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dairy, the only one left actually, in a small New 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 bit intimidating for some people who are accustomed to government inspection) I also just caught the 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 I have produced a good healthy product - milk- which is now under attack by regulators (not to worry, I will win that battle despite two cease and desist orders) what makes me crazy is that so many people don't yet understand the connection between a healthy gut, with lots of "good guy" bacteria, and unprocessed foods. The people who seek out fresh milk here include many whose doctors have warned them against it, doctors who have failed to understand that antibiotics and processing have made foods unhealthy. I could tell story after story about the benefits I have seen, including my own intestinal problems- which went without a diagnosis but were cured inadvertently by the drinking of fresh milk. One herdshare member swears he keeps his weight in check with real milk. Another is lactose intolerant- but only for processed milk. Another had gout…and believe it or not, one switched when 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 any chemicals produced from the milk collected from my heirloom milking shorthorn cows…the very breed that would have wandered this very high ground in the 1700s. And yes, the subtle taste of the seasonal forage pasture grasses and the creamy shorthorn milk are extraordinary flavors. And good for you. The FDA is struggling right now, knowing well that the benefits of fresh milk and other similar products are good for you...as long as they are collected safely. Yet they are obligated to preserve the corporate interests of big dairy. Sales of fresh milk are increasing by two to 20 percent 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) are decreasing by 2 percent annually. I came under personal attack last year when I worked with legislators to create herdshare rules for small farms like mine. My cows, all five of them, are happy. What a concept. Right now my newest heifer, two weeks old, is by her mother's side. And that milk is extraordinary. Most calves are ripped from their mothers shortly after birth, and few get to see a pasture at all. Commercial cows are lucky to see their fifth year of producing life. A cow's life span is 20 years of production when they aren't pushed 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 pasture mozzarella. Like the chickens who also drink the milk, and the pork from the pigs who get the whey, it's not like anything you can buy in any store. Sincerely, Brigitte Ruthman Joshua's Farm Sandisfield Mass.
[Ruthman told us that she does not sell raw milk or cheese, but does use it within her own family.]
Raw milk stories are the best recent example.....when covering topics that should be science based, please convince whoever decides that covering the science is important. We had another raw milk story this morning giving air time to a feelings based subjective opinion with only 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 disease risk and why we pasture milk. This is completely comparable to covering people who don't vaccinate 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 is that healthy cows are frequently colonized with campylobacter, listeria, pathogenic E coli and other harmful bacteria. As was true before the advent of pasteurization, most children who drink raw milk do just fine, some become ill, and each year a small number die from infections transmitted through raw milk. Americans systematically devalue the public health triumphs including clean water, safe foods and vaccines that keep us well, because most of us have never experienced the consequences of living without. I support local sustainable agriculture but I am also thankful that our government takes an active role in keeping the food I eat and feed my daughter safe. Denver, CO Nicholas Walter
I just listened to the story on unpasteurized milk and was very upset by it. How could this qualify as reporting on NPR? I thought I was listening to Fox News (although I've never done so.) The article implied that the government is wrong to require milk to be pasteurized and that the nutrients in raw milk are very important. Where were the facts? What are the illnesses the government is worried about? What are the nutrients--can they be gotten from other foods? I buy wonderful pasteurized milk from a small dairy, 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 for Sunday 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 is doing a great job on All Things Considered but just doesn't seem to fit on Sunday. I hope Rachel will stay on Sunday and Audie in the evening.
As you can probably tell, NPR is a big part of my life. Thank you for all the good things you do. Jo Ann Lutz Durham, NC
My husband and I were driving to Iowa to visit his parents on their farm when we heard your opinion piece presenting parents who give raw milk to their children as heroes. I asked my mother in law if she remembered the life-threatening diseases children used to get from unpasteurized milk, and she did, immediately. She also remembered the home pasteurization unit she used to protect her own children. That was fifty years ago, and small family farms, then as now, were no guarantee of safety. I was deeply disappointed to hear NPR broadcast such an ill-informed piece. Mary Losure Saint Paul MN
Bonny Wolf’s piece on the benefits from raw milk is one of NPR’s most balanced stories about raw milk, but it still lacked documented problems at and failures of these same Federal agencies so eager to ban one more beneficial food. Those of us who have done our research on what these Federal agencies do and do not approve say "Thumbs up for raw milk; thumbs down for pink slime." AlyceOrtuzar Montgomery County, Maryland Ashton, MD
I vehemently disagree with Bonnie Wolf's story about raw milk that aired today, Easter Sunday. She treated the issue of whether or not to drink raw milk as just a choice made by mothers without giving adequate weight to the risks that are involved. Indeed, she characterized the
position of health authorities about the danger of drinking unpasteurized milk as mere "claims." Are we to next hear stories from NPR that vaccinations are harmful? My problem with Wolf's report is very simple. It is something that I learned in elementary school. Louis Pasteur discovered that heating milk to a certain temperature killed the bacteria in milk and therefore saved countless millions of lives from disease caused by that bacteria. The entire tone and content of Bonnie Wolf's story reduces that scientific and historical fact to a mere claim that can be disregarded in a cavalier manner by mothers of small children who know better, who know that raw milk is essential to their child's well being, which is exactly the opposite of the lesson of history. If they want their children to have unpasteurized milk they should be breast feeding their children. Now, I am getting nasty. This story in which the dangers and the facts of raw milk are brushed over as claims is more worthy of Fox News than NPR. In our wealth as a nation, we have somehow created an alternate universe in which some parents believe that vaccinations and pasteurized milk are bad. Their children will suffer because of their arrogant disregard of facts. Wolf's story reduced the decision to drink raw milk to just another lifestyle choice without emphasizing the danger. That is wrong. Jack Wallace Jr. Montgomery, AL
In listening to this morning's brief story on the effort to deregulate milk products it proved to be a tawdry repetition of nothing. First, what are the bacteria that cause milk problems? Where in the process do these come from? Part of the issue with milk laws is that they were based primarily on processing procedures and environments that no longer exist. Since you city folks did not go to a dairy farm to see how milk is now gathered it would be expected that you could not tell when there were processes that increased the danger. Today, even in natural farms, there is an intense effort to clean the skin surface of the cow to cut down on disease. Udders are scrubbed, disinfected, and staff are also treated to the same. Your story did nothing to advance the story other than to repeat trite phrases and snobbish city dweller ignorance about milk. You mentioned nothing about the testing process used in today's milking plants. IN short you story was a waste of air time. How about explaining why it is processed as it is? Have you gone to see cows being milked? Even those cows on raw milk runs. This is important biology and you do your intelligent audience a disservice without getting up close to the udders of a cow.
This exacerbates a growing ignorance at where diseases enter the food stream. For city folk you are just ignorant. Orpheus Allison Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
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