Pssst. Got Bootleg Milk?

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From Gene Logsdon
Garden Farm Skills

In my sordid youth, helping my father milk a hundred cows, he complained that I was drinking up the profits. Like most farm kids, I loved raw milk delivered pure and clean from washed cow teats through glass pipe to the cooling bulk tank. I could down a gallon of it a day with no problem, not to mention drowning any pie, cake, cereal, or bowl of berries that came my way with the cream that floated on top of it. Through an active, even foolhardy life, I have suffered only one broken bone, from playing football with my grandsons, have all my teeth yet although a couple are chipped, also from too much sports, and my cholesterol level gives no indication that my favorite food is butter. I have managed to stay fairly lean which leads my doctor to assume that I am following a low fat diet. I remain silent. He sends me home with a solemn admonition to “continue your low-cholesterol regimen.” I nod, also solemnly, and go home to my usual butter, cream, meat, and lard crust pie diet.

Selling raw milk, or bootleg milk as I call it, is a crime in some states, if you can believe that. If you break the law, the Milk Police will come knocking at your door. Mind you, they don’t care if you drink it or give it away. You just can’t sell it, which leads me to believe that they are more worried about protecting the monopoly of the pasteurized milk industry than protecting health. As most of you probably know, dairy farmers who want to sell raw milk to people who want to drink raw milk, get around the prevailing power of the Milk Police by what they call herd share agreements. Customers buy shares in the cows and so as part owners, they are actually drinking their own milk. This subterfuge gives the Milk Police conniption fits. They issue woeful press releases that lead one to believe that civilization will collapse if people are allowed to drink raw milk, even though 28 states now allow it to be sold. The Milk Police try to take producers of herd-share milk to court like they were moonshiners. When in a recent case in Ohio the judge ruled in the dairy farm’s favor, the Department of Agriculture appealed. The governor, much to the delight of milk bootleggers, ordered the ODA to drop the case.

Our neighbor, who has passed away so the Milk Police can’t get him anymore, sold raw milk for years as “pet milk.” He wasn’t lying. His customers did feed it to their cats. But they drank it too, especially poorer families with lots of children who otherwise might not have gotten proper nutrition.

Years ago when I was drinking my own raw milk every day and so were my wife and children, I got a telephone call from someone who said he needed to buy raw milk because of some kind of allergy, which can be true for some people. Something in his voice sounded suspicious. I said that I could not sell him milk because it was illegal but I might give him some if he came and talked it over with me. Never heard from him again. I think it was the Milk Police trying to nail me like they did the Amish farmer in Holmes County, Ohio last year.

At the Ohio Ecological Farm and Food Association convention in March of this year, Sally Fallon, a nationally-known nutritionist and the founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, gave a talk that must have singed the whiskers off the Milk Police. She has spent some thirty years now, gathering and collating information that gives ample evidence that butter, cream, lard, meat from pasture-fed animals, and natural raw milk are good for you and that modern, politically-correct, low-fat diets are bad for you. I laughed all through her talk because, whether she was right or not, she was vouching for the way I eat and the only thing wrong with me so far is a little high blood pressure and an occasional bowel spasm, both easily controlled if I don’t think too much about inanities like the Milk Police.

One of the statistics she quoted about the safety of raw milk comes from Organic Pastures dairy in California, which since 1999 has sold 40 million servings of raw milk and raw milk products without one reported illness. California in the same period experienced at least 20 recalls of pasteurized milk products. Also in California, Fallon says that some 1300 inmates of 11 state institutions came down with campylobacterosis from drinking pasteurized milk. In other words, pasteurization does not guarantee protection against bacterial contamination, which is the main reason the Milk Police give for their fervor. Another quote Fallon likes to repeat is from George Mann, a doctor and former co-director of the Framingham Study. “The diet-heart hypothesis has repeatedly been shown to be wrong and yet for complicated reasons of pride, profit and prejudice, the hypothesis continues to be exploited by scientists, fund-raising enterprises, food companies and even governmental agencies. The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century.”

The Milk Police seem especially afraid for children whose immune systems, they say, “often can’t fight the bacteria in raw milk.” That statement mystifies me. I wonder what miracle occurred to allow hundreds of millions of us to grow up in good health on raw milk.

I don’t know if the defenders of the pasteurized milk monopoly will ever give up their crusade, but I sort of hope they don’t. Milk tastes so much better to me when it’s bootlegged than when it’s legal.
~~
See also: Organic Farmers as Heroes, and Those Who Love Them

Gene and Carol Logsdon have a small-scale experimental farm in Wyandot County, Ohio.

Current Books:
All Flesh Is Grass: Pleasures & Promises of Pasture Farming
The Lords of Folly (novel)
The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse (Culture of the Land)

Photo: Gene Logsdon on his farm in Ohio.
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3 Comments

Wow, Gene, how did I miss this one — from over four years ago, no less!

Well, the situation hasn’t improved in four years. In fact, the modern-day Gestapo has become more bold with the passage of the Orwellian double-speak named “Food Safety Modernization Act.”

The FDA busted Dan Algyer, a mild-mannered Amish farmer, after a one-year investigation and infiltration of his herd share, infiltrating his herd share with an agent buying in and then transporting his milk across state lines so they could bust HIM! The FDA is the one who committed the crime! This used to be called “entrapment.” It should be illegal in a sane world.

Then there’s the travesty of the Rawsome Foods bust in southern California, and the seized and destroyed elderberry juice in Wisconsin — taken because the winery merely linked to a site that touted the health benefits of elderberry juice, causing the FDA to classify it as a “drug” and seize it for false advertising. This, while they allow packages of potato chips to be labeled “heart healthy!”

Then there’s the continuing saga of Michael Schmidt in Ontario, busted there and in British Columbia for contempt, in the west because their herd share was distributing “pet food.” A bit over five years ago, nearly two-dozen armed and flak-jacketed officers from multiple jurisdictions staged a pre-dawn raid on his farm, seizing and destroying raw dairy products, and seizing cheese making equipment, computers, and business records. Not to mention traumatizing and terrorizing his family.

If you made all this stuff up and wrote it in a book, people would say, “Naw, that would never happen. Not in THIS country, because we are FREE!”

But there is some hope for sanity. Last Wednesday (23 November 2011), on the fifth anniversary of the raid on Michael Schmidt’s farm, there were demonstrations in ten Canadian cities in support of raw milk. In Victoria, BC, four elected politicians stood up and supported limited access to raw milk. (It would have to be “limited” at the provincial level, since it is illegal federally.)

My grandma gave me Practical Skills for Christmas one year and we have read it cover to cover. We have an amish friend that gives us milk sometimes and I am always amazed how much of it I want to drink when I have it and how long the store milk lasts in comparison.

Gene, you and Rosalind Creasy are my heros. I’ve spent years reading your books and I’m so glad I found you here. You make me think and you make me laugh and I think a lot of us need to do more of both.

My kids were all raised on raw goats milk, home made cheese, yogurt and ice cream. None of them ever had a broken bone and neither have I. When due to life circumstances I had to give up my little 1/2 acre farm and move back to AZ without any animals, my oldest daughter, then 7 refused to drink store milk for years, because it tasted ‘bad’. Keep up the good work!

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