I arrived at our state capital in Madison this past Wednesday to share my thoughts with Representative David Craig and Senator Mary Lazich on S.B. 108, a piece of legislation developed to decriminalize the sale of raw milk.  At those exact moments that I was articulating the need for this legislation, the CDC was putting out a press release claiming that illnesses associated with the consumption of raw milk are 150 times greater than its pasteurized counterpart. 

Milk straight from the udder has been an integral and nourishing part of the human diet for thousands of years.  From the time of domestication of cattle to present, the consumption of raw milk has offered its drinkers a whole host of health and nutritional benefits which include, most notably,  reduction in asthma and allergy symptoms.  It is interesting to note that practitioners of holistic medicine have long associated pasteurized dairy as being one of the key triggers for both these medical conditions.  What we see here is a clear case of how processing a food doesn’t just change its character (pasteurization kills off the beneficial bacteria and denatures milk’s delicate protein molecules) but the end result of violently heating milk predisposes the drinker to the very health problems that drinking the unadulterated product treats!  That is not coincidence.

The bacteria destroyed in the pasteurization process would have gone on to produce the enzyme lactase which predigests the milk sugar lactose.  Left intact, these Lactobacillus bacteria also inoculate our gut with powerful probiotic strains that help heal our intestines from the many ravages of processed foods and antibiotic use.  On the contrary, pasteurized milk contains a greater percentage of lactose, which some folks have a hard time digesting.  Furthermore, drinking a bunch of dead bacteria serves as an immune trigger for most of us with the end result being an abundance of mucus production as our body tries to detoxify itself of this dead food.

Due to the fact that raw milk is a living food, yes, there is always the risk that a pathogenic strain of bacteria might otherwise occupy and outcompete the natural culture and make us sick, but what the CDC report hides in their blatant cherry-picking of data is that by percentage, more people have gotten sick from drinking pasteurized milk when you look at all the data available comparing the two.  Raw milk that is produced properly, tested, and bought responsibly from small sustainable dairy farms poses less risk of illness than drinking mass-produced supermarket milk, which typically comes from dairy farms with less concern for the overall integrity of milk they know is bound for pasteurization.  According to the CDC’s own data, not one person has ever died from drinking raw milk while several people over the years have died from drinking pasteurized milk that was tainted after the pasteurization process.  These facts, combined with the overall digestibility and inherent health benefits of raw milk, make it a far better option for those who choose to drink milk.

Currently, raw milk is illegal to sell in twenty states and legal to sell, buy, and drink in the other thirty.  If Wisconsin is successful in passing legislation to legalize the sale of raw milk, small family farms would get a much needed boost as we acknowledge their role in feeding our communities.  I am happy to report that both Representative Craig and Senator Lazich stated that they both support raw milk legislation.  What both legislators realize is that the most important issue of all is the freedom of choice.  While it is at the legislator’s discretion as to how raw milk can be regulated in the state, no branch of government should deny us our right to make an informed choice on how we wish to nourish ourselves and our families.  For those who consuming dairy is appropriate and well-tolerated, raw milk is a time-honored, cheap medicine.  Cheers and thanks for reading.

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