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Listener Letters - Wolf Commentary

Listener Letters - Wolf Commentary

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Published by: NPRombudsman on Apr 20, 2012
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07/10/2013

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Responses to Bonny Wolf’s
Hello,Sending you a message from Joshua's Farm, a small dairy, the only one left actually, in a smallNew England town which once boasted tons of them in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.I caught the tail end of a segment you had about fresh milk (raw is a regulatory term, and a bitintimidating for some people who are accustomed to government inspection) I also just caughtthe tail end of a segment just tonight by Dave Davies with Carl Zimmer about the benefits of microbial flora in the intestines. I couldn't then not write this note.I don't want to take your time, but the connections to me have been fairly obvious in the years Ihave produced a good healthy product - milk- which is now under attack by regulators (not toworry, I will win that battle despite two cease and desist orders) what makes me crazy is that somany people don't yet understand the connection between a healthy gut, with lots of "goodguy" bacteria, and unprocessed foods.The people who seek out fresh milk here include many whose doctors have warned themagainst it, doctors who have failed to understand that antibiotics and processing have madefoods unhealthy. I could tell story after story about the benefits I have seen, including my ownintestinal problems- which went without a diagnosis but were cured inadvertently by thedrinking of fresh milk.One herdshare member swears he keeps his weight in check with real milk. Another is lactoseintolerant- but only for processed milk. Another had gout
and believe it or not, one switchedwhen the hormones in processed milk caused her breasts to fill with milk.I might also tempt you with a taste of high pasture mozzarella...a unique flavor without anychemicals produced from the milk collected from my heirloom milking shorthorn cows
thevery breed that would have wandered this very high ground in the 1700s. And yes, the subtletaste of the seasonal forage pasture grasses and the creamy shorthorn milk are extraordinaryflavors.And good for you.The FDA is struggling right now, knowing well that the benefits of fresh milk and other similarproducts are good for you...as long as they are collected safely. Yet they are obligatedto preserve the corporate interests of big dairy. Sales of fresh milk are increasing by two to 20percent annually, depending on where you live and the availability. Sales of processed milk (and
 
don't I love the advertising on the sides of big dairy trucks promoting local farms) aredecreasing by 2 percent annually.I came under personal attack last year when I worked with legislators to create herdshare rulesfor small farms like mine.My cows, all five of them, are happy. What a concept. Right now my newest heifer, two weeksold, is by her mother's side. And that milk is extraordinary. Most calves are ripped from theirmothers shortly after birth, and few get to see a pasture at all. Commercial cows are lucky tosee their fifth year of producing life. A cow's life span is 20 years of production when they aren'tpushed to produce a thin milk without creamy benefits.Yes, happy healthy sundrenched cows produce a healthier product. Slowly, painfully slowly,consumers are coming around to it.Come...I'll introduce you to real cows on real pasture and you can taste high pasturemozzarella. Like the chickens who also drink the milk, and the pork from the pigs who get thewhey, it's not like anything you can buy in any store.Sincerely,Brigitte RuthmanJoshua's FarmSandisfield Mass.[Ruthman told us that she does not sell raw milk or cheese, but does use it within her ownfamily.]Raw milk stories are the best recent example.....when covering topics that should be sciencebased, please convince whoever decides that covering the science is important. We hadanother raw milk story this morning giving air time to a feelings based subjective opinion withonly reference to the health risk recommendation from the CDC.Please if there is a follow up story, do serious research and reporting on the science of diseaserisk and why we pasture milk. This is completely comparable to covering people who don'tvaccinate their kids without addressing the true public health risks to not doing so.
 
Thank you, Bart Shank.New Orleans, LA
I was appalled by Bonnie Wolf’s commentary on raw milk which left the clear impression that
there is scientific uncertainty about whether raw milk causes disease in children. The fact isthat healthy cows are frequently colonized with campylobacter, listeria, pathogenic E coli andother harmful bacteria. As was true before the advent of pasteurization, most children whodrink raw milk do just fine, some become ill, and each year a small number die from infectionstransmitted through raw milk. Americans systematically devalue the public health triumphsincluding clean water, safe foods and vaccines that keep us well, because most of us have neverexperienced the consequences of living without. I support local sustainable agriculture but I amalso thankful that our government takes an active role in keeping the food I eat and feed mydaughter safe.Denver, CONicholas WalterI just listened to the story on unpasteurized milk and was very upset by it. How could thisqualify as reporting on NPR? I thought I was listening to Fox News (although I've never doneso.) The article implied that the government is wrong to require milk to be pasteurized andthat the nutrients in raw milk are very important.Where were the facts? What are the illnesses the government is worried about? What are thenutrients--can they be gotten from other foods? I buy wonderful pasteurized milk from a smalldairy, surely small dairies are not the reason for supporting raw milk. What a poor excuse for journalism this story was.Now on to the good part. I love Rachel Martin! She is so enthusiastic and fun--perfect forSunday morning. Today she almost jumped out of the radio when introducing Will Shortz.Audie Cornish has sounded uncomfortable on the Sunday show, almost afraid of the puzzler,with a change in format to that part of the show that seems weird and unfriendly. Audie isdoing a great job on All Things Considered but just doesn't seem to fit on Sunday. I hope Rachelwill stay on Sunday and Audie in the evening.

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Amy Manning added this note
i would have loved it if the author would have compared apples to apples. Yes, raw milk tasted good, but likely the flavor tasted good for many reasons, not just the fact that it is raw. The diet of the cow, packaging material, breed of the cow, etc., would surely all influence the flavor of the milk.
Terry Sullivan added this note
I would like to know if the cure (pasteurization) might not actually be causing more deaths than risking the raw milk? One thing we do know, raw milk is a product for human consumption that has a track record of many thousands of years, a time when heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and a host of other diseases of civilization were rare.
Terry Sullivan added this note
As such, it is important for us to know what we should and should not introduce into our bodies. When we pasteurize, we kill all the bacteria, both good and bad, and that has repercussions, both good and bad, for our health. Let's look into the pathogens of raw milk, but let's also look at the diseases we contract as a result of not getting our beneficial bacteria.
Terry Sullivan added this note
It seems clear to me that we have a cultural problem here. We have come to expect that a bacterium is bad until proven good. One fact is that about 80% of our body is not us. It is friendly, as in vital to existence, bacteria, and a whole lot of mitochondrial DNA in each and every cell in our body. We are a community, not a sterile, isolated organism.

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