Feed The World, Save The Planet
The Thing About Milk, Part 3
“He causeth grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth…” Psalm 104:14
Raw milk could be the answer to our world’s hunger and environmental problems.
Remember Heifer International, the non-profit group who gives cows to impoverished families? In 53 countries Heifer International is not only feeding the starved, they are also teaching proper animal husbandry and land management. These families are suddenly empowered in many ways: they immediately have a clean, safe food source; a source of income; and high quality fertilizer for their crops, which soon begin abundant growth. At harvest, the family has even more nutritious food and additional income. And they develop pride, self-confidence, and increased family unity as they work hard together, growing in health and knowledge. In turn, the families agree to give away their animal’s offspring to another needy family and thus keep the cycle going.
What a great paradigm!
The hungry are fed…
the sick are nourished…
the poor prosper…
the family is strengthened…
and the people are joyful.
What does this have to do with raw milk? Everything! All of the great things mentioned in the previous paragraph are the product of one healthy cow and her raw milk.
Properly managed cows and their raw dairy products are not just feeding the world; they could save the planet!
The way a cow is cared for has a lot to do with whether or not the cow will produce safe, healthy raw milk. Just like a breastfeeding mother, a lactating cow must have the right diet and right care or she will not only produce poor milk but will also develop chronic mastitis (an infection in the mammary gland) and become susceptible to other diseases.
In America, the majority of dairy cows live in factory farms where they are rarely outside and never graze on lush pasture.
Instead they are kept in a small stall or crowded feedlot, fed a constant diet of grains (mostly genetically modified, including large amounts of soy) and other unpleasant waste items, and milked almost constantly. Because the cows suffer from chronic mastitis, their feed is laced with antibiotics. They are also given hormones to increase production. Although milk from “organic” cows cannot be used if the cow has been on antibiotics, and no hormones are allowed, the living conditions for “organic” cows are much the same. Factory feedlots are home to thousands of cows, serving up pasteurized and even organic milk in concentration-camp-style. These farms produce an abundance of contaminated manure, and much of it finds its way into our streams, rivers, lakes, and eventually the ocean, where it contaminates fish, water, wildlife, and even other crops (like spinach, or tomatoes….).
This manure is laden with antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and any number of sickening bacteria. These factory farms have a hefty environmental footprint; in addition to the immediate environmental issues, there are also big trucks hauling in grain for feed, transporting cows, and transporting milk to the plant and on to the stores.
The cost for keeping these cows is high.
Many dairy farms do not receive government subsidies. Feed is expensive. Veterinary bills and medications are expensive. New cows must be regularly purchased to replace those that have died (and the dead cows have been known to wind up in hamburger meat). And don’t forget the costs to our environment that I mentioned above. A conventional dairy farmer does not get paid a living wage. His family suffers. The consumers are sick. And the cycle continues.
For a real-life, eye-opening glimpse into the world of the factory farm, you need to see the movie, FOOD, INC.
In direct contrast, a raw milk farm keeps small herds, and the cows live outside on green pastures where they eat grass in the sunshine and fresh air.
As the cows graze, their manure fertilizes the pasture. The manure benefits the environment because it is not laden with pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones. This healthy manure is a vital part of the cycle of life that God set in motion. Because these cows are eating the right diet in the right setting they aren’t sick and don’t need medications or hormones. As these cows provide offspring year after year, this natural, idyllic cycle continues. These cows produce rich, nutritious milk, butter, and cheese. The farmer, in control of his herd and his prices, makes a living wage. His costs are very low; he doesn’t need to pay for medications, veterinary bills, replacement cows, or shipping. The raw milk farm has a very small environmental footprint. These farms and cows are a blessing, not a burden, to their environment.
Ed Shank, fourth generation owner of The Family Cow farm in Pennsylvania, agrees with me. The Family Cow used to be a confinement dairy farm but about 4 years ago Ed Shank saw the light and transitioned his farm to an organic system where his 275 cows now graze outside on 120 acres of pasture, followed around by about a thousand chickens. Ed’s old way of farming, which focused on productivity, is history. Today Ed’s methods are all about being ecologically sustainable. Instead of hauling in feed and hauling out manure, Ed simply moves his cows from pasture to pasture. They eat the growing grass. The chickens follow; as they eat the pesky bugs they also spread the manure; the manure fertilizes the pasture and helps the grass to grow; the cycle continues. Ed describes it this way: “This green grass is a solar panel. The cow is the harvester. She is powered by solar energy…The harvesting and hauling of feed is done by the cows and the hauling of manure is done by the cows.” As Ed says, “This is a cycle that is so repeatable. We can feed the world.” (emphasis mine)
Funny, this is what all farms were like for hundreds, even thousands, of years. Earlier societies would be aghast and offended at what we have allowed to happen to our world, our farms, our animals, and our food. Among other things, they would call us fools. Would that really be too far from the truth?
Small Farms Under Attack
Currently there is legislation underway that would severely restrict and burden these small farms in America. It is called The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. HR 2749 has passed the House and is now in committee in the Senate. This legislation is supposed to make food safer, but what it really does is regulate small farms to such a degree that most of them would not be able to survive. One alarming provision of this bill empowers the FDA to make warrantless searches of the business records of small farmers. Why is this even necessary?
There are definitely problems with America’s industrial food system, but forcing all farms into a “one size fits all” piece of legislation is not the answer. All farms are not the same. In fact, our country’s food safety issues do not stem from the small farm. The salmonella spinach problem didn’t come from a small farm, and neither did the salmonella tomatoes or onions or peanuts. Contaminated raw milk doesn’t come from the small farm either. These problems came from big, conventional farms. In fact, those big farms that have so harmed our food and environment will benefit from this legislation while the small farms that are so good to us will just about be shut down. Small scale food producers, such as those baking artisan breads, will also be negatively affected.
Another version of this bill is in the Senate, S-510. This bill is even more invasive, burdening the small farmer with even more paperwork and requirements than HR 2749. Basically, both legislations would profit the big conventional farms and harm the small family farms, all in the name of “FOOD SAFETY.”
For much more information, and to learn how you can help fight this legislation, visit the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund website.
Are you wondering again what this has to do with raw milk?
I could easily go buy a gun, or drugs. I could buy cigarettes and expose my family to second-hand smoke all day. I could drink beer at a sporting event then drive home. But if I want to buy raw milk, I have to go to great lengths and expense to do it. If I really wanted to get crazy, I could sell raw milk and in no time at all SWAT teams would show up at my house, seize my property, wave guns in my face, interrogate my children, call children’s services, and haul me off to court. Seriously.
Right here in America, and just across the border in Canada, raw milk farmers are being staked out, monitored, threatened, and arrested. Their products are being destroyed, their equipment seized, their children interrogated, their computers searched, and more. These aren’t people who deal drugs on the side, or head up prostitution rings, or harbor illegal aliens. These are law-abiding, family-oriented citizens who provide many beneficial services to their communities.
Michael Schmidt is the owner of Glencolton Farms in Ontario, Canada. He has provided rich, nourishing raw milk to citizens of his community for the last twenty years. No one has ever been sick from his milk. In fact, Schmidt’s milk saved the life of a baby who was failure-to-thrive when the parents learned about a special raw milk baby formula which they made using his safe, nutritious raw milk. He has obeyed local laws in operating his raw milk dairy. However Michael Schmidt has been harassed by local authorities for the last several years and currently faces 20 criminal counts against him. His court hearings are ongoing. But get this: the authorities accusing Schmidt have never once tested his milk.
Here is a brief listing of farmers in the United States who have been or are faced with similar situations. If you would like to read more about what is happening to these beneficial farms, visit www.thecompletepatient.com.
2005: Arlie Stultzman, an Amish farmer from Millersburg, Ohio
2006: Richard Hebron of Ann Arbor, Michigan
2007: Barb and Steve Smith of Meadowsweet Farm in New York
2008: *Organic Pastures Dairy Company (OPDC) in California
*Mark Nolt of Mt. Holly Springs, Pennsylvania
*Glenn Wise, Mennonite dairy farmer and father of 9 in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Raw milk is not crack, folks. These farmers are not gang members. There is no money-laundering ring, no prostitution, nothing! No one is dying! Yet these farmers and their healthful raw dairy products are being treated as if this were the source of a biological terrorist act!
Why am I telling you this? Because you need to understand that the big hoop-la about raw milk is not completely about food safety. That is what we are supposed to believe, and a lot of well-meaning, wonderful people have been deceived. Please review part 2 where I explained that there are two milks. And review part 1 where I explained how pasteurization gives milk a longer shelf-life and takes the burden of responsibility away from the farmer. And how homogenization keeps the customer from seeing how little cream is in the milk, while big companies are getting rich from selling the cream. An awful lot of money is tied up into this business of pasteurization and homogenization.
Remember the innocent little boy who died from e-coli in his Jack in the Box burger? There were several people who died. Did that chain get shut down? Remember when Oprah spoke out against the beef industry, and how she was immediately sued? Her wealth made it possible for her to successfully fight that lawsuit. Most people don’t have that kind of money at their disposal. In the past year or two we have seen major outbreaks of salmonella – where people have died – traced back to spinach, tomatoes, cookie dough, peanuts, ground beef, and yes pasteurized milk. But are these foods illegal to sell for human consumption? Of course not.
Just think about it.
The Hunt for Real Milk
My very first raw milk source involved meeting a man I didn’t know in a parking lot in the dark on a Friday night. It was awfully exciting! What an adrenaline rush! I really felt like I was getting away with something big! On the other hand, even though I did not break the law, I felt like a criminal dealing drugs. It would be funny if it weren’t such a cryin’ shame that I had to go to all that trouble just for a glass of milk! Really – I’m just trying to nurture my family here!
Since you cannot buy raw milk at the grocery store in a majority of states, and since it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption most everywhere, you will have to find another way to obtain it.
Acquaint yourself with the laws regarding the sale of raw milk in your state. Visit www.realmilk.com for updated listings of the law regarding purchase and sale of raw milk, and current legislation for each state. Next, click on the “where” tab for a comprehensive state-by-state listing of raw milk sources. But remember that there are likely more sources than what is posted. Ask around. When you do find a farm, ask if you can visit in person; find out what the cows are fed; ask about their milking process and storage facilities. Make an informed decision – this is your family we’re talking about.
In many states it is actually illegal to sell raw milk intended for human consumption. But it is not illegal to drink raw milk from your own cow. If keeping a cow in your backyard doesn’t quite fit with your suburban lifestyle, you can join a cow share program. This is where you actually buy a portion of the ownership of a cow. The farmer cares for and milks the cow, and delivers her milk to you regularly. In Tennessee, a law was passed this year actually protecting our constitutional right to cow-shares. It was a great victory for the small farmer, our environment, and the health of our citizens!
Another perfectly legal way to purchase raw milk is if it is labeled, “Pet Food.” It is not illegal to eat your pet’s food. Farmers who do not want the responsibility of a cow-share program can sell their raw milk direct to the consumer if it is clearly labeled as pet food. In some states you can even buy raw milk with a pet food label at the grocery store.
Raw milk is delicious. Once you have some, you will want more and more. But go easy at first. Remember, raw milk has a lot of beneficial bacteria that your gut is probably not used to. If you are taking immuno-suppressant medication then you especially need to be careful because these drugs affect your immunity to such a degree that your system will not react normally to raw milks’ good bacteria. Too much too early, for anyone, can put your digestive system under some initial strain, if you know what I mean. If you guzzle a bunch of raw milk several days in a row, with your first gallon, you will get a stomach ache and you may say the milk is bad. I’ve heard several “old-timers” tell me they used to sell their cow’s milk to friends, and the friends would come back and say, “That milk made me sick but it shore was good!” No, the milk didn’t make anyone sick; the milk was working. Continue to drink some every day, but slow down a bit and give your digestive system some time to get used to it.
Nothing in this blog or 3 part series about milk is intended for or given as medical advice; don’t take my word for it; always do your own research and consult your own medical professional before making any health or nutritional choices
From the beginning of time until the late 1800s raw milk was the most natural and normal of foods. Yet the “industrial food system” and government health officials rely upon one brief period of history, and milk from today’s sick and malnourished cattle, as the foundation for their argument. Listening to them I am just astounded that the human race managed to survive like it did. How could people have relied on it for centuries to nourish them if it were so very dangerous?
I know people who have seen cavities healed, and crowded dental palates widen, just from adding raw milk to their diet. I know people who drank raw milk throughout their pregnancy and delivered healthy babies. I know people whose children get sick from pasteurized milk but thrive on raw milk. I am well aware of the research out there that vilifies raw milk, but for every negative claim and study I have discovered major problems, such as a lack of testing the accused milk and a lack of thorough questioning of supposed victims. Raw milk is immediately assumed to be the culprit and the research often stops right there. You do the research and see for yourself. What I witness and experience, and what I have read, just doesn’t match up. My family drinks 4 or more gallons of raw milk every week. We also enjoy fresh raw butter, and raw cheese. I make sure that my children have raw dairy every day; I make sure I have some too.
I believe my God is a great giver, and I want to take advantage of the great things he has given.
What kinds of gifts does God give? And what happens to God’s creation when Man takes over? When it comes to industrialized foods, has Man proven himself worthy?
Now you know just how extremely nutritious raw milk really is, and how pasteurization kills and alters milk turning it into an allergenic product. You know how beneficial small farms are across the world, and how damaging these factory farms are to the animals, the environment, the consumer, and the planet.
You are no longer ignorant. Now what will you do about it?
I have done my very best to give you clear and correct information. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t run off and buy raw milk just because I said so. Do your own research. There is still more to tell. These websites and books, all of which I used in researching this series of three articles, are each hot-linked below and can give you much more information:
Real Milk (good info and a state-by-state listing of raw milk availability)
Genesis 1:31 “And God saw all that he created, and behold, it was good.“