why no uncooked milk?
When I told Emmett that I was planning on writing a(nother) post about milk, his response was somewhat less than enthusiastic.
“Oh, god. You’re becoming one of those ranting raw milk people,” he said, as though I had been inducted into the “Weston A. Price Foundation” cult.
But when I told him the more specific idea I had in mind, his response changed.
“Oh,” he said, “That is a good point.”
My point: the government permits us to legally sell many things that will probably kill a person. (Cigarettes being one, and I’d also throw a bottle of Long’s Drugs generic label vodka in there… if one person drank all of that wretched stuff, I’m pretty sure he’d croak).
The government also permits us to legally sell many things that must be processed or handled in a certain way in order to not kill a person (raw chicken, raw beef, raw pork, guns, as well as a host of over-the-counter medications).
Given the things that government does allow us to sell—much of it with little to no oversight—it’s somewhat mindboggling that we’re not allowed to sell raw milk. Or “uncooked milk,” as I prefer to call it.
Raw milk is uncooked, in the way that raw meat is uncooked. We don’t require that all hamburger meat be burnt to a well-done crisp before leaving the grocery store. Nor do we require fish to be cooked into tough dry oblivion before leaving the wharf. A person might very well choose to take that hamburger meat and eat it raw and come down with e. coli. Or he might make that fish into sashimi and come down with some seaborne intestinal parasite.
So why can’t we sell uncooked milk, thus giving the customer the option of cooking it at 145 degrees for 30 minutes to kill bacteria, or drinking it raw?
(Rhetorical question alert.)
If you find my logic faulty (and poke around–there are a few holes), I have another suggestion. Alternatively, we could treat raw milk like we do other perfectly legal yet potentially life-threatening substances. Therefore, I’d like to suggest to the USDA that they treat raw milk like cancer-causing cigarettes, or teratogenic (birth-defect-causing) alcohol.
If raw milk were treated like cigarettes, labels would read:
WARNING: Raw milk is addictive.
WARNING: Raw milk can harm your children.
WARNING: Raw milk causes fatal lung disease.
WARNING: Drinking raw milk during pregnancy can harm your baby.
WARNING: Drinking raw milk can kill you.
WARNING: Drinking raw milk causes fatal lung disease in non-raw-milk-drinkers.
WARNING: Quitting raw milk now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.
On the other hand, if we were to treat raw milk like teratogenic, liver-annihilating alcohol, the milk bottle would read:
(1) According to the surgeon general, women should not drink raw milk during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of raw milk impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.
My point, of course, is that the dangers of raw milk seem pretty darn mild when compared to other street-legal substances. I’m pretty sure, for instance, that drinking raw milk will not cause fatal lung disease in non-raw-milk drinkers. (OK, OK, if I take this analogy to its conclusion, then you have to be 18 or 21 to consume raw milk. Personally, I’m willing to be carded.)
Seriously, USDA? This is MILK, for goodness’ sake. And yet it continues to be treated like it’s more dangerous than a loaded gun. At this rate we’ll be bottle-feeding human babies pasteurized breast milk instead of breastfeeding them, and I’ll be reduced to a quivering pile of jello tearing my hair out at the inhumanity and insanity of it all.
But until my jello days, my dogs and barn cats will continue to feast on the gallon of goat milk my girls are currently producing every day. Emmett will continue to make cheese like a madman and we’ll continue to gift it to friends and family at every available opportunity.
Because, lord knows, we’re not allowed to sell it to our neighbors, seeing as how it would kill them, harm their children, turn their fetuses into mutants, and give all their friends lung disease.
Oh wait. That’s the other thing again, isn’t it.