There’s a battle going on in America right now and it’s gotten really ugly very quickly. No, I’m not talking about the state of politics, the debate over religion, or any of the other usual suspects. This fight is about the rights of Americans to have access to real food. And we’re not talking about that stuff sold in grocery stores under the guise of “food” either. It’s real, whole, unadulterated foods that are grown and harvested on local farms that provide far superior nutrition and nourishment to the mass-produced versions sold in supermarkets from coast to coast. The problem is one of access and the culprit standing in the way most of the time are the government bureaucrats who seek to destroy the very fabric of what once made this nation so great. The crux of this issue centers around the sale of raw milk which is currently illegal to purchase in stores in 40 states. One of the leading voices in support of local farmers attempting to provide healthy raw milk products to the consumer is journalist David E. Gumpert and he chronicles the travesty happening with this issue in his book The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights.
I’m fortunate enough to live in one of the states where raw milk is legal (South Carolina) and can drive down to a local store about a mile from my house or the family farm about 10 miles away to purchase it without fear of breaking the law. Although I don’t drink a lot of milk because of the natural sugars that are in it, I do enjoy a glass of raw milk from time to time as well as consuming raw cheeses as part of my healthy low-carb lifestyle. It’s a privilege that can be taken for granted by people who have access to these foods because not everyone is so fortunate to live in an area where raw dairy is allowed to be legally sold to them.
Gumpert himself became especially curious about health when he experienced firsthand the failure of the healthcare system after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001. That was what helped light a fire in him to become more and more acutely aware of how health is managed in America and what he soon discovered was frightening in a country purporting to promote freedom and choice. And being a researcher and writer by trade, Gumpert began chronicling the raw milk crackdowns in 2006 on his blog which inspired the creation of this book. Interestingly, while the government has taken an interest in bringing an end to small dairy farmers producing and distributing unpasteurized milk to consumers who wish to purchase it for themselves and their families under the auspices of protecting them from potentially harmful pathogens, they have all but ignored the health benefits that come from consuming raw milk. It’s this oxymoronic irony that fills the pages of The Raw Milk Revolution.
Gumpert beautifully paints a picture about how raw milk has become this radioactive issue that goes much deeper than the mere 1-3 percent of the milk market sales that raw milk currently comprises. He says it’s really all about how food is made and distributed in America, the fear of food borne illnesses arising from poor farming practices, and greater government control over what people put in their mouths. You’ll get plenty of personal stories from the author as well as those who have shared their experiences on his blog sprinkled throughout the book. As you turn the pages of this very informative and entertaining narrative weaved together by Gumpert, you’ll literally sense and feel the outrage over something like this happening in the United States of America!
This raw milk debate truly is a war between various factions which Gumpert reveals very clearly in his book. It’s the traditional, small farmers vs. the mass-produced factory farms. It’s naturopathic medicine vs. the pop-a-pill-for-every-ailment modern medicine. It’s the right to buy the foods you want vs. the busybody nanny-state government flexing their muscles masquerading behind the concept of protecting the consumer. This is what it all boils down to and the issue is not going away anytime soon because there is a lot of misinformation that has been put out there about the safety of consuming raw milk much in the same way that the low-carb diet has been so maligned by the media and special interest groups that stand to benefit from it being discredited. This is why educational efforts by people like Gumpert are so vital to arming the consumer with quality information so they can make prudent decisions based on the facts rather than the propagandist conjecture that can linger out there unchallenged.
One thing you’ll see over and over again as you read The Raw Milk Revolution is the bureaucratic breakdown that happens whenever the government gets involved and the hardened criminal treatment that raw milk farmers are subjected to when they try to fulfill the demands of their customers. Horrific stories of being run off the road by state troopers, waking up unsuspecting farm owners in the middle of the night to rummage through their personal belongings, pouring out fresh raw milk on the side of the road, and leaving lots of angry raw milk customers empty-handed tell the real story of this revolution that has only just begun. Gumpert has done his part to follow-up with the key players in this battle, including farmers who have been raided as well as the government minions who claim to be following orders from those in positions of power over them.
There’s a missing group of people in this story that can sometimes be forgotten in all the contentious shouting matches from both sides. It’s the consumer who is able to access raw milk products and the stunning health they are able to attain because of it. Despite all the bellyaching from government bureaucrats over the “dangers” of consuming this real food, the reality is people are benefitting from it in amazing ways. Even “lactose intolerant” people are able to enjoy milk again when it is raw. Brain health is improved, skin and hair become softer, chronic pain and health issues improve, and so much more. Yes, it’s anecdotal, but it is important to note in light of all the hysteria about how harmful raw milk is supposed to be. Clearly, it’s not hurting everyone…if anyone.
Of course, the influence of Sally Fallon Morell from The Weston A. Price Foundation and her Real Milk campaign is a major part of The Raw Milk Revolution. Gumpert is a regular speaker at the WAPF meetings that take place annually and his fascinating stories bring this raw milk issue to life for people who are completely unaware of something like this happening in America. Awareness and education are powerful tools in convincing the public to rise up against the “Gestapo-styled” tactics being implored to deny them access to raw milk if they so desire to consume it with whatever alleged risks that might be attached. There are worse risks to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and even consuming sugar than there will ever be to ingesting raw milk. It’s just that simple.
So, what can be done to show support for the right to access raw milk short of an all-out mutiny against the government? Gumpert offers a few ideas that might just work: create an organized consumer coalition to promote raw milk and combat bullying tactics by the government, encourage more impartial reporting of raw milk raids which tend to skew the coverage on the side of regulators, increase consumer demand for raw dairy so that farmers will take the risk of fulfilling the orders, go underground with a “black market” raw milk business (we’re not talking about marijuana here, but MILK!), and most importantly of all in my opinion, the continued rise in chronic diseases that could be prevented through the consumption of quality foods like raw milk. Gumpert is cautiously optimistic about the future of raw milk, but doesn’t see this issue going away anytime soon.
If you want to know all the ins and outs of the raw milk debate, then you owe it to yourself to get a copy of The Raw Milk Revolution by David Gumpert!
Read more of my book reviews at my “Low-Carb Book Reviews” blog.