The 2015 Montana Legislature voted against legalizing purchase of raw milk at the farm. Too many senators believed the hype and incorrect data shoveled at them by the Health Department and Dairy Association (the “got milk” people). For example, asserting that more people have died from contaminated raw than contaminated pasteurized milk, when CDC data proves the opposite is true.
Before 1950, almost all food was produced locally; convenience foods had not yet been invented. People kept gardens, or purchased from local growers. Many kept a cow or goat for raw milk, and chickens for meat and eggs.
In those times, widespread cases of food poisoning were unheard of. I don’t mean there were no instances of food poisoning. Rather, such instances were limited to small numbers locally, not spread around an entire region or country as they are today, because the infected foods were not shipped out of the area.
The key to food safety is good practices, including cleanliness and free-ranging livestock, but this goes against the bottom line of corporate farms. The E. coli outbreak from infected spinach a few years ago was traced to a CAFO cattle operation infected with a mutant strain. Their manure contaminated the ground water used to irrigate nearby crops later consumed by unsuspecting people around the country.
That outbreak could have been avoided if the cattle were pastured instead of confined. Not designed to digest grain, their systems became too acidic, encouraging growth of mutant bacteria that would not have survived in the stomach of grass-fed cows.
While pasteurization has its place, its widespread use to process many of our foods, simply to improve the bottom line of corporations (through long-term warehousing, long-distance shipping, and skimping on proper cleanliness practices), is not only not necessary but harmful to our health, and the food quality is degraded.
Buying locally from a farmer you trust, along with your own good cleanliness habits, is the best way to ensure food and milk safety.
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