Friday, May 14, 2010

What's milk got to do with the right to choose our foods?

The FDA was sued by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FCLDF) because of its block on the intrastate sale of raw milk. Who knew that farmers even needed such an organization, but evidently they do. The FCLDF is an organization whose mission includes “defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods”.

The Iowa Civil Court dismissed the case and here's an excerpt of what the FDA said:
There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.” [p. 26]
“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.” [p.26]

What? Is the FDA really saying they will control the foods we choose to consume? It certainly sounds that way. But, why? Perhaps the FDA is trying to protect us from harm.  After all that's their purpose, right? Well, from what I understand, and in fairness to all sides, just like there are risks involved in eating uncooked shellfish, or a rare filet mignon with a nice, juicy, red center, there can be risk involved in consuming raw (unpasturized) milk.

However, raw milk has benefits as well, just like shellfish and beef. Also, if a consumer is informed about where they purchase the raw milk they consume, the risk of bacterial contamination is relatively low. I say relatively because we thought purchasing store bought spinach and peanut butter, or fast food burgers was safe too. These foods caused huge outbreaks of food born illnesses and their sale hasn't been regulated. 

So, why is the FDA so keen on restricting the sale and purchase of raw milk? I believe the answer is a large lobbying group called Big Dairy. They're representing the huge dairy corporations that  provide us with pastuerized milk. Guess who is the best source of raw milk? Small family dairy farms. Big dairy feels threatened even though raw milk is a small niche of the dairy industry.

Now, I don't even drink milk, but I'm bringing this issue up because the regulation of this food sets a precedent. If the FDA is able to regulate our choice of purchasing raw milk than what's next? Organic foods? Sprouts? Mushrooms? I doubt it will ever be fast food or pharmaceuticals. If we need to be protected from our own inability to choose safe, healthy foods than why aren't fast foods or soft drinks restricted. They are proven to be unhealthy. Food for thought... no pun intended :)

If you're interested in info on how to become an eco-friendly milk consumer, just click on the post title. In the end money talks. If we chose to purchase milk that doesn't come from cows injected with growth hormones or fed questionable diets I believe the FDA and big dairy will eventually get the message. Don't we have the right to choose our foods?

Court doc: -

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