Monday, November 05, 2007


You may or may not be aware that there is a growing movement in Georgia (indeed, possibly the whole country) advocating the health benefits of drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk. Pasteurization kills bad bacteria, but also good bacteria and enzymes. And taste, according to proponents. (Not being much of a milk person myself, I wouldn't know.)

My purpose here is not to argue the merits for or against the drinking of raw milk--there is plenty of information online if you are interested. However I would like to point out that human beings successfully consumed non-pasteurized milk and milk products for lots and lots of years before Louis Pasteur.

Here in Georgia, it is illegal to buy raw milk for human consumption. But! You can buy it for your pets! Strange, I know. It's also illegal for dairies in South Carolina to ship raw milk into Georgia, but it's okay for people to go to South Carolina, buy raw milk, and bring it back home to drink. So raw milk drinkers in Georgia have two choices: go to another state to buy their milk or buy milk for their "pets" and consume it for themselves.

Now legislators in Georgia realize that humans are drinking this milk that is supposed to be for Fido and Sylvester. They don't like it. They don't like it that human beings are making decisions about what to put in their own bodies. They don't like it that some human beings are making different decisions than they, the government experts, would like them to make. So someone came up with a brilliant* idea: Require Georgia dairies that sell raw milk (for pets) to add a black dye to the milk, turning it dark gray in color, thereby rendering it unappetizing to potential human consumers. Hopefully, Spot and Tabby won't notice, being color-blind.

This is so dumb. These are consumers who are making a choice about what to drink. They are not sheeple, drinking whatever the almighty government has declared safe without knowing or caring what the government regulations are. They do not need the government to "protect" them from themselves, which is the rationale behind the dye proposal (emphasis added):

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warn against drinking raw milk, saying it could contain dangerous bacteria such as e. coli 0157:H7 and salmonella that would be destroyed by pasteurization.


Irvin also said he would oppose any efforts by the Legislature to provide for the legal sale of raw milk for human consumption. He's concerned that people at higher risk of foodborne illness, including children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, might get sick.

These consumers have researched their local dairies, visited them, spoken with the owners. These people are very, very aware of the risks involved in drinking raw milk, and do their best to mitigate that risk by personally choosing their milk providers. You know there's a risk in drinking any milk, yes? Or how about that 1 million pounds of beef being recalled that was produced by government-sanctioned peopleguys using government-sanctioned practices? I'm just sayin'. There are no guarantees, despite what the FDA would like us to believe.

The dairy owners have to prove to these consumers what their sanitation practices are. If the dairy owners can't convince potential consumers that they run a clean business, then the consumers will find a different dairy. These are informed consumers and informed producers who should be allowed to make grownup decisions about what to put into their bodies without ANYONE from the government having any kind of say-so whatsoever. This is how ALL transactions would be handled in a free market: medical care, furniture purchases, food, toys, etc. Informed consumers demand the best from informed producers.

Personally, I think that if you (like we do) are going to consume mass-manufactured milk, then you're probably going to want that milk to be pasteurized, since the milk comes from who-knows-where and gets aggregated (homogenized) on a large scale. One cow with an infection could contaminate an enormous amount of milk. But if you prefer to investigate your local dairy and are informed about sanitation practices and choose to consume raw milk from only that one dairy, then go ahead. Even if you're NOT informed about your local dairy and drink their milk anyway--go ahead! Nobody's rights are being violated.

The Add Dye To The Raw Milk For "Pets" Bill was defeated. Duh. But in the words of one Georgia legislator, who probably finds herself eminently reasonable and pragmatic (hence the title of this post):

Consumers are drinking raw milk whether we acknowledge it or not," she said. "Why not be proactive and regulate it? " (emphasis added)

No! Regulation is not being proactive! Consumers of raw milk know what they are doing. They don't need Georgia government bureaucrats regulating this product even more. What they actually need is for this law to be repealed, removing an unnecessary government interference in their lives.

*Brilliant as in, the most ridiculous waste of time and taxpayer dollars over the stupidest non-rights-are-being-violated issue EVER.


brendan said...

Regulation like this is the reason we have official government licenses for things like Hair Stylists, Interior Decorators, Nail Salon Peopleguys, etc.

Imagine the chaos, the massive wipeouts of entire communities that would occur with regularity if not for Our Government. People would go to the nail salon, then die days later from an infection. Or what if you went to a barber that didn't put all of the combs in that weird blue liquid? Do you have any IDEA what would happen? You'd probably die within a week from, uh... malaria, or something like that!

Mass carnage would ensue as interior decorators negligently leave the thorns on all of the roses in their flower arrangements. The body count would be high, indeed.

But you didn't stop to think about that, did you, before you made this post? Only through government-regulated training could a barber ever know to put the combs in that blue stuff. That blue stuff saves lives.

You should thank Our Government for keeping us safe in ways that we never have to think about or see. Or ask about, ever. Just close your mouth and your eyes and pay your taxes, and everything will be OK. You can trust Our Government.

Monica said...

Hilarious. I had to come back and find your post on raw milk because I remembered you writing something about it, but I did not read it closely.

Now that I've decided to investigate the raw milk thing for myself, I had to come back here and see what you said. :) I'm sure I'll come across a lot of other ridiculous government regulations re: food of which I was unaware, as I being to investigate optimal human diets more closely.

I believe, though, that you can obtain raw milk in Georgia (the same as here in CO) through a cowshare program, though, yes, technically it is illegal to sell it. Here's how it works in CO: you pay a one time fee for your "share" of the cow, then you pay regularly for the milk.

I mean, don't get me wrong. It's still a huge pain in the ass that I can't get the milk more easily by buying it at a grocery store and instead I have to travel an HOUR each way each week to the one farm within two hours that sells it. However, to combat lactose intolerance, it's well worth it.

As for safety, the farm I plan to get mine from tests regularly for pathogens. They have never ONCE tested positive. So you're darn right! We can do without the government regulator peopleguys! Without them I would not be forced to buy a share of a cow. I could simply go there and hand them however much money I wanted for the darn milk.