stories and my heart goes out to anyone experiencing human suffering I am simply asking questions that came immediately to mind.

John, I’ve never understood the argument that other foods can make you sick therefore, if raw milk is sometimes contaminated that’s life. If find it ironic that people who choose to leave our industrial food system motivated by the negative health consequences of consuming them are so eager to embrace a food that could actually kill a child. There is a huge disconnect somewhere.

The “benefits outweigh the risks” argument is a philosophical exercise based on not having had experienced a severe illness after drinking raw milk. I’m sure if you asked anyone of the five victims in the videos whether the benefits outweigh the risks they would give you a strong NO for an answer. Especially if you are a parent and it was your child that became ill. No health benefit from raw milk could ever balance out the suffering of your child.

John, the bottom line is that we can lead perfectly healthy lives without consuming raw dairy. There are many other food sources that can provide good bacteria to ones diet. Healthy fats can be obtained from raw nuts, ghee, coconut oil, and pasteurized dairy from a local dairy. The Nourishing Traditions cookbook provides a wealth of knowledge and ways to cook and consume a variety of traditional foods. It is not all about raw milk. In fact, there was only one culture Dr. Price studied that consumed dairy, and he focused on the superior nutrients found in butter.

I appreciate the time you took to write about the behind the scenes discussions/education about raw milk safety. In these discussions, do you actually discuss pathogens; that they are a real risk and that someone could die if the milk is contaminated? Is there a respect for the powerful damage a pathogen can due to the human body? Are the different types of pathogens discussed and the illness that can be caused by them? Do people really understand that one bad day on the farm could cause an outbreak. There is no room for error when producing raw milk because there is not a kill step. Do people really understand that cow or goat shit in the milk is the problem. I know I’ve asked many questions, but raw milk websites are lacking this type of information. That’s why the Real Raw Milk Facts website was created.

First off, it is our job as citizens to make sure our government acts lawfully, so accusing raw-dairy supporters of being "anti-government" is useless to the real issue of food safety and what our FDA's role should be.

Then there are the accusations of being "anti-science," forgetting that our objective is to stop E. coli and other food-born illnesses NOT stop raw milk. But people who practically say raw milk "is" E. coli, and ignore all scientific studies proving otherwise, are not practicing good science.

If good science is really a concern in this debate then Sally Fallon presents large volumes of it in her powerpoint on raw dairy at the realmilk site (.com) pointing to several actual scientific studies that anyone can refer to -a stark contrast to the realrawmilkfacts site which does not do this. Compare the two sites for yourself.

Even Bill Marler himself is quoted as saying "packaged lettuce and other vegetables are often sources of E. coli because they are sprayed with contaminated irrigation water." (p. 5 of a different report from If this is true then the problems like E. coli are obviously far more complicated than just simply banning raw dairy and we need focus on those realities rather than blindly trusting that raw milk is always the cause.

When a "scientific" investigation only focuses on raw dairy and refuses to include in its investigation ALL the possible sources of deadly food-borne diseases, it does a terrible dis-service to us all. As it is now, even with the videos on the realrawmilkfacts site (also mentioned in a posting above mine by Rebecca, who raises some very important questions that should be addressed by that site!!), I get a bad feeling it is for manipulation purposes.

I do not feel assured by investigations that seem predisposed to blame raw dairy from the start. The more I see of this, the more it really does feel like they might be more concerned with raw dairy's threat to the profit margins of the pasteurized dairy industry than they are about deadly food-borne diseases.

But when it comes to pasteurized dairy, as the John Robbins/vegan community knows all about( -though, unfortunately, they do not differentiate between raw and pasteurized dairy), there are far more cases of horrific health problems that disappear when the victim stops consumming it.

And we must not ignore the far more documented cases of E .coli and other deadly diseaes being traced to pasteurized dairy (again check for those figures) -so where is the movement to ban pasteurized dairy? It can only be concluded that the anti-raw dairy movement does not really care about deadly diseases like E. coli or they would be banning all foods that are possible sources of deadly diseases like E. coli.

To Mary McGonigle-Martin,
Strange that you should mention Sally Fallon's book 'Nourishing Traditions' and Weston A Price's research without mentioning their findings about raw milk.
Just in case, their site is westonAprice (.com or .org -I always forget) Then Sally Fallon's excellent site on raw dairy is -I highly recommend checking out her powerpoint on all the scientific research done on raw dairy.

Kathleen, believe me when I say I am quite familiar with Sally Fallon, WAPF and the real milk website. I highly recommend that you start questioning some of the information on these websites, especially when it comes to information posted about raw milk outbreaks. Talk about being manipulated.

Maybe you'll extend that advice you give to actually following it? (One can only hope)

There is a big difference between how the lettuce industry has dealt with outbreaks compared with the raw milk industry. The leafy greens industry put millions of dollars into food safety research and created voluntary food safety programs. In contrast, WAPF has spent their resources denying outbreaks and condoning farmers with poor sanitation practices. There have been 10 raw milk outbreaks in the last 6 months with several people hospitalized (including one paralyzed in PA and a child in serious condition in CO); plus there have been about a half-dozen raw milk or raw milk cheese-related recalls already this year. Despite a much wider rate of consumption and distribution, we are not seeing this level of contamination with lettuce (or even ground beef) in 2010.


You are looking for a perfectly safe food, such a thing does not exist. It is an impossibility.

In the particular case of milk, even the kill step of pasteurization does not make it safe. There are things that it doesn't kill, sometimes contamination happens after, and sometimes by its very nature it makes people sick.

"No health benefit from raw milk could ever balance out the suffering of your child."

And this is your great bias and why you should stay out of the national conversation on raw milk. The fact of the matter is many many people of recovered their health and healed from things such as autism, IBS, Chron's, asma, and many many more. The conventional drug treatments for these diseases cause far more harm than raw milk does.

Would you tell the Chron's sufferer, who became sickened by pasteurized milk and is kept healthy by raw milk, that they should go back to pasteurized milk because raw milk might make them sick? That is inane, to do such would cause them far more immediate pain and suffering than your theoretical risk.

Anonymous, so the videos are theoretically risks. Why don’t you watch the video of Chris Martin and tell me if that is “theoretical”.

It is my personal opinion based on experience that the risk outweighs the benefit, and therefore my family no longer consumes raw milk. I wouldn’t recommend drinking it, but for people who still choose to drink it there should be national safety standards for producing raw milk.

As for all the diseases you mention, using raw milk is not the only healing tool. Juicing, drinking wheatgrass, and eating a macrobiotic diet have healed many ailments. Your bias and maybe ignorance is that you believe it is all about raw milk. If you hang around a WAPF crowd, then that will be the only information you receive. People have been healing diseases with alternative methods to modern medicine long before Sally Fallon came along with her raw milk mission. Dr. Sherry Rogers has an amazing set of books on the topic of healing and she doesn’t use a drop of raw milk. She healed herself of many diseases.

If adults would like to take the risk of consuming raw milk, I do believe it is their choice. However, taking the risk of giving it to your children is another topic and the reason behind why so many people rallying and asking the tough questions about the real benefits versus the risks of consuming raw milk.

BTW, I don’t consume pasteurized milk and occasionally will eat organic cheese. It is quite easy to live without it. Almond milk is delicious. There are so many fabulous foods that one can eat that don’t revolve around dairy.


While you may not understand an argument, it in no way invalidates the argument. I could say the exact opposite comment, but it is meaningless to the issue at hand.

The point is not that that is just life so much as risk is an inherent part of life in a fallen world. You see the risk of RM as unacceptable - you are free to see it that way and not consume RM. Others do not agree with your risk assessment after looking at the same evidence. The relative risk of certain food choices to some people is an important consideration - to you, it appears not to be. I would leave you free to see it that way and disagree. And I wouldn't ad hominem attack your whole position based on that one area as you tend to do with others.

***I appreciate the time you took to write about the behind the scenes discussions/education about raw milk safety. In these discussions, do you actually discuss pathogens; that they are a real risk and that someone could die if the milk is contaminated? Is there a respect for the powerful damage a pathogen can due to the human body? Are the different types of pathogens discussed and the illness that can be caused by them? Do people really understand that one bad day on the farm could cause an outbreak. There is no room for error when producing raw milk because there is not a kill step. Do people really understand that cow or goat shit in the milk is the problem. I know I’ve asked many questions, but raw milk websites are lacking this type of information. That’s why the Real Raw Milk Facts website was created.***

Mary, do you do the same with other foods, or does only real milk raise this ire in you? Did you know that a large majority of industrial chickens are contaminated with similar or the same pathogens (

Do you require people at other places with other products to do the same things? When someone is grilling out, do you reprimand them for medium rare meat since that could also give their children these same pathogens? Or do you walk around with a thermometer, enforcing minimum cooking temps at social functions?

With lunch meat, pasteurized dairy, etc. Aka, do you require this with other foods, eating establishments, etc.? If not, then it strikes me as being inconsistent.

Per the poster's comments of the difference in response of the lettuce industry, sorry, but putting a band aid on a broken system isn't truly fixing it, and from studies I have seen, it doesn't eliminate all the contamination or other problems. Industrial chickens are now dipped in chlorinated or other types of water and still come out with startling high rates of contamination... guess we should start pasteurizing these as well?

If we are really concerned about these pathogens, why are we going after the widespread animal husbandry issues at the CAFOs, etc. that are creating this powerful pathogens? Why is there no out cry against them, but merely against one product produced by one small segment of farmers for one small segment of farm supporters?

I see problems across the board, especially if real milk drinkers are not giving an accurate assessment of the risks involved (and especially if the other side is over stating the risks), but personally see the problems with real dairy as minor and the benefits as greater, especially after seeing numerous small children and adults health dramatically improved through real dairy. You may not like that, or say, "but there is risk, there is risk!" Yes there is, and there are possible benefits, and we all see these things differently. Now, we can try to manipulate the political, governmental structures to gain our side an "advantage," which is wrong, evil, and a root of many problems in this country, or as free people in a free nation, we can disagree and allow the other person to reap the risks and rewards of their choices. I am willing to do that, even with those I disagree with; are you?

I am not ordained to make these decisions for others, and I sure don't think anyone else should be in that place either. I would suggest contributing to solving the problems, rather than seeking to nanny others.

Life is about balancing risk. Driving a child in a car is taking a risk... my daughter broke her elbow when she was 2 1/2 climbing a "safe" toddler ladder at the park. Does that make me a bad parent because I let her have some fun while taking a risk?

Food poisoning can come from many sources of common foods (ie. spinach, burgers, tomatoes, peanut butter). We have to eat, parents should be able to make educated choices... and their will always be some risk involved with food on many levels.

I grew up drinking raw goats milk (tested for bacteria). Surrounding our small farm where factory dairy farms. I have to say... even pasteurized, that milk should be labeled "not for human consumption". Many cow's were sick and dirty. Most never saw the light of day and they were fed things that cow's should never eat. Now, many dairies pump their cow's full of hormones, which significantly shorted their life span due to even more health issues. I don't want to drink milk from a cow like that or give it to my child!

For those that say "parents that choose to give their children clean raw milk is child abuse"... I beg to differ. Parents who choose to give their children soda, chips, candy, boxed processed and GM foods on a daily basis... I consider that child abuse.

John and Anonymous, what does any of what you have written have anything to do with making raw milk as safe as humanly possible? If everyone agrees there are pathogen risks and that children can become ill, why wouldn’t everyone want to discuss and come up with a systematic plan to make raw milk as safe as humanly possible to consume.

People are educated about cross contamination when cooking poultry or beef with raw veggies. People are educated about how to use thermometers when cooking hamburgers and chicken. Why shouldn’t there be an educational focus on how to prevent pathogen contamination when producing raw milk.

Believe me John I understand the argument intimately. You and I can only be on the same page after you’ve watched you child suffer for two months in the hospital after consuming contaminated raw milk.


Raw milk is illegal in Minnesota. This post concludes with a discussion of whether the product should be made legal here, and so comments are going to be read through that lens.

People are educated about cross-contamination w/r/t poultry and meat, but they are not educated w/r/t the garbage that goes into the poultry and meat. Instead, some of the most vile and disgusting products imaginable get a seal of approval from the FDA, inspiring false confidence.

Small dairy farms don't get the seal of approval, not because of the quality of their product, but because they cannot afford to buy off the government a la Cargill and the large-scale dairy farms. This is completely unfair, and compromises our safety, while depriving us of the choice to utilize a product we suspect to be beneficial.

I am absolutely for safety standards, and raw milk should be held to the highest standard. Most dairy farms produce a very high quality product.

But yes, people should not consume raw milk without understanding the risks. Anti-raw milk advocates should be careful not to confuse education with advocacy. People aren't going to trust sites like real milk facts if they suspect the "facts" are being used to promote a regulatory agenda.


Have you ever met with people who were hospitalized and suffered from drinking pasteurized dairy? And why are the statistics, of those same deadly diseases from drinking pasteurized milk, being disregarded by Marler's site?

It is obvious that you (and Marler, or those "concerned with the safety of raw milk production methods") have not read Sally Fallon's powerpoint on raw milk which discusses exactly that issue! -at

The main reason that people are choosing raw milk is because of safety issues concerning pasteurized dairy products -an issue totally ignored by the Marler side. You, yourself even say,
"why wouldn't everyone want to discuss and come up with a systematic plan to make raw milk as safe as humanly possible to consume...shouldn't there be an educational focus on how to prevent pathogen contamination when producing raw milk."
They do! You obviously have not investigated what they say.

Maybe if you were you were to inestigate the safety issues of pasteurized dairy you would be hopping mad too?

Anyway, Marler said earlier, "For pasteurized milk, few people understand just how regulated the product is." but Marler blatantly ignores the documented statistics of people who have gotten E. coli and other deadly diseases from pasteurized dairy, which makes me doubt his sincerity.

Does anyone remember the one reason milk became deadly in the first place? It was when mass production of dairy came to be, that milk ever became known as deadly.

It goes without saying that the sole purpose mass producing dairy is to maximize profits -we all know this. But because the maintainance of cleanliness in mass production of dairy is impossible, the pasteurization process was invented (by Louis Pasteur, I know) and mass produced dairy came to be.

But more importantly, this debate has lost sight of the fact that small farms are safer than mass production -simply because cleanliness is impossible to regulate with dairy that is mass produced. For anyone to claim otherwise, as Marler does, is flat out PR. And the threats of E. coli should warrant better debating than that.

Kathleen, there has actually never been an E.coli 0157:H7 outbreak with pasteurized milk. Please view slide from the AVMA conference last year. Here is the companion slide for raw milk (STEC is E.coli).

Please keep in mind that the majority of pasteurized raw milk illnesses occurred post pasteurization. Meaning the milk was contaminated after it was pasteurized, and just because you believe that small farms are safer doesn’t make this statement true. Just like “know your farmer” doesn’t mean an invisible pathogen can’t get in the milk.

Don’t get me wrong, I would never consume pasteurized milk from a CAFO, but sanitation standards for producing milk is a different debate than the health of the milk. Pasteurized, homogenized milk from a CAFO is completely different from pasteurized, non-homogenized milk from your family farmer raising cows fed grass.

As for the realmilk website and its discussion of raw milk safety, this is the entire problem. You believe what you read there. It makes you feel safe drinking raw milk doesn’t it? That’s the goal. Read all the reports on outbreaks and why raw milk couldn’t be the blame. Do you actually believe that everyone one of these raw outbreaks didn’t happen?

I know first hand the “spin” that WAPF puts on their information regrinding outbreaks. I lived it. Kathleen, they lie to their people and you just don’t realize it. You’re being manipulated. What if everything they are telling you about the safety of raw milk just isn’t true? What if feeding the cows grass doesn’t prevent pathogens? What if knowing your farmer doesn’t prevent contamination? What if raw milk doesn’t contain properties to kill pathogens? Where would the raw movement stand? How could they convince people to give it to their families? Why don’t you just think about this for awhile?

Kathleen, 4 of the 5 victims in the videos on the real milk facts website all became ill the very first time they drank raw milk; the other victim had been drinking raw milk for a few weeks. Imagine the shock after reading everything on the WAPF website, or other raw milk websites, about how safe and superior raw milk is and then end up in the hospital fighting for their lives after trying it.

A word about headlines.

When the headlines turn out to be wrong does it make the front pages?

No, it does not. And whether or not all the newer headlines (linking raw milk to E.coli and etc.) this year in 2010, turn out to be true remains to be seen after the investigations are complete.

Unfortunately, even where it is concluded that raw milk is not the cause, it is the headlines that stick in people's minds.

At the end of the above debate Gumpert gave a list of farms who were not just investigated, but raided, and all of them did not have any trace of deadly diseases and no people were taken ill or died -in all of the example's. I wonder how many headlines came out of those that implicated raw milk.

Marler's response was particularly nasty, saying, "stop playing victim and clean this up." Marler's rude dismissal of Gumpert's evidence is a clear sign that his agenda does not involve discussing all the facts.

Okay, one last time, because I'm sure I'm not the only person to point this out:

How come there is no report in recorded history of people becoming ill from drinking dairy products, BEFORE mass production of dairy was started?

I guess we all read what we read and make excuses in our minds for things that don't add up to what we believe. But you, Mary, are not holding yourself up to your own standards. I could say the same thing to you- why don't you question your sources? You ask me why I don't question my sources more thoroughly and I am asking you the same thing.

And we are at a dead end here.



"The main reason that people are choosing raw milk is because of safety issues concerning pasteurized dairy products -an issue totally ignored by the Marler side. "

Isn't really true. Most drink it because it tastes better and is easier to digest.

Marler's point about the safety of pasteurized milk is valid. There are more outbreaks stemming from pasteurized milk only because far more people drink it. There are certainly more outbreaks per consumer associated with raw milk.

The question is whether the increased risk of these particular illnesses sufficiently outweighs matters of taste, digestion and, potentially, nutrition.

For Mary, it is not, in part because she has apparently looked at some horrific videos, and found them sufficiently persuasive. For me, it is worth it, because I recognize that such cases are extremely rare.

But you cannot pretend that pasteurized milk is more likely to lead to outbreaks of e-coli. A better case to make is that mandatory pasteurization is a de facto sop to an industry that makes a low-quality, mass-produced foodstuff, which is true.

"But you cannot pretend that pasteurized milk is more likely to lead to outbreaks of e-coli."

Get Real Raw Milk folks. There has never been an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to pasteurized milk in the US, ever. In 2010, there are zero outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk, to date. There are 10 outbreaks attributed to raw milk and another half dozen or so recalls. People are in the hospital because of raw milk. If consumers want to take that risk, so be it. But, make that choice with an awareness that you are part of a world where farmers and others are making a "grab" for the high price of raw milk, and do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

"But, make that choice with an awareness that you are part of a world where farmers and others are making a "grab" for the high price of raw milk, and do not necessarily have your best interest in mind."

Do you have any evidence that producers are seeing a higher return on investment for raw milk? I think you just made this up.

Mary wrote: "John, you've turned this in to a debate about raw milk freedom. I'm talking about raw milk safety...I’m waiting for the leaders in the raw milk movement to address raw milk safety and have a realistic discussion about the outbreaks that are occurring."


Is David Gumpert not among the leaders in raw milk? I think his discussion above was very realistic.
Question number four discussed raw milk safety - perhaps you didn't read it?

Also, food freedom is a significant part of this issue - I think it's very pertinent and I'm glad John continued to address it -

Dear Mary (or Bill, or any of the pro-pasteurization folks),

I have a sincere question for you. All of the raw milk debate focuses on obtaining raw milk from an outside source (through a farmer). I understand this, since it is how 99.9% of raw milk consumers acquire their milk.

However, there is another option. I live in Denver, on a standard 6500 square foot lot. I raise two Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats (about 60 pounds each) in my backyard. I went through an extensive permitting process in order to have the goats and chickens (we're trying to change the permitting process to make it easier to raise Food-Producing Animals in the city, but that's another story).

My barnyard provides the goats with 3x the recommended living space per animal. The barnyard is kept clean. They are healthy, have excellent diets, and are happy. I personally milk my lactating goat twice a day. Before I began milking I did a lot of reading and consulted with veteran goat-keepers on proper milking techniques. I follow careful sterilization, sanitation, and refrigeration practices. We do not pasteurize the milk.

I am by no means 100% self sufficient, but I believe in having a connection with where my food comes from. We raise all of our milk (and cheese, yogurt, ice cream) as well as eggs, and we grow as many of our vegetables as we can. Everything is produced organically, by our family.

Mary, I ask this in all sincerity -- do you think that I am being reckless with my health, and the health of my family?

Good question, Sundari. I hope the raw milk opponents respond to you.
I feel for people in your situation especially, who almost always have a surplus of exceptional quality food that you cannot sell to friends or neighbors. It's immoral.

It has been bothering me that one of Bill Marler's suggestions was,
"Farms should be required to have insurance coverage sufficient to cover reasonable damages to their customers."

Wow, there's a lot more in that comment than meets the eye! Do "reasonable damages" also include handsome compensation for attorneys?

Will we also "require" insurance companies to provide coverage? (mine does not, at any price).

Bill Marler also has a problem with "pet food sales".

I think here we begin to see that the true motive is not food safety.
It cannot be said that folks drinking milk labeled as pet food are oblivious to the dangers.

If illness occurs, and the headline says, "Family sickened by eating pet food", then regulators cannot be blamed for being remiss - conventional milk producers cannot say this would reflect on their product.

Did you know that in my state, the way the law is written, I cannot legally obtain raw milk to from a neighboring for to feed to orphaned animals?
What a boon for the milk replacer manufacturer!

Risk assessment is a mathmatical problem. Are the actual risks of raw milk consumption -- in it's current form, or more a regulated form -- statistically greater than pasturized milk consumption? From what I can tell, the math is almost a toss up. when you add in potential benefits associated with one or the other, you still have a math problem. Does the benefit of path A, offset the risks associated such that it is preferable to path B.

The rest is emotional. If you've been sicked by pasturized milk or industrial food, I'd wager you'd be wary of it and trend toward local/raw. Likewise, the familes mentioned earlier that were sickened by raw milk/food... probably the industrial route is looking pretty sensible.

No such thing as a risk-free world. Seems to me that everyone would benefit if both sides of the debate avoided demonizing the other. Every single person that makes an informed/conscious choice on the matter in either direction is trying to do what is right and good for themselves and their families.

I support the freedom to choose what we consume. I support the regulation of raw milk production at the state level.

Brian from Massachusetts.

Sundari, over the years I have done reading on this topic but I don’t have the references in front of me for you to refer to. Historically, farmers, their families and workers on dairy farms are able to drink milk raw and don’t seem to become ill (I sure some have). Studies have been done to show they have built up antibodies to pathogens. Something happens living in the environment with animals that helps build up immunities to pathogens. Prior to the industrial revolution, this is how people lived and is probably the reason there weren’t large numbers of people becoming ill from raw milk. The illnesses began when people moved to the city and the mass production of milk began. It is theorized that once people leave the farm environment they become more vulnerable to pathogens that can be found in raw milk.

Do I think you are reckless milking the family goat and then drinking the milk raw—no. For people that want to consume raw milk, I believe this is the safest way to consume it. Your family is building up antibodies from being around farm animals and you are in charge of cleaning the teats and making sure there is no manure anywhere on the goat or in the environment where you do the milking. You can cool the milk right away and you are not transporting it to another location. You are not producing this milk to make money where shortcuts might occur that leads to contamination. It would be great if a “how to” educational safety video could be made for people who own the family cow or goat.

The vulnerability to pathogens seems to occur when you live off the farm and consume another farmer’s milk. Having said all of this, I’m sure there is documentation somewhere of someone drinking their own raw milk and becoming ill, but overall, due to the factors listed above, this is probably the lowest risk way of consuming raw milk.

Sundari, I actually admire the dedication you have towards eating healthy.

Smy, a farmer needs an insurance policy in the event he poisons someone with the raw milk. My son spent 2 months in the hospital after drinking raw milk and will have life long monitoring of his kidneys, as well as the possibility of someday needing kidney dialysis and a kidney transplant. Who is supposed to pay for all of this?

Here’s a brief summary of what he endured while hospitalized:

His symptoms started with a headache and fever on September 5th, and diarrhea, bloody stool, and vomiting began on September 7th. He was admitted to the emergency room on the evening of September 7th and admitted to the hospital in the morning of September 8th. He was diagnosed with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome on September 11, 2006. He endured the use of a ventilator, kidney dialysis, chest drainage tubes, blood transfusions, plasma transfusions platelet transfusions, intravenous nutrition, narcotics, antibiotics, and surgeries. He recovered from renal failure, congestive heart failure, a collapsed lung, acute pancreatitis, high blood pressure and seizures. When he was in critical condition, he was in the care of a nephrologist, cardiologist, neurologist, gastroenterologist and multiple attending PICU physicians. He was released from the hospital on November 2, 2006.


"3. People can contract a secondary infection. This means that didn’t eat or drink the contaminated food but can be in contact with someone who did and the infection is then passed to this person."

E.coli is spread via fecal matter, for it to spread from person-to-person you'd have to have kids playing with.. their own fecal matter.

Mary, are those factors supported by data or is this your personal hypothesis?
Have we determined that it is exposure to the farm and not exposure to the raw milk that boosts the immune system? Probiotics have been highly under investigated. We are recognizing the folly of trying to live in a sterilized world. But I think your explanation makes too many assumptions. If it is correct, then perhaps people could get the benefits of raw milk AND have immune protection by purchasing manure from the farm, as well? Perhaps if everyone took a preventative manure bath once a month, we could wipe out E coli? (Inserting tongue in cheek)

Should we always depend on "studies" or does common sense ever have value anymore? If it must have studies, then surely the FDA failed the public when they approved pasteurized, homogenized milk as safe without studies of the long term effects?

To Brian, I agree with you that it boils down to risk assessment/math. But it is a personal math equation that each individual has the right to make.
It is unreasonable to set a default answer for all occasions.


I did some research on Gumpert's book. It is more than a little dishonest that you only now reveal that you have a horse in this race, and that Marler is your attorney.

"Wow, there's a lot more in that comment than meets the eye! Do "reasonable damages" also include handsome compensation for attorneys?"

Yes. This is one of Marler's major initiatives. Insurance companies make his job easy, since they are far more likely to settle. This means he can get his paycheck without doing the hard work of providing a concrete link between an outbreak and a particular farm.

He enlists the help of clients to produce dramatic videos and troll blog sites such as this in order to turn public perception against raw milk consumption. People read the sites and assume there is a strong, third party opposition to raw milk.

His worst case scenario is if raw milk producers become mainstream, with an organized system of waivers for customers, and associations that can provide legal defense, and (God forbid) a public relations campaign to counter his own.

kevin s.,

It is *not* illegal to produce & sell raw milk in Minnesota, there have been court cases over this and they upheld the farmer's right to do so.

Kevin, you make me laugh. Your perception is so stereotypical. Why don’t you go back and reread my comments if you feel I didn’t acknowledge that my son had become ill from raw milk. Sorry if you didn’t take the time to read carefully or watch my son’s video. Also, does it really matter in the debate of raw milk safety and sanitation standards if Bill Marler represents clients? Bill deserves every penny he makes from the service he provides. For your information, in the state of California, personal injury lawyers earn 25% of the settlement that involves minors; this is hardly an exorbitant amount. Bill advocates for future clients who will be come ill for raw milk….hence his views and policies will reflect this.

So this is where the conversation usually turns ugly. People start insulting me, so I will beat you to it. Yes. I’m a propaganda producing child exploiter whose child really got sick from spinach and my real motive is to end sales of all raw milk through out the entire U.S. I’m a horrible, greedy, evil person.

Also, don’t believe everything you read in David Gumpert’s book. He didn’t get the story right, but did email me today asking for corrections in the updated edition of his book.

"E.coli is spread via fecal matter, for it to spread from person-to-person you'd have to have kids playing with.. their own fecal matter."

Or you'd have to have kids playing in sandboxes. Or you'd have to have people working in gardens. Or you'd have to have folks eating at a McDonald's playground with parents changing diapers in the booths. Or you'd have to encounter some kids who aren't proficient hand washers. Or you'd have to encounter grownups who aren't proficient hand washers.

We are all exposed to fecal material almost every day of our lives. You can't blame that on cows or farmers. Sanitation is healthy. Trying to sterilize the world is neurotic and impossible. There are also valid concerns that a sterile environment is unhealthy.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has published a handbook on the safe production of raw milk.

Also, an important factor in making raw milk safe is to drink the milk whole. There are key anti-microbial components in the butterfat of the milk. Skim and lowfat milk are much more likely to cause intestinal upset, whether raw or pasteurized. Plus, children (and adults) fed lowfat milk and generally on a lowfat diet will have much weaker immune systems so that almost anything can make them sick, and when they get sick the illness is likely to be more serious. The Weston A. Price Foundation sponsors A Campaign for REAL Milk, and an important factor in being REAL is having all the butterfat present.


Correct. I should have clarified that off-site sales are illegal.


"Also, does it really matter in the debate of raw milk safety and sanitation standards if Bill Marler represents clients?"

Yes. And it especially matters whether you are one of them. That's why interested parties usually preface their comments with "in the interest of full disclosure." It's because we all have an interest in full disclosure.

It's one thing if you have sincerely felt opinions on this issue, but now I feel as though I've been talking to a press release.


As a father of two I am sorry your son fell ill after drinking raw milk, I truly am. That does not mean, though, that everyone in the country should be banned from obtaining raw milk. Yes, safety is important, cleanliness of the farm's processes is vitally important, but banning it outright is wrong.

A similar issue is with vaccines where they can and do cause serious side effects due in part to manufacturing issues, problems with ingredients and formulae themselves not being safe; these are promoted as being 100% safe and, except for the massive public snafu in 1976 with the flu vaccine deaths, any discussion & evidence to the contrary is laughed at, snubbed and covered up.

The difference is choice: most people who are provided vaccines do not know they have a choice, in many cases they don't for fear of loosing their jobs, whereas drinking raw milk is a choice.


Raw Milk's Direct Market Approach Increases Profits for Dairy Farmers

There's more about profit differences in this article:

Controversy Over Organic Valley Raw Milk Decision

The question is whether the increase in outbreaks this year relates to short-cuts being made in pursuit of profits. Bill Marler alludes to this in the dialog above:
"As people see profits to be made, many times their focus becomes making a buck – not keeping their product safe."


You said farmers were grabbing for high prices. The first article simply notes that direct to consumer sales eliminate middle-men and, therefore make selling their milk profitable. That is not the same thing.

The second article does not in any way speak to your assertion.

The idea that farmers are becoming rich (or even MIDDLE CLASS!) off RM is ridiculous at best... last time I checked, lawyers drive Lexus', not farmers... I spend large amounts of my time out and among farmers, and especially the real dairy ones know that their short and long term survival depends on producing a delicious and safe product. Almost no one has as much vested interest in making RM reasonable safe as the farmers themselves.

These farmers should not be punished nor terrorized because of the few who will seek to cut corners, etc.

For instance, one dairy farmer I know has plunged EVERY PENNY he has made doing milk back into better sanitation and equipment to produce even better milk... every penny. Do you do the same with your home - do you spare absolutely no expense to make it as "safe as humanly possible."

No, probably because you have never had a child terribly hurt in your home. But how would you feel if because someone else's child was somehow hurt in their home, they then turn around and want to deny you the freedom to do what you want to do in your home?

Most farmers both farm and work a full time job because people foolishly and selfishly refuse to pay them reasonable amounts for what they produce. We get what we pay for - nutrition-less, tasteless, unsafe food. To somehow attack those who are making a superior product and finally receiving fair compensation is hypocritical, especially coming from well to do attorneys and officials.

Raw Milk sold at $5 a gallon isn't going to make anyone rich. $5 a gallon isn't much profit over cost. $3 a gallon would be losing money on most small farms - maybe breaking even. Maybe. That's on the East Coast. On the West Coast, I assume the cost is higher. Obviously every farm cost is different. But you can not extrapolate industrial milk prices to raw milk prices. The farms are different, the subsidies are different, the technique is different, the market is different.

Could someone unscrupulous and money grubbing try to produce milk as fast as they can with little regard for the end product? OF COURSE! That is being done every day on every CAFO dairy farm in the United States. That is industrial milk. Then they boil so you'll hopefully never know how filthy it really is. Most industrial dairy farmers won't drink their own milk. Why? Because its dirty. Give me the milk the farmer drinks, please! (In my case, that's milk from my cow.) The point that someone could try to price gouge raw milk just for profit is a valid point. When raw milk is sold on the open market, it should be regulated. However, this is a weak argument for or against raw milk. Who among us can regulate integrity? No one. We can only write sensible laws and enforce them responsibly.

Let's look, instead, at states where the open sale of raw milk is working. What are the stats. in S.C. Why does it work so well there? Why isn't everyone dropping dead from ecoli? Hum, maybe because its perfectly safe within the scope of reasonable risk? Or is there something magical about S.C.? Perhaps germs don't grow there?

And Mary, I am a mother. The loss of a child is monstrous, the worst that can happen to a mother. No loss is acceptable.

Or is it? Because we put our children in cars and drive them around every single day. And that is far more dangerous than any food they will ever eat. Yet, into cars they go. Even with every safety precaution possible, cars are still the number one killer of children in the United States. We are free to take that risk. We feel the benefits outweigh the deaths. Children have died, are dying as I type, and will continue to die in car wrecks. I have personally lost four children to car wrecks. Now, tell me again why I shouldn't feed raw fresh organic grass fed milk from my cow to my children? I don't even have to put them in the car to get it for them.

Mary wrote: "Smy, a farmer needs an insurance policy in the event he poisons someone with the raw milk. My son spent 2 months in the hospital after drinking raw milk and will have life long monitoring of his kidneys, as well as the possibility of someday needing kidney dialysis and a kidney transplant. Who is supposed to pay for all of this?"

Well I suppose it's a cultural thing but if the farmer was not negligent -
I don't think it's a stretch to assume that YOU should pay for your son's health care - just like the rest of us do whenever medical issues happen to nice people...

Funny, as life goes along, germs show up everywhere, everyday - but in your perspective - this is the farmer POISONING you?
It's a wonder anyone would want to grow food for others in this country.

Just back from the swimming pool, I am reminded that drowning is the second biggest killer of children in the United States. And swimming is a thing we do for fun. Why are we debating raw milk? Legalize and regulate it. Why not? Because industrial dairies don't want the competition. And THAT is the beginning and end of the real issue here. Industrial Agriculture is afraid of free market competition from small farmers. Which, hum, is at odds with capitalism. And if our product is so inferior, why are they so afraid?

"Well I suppose it's a cultural thing but if the farmer was not negligent -
I don't think it's a stretch to assume that YOU should pay for your son's health care - just like the rest of us do whenever medical issues happen to nice people..."

Correct. But it would be tough for Bill Marler to collect his 25% (+fees) then, wouldn't it? What a piece of work that guy is. Sorry, but I'm still steaming about the fact that he planted his client here to make his case for him.

Just so the search engines catch this, Mary McGonigle-Martin is a client of Bill Marler. They work in tandem on raw milk issues.

First I’d like to clarify my statement about medical costs. Right now my son is 11 years old and our medical insurance covers his medical expenses. The problem will arise when he is an adult and is no longer covered by us. We will see how the newly passed medical bill will work for preexisting conditions, but prior to the bill being passed, our son would be unable to obtain medical insurance do to a preexisting illness.

Kevin, a plant? You’ve got to be kidding! I’m just shaking my head right now. Of all the paranoid statements I’ve heard from raw milk advocates, this has to be the most humorous.

This is a debate between Marler and Gumpert two men who have made my son’s illness highly publicized. I posted here using my name. I have an entire chapter with my name on it in David Gumpert’s book The Raw Milk Revolution, and I’m part of the working group for the Real Raw Milk Facts Website where my name can be clearly viewed there, along with a video for our family sharing my son’s story. I certainly don’t need to make Bill’s case for him. If anything, it is the other way around. He has allowed me to make my case known. Bill a wonderful man with great integrity and it is a shame you can only make derogatory statements about him because he is an attorney. I’m sure you’re really a better person than this.

Kevin, do you realize how predictable your behavior is? Raw milk advocates start out all rational and then turn to insults when feeling threatened. This is what always happens when I reveal who I am. Noone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. I have my son’s story to tell. People consuming raw milk need to know about the real pathogen risks. You can take my son’s illness and make whatever you want of it. If you have children and you are feeding them raw milk, you now know the worse case scenario (besides death). You’re now a step ahead of where I was when I made the decision to give my son raw milk. God forbid that one of your children do become ill from raw milk, then you will be in the position I was explaining the benefit/risk ratio decision to him/or her.

And if one of your children ever gets ill from raw milk and they end up in the hospital with HUS, maybe you will experience what I did from Sally Fallon and the farmer who sold the milk. They will spread lies about the facts of your case posting it on the real milk website all to make people feel safe about consuming raw milk. I wrote multiple letters to Sally Fallon asking her to remove the false facts she had posted. Instead of removing the lies, she posted them in the latest version of the Untold Story of Milk.

So back to the point of me posting. There have been 10 raw milk outbreaks so far this year and we’re not even into the hot months yet. I hope the leaders in the raw milk movement start taking these outbreaks serious and come up with a systematic raw milk safety plan that involves more than feeding cows grass. Tim Wightman is trying to do that right now and I give him kuddos for his efforts.

"Kevin, do you realize how predictable your behavior is? Raw milk advocates start out all rational and then turn to insults when feeling threatened."

I don't feel threatened by you, nor am I insulting you. We are in agreement that the risks of raw milk should be publicized, and you aren't interested in the question of legality, which is fine by me. I simply find it very frustrating that you did not put your cards on the table, here.

You should have led with your third paragraph above. That would have provided a framework through which we could have viewed your comments. I didn't call you a plant, but apparently you have received that criticism in the past. I'll take that for what it's worth.

Mary, I'm sorry that an end of insurance coverage looms for you son. The health care system in the is country is atrocious, and far too many folks find ourselves situations similar to yours. But the issue of health care is too far off the original topic.

As a producer in the process of gearing up for our first sales, I find your story to be especially compelling, but an awful lot was left out here. The parts in parenthesis are not clear to me:

You chose to use milk in the raw but after (X) number of times consuming it your son fell gravely ill. You (did? did not?) establish that the pathogens came from the farm.
The farmer was negligent by doing (what?).
A PR battle ensued with you, the farmer and Sally Fallon - incorrect facts were posted/published, but now they (have/have not) been corrected. The real facts can be found (here).
You hired Bill Marler to go after the farmer to pay for damages.

By sharing only a portion of the facts, you are coming across sounding like a farmer's worst nightmare: A consenting consumer changes her mind, gets religion and sues.

If you'd like to fill in the gaps and correct this impression, please do.

I'm interested in Mary's story as well. Your son contracted ecoli from a farm selling raw milk. But he was the only one who got sick? If the milk were tainted, wouldn't every one who drank that batch of milk have gotten sick? And how was the origin of ecoli exposure proven?

I didn’t post to delve into the facts of my son’s case. A settlement was reached and I am happy with the outcome.

The foundation of WAPF’s push for making raw milk legal in every state is based on the integrity of the farmer without government regulations. Unfortunately, the raw milk movement’s top leader has no integrity. The problem is, most of the members of WAPF don’t know this and believe everything the woman says. I know different because of what I have experienced with some of the leaders within this movement. I was bullied at the lowest hour in my life, all in the name of raw milk rights.

You can believe what I tell you or you can choose not to believe it. It is your life and your children. Feed them raw milk if you’d like, but just know everything your read on WAPF’s website is not true.

For anyone that wants to know the details of our case, they can be found at Just type in Chris Martin in the search box. Here’s a link to the details of the case. Just click on my son’s picture.

Here’s another article that goes into depth about the outbreak my son was a part of.

Here’s another interesting article

Now back to the reason I was posting comments. There have been close to a dozen raw milk outbreaks this year. Kids are suffering. This needs to be addressed by the leaders of the raw milk movement. National raw milk safety standards need to be created.

We do not know for sure Mary's son got sick from raw milk, that is simply her belief that he did. Yes raw milk has risks, and she knew those risks ahead of time. Yet rather than live with the consequences of her decision she sues the farmer, is pushing for the nanny state to regulate raw milk and is bitter, blaming Sally Fallon and raw milk producers. Of course her and her lawyer want raw milk producers to get insurance, it makes it easy to get settlements in otherwise questionable cases.

Life is not without risks. If you are adult enough to choose to engage in risky behavior you are adult enough to accept the consequences of that.

But what good will national raw milk regulation do? None. California has raw milk regulation and it didn't prevent her son from becoming ill. And pasteurized milk has regulation and it doesn't stop outbreaks and deaths from happening there. But raw milk regulation will do what pasteurized milk regulation did, drive small producers out of business. National regulation is why most of our milk comes from massive, filthy confinement dairies and why most farmers loose money producing it.

Well, that last post pretty much explains why you said, "So this is where the conversation usually turns ugly. People start insulting me, so I will beat you to it. Yes. I’m a propaganda producing child exploiter whose child really got sick from spinach and my real motive is to end sales of all raw milk through out the entire U.S. I’m a horrible, greedy, evil person."

Why did you evade honest questions? No details about what you want for safety standards, no details about your sons case. Lots of accusations that others aren't using real science and the your answers are opinion, not science.
You know, who has time time to sift through site after site and search for the details of your case? Most folks who feel they have been slandered are happy to set the record straight - and make it easy for readers to hear their side of the story.

You know what, Mary? You obviously are just playing games here and laughing your way to the bank... Good for you. Apparently I am a serious sucker for freaks on the internet...

"National regulation is why most of our milk comes from massive, filthy confinement dairies and why most farmers loose money producing it."

Well said. Exactly true. Well except that dairy farmers lose all their profit to the middle men processing the milk.

Hey, here is a groovy idea. Let the milk flow from where it may and let consumers cook their own, just as they do with meat, eggs, and vegetables. Wow, that takes almost no regulation! Hum......

"The foundation of WAPF’s push for making raw milk legal in every state is based on the integrity of the farmer without government regulations. Unfortunately, the raw milk movement’s top leader has no integrity. "

Or so says Marler who is suing the WAPF.

Marler's team doesn't want specific standards. His jackpot zone is combining fuzzy regulations with emotional appeals, and leveraging the threat of which to secure settlements his clients (and, by extension, himself) are happy with.

Mary said:

"The vulnerability to pathogens seems to occur when you live off the farm and consume another farmer’s milk."

There has been little or no talk on this page about the topic of "vulnerability to pathogens". Why are some vulnerable and others not? Have we talked about this here? This is where the real education needs to be done. If you fill your body with crap it will not be able to withstand much, it's too busy keeping you alive enough to buy another fast food burger. This is where we should be focusing our efforts. What makes people sick? Is it the E Coli? or campylocabtor? Actually it is the body's inability to effectively fight down the pathogen. If you are strong, you will not be affected, if you are weak, you will.

I've watched a man drink arsenic. He was an Ayurvedic doctor in India. He didn't even get a belly ache as far as I could tell. I'm not saying we should all drink poison, what I'm saying is that when you get sick you do have some responsibility in the matter. It didn't just happen to you. Now to some degree how your parents and grandparents ate will have an effect but you can work with what you have. People need to be educated not on the "risks of raw milk", they need to be educated on the risks of eating all of the junk people ingest on a daily basis. If you eat sugar or white flour or processed food you are going to be weakened. Of course you'll get sick, if you don't, it's just luck! With all of the horrible crap people eat I cannot even believe we're having this conversation. People are poisoning themselves daily and then they wonder why their kid gets sick! Wake up!

To keep having this conversation is useless. Our bodies are pretty amazing at keeping things in balance and we bombard them with sugar, caffeine, alcohol, msg, dyes, cosmetics, trans-fats, fake-sugar substitutes, GM food-like substances, heavily medicated meat and dairy from sick animals, soy like it's going out of style, processed and more processed foodstuffs!!! Why is this even an issue. Make all that other crap illegal, or at least educate consumers of the risk. This whole campaign against raw milk is a farce.

You say educate people about the "risks" of drinking raw milk. Why bother? Anyone with who is able to read and is considering drinking raw milk can spend 15 seconds doing a google search to find that stuff out. This isn't rocket science here. Do you mean to tell me that you go out and buy this controversial product without even taking one peek on the internet? I don't believe it! This information is everywhere.....

I do find it unfortunate that regulators are not as zealous about (and in fact show no interest in) regulating the standards of factory farms nor do they make any effort to educate consumers about the disgusting practices of conventional dairy and meat factory farms.

Ugh. Every time I think about this I really get upset. It is a lie that they care! Mary, none of the regulators care about your child or about my child! I promise you that if they truly cared they would either quit their jobs or they would start working their butts off to get factory-farms made illegal! How is it even possible that they exist? And don't even get me started on the drugs and vaccines they approve on a regular basis. All in the name of "curing" this ailment or another. Oh, please. If they really wanted to help people they would put half the energy they put into the raw milk thing and tell people to go cook a meal, from real food.......I'm telling you, it's all bull......

Marler should be using his good name and reputation to educate people on what really makes them sick! It's not the pathogen, it's the poison we call food in this country.

Smy, I gave you three links that will answer all of your questions. I don’t have time to retype all of the information that unfolded about our case. Did you even take the time to read any of it? Here’s one more link I thought was imbedded in one of the previous links. This includes the CDFA report and the CDC report about the outbreak.

JC, since your new to the conversation, I will answer your question before I end this discussion. My son had been eating a strict, mostly organic, very wholesome diet for 2 ½ years before he became ill. The only food he ate was purchased at a health food store that is supported by local farmers in our area. He doesn’t eat processed sugar, white flour, or chemicals in his food. He’s never had a soda or eaten a hamburger or anything else at a fast food restaurant. I pack all of his lunches for school. He was healthy and eating healthy when he got sick. The only thing new I added to his diet when he became ill was raw milk. He drank it for two weeks….and you know the rest of the story if you took the time to read any of the links I posted. JC, I refer to what you wrote as "blame the victim" not the pathogen.

I’ve been engaging raw milk advocates close to 4 years now. You’re a perplexing group of people. None of you are “original” in your thinking or comments. It is like you all have read a script and when information goes in a direction that does not fit your collective psyche, a mean spirit emerges. It is like listening to a tired, old, judgmental, nasty tape recording.

It takes courage for victims of raw milk poisoning to come forward and tell their stories. You have all demonstrated beautifully what happens. I thank you for the lesson you are teaching everyone. The 5 victim stories highlighted on the real raw milk facts website is the tip of the iceberg. Bill has represented more raw milk victim clients but for some it was too difficult for them to make their story public. Again, all of you have demonstrated why. Thank you.

I’m all toughened up so I will speak for all of us. There isn’t much you can say to discourage me or dampen my spirit, because in the end truth always does prevail. In fact, you all have reminded me why I continue to speak out. Your hurtful words strengthen me. Again, thank you.

Here’s the truth: adults and children being poisoned by raw milk and unfortunately they will continue to be poisoned. WAPF does not want to acknowledge these illnesses and instead twists and fabricates facts to make their raw milk drinkers feel safe about drinking raw milk. How many illnesses will it take before raw milk safety issues are addressed within the raw milk movement? I hope it isn’t a death of an infant or toddler.

"I’ve been engaging raw milk advocates close to 4 years now. You’re a perplexing group of people. None of you are “original” in your thinking or comments."

Wait. I'm pretty darn sure I'm the only one you've encountered who used a University of Minnesota study to formulate a (albeit rudimentary) risk analysis for legalized raw milk. You simply ignored that comment.

That's your prerogative, since you seem inclined to prefer anecdote to data, but it doesn't make me unoriginal. It certainly doesn't make me wrong.

Mary wrote: "I refer to what you wrote as "blame the victim" not the pathogen."

And what you did is "blame the farmer" not the pathogen. Go figure!


Originality in thought has nothing to do with whether an argument is logical or reasonable. You are trying to appear that you are reasoning with logic but as soon as you can't come up with an answer you hit the drama button. I read all of your posts and I have to say I don't see any creative responses either.

What it comes down to is that no one wants to take responsibility for their actions. If people get sick they are hurt and traumatized and it helps them feel better to blame someone. I have seen you here blame Sally Fallon, WAPF, the farmer, and raw milk drinkers for your son's illness or for your experiences thereafter. Are we really to blame? I find it hard to believe that you had no idea that raw milk sometimes makes people sick (just like any other food, I might add). You were just blindly following Sally Fallon without a thought of your own? This seems quite silly and unbelievable.

And health is not only about eating organic and local, that is just the tip of the iceberg. I still contend that it is unbelievable that you had no idea about the so-called risks of drinking milk or for any food. Everyone knows that sometimes food makes you sick. That is plain old common knowledge and there is so much hype around raw milk, in part thanks to people like you, that I highly doubt you were completely unaware. It fits nicely that you were just wandering around eating a perfect diet then one day your child fell dreadfully ill from the bacteria-laden raw milk your farmer was producing and you had no idea that something like that could happen. But it is hard to believe.

Hey, I'm not saying what you did is wrong and I'm not saying you should feel guilty about your son getting sick. And I'm not blaming you for his getting sick, what I'm saying is that when someone gets sick from a food-borne pathogen the degree to how sick they get is in a large part due to the health of their immune system at the time. This pretty much anyone would agree upon. It is common knowledge and you'll learn that in Anatomy and Physiology 101. This is not about blame, take the emotional element out and the fact remains, some people get sicker than others some of the time. It is not the milk! Any food can carry pathogens.

I personally don't think it is about blame at all. It is about taking personal responsibility for your actions. Tell your story! I don't know if anyone is criticizing you for that. It should be told, IMO. But what you are doing at this point is quite different. As far as I can tell you are demonizing a food that is NOT inherently bad and trying to convince people that your way is the right way. You will not get far with that. I can tell you that most raw milk drinkers will not try to force raw milk on anyone. Frankly, it is not our business whether someone else drinks it or not. But we also want to have the freedom to consume raw milk, even if someone could potentially get sick from it. Just like most people want the freedom to drive a car or eat spinach.

So, I contend that if you really truly just think that people should be aware of the risks of drinking raw milk then you should do that. But leave out the drama and let people make the decision themselves. I can tell you right now that just about anything you do, in any given day, is potentially lethal. Do you want someone telling you that taking a shower is risky? Or that blow-drying your hair could kill you? No, of course not, it is obvious and known, thank you kindly, I'm still going to take a shower. Now leave me alone and stop calling me a "shower-taker".

Also, anytime I've heard or read Fallon's writing on raw milk it has always been clear that there are claims that raw milk is not safe. So even if one were to blindly follow her, one would be aware of the counter-claims.

Very well said, JC. The personal responsibility part is so very, very key. Every choice we make has potential benefits and potential risks. Choosing raw milk over pasteurized has increased benefits and (some would say) increased risks. If a consumer wants to enjoy the increased benefits, they need to also own up to the increased risks.

Raw milk is not inherently dangerous (as Mary acknowledged when she responded to my earlier post). As such, it certainly shouldn't be banned or made illegal. I understand that there are many layers to the regulations and the way in which the milk can be sold, but I think it's important to state as often as possible that raw milk is not purely poison.

There is lots of stuff on the internet about raw milk, and I agree with JC that any consumer can google it before deciding to drink it. However, the information online is SO contradictory and confusing. And, frankly, I do agree with Mary that WAPF is misleading in its "information." Real food advocates are usually the first to say that any food can make you sick (spinach, peanut butter, CAFO beef, pasteurized milk, etc). Then why is it that WAPF seems to *never* acknowledge an outbreak from raw milk? If any food can make you ill, why is raw milk magically exempted in WAPF's eyes? I know there's good bacteria in raw milk, etc etc, but it still is not a perfect food. Presenting the idea that one can *never* be sickened by raw milk leads the consumer away from due diligence when choosing their farmer.

However, hard feelings toward Sally Fallon or WAPF are no reason to demonize raw milk or all raw milk farmers. I would wish that the raw milk discussion would focus on education, always with an undercurrent of freedom of choice.

And, just as an aside, I also wish that every real food advocate would do what they can to make it easier to own dwarf goats (and hen chickens) in their city. It is absolutely do-able space-wise, and it works in our family even when both adults have full-time jobs. For my family (although I know it wouldn't work for everyone), the best way to consume raw milk is to raise it ourselves.

"There is lots of stuff on the internet about raw milk, and I agree with JC that any consumer can google it before deciding to drink it. However, the information online is SO contradictory and confusing. And, frankly, I do agree with Mary that WAPF is misleading in its "information." Real food advocates are usually the first to say that any food can make you sick (spinach, peanut butter, CAFO beef, pasteurized milk, etc). Then why is it that WAPF seems to *never* acknowledge an outbreak from raw milk? If any food can make you ill, why is raw milk magically exempted in WAPF's eyes? I know there's good bacteria in raw milk, etc etc, but it still is not a perfect food. Presenting the idea that one can *never* be sickened by raw milk leads the consumer away from due diligence when choosing their farmer."

Some do have this bias, I agree. I'm not sure if it is WAPF's official party line though. I have heard nothing but talk of "due diligence" in terms of picking a farmer from any WAPF or FTCLDF event I've been to. There is a major focus on this IMO. And now it is being advocated that consumers inform themselves well of their farmers' practices and there is a handbook on raw milk safety put out by FTCLDF.

And it seems to be that the defensive reaction you are speaking of is a response to the relentless assault on raw milk that producers and consumers alike are experiencing. Just like the spinach farmers fought back, so will raw milk farmers and their advocates. This is a natural response. What I have heard people say is not, "raw milk won't make you sick", rather I have heard, "where are the facts and why can't we get some good hard data on this?" As a matter of fact at the Raw Milk Symposium in WI in April this year there were some great reports of studies on the safety of raw milk that were done in Europe that were presented. No where during this day-long conference was it stated that raw milk is immune from the possibility of getting people sick.

The debate pro and con for drinking raw milk is immaterial. Actually, its more like a smoke screen obscuring what matters: Industrial Agriculture has a near monopoly on farming. And they are working every angle, from buying politicians all the way to fear mongering citizens, to keep it that way. And the way they keep it is, in the mean time, ruining our soil, biosphere, and food.

Have any of you seen "Fresh" or read "Omnivores Dilemma"? Keep arguing over a thousand derivations of an inane topic: Milk, raw or cooked. But understand, while you argue, farmers are losing their farms and so the public is losing access to the last source of real food healthy for our bodies as well as our environment. And when these farms go, its not just sad because Aunt Martha and Uncle Frank get displaced. Its sad because the farm land gets turned into condos. The United States is losing farmland so fast that future generations may HAVE to keep dairy animals in their backyard.

But don't diminish, Mary et al, what motivates farmers and their advocates to fight so hard. Its not just a pitcher of milk on the table.

Sundari, it would be a good thing if more folks realized what they can grow for themselves in the suburbs. I have 8 chickens, fruit trees, roses, and a garden on my property under one acre. We are looking into goats. My cows live 2 miles down the street on a farm where I, personally, care for and milk them every day. This urban farm project has been a surprise to me.

And the most surprising part has been the realization that somewhere, a hundred years ago, common folks sold their rights to common food. Because the difference in quality is so shocking. I will never live without my own milk and egg sources again. But I am old and political. Consider, then, my son. I bought him a bottle of chocolate milk from the grocery store last weekend. An hour later he quietly poured it out. Even though he's 11 and his mother bought it for him and its full of sugar and chocolate, he didn't want it. He's had nothing but raw dairy for the last year. (No, no one has gotten sick.) He will never go back to Industrial Milk, even when he is free to choose. AND THAT IS WHAT INDUSTRIAL AG FEARS. THAT is why they fight so hard. We are fighting for land, health, cultural identity, access to animals, and biodiversity. They are fighting for consumers.

This is the United States of America. We are fighting over raw milk, on the surface. But really, we are fighting over the most valuable commodity of all, consumers. Industrial Ag does't give a flying fuck what our children consume, not as long as they dependently pay for it all their lives. But, ooooops, Industrial Ag doesn't own raw milk. And that is the real conflict here.

Good posts above. Issues like this do tend to polarize, with either interested party taking an absolute view. As such, you have organizations which downplay the risks, as the does the WAPF, on one side, and, well, Bill Marler on the other.

WAPF seems to have gotten under Marler's skin, and he now wants to sue them. So your two main resources for information are a trial lawyer whose ego and profits are on the line, and the organization that is in his cross-hairs.

Worse, anyone looking for other resources often comes across discussions infiltrated by Marler's advocacy group (the site). So, basically, you have dueling PR campaigns, though I am inclined to favor one that supports local farmers versus one designed to line the pockets of a wealthy trial lawyer.

What we need is freedom. Freedom from bureaucrats who want to make decisions for us, and freedom from lawyers who want to modify our freedoms in accordance with their economic interests.

In a free and open market, the advocacy angle is eliminated, and the "real" facts brim to the surface.

A different opinion said "There has never been an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak linked to pasteurized milk in the US, ever."

Not true. From Ron Schmid's book The Untold Story of Milk:

Ryser also documents a number of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that
involved pasteurized milk, citing faulty pasteurization or post-pasteurization contamination. As usual, Ryser cites these outbreaks as additional reason for compulsory pasteurization. Writing of one outbreak involving 18 severe cases in Montana in 1994, however, he actually provides us with fair warning that one should avoid all pasteurized dairy products (though this was certainly not his intent):
"This outbreak does raise serious new public health concerns regarding
the possible presence of toxic strains of E. coli in factory environments
and their entry into finished products as post-processing contaminants.” It appears that what’s in the milk is the same thing Eric Schlosser told us is in the meat.

Gary B,

Can you send the original Ryser reference (journal, book chapter)? I would be glad to correct/retract that statement about the US if I missed a primary reference (e.g., the Montana outbreak you refer to). To be honest, in my reading of the Schmid book, it is a confusing mix of referenced and unreferenced (true and false) statements, I tried to read everything, but gave up after finding so many inaccuracies in the book.


OK, so I took the bait and visited the Marler Blog that Mary linked to earlier. I thought folks might like to see this very telling post:
If I were a CEO of a food manufacturing company at the beginning of a food poisoning outbreak what would I do?

In this post Marler describes the steps a business owner should take if official say they are suspected as a source of pathogens.

His final paragragh a doozie. Talk about smug arrogance:

"Yes, you can do all of the above and still get sued. And, I might be the one to sue you. Yet, companies who have followed the above find their passage through an outbreak, recall, and litigation temporary. The companies that struggle for unfounded reasons will seldom exist in the long run, or they will simply pay me more money."

It sounds a lot like a rapist telling his victim, "don't struggle, it'll just hurt more."


PENNSYLVANIA: Department of Agriculture warns consumers about eating aged hard cheddar made with raw milk from Milky Way Farm in Bradford County
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
Harrisburg -- The Department of Agriculture today advised consumers who purchased aged hard cheddar cheese made with raw milk from Milky Way Farm in Troy, Bradford County, to discard the product immediately because of potential bacterial contamination. The Bureau of Food Safety has identified 20 pounds of raw milk cheddar cheese that entered the consumer market.
Aged hard cheese may be legally manufactured in Pennsylvania from milk that has not been pasteurized, if it has been aged more than 60 days in temperatures exceeding 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
A Department of Agriculture lab found Staphylococcus aureus and enterotoxin in an aged hard cheese sample made from raw milk that was taken from the Milky Way Farm on June 21. The presence of enterotoxin violates the Milk Sanitation Law and the Food Act. The toxin can cause serious illness.
Cheese producers at Milky Way Farm agreed to stop selling their aged hard cheddar cheese made with raw milk. Additional testing has determined that pasteurized cheeses that are produced and sold on the farm are suitable for human consumption.
Symptoms of staphylococcal food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and extreme exhaustion. In more severe cases, headache, muscle cramping and changes in blood pressure and pulse may occur. The symptoms usually appear rapidly and are often serious.
The department is moving to suspend Milky Way Farm’s raw milk cheese manufacturing permit until additional aged hard cheddar cheese made from raw milk samples are tested and found to be free of Staphylococcus aureus and other pathogens.

Yeah, I had to stop reading Bill Marler's stuff. He's a sleazy trial lawyer out of central casting.

I liked this piece of advice:

"First, have a pre-existing relationship with the folks that regulate you."

Suffices to say, the industry has certainly done a fine job of that.

Okay, I've got to blow the whistle at Kevin S.'s last comment about Bill Marler. I've talked to Bill many times since I first interviewed him for these SGT posts --

-- and I sincerely believe that he is an honest, passionate, intelligent, driven, compassionate and ethical person. It's not fair to call him names because you don't agree with him.

We can certainly make our points without resorting to character assassination.

Thank you.

A different opinion,

The Schmid reference is to:

Ryser, Elliot. Public health concerns. In Marth E, Steele, J, eds. Applied Dairy Microbiology. New York, NY, Marcel Dekker, Inc. 2001, 321-322.

For Jake:

What is Staphyloccus aureus?

Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of staph infections. It is frequently part of the skin flora found in the nose and on skin. About 20% of the human population are long-term carriers of S. aureus.

We live among bacteria. "They" find bacteria and viruses in our infant vaccines... but still pump them into our babies. If the pig virus that was found in the Rotavirus vaccine was found in raw milk... there would sure be a major stink over it. But since it was just found in a vaccine... well, hey.. nothing wrong with that, right? And yes, I know the difference between a virus and bacteria... I am talking about contamination.

I work in the hospital on the birth floor. There are all kinds of "cooties" called super bugs that live on just about every surface in a hospital. There is no way I can keep them out of my home, no matter how careful I am with my clothes. I often see nurses sitting in local restaurants in their scrubs.

My point here is... If we actually looked at all food, we will find bacteria among other nasty ingredients that aren't supposed to be there. A healthy immune system will work hard to keep us healthy... it's not perfect, but it's darn close. Most Americans are too lazy to take care of themselves to have a good immune system. "Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine shall be thy food - Hippocrates.".

My family eats mostly whole foods, including raw milk. We try to buy local/in season and stay close to our farmers and we know how they grow their food. We seem to whisk through outbreaks easily that go through our neighbors and their children. I am not under any illusion that we can't get sick from drinking milk... raw or pasteurized or for any food for that matter. Fifteen years ago, I had E.coli and was in the hospital for a few hours on an IV for dehydration. Not fun, but I seemed to handle it well. There is risk to many things we do in life... eating in general has become a bomb field risk to many, but not in the way of clean raw milk. It's one thing to get an acute bacterial infection, which most healthy people can fight off... it's another to be slowly poisoned by chemical fake foods, fast foods, and GMO foods. I rank pasteurized milk slightly better than soda in nutritional value. Add some chocolate and corn syrup and you have a recipe for diabetes. But wait, it's pasteurized ... at least you won't get sick!

I'll retract the sleazy lawyer bit (though I think the rapist comparison is rather more bracing), but I do find his tactics and demeanor extremely questionable, and he has done plenty of demonizing and name-calling himself.

But yes, I can express myself without following suit. I apologize.

I hope some of the raw milk drinkers are spending time helping Hartmann clean up his farm rather than rant all day like this.

Hey Anonymous M, don't shoot the messenger. Maybe you can get some of that cheddar cheese and make some toasted cheese sandwiches for yourself, your significant other, your kids and fellow workers at the hospital. Enjoy!


How was the Anonymous post an example of shooting the messenger?

Geez Jake... didn't mean to upset you. Simply wanted to let you know that you might want to refrain from kissing or hugging anyone if you are afraid of staph bacteria ;)

Kissing and hugging is the "staph" of life!

Quote without comment:

COLORADO: State confirms raw milk from Longmont dairy responsible for illnesses
Daily Camera
Laura Snider
Lab tests performed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have confirmed that raw milk from Longmont's Billy Goat Dairy is responsible for an outbreak of bacterial illnesses in Boulder County.
Samples of the dairy's unpasteurized milk tested positive for the strains of Campylobacter and E. coli that have now sickened 30 people, including two children who are hospitalized.
On June 29, the Boulder County Department of Public Health ordered the dairy to stop distributing milk to the 43 households that participate in the farm's “goat-sharing program” until the dairy addressed a list of the department's concerns, which include how quickly the milk is cooled after milking and how equipment is sanitized.
But even after the dairy complies with all the county's requests, Boulder County Public Health cannot guarantee the safety of drinking raw milk, according to Chana Goussetis, department spokeswoman.
“Our main message, over and over, is that no matter what, there's no way to ensure that unpasteurized milk is safe,” she said.


Thank you for the post.
It is good to get information and if I were to get milk from that particular dairy I would certainly investigate further. I do believe that sometimes the bacteria load in certain food can be too much for some people's systems to handle. This is why people get sick, whether from milk, meat or shaking hands, due to the inability of their system to maintain homeostasis.

When I consider buying food on a regular basis from a farmer I always have a long talk with them to find out their practices. I know one distributor in my area who I stopped buying dairy from because I did not trust him. This is just due diligence and I wish that the authorities would promote such care in food choices about all food, not just raw dairy!

I think part of what is missing here is that "raw milk drinkers" are actually people with brains and lives and all sorts of things going on just like everyone else. We are not all the same, the only thing we may have in common is that we consume raw milk. However, because of the hype around raw milk most of those who do consume raw milk will spend a good amount of time looking into their farmer.

This quote from the article you sent: "Our main message, over and over, is that no matter what, there's no way to ensure that unpasteurized milk is safe,” she said." is interesting. I wonder why they are not writing this same thing in regard to meat from factory farms or any other food for that matter. She is right, there is no guarantee that milk is safe but truly the same thing can be said for any food. Doesn't it seem apparent to you that there is an agenda involved here? I do believe that there are a few misinformed well-meaning people out there who are advocating against raw milk but for the most part people are not interested in doing a bit of research to prove themselves wrong. So unless someone is motivated to really think objectively and to look at the history of dairy consumption (30,000 years, longer than any grain) they will not begin to change their views. This is OK, as long as they are not spreading propaganda, lies and fear.

On a personal level, it does not make me nervous to drink raw milk when I hear that other people are getting sick. I eat raw eggs and meat as well, on a daily basis. I also do not concern myself with worrying about sick people around me, nor do I obsessively wash my hands, etc. I am not scared of bacteria or viruses because I know that my body is very strong. I have not even had a sniffle in over 3 years (since changing to a better diet). People have been sick all around me and it hasn't affected me yet.

Now, if I were to get sick from one of the billions of bacteria in food or one of the millions (?) of viruses floating around the universe I would accept it and do the best I can to take care of my body. It is not a guessing game, there are many measures that I know to take to strengthen my body, or my kids for that matter. You can't lump together a bunch of people who have some sort of bacterial infection and say that it was the bacteria that did it. Each person has their own health history, their own reaction to the sickness and even their own mental approach to it. This is what makes people get worse or better. Not the bacteria.

The belief that bacteria causes illness is yet one more modern day popular belief system that prevails in spite of a mountain of evidence and writing to the contrary. I am telling you that even in A&P 101 they tell you this. The germ theory that Louis Pasteur popularized (and he was a master at it) is just one of several theories about how people get sick, his just was the most convenient and was certainly the most profitable perspective. Claude Bernard and Antoine Bechamp also had theories around that time (and they haven't been accused of falsifying research findings, like Pasteur) which were in opposition to Pasteur. Bechamp found that the terrain or body chemistry is what turns healthy bacteria (which outnumber human cells in the body 10 to 1) into unhealthy bacteria. He found that the disease was actually the consequence of an unhealthy environment, not the cause.

So, my point is that the old, tired theories of how people get sick (which are in fact newer than some of the other more sensible theories but are for the most part ignored) are not the final word. At least not for me. I am not a helpless victim in a fight against disease, I am an active participant. And it just so happens that raw dairy is actually an aid in this fight. It actually helps me become healthier! This realization is not based on some research out there actually, it is based on a very systematic observation of my body and my health over an extended period to time.

And to add, why is this campaign even being waged? Aren't there at least 100 other things that should be fought before raw milk? Things that are much more damaging??!! Why waste time here?

If I had a penny for every time I've seen or heard a kid make a reference to an inappropriate movie they've watched I'd be pretty rich right now. What about people who eat at McDonalds when they're pregnant? How can it be allowed? How about soda in a baby bottle? Or perhaps, forcing children to learn to read at the tender age of 3? Or, and this is a doozy....why is it legal to routinely shoot a newborn baby up with drugs (via the mom's bloodstream) during birth?? And why is it legal to give them formula, babies have gotten sick from that all over the world!! We know it stunts their growth and decreases their intelligence, we know it causes allergies and may lead to obesity and a higher tendency to drug addiction. Why is that allowed? I want them to make that prescription-based only and start getting some real breast-feeding advocacy going on. Why are people allowed to smoke? How is it that we allow people to put chemical-filled sunscreen on their kids? Shouldn't that be illegal? Abortion is even legal!!

Well, you see.....there is this little annoying thing called freedom and free will that gets in the way. So I say that if you're not going to harass a mom for bringing her child to McDonalds then leave those who want to serve raw milk to their kids alone!

FYI - July 9, 2010: The Food and Drug Administration enacted new regulations today aimed at curbing salmonella-tainted eggs that kill about 30 people each year in the United States and sicken 79,000.

The new regulations cover producers that have 50,000 or more laying hens — about 80 percent of production. Starting today, they have to adopt certain preventative measures, including testing for the bacteria and using refrigeration during storage and transport.

Salmonella-tainted eggs appear normal but can cause severe illness or even death if the bacteria is not killed by proper cooking. Salmonella enteritidis, the most common strain of the bacteria in eggs, is passed from the hen to the egg.

The new regulations require producers to buy chicks and hens from suppliers who monitor for the bacteria. Producers also have to establish rodent control and regularly test the poultry house for Salmonella enteritidis. If the bactetia is found, other testing is required to prevent the salmonella from entering the food chain.

Producers also have to refrigerate eggs at 45 degrees starting 36 hours after they are laid. The refrigeration rule applies to both storage and transport.

I have a news flash for you folks. Germs are everywhere. Germs cover everything. There are germs in your food. There are germs in your body. There are germs on everything you touch. There are germs floating in the air around you. Thank goodness we have immune systems. And, yes, it is sad when those immune systems fail.

Now I have a question for you folks. What is the best way to support your immune system? Can the government legislate the best immune system protection for your body? Or perhaps we should put our faith in industrial agriculture to best improve our immune systems?

For myself, I put my faith in systems which have worked well for countless generations and worked well before the industrial revolution. I want my food fresh, unprocessed, and local. I want to pick my tomatoes from a garden. I want to gather my eggs straight from the vent of the chicken. I want to drink milk fresh from my cow everyday.

My children eat eggs one day old made of bugs and tender green shoots. They eat vegetables still in the process of growing. They drink milk from hay the cow ate yesterday. All of their food is suffused with sunshine, fresh water, and good richly microbial earth. Might we get sick? As we are human, sadly, yes. Do I trust our food more than food from our government, Monsanto, or Archer Daniels? You bet I do.

My Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandmother would feel at home in my kitchen. She would know how to cook my food. I put a lot of faith in that. After all, she was there then and now I am here. What else do we need to know?

Do we need to know that cows can be dirty and we should wash our hands with clean water? Because that is the simple and great technological advance, along with refrigeration, since Granny was feeding her babies way back when. And nothing industrial agriculture has done since has improved our immune systems or our land.

I'm not sure where the idea comes from that WAPF people don't acknowledge that raw milk can sicken you. I attended the FTCLDF-sponsored 2nd International Raw Milk Symposium in Madison, WI in April and it was clear that every speaker there, including Sally Fallon, acknowledged that fact. They just consider it to be a very rare event. The retired University Of Michigan pathologist, Theodore Beals, M.D. stated during his presentation that he estimates that 1 in 200,000 raw milk drinkers may get ill from the milk each year.

Posted by Jake:

"FYI - July 9, 2010: The Food and Drug Administration enacted new regulations today aimed at curbing salmonella-tainted eggs that kill about 30 people each year in the United States and sicken 79,000.

The new regulations cover producers that have 50,000 or more laying hens — about 80 percent of production. Starting today, they have to adopt certain preventative measures, including testing for the bacteria and using refrigeration during storage and transport."

This is why I only eat raw eggs from local farmers that I know very well and I have been to their farms. The bacteria that cause some people to get sick in those eggs comes from the factory farms and are able to thrive due to the unhealthy condition of the animals (which is why you see that the measures are aimed at producers that have 50,000 or more hens!).

Healthy animals produce healthy eggs and meat and dairy, most of the time. Healthy people have immune systems that are able to withstand a barrage of attacks by a multitude of antigens.

For Shari Danielson

During the 12/09 interview Mr. Marler did with you he stated, "I have absolutely no respect for [WAPF president] Sally Fallon or the Weston A. Price foundation." He then proceeded to characterize Ms. Fallon and the other WAPF people as being liars rather than as being people who genuinely disagree with him. It appears that you are asking that we give Mr. Marler more respect than he gives those he disagrees with.

Here's the excerpt from the interview Gary refers to:

Marler: I have absolutely no respect for [WAPF president] Sally Fallon or the Weston A. Price foundation. They claim that raw milk will cure everything from allergies to autism; but any benefit raw milk has is anecdotal, at best. I think it denigrates the local, organic food movement to falsify information like that. What’s worse is that they won’t admit that milk-related bacterial outbreaks are on the rise – mostly due to the increased consumption of raw milk, thanks to the raw milk proponents telling everyone that it's good for you. Why can’t they just tell the truth and admit that there are risks associated with drinking it!

And here is what kevin s, in a comment above, said about Marler:

"He's a sleazy trial lawyer out of central casting."

And when I called kevin s out about it, he, to his credit, backed down.

"I'll retract the sleazy lawyer bit ... I apologize."

Just to clarify, Gary, I am asking for people to continue to engage in a healthy and respectful debate without resorting to name calling or character assassination. If some readers interpret Marler's comments as either, they should not use that as an excuse to behave badly in retaliation.

Having said that, I am mostly impressed by the quality of this debate and the passion and knowledge of the people who continue to participate in it. I grew up drinking raw milk and, for a while, bought it and served it to my family; that stopped the day I first talked to Marler. (Yes, he's that convincing.) We've since cut way back on our milk consumption, buying only Cedar Summit unhomogenized (but, yes, pasteurized) whole milk in the glass bottles. I hope there will come a time again soon when I'm convinced that I can give raw milk safely to my family. And I hope both David Gumpert and Bill Marler -- and all of you! -- will work together to make that possible.


When you work with raw milk and over and over see people recover from diseases including asthma and autism and much much more, it is not simply anecdotal, it is reality, much more real than faked drug company studies. This is not the falsification of information, far from it, for there are EU studies showing raw milk relieves alergies. The liars are folks like the FDA who repeatedly claim there is no scientific evidence for benefits to drinking raw milk. That is the lie. Marler's claim about WAPF is libel.

Anonymous, I believe you. I believe raw milk helped cure my child's eczema, and there are many, many others who claim similar benefits from drinking it.  Still, there are no indisputable, double-blind, government-sanctioned studies to prove it. What's more, there are people getting sick from it. (David Gumpert readily admits this; Sally Fallon doesn't.) Marler is right: raw-milk proponents need to stand up and acknowledge the inherent risks associated with it, because only then can we work together to make it safer and more widely and legally available.


"Still, there are no indisputable, double-blind, government-sanctioned studies to prove (raw milk is safe)." Of course not, and there never will be. One guess why.

People get sick from all food. There are germs in your food. There are germs all over you body. There are germs in your house. There are germs in the air. There are germs in milk, spinach, peanut butter, apples, chicken, and any other organic thing you can think to name.

Raw milk is nutritionally superior to cooked milk. And it has germs. As does cooked milk. As does leftovers. As does your kitchen counter. As does your toothbrush. As do your hands.

And if you don't want to admit its nutritionally superior. Then I guess we'll have to say that raw milk helps cure eczema and asthma and digestive disorders and osteoporosis and who knows what all magically. We don't know why it works. Neither do we care. We are simply grateful for it.

I am reminded of the excellent and late Gamble Rodgers: "Let them that don't want none have fond memories of not getting any."

"Let them that don't want none have fond memories of not getting any."

That's great! LOL
Now just what do we do about those who want, but once the dice are rolled, decide to sue?

Smy, that's too vague, Darling. I'm not sure what you said has any meaning. Can you rephrase so I can understand what you mean?

Sorry for being unclear.
In the earlier comments we heard from a person named Mary who decided to buy raw milk for her family, but her son got very sick. She decided it was the farmer's fault and sued him. Marler was her lawyer. From the limited info she would disclose here, it seems there was no negligence on the part of the farmer. This was a case of germs showing up in spite of our best efforts to thwart them.

It reminds me of a parable - the parable of the woman and the house of her dreams - ---

Once there was a woman who wanted a beautiful house, so she bought a designer home that had everything she dreamed of. The day after she moved in, a tornado came and blew the house down.

The woman sued the folks who sold her the house. Even though those folks had no control over tornadoes, they settled out of court because they could not afford to fight her in court. ----


"This was a case of germs showing up in spite of our best efforts to thwart them."

Like all the other recent raw milk outbreaks, the dairy had numerous problems that could have explained the contamination. The raw milk outbreaks are not random events - mistakes were made and hopefully corrected. For example, enormous coliform counts (a potential indicator of fecal contamination) were found in the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 raw milk and raw colostrum: The state promulgated a regulation to make sanitation standards for raw milk in California stricter and there hasn't been an outbreak in legal raw milk since. It was also discovered later that the dairy implicated in 2006 was "outsourcing" from surrounding dairy farms and mixing his raw milk with milk that was supposed to go for pasteurization. The owner of the dairy has admitted he was doing this practice several times on Mr. Gumpert's blog, and says he discontinued the practice for fluid milk after the outbreak:


"There are germs in milk, spinach, peanut butter, apples, chicken, and any other organic thing you can think to name."

Sure, there are "germs," but there not deadly pathogens unless something went wrong during growing, processing, storage, or distribution. Properly produced food does not contain E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella or Campylobacter.

Regarding raw milk being like other foods, it is not, at least not right now. Mr. Gumpert admits that raw milk is riskier than pasteurized milk. How many outbreaks have we seen reported over the last couple of years from local foods or farmers' markets? Virtually none with one exception: raw milk. Suppose you go to the farmers' market and pick up fresh tomatoes, spinach, grass-fed beef, and a bottle of raw milk. Looking at the statistics, your risk of getting sick is not the same for all of these foods. Playing the odds, the raw milk is the riskiest local food you bought at the farmers' market.

Shari: "I hope there will come a time again soon when I'm convinced that I can give raw milk safely to my family."

If you want a safe(r) way to have raw milk for your family, get a couple of backyard dwarf dairy goats! Even Mary thinks that a viable option, food-safety wise. :)

"Sure, there are "germs," but there not deadly pathogens unless something went wrong during growing, processing, storage, or distribution. Properly produced food does not contain E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella or Campylobacter."

Actually, you can get any of these germs petting a kitten, turning a doorknob, or off a leaf of lettuce. As with any other food, raw milk is clean unless something has gone wrong. We haven't seen outbreaks recently from farmer's markets. We have seen outbreaks from peanut factories, spinach packaging, and most recently from salsas in fast food joints. And these are foods from FDA approved monitored factories; all food has germs.

Raw Milk: Make It Legal/Keep It Safe

I just had the opportunity to read the 124 comments that have been made, and I find it interesting to note that there are really strong feelings from both sides of this issue, and with good reason. One point that has been made is that the Weston Price Foundation does not admit that there is a risk in drinking raw milk. While that may be true, I also have noticed that there is no mention in Marlers web site giving equal time to the fact that there are indeed benefits to raw milk or the fact that pasteurized milk is not of the same nutritional benefit of raw milk. Even if the pasteurized milk advocates don't agree with the raw milk advocates, at least acknowledge that there benefits and risks to both sides.

One thing that really should not be dismissed is the fact that there is this group of people - dairy farmers - who have been quietly drinking their own raw milk for GENERATIONS!!! I, personally, have never heard of a dairy farmer getting sick from it. It can not be denied that there are benefit as well as risk involved. As with everything in life it boils down to a personal choice.

I drink raw milk and I have heard of dairy farmers getting sick. Because all food carries germs. Because germs are everywhere. Raw milk: Legalize it/Keep it safe.

In Oct of 2009 the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) of the FDA's top ten riskiest foods:

Lettuce, Eggs, Tuna, Oysters, Potatoes, Cheese, Ice cream, Tomatoes, Sprouts, and Berries

(Meat is regulated by USDA, not FDA, which explains why ground meat and deli meats are not on this list.)

The CSPI stressed that people should not stop eating these foods - even though, in the details of the CSPI report, they reveal that some of the pathogens cannot be destroyed by cooking or other means.
So even in the top ten most dangerous foods, they believe the health benefits are worth the risk.... interesting, don't you think?

In addition, the CSPI concluded that "a complex globalized food system, archaic food safety laws, and the rise of large-scale production and processing have combined to create a perfect storm of unsafe food."

Meanwhile, in the case of raw milk, how many tax dollars are being spent going after small-scale milk producers who are not a part of the globalized food system?

A couple important caveats related to the CSPI riskiest food list:

1) The list doesn't take into account the popularity of the food category in American diets; in other words, they only report the numerator using the CDC data. A rate would be more appropriate: # of illnesses divided by # of servings per year. If they had calculated a rate, raw milk would likely have been on the top 10 list since the # of consumers is small relative to the # of outbreaks.

2) They do not differentiate between consumer errors (like leaving the potato salad out in the sun for too long) from foods that arrived at teh consumer's home already contaminated.

From CSPI's Outbreak Alert report:

"Dairy outbreaks increased dramatically in 2005 and 2006, in large part due to a rise in outbreaks from unpasteurized dairy products."

"The owner of the dairy has admitted he was doing this practice several times on Mr. Gumpert's blog, and says he discontinued the practice for fluid milk after the outbreak:"

And that is criminal behavior, by any definition. This information is far more helpful than the caricatures and emotional appeals provided by those who oppose legal raw milk.

You are incorrect about that, Anonymous2 -
The methodolgy section of the CSPI report specifically excluded
"sporadic cases of foodborne illness (individual illnesses not linked to an outbreak, such as an illness in a private home from a consumer failing to wash off a cutting board used for raw poultry.)"

Anonymous2 wrote, "They do not differentiate between consumer errors (like leaving the potato salad out in the sun for too long) from foods that arrived at the consumer's home already contaminated."

All food carries germs. Because germs are everywhere. Raw milk: Legalize it/Keep it safe.


The example you cite from the methods refers to sporadic cases. These are individual illnesses reported to CDC that are not part of an outbreak.

For the outbreaks used in the ranking, they did include outbreaks involving consumer or foodhandler errors (like leaving the potato salad out too long - probably nothing was wrong with the potatoes, yet they made the list). Thus, the caveat.

The Associated Press reports on an unusual entrepreneurial effort in San Diego - a camel dairy that produces camel milk that the owners say is “therapeutic, nutritious and delicious,” and has “more vitamin C, more anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties and contains an insulin-like protein that works well in the digestive tract.”
Unfortunately, the law prevents the sale of camel milk in the US, so the owners have to make do by selling camel milk soap and giving camel rides.
If the FDA can develop tests that would certify that camel milk is safe to consume, it could be an enormous boon to the dairy - they say they could get more than forty bucks per liter for the stuff.


US: How risky is it, really? Why our fears don't always match the facts
Phychology Today
David Ropeik
It’s Irrational to Say that People Who Get Risk Wrong are Irrational.
How irrational it seems to lament how "irrational" we are about risk. In the name of intelligence and reason, bright and well-intentioned people unintelligently and unreasonably ignore the vast scientific evidence which teaches us that risk perception is not, and can not be, a purely fact-based rational process. Risk is subjective, a matter of not only the facts, but how those facts feel. We know that. We know that the brain reacts instinctively to possible danger. We know the psychological characteristics of situations that make them feel more or less scary, the facts notwithstanding. We know the mental shortcuts people use to make judgments on the fly that produce behaviors which don't seem to make much sense. There is so much evidence, from various fields of science, which explain why our fears often don't match the facts. Why do the rationalists so irrationally deny all that evidence, the cold hard facts, about the affective way we perceive and respond to risk?
Let's take one current case. Deborah Blum, one of the finest science writers around, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York (and a person I'm proud to be able to call a friend), has written a piece for Slate lamenting the irrationality of those who want to drink raw milk. Deb dismissively calls them "cult-like" and "pure food love with a past that never really existed." She lays out quite convincingly how risky drinking raw milk can be, and is clearly frustrated at the farmer who argues that raw milk is safe because "everything God designed is good for you", despite the fact that an outbreak of God-designed and quite deadly E. coli O157-H7 was linked back to his farm. Deb writes, "I wish someone would explain the logic that leads to the conclusion that this apparently divine infection is actually ‘good for you'."
Dear Deborah (and Michael Specter, author of "Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives", and everyone else who shares frustration at such irrationality); The best way to understand this kind of thinking, is to stop thinking of risk perception as a purely logical process. In fact, stop thinking of it as thinking. It is not a cognitive process. It's a mix of the facts and conscious reasoning, interpreted through a powerful set of emotional and instinctive subconscious lenses that give those facts the valence, the meaning, the feel that helps us judge whether something might be dangerous.
The raw milk issue is a perfect example. You can hear it in the voices of the people Deb quotes. The study of risk perception has found that humans are less afraid of risks that are natural ("everything God designed") than risks that are human-made (as one raw-milk fan in Deb's piece said of pasteurized milk, "One of nature's most perfect foods has been murdered.") You can hear it as Deb notes that some people prefer "old-fashioned organic produce" and "old fashioned farming methods". It's not the old part they prefer. It's the organic/natural part. Natural radiation from the sun is less scary that far-less dangerous radiation (really!) from nuclear power. Natural medicines, which can be sold without any testing and which sometimes have harmful side-effects, are less scary than much more carefully studied and tested human-made pharmaceuticals (which are mostly based on natural substances anyway). Genetically modified food worries people more than food modified by natural hybridization. The milk from cows injected with Bovine Growth Hormone is scarier than the very same milk from cows without BGH. Here are the basic facts on that one. BGH is the naturally-occurring hormone in the cow that stimulates milk production. Genetic techniques allow farmers to raise those BGH levels in the cow, and produce more milk. It's the same milk. There is just more of it.
Rationally that fear makes no sense. But emotionally, it does. It feels different. The milk isn't natural anymore. It's like the fellow in Deb's piece who thinks heating milk to kill germs - pasteurization - "murders it". It's no longer the stuff that "God designed", and it is built deep into our psyche to fear risks more if they are human-made, or human-tinkered with, than if they are natural.
Deb, and Michael, and others, are absolutely correct to point out that sometimes this Perception Gap...when our fears don't match the facts...can be dangerous in and of itself. I stress that precise point in "How Risky Is it, Really? Why Our Fears Don't Always Match the Facts", a primer on the sciences of risk perception. It is absolutely more dangerous to drink raw milk that pasteurized. But the way to get people to recognize this threat is not to call them irrational cult-like zealots. The way to encourage healthier choices is to recognize why risks feel the way they do, how psychological factors like Natural vs. Human-made, or Trust, or Control, shape how we feel, and to respect those feelings while also honestly admitting that our feelings may actually be raising the risk, and then to ask ourselves whether the fact that something is natural, or human-made, is sufficient reason to judge how dangerous it might be.
Careful, thoughtful, thorough science from several fields has given us the wisdom to know why we sometimes get risk wrong. To ignore this body of evidence, and simply call people who get risk wrong ‘irrational', seems contrary to the very argument that we be more rational in the first place. Instead, let's use these insights into the affective way we perceive and respond to risk as tools for making healthier decisions.

Here is an example of fears not matching facts: Jake is afraid of raw milk yet he drives around in a car every day.

Check it out dude, food poisoning doesn't even make this list.

There are germs everywhere. Your best defense is a healthy immune system and probiotic food. Raw milk is probiotic. Pasteurized milk is not.

Are you aware that one doctor is getting excellent, albeit shocking, results treating Clostridium difficile with "flora" from healthy intestinal tracts? (That is the most polite way to put it.) Here, read for yourself: "How Microbes Defend and Define Us"

Jake: If you actually look into the science of what rBGH does to dairy cows (they only live a couple of years as opposed to 15)... how about the studies of what GMO foods and the pesticides that they are covered in do to the lab animals... you wouldn't rely on the FDA anymore. Advertising of "scientifically safe" is a very powerful tool.

Natural remedies that come with minimal, if any side effects, are in raw, natural food. It's been tested for thousands of years on humans. Chemical derivatives from plants or food are dangerous and very seldom life saving without a loss of quality of life (ie. chronic illness).

Again, it comes back to taking care of one's health. I find it odd that my neighbors who eat the standard American diet and utilize medications often in their families are always sick. Not just a cold, they have allergies, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, ADHS, etc. On the other hand, the several hundred people in my food co-ops, who eat a wide variety of whole in season foods (some of them raw milk as well), and use nature's gifts to optimize health... are healthy. No meds. no chronic illnesses. I have been observing this for 8 years. Nature works when you know how to use it. It's not perfect, but close. I don't understand why one group of people has to trash the other group.

I feed my kids clean raw milk. Is there risk? No more than me feeding them spinach or tomatoes... or any other food. I feel the benefit of a clean whole food outweighs the risk. Three of my neighbors give their boys Ritalin so they behave and don't need to be parented. This is very common in the U.S. Is there risk... you bet. Even though I don't agree with it, I am assuming those parents feel the benefit outweighs the risk. Well, it's FDA approved! To each their own.

The points that are being lost in these assessments about rational decision making are the issues of inaccuracy and credibility.

Example: When a scientific journal publishes 2 studies on the same topic, which each have come to completely contradictory conclusions, we all understand that it is because the scientific method does have some limitations. We can look for flaws in each of the studies, and sometimes the errors become readily apparent immediately, often times they are not. In spite of the fact that contradictory studies should give one pause, "experts" head out into the public and tout the "facts" of whichever study they fancy.

Each time this happens, public acceptance of facts and studies is eroded.
Only an irrational person would have unconditional faith in systems that are consistently proven wrong.

Every time the FDA is exposed for making in-bed-with-industry decisions and other foolish mistakes, their credibility becomes further diminished. They have lost the public trust. Period.

The meaning of the word "fact" does not carry the weight it once did. The public understands they have to follow the money behind all of these pronouncements. And you know what? We can't. There's too much of it. It's literally impossible to trace all this information back to it's original source. It's overload, so what do I do? It's much easier to reject it all and do what worked before the technology came along.

I personally gravitate to more natural and old ways because they are time tested. I value the test of time. Technology, being mostly new, has not been subjected to sufficient long-term testing IMO. Folks out there may disagree with my assessment, but that doesn't make me irrational.

It's kind of funny - I think that accepting the risks of technology without long term testing is the irrational choice.
Go figure!

KANSAS: Study finds media may be overhyping benefits of organic food, agriculture
Kansas State University
MANHATTAN -- News accounts of organic agriculture and organic food are more likely to be positive than negative and inaccurately claim organic food is safer, according to Kansas State University's Doug Powell.
Powell, an associate professor of food safety, is the co-author of "Coverage of organic agriculture in North American newspapers: Media -- linking food safety, the environment, human health and organic agriculture," just published in the British Food Journal.
The paper is based on a study Powell conducted from 1999-2004 with two colleagues at the University of Guelph in Canada, Stacey Cahill and Katija Morley. Cahill was one of Powell's students at the time.
The team explored how topics of organic food and agriculture were discussed in five North American newspapers. Using the content analysis technique, the 618 articles collected were analyzed for topic, tone and theme regarding food safety, environmental concerns and human health.
The prominent topics of the articles were genetic engineering, pesticides and organic farming, Powell said.
The analysis found 41.4 percent of the articles had a neutral tone toward organic agriculture and food, 36.9 percent had a positive tone, 15.5 percent were mixed and 6.1 percent were negative, Powell said.
"We concluded that articles about organic production in the selected time period were seldom negative," he said. "Organic agriculture was often portrayed in the media as an alternative to allegedly unsafe and environmentally damaging modern agriculture practices. That means organic was being defined by what it isn't, rather than what it is."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has repeatedly stated that the organic standard is a verification of production methods and not a food safety claim, Powell said.
"Food safety was the least important in the media discussion of organic agriculture," Powell said. "The finding that 50 percent of food safety-themed statements in news articles were positive with respect to organic agriculture, while 81 percent of health-themed statements and 90 percent of environment-themed statements were positive toward organic food, indicates an uncritical press."
Analysis of articles over time, among media outlets and by topic, allows for understanding of media reporting on the subject and provides insight into the way the public is influenced by news coverage of organic food and agriculture, Powell said.
The article is available at:

Jake, honey, its about so much more than just what you put in your mouth. Surely you know that, right? Surely you understand what industrial agriculture is doing. Right? Its beyond this discussion, really. But I would point you to "Omnivores Dilemma" or the movie "Food Inc." for more information.

I let it go before, but you are completely wrong about rBGH. It sounds like you might have a blind spot where technology is concerned. Don't drink raw milk if you don't want it. But, my friend, you should educate yourself about what is happening in agriculture. Monsanto, Cargill, and Archer Daniels are not your friend. Even if Monsanto is purring in your ear about the glories of rBGh, Roundup, or Roundup Ready Corn, you might want to look a little deeper.

rBGh is not even legal in Europe. And most dairy farmers here have rejected it. We want our cows alive, thank you very much.

Did I ever express a personal opinion on rBGH here? However I have seen from others some off the wall comments on rBGH - like cows living two years instead of 15 etc. Truth be known, milk per cow has been increasing for decades, and that is in part because we have been breeding for higher producing cows and it very well may be that this breading has favored cows that naturally produce more BGH. The rBGH issue is influenced by economic and political concerns. To my knowledge no country has rejected use of rBGH for safety reasons - they just don't want all that extra milk because it depresses prices and causes governments to spend more money on farmer supports. Farmer use of rBGH has dropped significantly in the U.S. because for competitive reasons supermarkets are demanding milk that is produced without rBGH and the coops have refused to buy anything else so a farmer using rBGH has little or no market for that milk. From day one I predicted rBHG was going to be a loser because a significant number of people just don't want anyone messing with their milk. Also, if every farmer used rBGH it would be a zero sum game (except for the seller of Posilac) as the extra production would be offset by a lower price - the law of supply and demand still rules. rBGH also suffers in the public eye because it is designated a "hormone", but it is not a hormone in the chemical sense (e.g. like diethylstilbesterol).

As a long time pharmacist, I was always concerned about birth control pills - I thought it was a time bomb waiting to explode - that the Pope might be right for the wrong reasons. But I was wrong. Over 50 years later it appears that the side effects have been more beneficial than detrimental. I suppose the raw milk proponents and rBGH and bpa opponents think birth control pills (real hormones) are a-ok to consume routinely because it is something that fits their personal agenda wants and needs.

Didn't you say: "Genetically modified food worries people more than food modified by natural hybridization. The milk from cows injected with Bovine Growth Hormone is scarier than the very same milk from cows without BGH. Here are the basic facts on that one. BGH is the naturally-occurring hormone in the cow that stimulates milk production. Genetic techniques allow farmers to raise those BGH levels in the cow, and produce more milk. It's the same milk. There is just more of it."

You have your basic facts wrong. rBGH is not legal in any country in Europe. rBGH injected in cows causes them major problems and shortens their life. And I personally know several dairymen who rejected it loooong before the market rejected it.

As a pharmacist (really?) you should know that you should back up your "facts" with citations.

Human selection has increased milk production in cows. Shooting them up with rBGH is a whole different thing with a whole different set of results:

The affect on humans drinking rBGH milk is also unclear:

1. I didn't say that - just passed along an article I thought was interesting.

2. Sorry for the misunderstanding - I know that use of rBGH is not legal in any country in the E.U., perhaps not in any country but the USA. My point was that economics, not human safety, was the key reason for non-approval. I think the Canadian government may have actually given economics as the reason for their non-approval.

3. As for backing up facts - that does not appear to apply to those who have a anti-rBGH viewpoint, to wit "If you actually look into the science of what rBGH does to dairy cows (they only live a couple of years as opposed to 15)."

I accept as fact that use of rBGH is stressful to the cow, and for that reason dairy farmers using rBGH need to closely monitor their herds for problems. That stress may be linked to the amount of milk that rBGH stimulates them to produce. I suspect that cows bred to produce more milk suffer more stress as well.

In the end, a key problem is that it impossible to absolutely prove safety. That goes for sunscreens, bug repellents, low calorie sweeteners, etc. etc. The conservative approach is always "we need additional studies". Cyclamate sweetener is a good example - it is legal in Canada and many other countries but not in the U.S. A few rats testicles shrunk - maybe because the high cyclamate dose crowded out the food nutrients they needed to maintain their testicles. Data that at one time indicated saccharin was a carcinogen has long since been discredited.

"My point was that economics, not human safety, was the key reason for non-approval." Again, you need to back up your "facts" with citations.

"If you actually look into the science of what rBGH does to dairy cows (they only live a couple of years as opposed to 15)." Again:

My citation, by the way, also refutes your "fact" about the reason European nations collectively banned rGBH in 1999.

Here's a video interview with Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures:

What I meant to say is that here is a fascinating new video interview with Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures:

Raw-food raid highlights a hunger; 'how can we not have the freedom to choose what we eat?' one says. Regulators say the rules exist for safety and fairness
Doug Powell
Watch the police in this action video raiding an organic grocery store. I was hoping one of them would hold their gun sideways so I'd really know they were serious as they walked through crates of arugula.
With no warning one weekday morning, investigators entered an organic grocery with a search warrant and ordered the hemp-clad workers to put down their buckets of mashed coconut cream and to step away from the nuts.
Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid's target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk.
The Los Angeles Times has a feature on Sunday about how cartons of raw goat and cow milk and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese were among the groceries seized in the June 30 raid by federal, state and local authorities — the latest salvo in the heated food fight over what people can put in their mouths.
On one side are government regulators, who say they are enforcing rules designed to protect consumers from unsafe foods and to provide a level playing field for producers. On the other side are "healthy food" consumers — a faction of foodies who challenge government science and seek food in its most pure form.
"This is not about restricting the public's rights," said Nicole Neeser, program manager for dairy, meat and poultry inspection at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. "This is about making sure people are safe."
In the case of Rawesome, regulators allege that the group broke the law by failing to have the proper permits to sell food to the public. While the raid was happening at Rawesome, another went down at one of its suppliers, Healthy Family Farms in Ventura County. California agriculture officials said farm owner Sharon Palmer's processing plant had not met standards to obtain a license.,0,4951907.s...

This is not about making food safe. It is economic protectionism. Making a level playing field is a euphemism for forcing small operations to adhere to a mountain of expensive requirements that only big corporations can afford to follow and the only ones with the deep pockets to buy off the state to protect themselves from arbitrary enforcement.

If that sounds like a protection racket that is because it is.

I find it interesting that so much time and energy is being put into controlling raw milk. It seems a waste of a lot of peoples energy and tax dollars!

Why not put all that energy into ridding our country of something that EVERYONE knows is bad - like meth and other street drugs. These substances are posing true and present dangers to future generations. This is just guess, but I would venture to say that more lives are ruined by street drugs than by raw milk!

It is obvious that the people who choose to drink raw milk are well aware, and educated of the possible risks involved. They are also quite aware of the potential benefits. Allow them to make their choice. It will be a very distressing time if the laws in my state get to the point where it is not legal to purchase raw milk from my local grass fed, organic dairy farmer.

Every 15 minutes another person (babies and children included) in the United States is killed or seriously injured by an alcohol related accident.

Bill.. this one is for you. How many people are killed or seriously injured by raw milk? I am talking... proven to come directly from drinking raw milk that was intended for humans to drink... not cheese that's made in a dirty bathtub or has the potential to become contaminated during the processing of it. I'll bet it is a far cry from 96 people/day.

If alcohol is legal to drink with all of it's known risks, then why can't people choose to drink raw milk with the same knowledge?

The legal age to drink alcohol is generally 21. However, some states may allow parents to give alcoholic beverages to their children so my analogy could be flawed.

If cars are legal to drive, even with all the known risks, then why can't people buy legal raw milk?

You cannot buy cars (at least not new ones) that do not have various safety features mandated by law. So a "raw" car can't be sold in the U.S. Only a "pasteurized" one - with airbags, tire pressure sensors etc. etc.

Darling, cars are the number one killer of children in these United States. Yes, your "pasteurized" cars. The number one killer of children. Children dying every day. Dead babies. Dead children. Many many many dead children. The number one killer of children, here, are car wrecks. But that in your glass of milk and drink it.

I prefer to walk across the yard and milk my own cow, thanks.

Jake... alcohol kills children.. they get hit on the street, they die in the womb, they are killed by drunk drivers when they are strapped in their little safety seats. Just because you have to be 21 to drink alcohol.. doesn't mean that children can't be harmed or killed by it.

"Imagine a plane full of people crashing, killing everyone on board, every single day. That’s how many people die on America’s roads daily, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“Motor vehicle crashes in the United States result in more than 40,000 deaths per year,” says the Institute in the journal Injury Prevention. “That is, on each of the 6,209 consecutive days included in this study, an equivalent of a plane load or more of people died on the roads.”


While I support raw milk, I also support Bill's efforts to bring his statistics to the public.

Hear all sides and then make your choice. Do I think Bill's data is somewhat skewed? Sure. Do I think it is skewed from the other camp, as well? Probably. W e have to make our judgements about bias along with those about risk.

I'm sharing this e-mail that I received yesterday:

*You need not be a Hartmanns customer or Raw Milk Drinker to support this case about our FOOD FREEDOMS!!
YOU are Needed!
If you cherish healthy raw milk, fresh eggs,
lovely cheeses and safe meat products,
or just the Freedom to access the Foods of your Choice,
THIS WEEK: Wednesday – August 25th!
NEXT WEEK: Mon, Tues, Wed– August 30th, 31st, Sept 1!
Grab your friends,  Grab  your family!  
Call in sick to work!
Round up your children!  
Bring their crayons, coloring books,
and the Etch-a-Sketch!!  
Promise the kids a treat on the way home!  
Let’s fill up the courtroom!
Wether we are Hartmann fans & loyal customers,
drink raw milk or just recognize this as being
the front lines in the fight to secure our Food Freedoms! *
Wouldn’t it be FUN to be SHOULDER-to-SHOULDER
together with our like-minded milk families?
**Let’s REALLY pack the courtroom and STAND TOGETHER!**

It starts at 9:00  and ends at 4:30,  
Show up at any time of the day -
stay as long as you can!
Let’s do this together and support the Hartmann family
And our rights to fresh foods!
Gaylord Courthouse
400 Court Ave (Intersection of Hwy 19 and Hwy 22, has stop light)
Gaylord, MN 55334
 For carpooling info from Chanhassen contact Mary Jane Hogan
To see about carpooling from other areas, get on the Consumer Free Choice Forum
*You need not be a Hartmanns customer or Raw Milk Drinker to support this case about our FOOD FREEDOMS!!

A fundamental problem with the food safety issue is science or the lack thereof. Unless “science” can prove or disprove a particular theory or position in our society it has no merit. Therefore the problem is not lack of evidence but lack of science. Those regulatory bodies that pay departments of government through our taxes simply cannot handle research beyond a very basic threshold which happens to be pretty much destroy everything and ask question later.

There is no “nutrition” in food safety for the masses nor are there any responsibilities for the aftermath of said product when consumed over years for the human organism. The mere fact that mainstream medicine is completely incapable of maintaining a healthy human organism is beyond argument. In fact some of the largest and successful alternative health care practices boast plenty of “MD’s” and other assorted mainstream health workers (in other words they jumped ship).

Compare that with the world’s approach to food in millennia is to handle bacteria through fermentation and you’ll see the fundamental problem with trying to “clean-room” the food supply. It can’t happen in milk or any other product no matter how hard one tries. Sterilizing food will simply sterilize the population as clearly evidenced by the current sad yardstick we call health in the US.

I would argue that the problem exists because those that are paid to handle food safety issues operated on extremely outdated and draconian measures and “science”. If it were so scientific then bring on the science and make any food product safe without having to kill it and in turn destroy the health of the very population one seeks to protect. Citing this and that sickness or outbreak simply does not equate to scientific discovery, more it equates to voodoo science. Heating something to kill all bacteria, further heating something to make it shelf safe for months, simply removes all life in the product and will in turn remove all life from you.

So argue all you want about current food safety, health and science practiced in the US, clearly it isn’t working.

Thanks for a great discussion everyone. I just bought a quart of raw organic goat's milk at New Seasons here in Portland OR. So I'm glad to see this discussion, even if it does get heated at times (but not pasteurized!)

Anyone who believes that the health "benefits" of raw milk are "cooked" out of it when pasteurized, obviously haven't done their research. There has been significant research done to prove that the only nutrients lost because of pasteurization are vitamins that have low percentages in milk already and those vitamins only lose about 10% of their value. Probiotics are not in raw milk either because to be a probiotic it has to be NON-PATHOGENIC and E. coli, Salmonella and all those other bacteria are PATHOGENS! I definitely consider giving kids raw milk to be child abuse. Yes, let's give our kids something that is full of bacteria and could kill my child because I'm stupid and believe everything the internet tells me, even when SCIENCE proves me wrong.

Adequate evening! Communication describing my at liberty is actually completed, proceed to out of tune with implementation.

If she still wants more after all of you get a chance, you will go back up in the same order to be fair.Like I'D bust if I didn'T know.After another rest, Louis seized Penny passionately to him, and she felt his weapon rigid against her tender flesh.He had never before had the occasion to admire the intimate charms of his secretary and his prick sprang erect at the sight of the tender globes offered to his caprice.It'S amazing what you can do when you'Re left alone in the chemical closet, Ivy said with a smile.Expensive.This wild kiss from her mom really turned Annie on.Her beautiful barefeet with white polish.Lori laid down on her stomach, between my legs.Kay sat up, cupping her breasts.Though it left no lasting marks, she knew that it would burn like fire when used on her sensitive feminine regions.And to extract the utmost of obedience.

In California, several times, the FDA freaks out, has all the milk pulled from the shelves claiming an emergency, waits a month, a long time to look under a microscope if you ask me, to test the milk, then quietly goes, oh, testing was clean. I wonder how many of those "outbreaks" that didn't have to last a month, that ended up not being one, end up on the FDA statistics as an "outbreak? Also, raw milk needs to come from dairies that know how to stay clean. That certainly isn't the industrial dairies. You'd be crazy to drink raw milk from those so don't include those dairies in the statistics either. Most dairies aren't on pasture and organic rated dairies are supposed to be but there is one company that puts organic on their carton even though the cows aren't on pasture and the FDA looks the other way.

This isn't the 1940's for god sake!


In California, several times, the FDA freaks out, has all the milk pulled from the shelves claiming an emergency, waits a month, a long time to look under a microscope if you ask me, to test the milk, then quietly goes, oh, testing was clean. I wonder how many of those "outbreaks" that didn't have to last a month, that ended up not being one, end up on the FDA statistics as an "outbreak? They pulled this during the spinach scare and it was totally proven, genetically, it had nothing to do with the raw milk from a well known raw milk dairy. The FDA must have leaked it because it ended up on the news, defaming the dairy, before testing was done and  when it turned out not to be the raw milk at all, there were no retractions despite THE BUG HAVING THE EXACT GENETIC MAKE-UP AS THE SPINACH GERM! Why doesn't the FDA ban spinach while they are at it. And god forbid the domestic almonds are raw i.e. none of them sprout in water anymore. Creepy. Next the FDA will call anyone crazy that isn't walking around in a sterilized bubble.

Also, raw milk needs to come from dairies that know how to stay clean. That certainly isn't the industrial dairies. You'd be crazy to drink raw milk from those so don't include those dairies in the raw milk statistics and then act like raw milk isn't possible. Most dairies aren't on pasture and organic rated dairies are supposed to be and there is one company that puts organic on their carton even though the cows aren't on pasture and the FDA looks the other way.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <ul> <ol> <li> <p> <b> <em>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.