I can’t tell you who provides me with milk because they are criminals. Yes, selling milk out your back door to neighbors who need it is illegal. Because some people have gotten sick due to unsanitary conditions at some farms (small and factory), all people must drink pasteurized milk. Here’s an article on raw milk from Wikipedia for those who want to understand the issue more deeply. Here’s another from Scientific American and it’s worth reading the comments. I want to merely address the issue of freedom embedded in the issue of raw milk.
While I’m glad there are agencies designed to protect citizens from harm – from police to the FDA – I also want the freedom to make educated choices, accepting responsibility for the risks in order to get the rewards. In other areas of life – taking back roads labeled impassable, smoking cigarettes, drinking booze – I have the freedom to make an informed choice. Why not milk? Why not just sign a waiver with the milker, a hold harmless document that says I am responsible? Jeesh, even downloading computer programs that could crash your whole system, ruining your whole intellectual output simply requires an “I accept” click and off we go.
Like other liberty issues, this one links hippies with NRA members. Both want the freedom of individual choice. Both protest old biddies and bureaucrats controlling what they do in the privacy of their own home. If you want to control my udderly innocent desire to drink my neighbor’s milk, let me take out a license.
Yes, my neighbor could get a license. Have their dairy approved. That is an expensive process, though, and will drive up the cost of the product. Just let me decide. If I get the runs, whose business is that anyway. I could die sooner riding a motorcycle than drinking raw milk. (Scientific American says the issue is sending your kids to school with E Coli and infecting others. Raw milk aside, isn’t sending your kids to kindergarten full of sugar just as dangerous?)
Foodies will make their case on dueling research. This is the “good for you – bad for you” debate. Raw milk kills. Raw milk heals. Okay now crank up the decibels. add some placards. you have a real food fight.
I’m not going there. I’m just saying it is my right as an American to choose what I eat if the consequences affect me alone, rarely others. Perhaps the raw milk argument is like the one for medical marijuana – in small quantities for personal use when an aid to healing. Hey, maybe I can get my doctor to write a prescription for it…
So many technological advances have been radical in their era. Outside the mainstream. Ridiculed. Many certainties of the medical and scientific communities of their day are now hogwash. We do not know what received wisdom will be in a decade on raw milk. Until then, perhaps we can practice the golden mean. Moderation in all things. Perhaps we can designate substances not proven socially harmful as contained, not controlled. Contained to personal use. By consenting adults.
So I am arguing for legalizing buying milk direct from your friend’s cow on three counts:
2. Local supply chains
3. Common sense
All of the above are quite American.