sometimes when you have access to something good that others don’t, you take it for granted. i try to appreciate, on a fairly regular basis, that i have things like clean water and warm shelter. i know that my life is full of blessings that others may not be fortunate enough to share, and i try hard to be in a state of awareness and gratitude for that.
beyond the basics, however, i have something else that lots of people in america don’t, and that’s legal access to raw milk.
i came to washington from michigan, so i am acutely aware that raw milk is looked upon by those who over-govern us as a privilege and not a right. michigan was proudly the first state to require mandatory pasteurization of dairy products, and it continues to ban the sale of raw milk, even today. cow shares, where people can buy part ownership of a cow and thus be entitled to some of the milk that their cow produces, are under constant scrutiny by officials. shareholders are harassed and farmers who care for herd-share cows are bothered and pestered- i believe in the hope that they will stop helping people have access to raw milk.
one of the exciting things for us about living in washington- in addition to being allowed to have chickens and a garden in the front yard!- is that we can now legally get raw milk from a farm of our choosing. because farmers who sell their milk do it on the up-and-up, there is a greater measure of transparency about the conditions on their farms. the points-of-sale are clearly advertised and they are free to be open about answering questions without having to fear they are being set up in some sort of warped government “sting” operation. there is no sketchy underworld feeling about raw milk transactions, which is exactly as it should be- because of course we are talking about a healthy food here, not an illicit drug- so it feels “clean” to be involved in a transaction that helps a small farmer and helps my family at the same time.
but i have a strange warped survivor guilt about being able to get raw milk when so many people can’t. i have so many friends in other states with various health conditions who i think could get better if they could get raw milk, and they can’t. i knew so many small farmers in michigan who would really have benefitted from the extra income from being able to sell raw milk, and they were 100% trustworthy as far as sanitation and everything else, and they were still blocked from being able to sell their raw milk.
but they could drink it and give it to their own families.
so the government can’t truly believe raw milk is that dangerous.
because they couldn’t manufacture crystal meth for their own use and give it to their kids, but just not sell it. they couldn’t feed their kids drain cleaner. so if government officials really believe- and supposedly have data to back up- that raw milk is so unsafe- then why can farmers consume it and give it to their own families?
the real answer is that raw milk is not inherently unsafe.
the real answer is that i don’t want you to ever drink raw milk if you don’t want it. i do believe that it is a powerful food. it has lots of enzymes and bacteria (ones that i believe are quite beneficial), but if you think that raw milk has the ability to help you, then it is not just a neutral- or dead- food.
so, if you want to opt out, that should be your absolute right.
and that brings up an interesting point.
i am firmly of the opinion that if someone comes into my house, i should not- and will not- give them raw milk without their express consent. most of the time, i won’t even ask them and i will just give them store milk that’s been pasteurized.
why is that? because i don’t think that someone sitting at my kitchen table has the real ability to make an informed decision about the risks and benefits of raw milk on the spot, and i don’t want to put anyone in a position where they have to choose without doing their own due diligence. i have made my choice and i believe they have a right to make theirs, without being coerced by me or anyone else.
and because they are sitting there, and because they might think i have an agenda ( i don’t), and because they might not want to hurt my feelings (they wouldn’t), or they might perceive some sort of social obligation or something, i just don’t even want to go there. so, i avoid they grey area and just keep some store-bought pasteurized milk on hand.
now, if someone is curious, i am happy to answer questions. i am happy to provide information and be a resource. clearly my family and i are drinking the raw milk that’s in my fridge, so it’s not contaminated or anything. so if someone really wants to try it and i feel like the impetus is coming from them, then i am willing to oblige.
making choices about our food and our health is truly one of the most important choices we face each day.
i remember in a constitutional law class debating which amendment in the bill of rights was the most crucial for a free society. without free speech, you don’t have the information to make good decisions. without the right to bear arms, you cannot protect yourself from a repressive government. without the right to due process you have no guarantee of physical freedom. on and on we went, in endless circles, and i will tell you that this debate still rages in my head. but i will say this: without the ability to nourish our bodies effectively, we are just empty shells and the rest is just chatter.
so, for a multitude of reasons, i choose raw milk.
i’m not here to make your choices for you, but i certainly wish more people had those choices to make.