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Mainely Tipping Points 33: GO WILD!

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Mainely Tipping Points 33

GO WILD!

 

Sandor Ellix Katz’s WILD FERMENTATION: THE FLAVOR, NUTRITION, AND CRAFT OF LIVE-CULTURE FOODS arrived last week.  I found myself dropping all other activities and reading it straight through. 

By noon the next day I had a ball of cloth-wrapped cheese hanging from a kitchen knob, dripping away the last of its whey. 

In two days’ time I had a quart mason jar filled with fermenting kale leaves, or Gundru, a Tibetan ferment.  (You can’t imagine how many kale leaves it takes to fill a quart jar once you’ve wilted them in the sun and pounded them so that they release their juices—the leaves of about eight kale plants.)  And now I’m eyeing the crocks over my stove, bought for decorative purposes mostly, and wondering what from the fall harvest I can ferment next. 

Katz, who is a charming writer, would say “lots of things.”  And, indeed, Katz discusses how to ferment vegetables, fruits, beans, dairy, grains and breads, beverages, wines, beers, and vinegars.  “Fermentation,” writes Katz, gives us many of our most basic staples, such as bread and cheese, and our most pleasurable treats, including chocolate, coffee, wine, and beer” (2).

Microscopic bacteria and fungi, or microflora, are, writes Katz, agents of transformation; they feast upon decaying matter and shift dynamic life forces from one creation to the next (2).  That’s why “fermented foods and drinks are quite literally alive with flavor and nutrition.  Their flavors tend to be strong and pronounced,” like “stinky aged cheeses, tangy sauerkraut, rich earthy miso [made traditionally, which can take several years], smooth sublime wines.  Human have always appreciated the distinctive flavors resulting from the transformative power of microscopic bacteria and fungi” (5).     

But, why should we home cooks ferment anything?  First, fermented foods we make for ourselves are guaranteed to be very rich in enzymes. 

You might recall me writing in earlier Tipping Points essays about Edward Howell’s theory on enzymes.  Howell, who died in 2000 at the age of 102, spent his life studying the role of enzymes in health and disease.  He posited that if one does not eat enzyme-rich foods, the body has both to use existing stored enzymes and to work harder to digest foods, all of which takes a toll.  Ron Schmid, in THE UNTOLD STORY OF MILK, notes Howell’s assessment that humans have lower levels of starch-digesting enzymes in their blood than other creatures and higher levels in their urine, which means their resident enzymes are being used up faster.  And, as Schmid notes, based on various studies, it’s clear that diets deficient in enzymes result in shortened life spans (101-105).  Certainly this assessment is a piece of the growing body of information pointing toward the health problems associated with starchy carbohydrate-heavy diets. 

Second, fermentation removes toxins from foods.  All grains, nuts, seeds, and tubers contain inhibitors (phytic acids) which block human absorption of nutrients.  These inhibitors are inactivated by traditional food preparation methods that involve soaking in acids, like whey or lemon juice, which begins a fermentation process, or by sprouting (101-105).  Few, if any, commercial foods have been properly prepared so as to inactivate nutrient inhibitors while, at the same time, preserving nutrients.  Thus, unless you are properly preparing these foods, your body isn’t getting all of the nutrients in these foods and is, to add insult to injury, struggling to digest them. 

Fermentation can remove toxins as powerful as cyanide from cassava, an enormous tuber used in tropical regions of the Americas and, now, in Africa and Asia.  Other toxins fermentation can eliminate or reduce include nitrites, prussic acid, oxalic acid, nitrosamines, and glucosides (7). 

Third, fermentation preserves food because it produces “alcohol, lactic acid, and acetic acid, all `bio-preservatives’ that retain nutrients and prevent spoilage.”  Hence, highly perishable foods, like vegetables, fruits, milk, fish, and meat, can be stored after harvest for consumption in leaner seasons.  Or, as Captain James Cook discovered during his eighteenth century explorations, preserved fermented sauerkraut prevented scurvy during long ocean voyages (5).      

“Microscopic bacteria and fungi,” writes Katz, “…are in every breath we take and every bite we eat.”  These microflora are “in a symbiotic relationship” with humans.  They “digest food into nutrients our bodies can absorb, protect us from potentially dangerous organisms, and teach our immune systems how to function” (2).  Most importantly, writes Katz, “we need to promote diversity among microbial cultures” in our bodies because “biodiversity is increasingly recognized as critical to the survival of larger-scale ecosystems” (11).        

Not all fermented foods are alive when you eat them.  Bread, for instance, must be cooked.  But, the most nutritious fermented foods, such as yogurt, are consumed alive (7).  Or, such as sauerkraut, which I make by the half-gallon and keep in our refrigerator as a ready “asset” to compliment a meal.  I used red cabbage for my current batch, and it is the loveliest deep ruby color.   

 Live yogurt and sauerkraut couldn’t be easier to make, and I have time-tested recipes for both in the recipe section of this blog.  I have not yet tried Katz’s recipe, but it has some really exciting suggested additions.  Plus, Katz’s sauerkraut lives in a crock in a cool place and does not require refrigeration.   

 Fourth and finally, fermenting is a political act, an act that stands in stark opposition to what Sally Fallon Morell of the Weston A. Price Foundation, who wrote the introduction to WILD FERMENTATION, describes as “the centralization and industrialization of our food supply.”  Real culture, writes Fallon, “begins at the farm, not in the opera house, and binds a people to a land and its artisans.”  Many commentators, notes Fallon, have said that America lacks culture.  But, “how can we be cultured when we eat only food that has been canned, pasteurized, and embalmed?” (xii).  Food artisans ferment food, and they are increasingly being regulated out of existence by the government in the name of “food safety”—which is nothing more than industry’s power in a so-called “free market” to eliminate all its competitors.    

Katz writes the following:  “Thinking about mass food production makes me sad and angry.  Chemical mono-crop agriculture.  Genetic engineering of the most basic food crops.  Ugly, inhumane factory animal breeding.  Ultra-processed foods full of preservative chemicals, industrial byproducts, and packaging.  Food production is just one realm among many in which ever more concentrated corporate units extract profits from the Earth and the mass of humanity” (163). 

 Katz encourages us to “draw inspiration from the action of bacteria and yeast, and make your life a transformative process.”  Wild fermentation, he writes “is the opposite of homogenization and uniformity, a small antidote you can undertake in your home, using the extremely localized populations of microbial cultures present there to produce your own unique fermented foods” (21).  

Take back your power, Katz urges, to “use your fermented goodies to nourish your family and friends and allies.  The life-affirming power of these basic foods contrasts sharply with the lifeless, industrially processed foods that fill supermarket shelves” (166).  Remember that “wild fermentation is a way of incorporating the wild into your body,” so that you become “one with the natural world” once more (12).       

Don’t wait, like I did, to get a copy of Katz’s WILD FERMENTATION.

GO WILD now!  

Tipping Points 8: Drinking Real Milk

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(You may want to read my essays in order.)

April 26, 2010

Tipping Points 8

Drinking Real Milk

 

I started drinking real milk as an act of faith four years ago.  I can still remember how shocked I was that anyone would risk drinking real milk when my neighbor casually said how lucky she felt to have been able to buy real milk locally for her children.  I did not try it right away.  I asked other friends if they drank “real milk,” began to read labels, and began to notice how much of our milk is now ultrapasteurized.  I will confess that I am now addicted to raw milk. 

I recently traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, which is a wasteland for the kind of quality food we enjoy in Maine.  The best I could do for milk was organic whole milk that was homogenized and ultrapasteurized.  To my surprise it tasted bitter, as does milk that has been allowed to boil.  And, it had none of the silky smoothness or the energy, the feeling of life held in a living product, that I experience with real milk. 

Ron Schmid, in THE UNTOLD STORY OF MILK (2009), notes that “milk in general—both pasteurized and raw—is a particularly safe food.”  In 1997, “milk and milk products accounted for only two tenths of one percent of all reported cases of food-borne illness.”  However, when an outbreak occurs, it “usually involves many individuals” (274). 

But, does commercial milk supports human health?  Schmid argues that commercial milk is a compromised product that can and does produce allergic reactions and chronic illness. 

Schmid discusses two competing paradigms which emerged in France in the 1860s:  Louis Pasteur’s germ theory, or the belief that germs cause illness, and Claude Bernard’s milieu interieur theory, or the belief that “illnesses are caused by a failure of the immune system to adequately cope with infectious agents” (43).  Robert Koch’s discovery and isolation of the organisms causing tuberculosis and cholera (1880s) gave Pasteur’s germ theory broad acceptance.  But, Schmid notes, this “mechanistic understanding of disease banished the individual’s power to prevent it and placed the mandate to cure squarely in the hands of the medical professionals” who became allies with the drug companies, since the belief arose also that disease germs could only be “overwhelmed and eliminated” by drugs (46-47). 

Yet, Schmid notes, “ample evidence existed to support Bernard’s alternative theory” of the strong immune system (47).  And recent studies by the Institute for Genomic Research (2008) demonstrate that a healthy human body carries about six pounds of beneficial bacteria which perform myriad tasks, to include creating conditions where pathogens cannot take hold (48). 

Dr. J.E. Crewe, a Mayo Foundation founder, practiced milk cures in the 1920s and 1930s.  White blood (real milk), fed exclusiverly to patients, built up resistance and produced results that Dr. Crewe claimed were so “ `uniformly excellent that one’s conception of disease and its alleviation is necessarily changed’ “ (83).  

Dr. Francis M. Pottenger’s studies on hundreds of cats over 10 years showed that those fed raw milk “thrived with virtually no illness” and produced “generation after generation of healthy cats” (92).  Cats fed pasteurized milk; evaporated milk; or condensed, sweetened milk became diseased and were “eventually unable to reproduce.”  These cats, writes Schmid, were “highly susceptible to infectious and chronic illness and exhibited degenerative skeletal changes” (92).

Dr. Edward Howell, who died in 2000 at 102 years, was considered by many nutritionists to be “the world’s leading expert on enzymes” (10).  Dr. Howell believed enzymes facilitate “ `every chemical reaction that occurs in our body’ “ (10).  He believed that one is born with “ `a certain enzyme potential,’ “ and if we use up our supply of enzyme activity too quickly, we die.  Thus, eating enzyme rich foods, among them real milk, helps our body preserve its enzyme potential, while eating refined foods uses up our enzyme potential.

Dr. Weston Price, a dentist, traveled the world in the 1930s to study healthy people.  The archive he left gives invaluable testimony about the foods healthy people ate.  Dr. Price demonstrated through biochemical analysis that native diets of healthy people were “rich in nutrients poorly supplied in modern diets” (139).  Included in the list of foods commonly used by some of the healthy people Dr. Price studied are whole milk, cheese, and butter from grass-fed animals (141). 

Numerous qualified observers in the early 1900s reported that cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, and dental caries did not exist among Eskimos who ate a nutrient-dense, high protein, high-fat diet rich in fermented foods and kelp (110-115).  Nomadic peoples, some of whom exist today, consumed meat; meat fat; organs; and whole, real milk from healthy pasture-fed animals and fermented and foraged foods (112). 

Enzymes process human food.  When we eat, food initially rests in the upper part of our stomachs for thirty to forty-five minutes where the enzymes in the food itself begin digestion.  When the lower stomach opens, the body has to secrete enzymes and acids to process food.  Thus, people eating enzyme-rich foods stress the body less (104-105). 

Milk contains eight identifiable enzymes which facilitate the utilization and digestion of milk.  Fermenting milk enhances these enzymes.  Two of these enzymes destoy pathogens.  Indeed, Schmid notes, lactoferrin was approved by the FDA in 2004 “for use as an anti-microbial spray to combat virulent E. coli contamination in the meat industry” (107).  Pasteurization destroys these enzymes and most of the vitamins C, B6, and B12  and changes the “physical and chemical state of calcium and other minerals that affect absorption” (108). 

Homogenization “crushes milk by forcing it under high pressure and temperature through holes in a die” (250).  People used to judge the quality of their milk by the layer of cream on the top of the glass bottle (250, 262).  The campaign to break down consumer resistence to homogenization took thirty years, but by the 1950s the milk industry “succeeded in convincing Americans to accept a product designed solely for the profit and convenience of manufacturers and distributors” (251). 

After pasteurization and homogenization, milk can be “transported over long distances and stored for a long time” (250).  And, ultrapasterized milk does not require refrigeration if stored in an airtight container.        

Inside a milk factory, all milk is combined and then “separated in centrifuges into fat, protein and various other solids and liquids.”  Then milk is reconstituted at standarized levels for whole, lowfat, and nonfat milk (240).  Homogenization permitted the industry to standardize the cream levels to 3 ½ percent from the 4 to 8 percent butterfat levels of pasture-fed cows.  The skimmed cream makes profitable products for the industry, like ice cream (262), where, as reading labels shows, the cream is further stretched with additives. 

However, Schmid writes, “when fat is removed, it is replaced with protein-and-vitamin-rich skimmed milk powder or concentrate.”  But, drying milk both produces nitrates, “which are potent carcinogens,” and causes “oxidation of the cholesterol in milk.”  Oxidized cholesterol initiates “the process of injury and pathological plaque build-up in the arteries.”  Finally, “the body needs vitamin A to assimilate protein,” so when we “consume foods rich in protein without the supporting fats,” the body “draws on the vitamin A stored in the liver”—a depletion which begins “ushering in a host of diseases.”  Adding calcium and synthetic vitamins to milk, Schmid writes, is “unlikely to benefit consumers…since synthetic versions are poorly absorbed and may often have toxic effects” (217).  Nonfat dried milk is not listed on the label since the FDA allows this practice as an industry standard (240-242).   

So, cooking milk, fracturing its chemical components, and adding additives changes real milk drastically.  Certainly the industrial process is introducing new and dangerous pathogens into milk. 

Schmid cautions that anyone who has undergone chemotherapy should not drink raw milk as it is a living food.  But, he notes also statistics from a 2003 USDA/FDA/CDC paper showing that “deli meats are ten times more likely to cause illness than raw milk” and that pasteurized milk is twenty-nine times more likely (320). 

Here in Maine, we are so lucky.  We can buy delicious, nutrient-dense raw milk from local farmers in our local markets.  My children can and do buy real milk in South Carolina, too.  Those of you who live elsewhere can go to the Real Milk website, www.realmilk.com, to locate real milk sources. 

So, go ahead, refuse to let the milk industry and the government scare you.  Buy local real milk!

Tipping Points 7: Betrayal of Our Trust

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(You may want to read my essays in order.)

April 26, 2010

Tipping Points 7

Betrayal of Our Trust

  

“You could get undulant fever,” my mother said when I told her a few years ago that I was drinking raw milk, that we could buy it in our local markets in Maine.  “You could get tuberculosis,” said my younger sister who struggles with a severe case of Parkinson’s.  Typhoid fever, scarlet fever, and diphtheria lurk in our national perception of raw milk. 

Ron Schmid in The Untold Story of Milk (2009) describes how at the end of World War II, when “thousands of small farms throughout the country still sold raw milk directly to consumers and through local distribution channels,” a massive campaign to demonize raw milk began.  As Will Allen describes with the chemical industry in The War on Bugs (2008), the campaign was waged in part in popular magazines.  The first salvo of the war against raw milk began in The Ladies Home Journal in 1944 with an article called “Undulant Fever.”  The article claimed—without any documentation—that “tens of thousands of people in the U.S. suffered from fever and illness because of exposure to raw milk.”  In 1945, Coronet published “Raw Milk Can Kill You,” by Harold J. Harris, MD.  Articles in The Progressive and Reader’s Digest followed in 1946 (150). 

Schmid shows that Harris, in his Coronet article, fabricated a town and an epidemic.  Harris located Crossroads, USA, in  “ `one of those states in the Midwest area called the bread basket and milk bowl of America.’ “  Harris claimed  “ `what happened to Crossroads might happen to your town—to your city—might happen almost anywhere in America.’ “  Harris claimed undulant fever struck one out of four people in Crossroads and, “ `despite the efforts of two doctors and the State health department, one out of every four patients died.’ “  Harris later not only admitted his malicious fabrication, but, Schmid writes, other statements he made demonstrated that “he knew such a thing could not possibly happen” (150). 

Undulant fever, or brucellosis, is, Schmid says, an “infectious disease that occurs in cattle and other animals and is transmitted to humans primarily through physical contact.”  Brucellosis is an “occupational hazard for meatpackers, veterinarians, farmers and livestock producers and handlers.”  Milk drinkers risk exposure only if a “grossly infected” animal sheds the organism into the milk.  Actually, nationwide statistics from the U.S. Public Health Service from 1923 to 1944, or for the 21 years preceding Harris’s article, show there were 256 cases of undulent fever, with 3 deaths (151).  But, because of this industry campaign, my mother, who grew up drinking raw milk, stopped drinking it.   

Some, like Jean Bullitt Darlington, who in 1947 wrote a three-part series entitled “Why Milk Pasteurization?” in the Rural New Yorker, tried to combat industry-produced lies.  Her articles “Sowing the Seeds of Fear,” “Plowing Under the Truth,” and “The Harvest is a Barren One,” obviously, had no impact on the milk industry’s juggernaut (151).  But, I doubt my mother, who lived in rural Georgia, ever read these articles.  Demonstrably, the milk industry’s juggernaut succeeded.

We’ve known, Schmid writes, since 1882, with the work of Robert Koch, that “the human and the bovine tubercle” are “neither identical nor transmissible, and that humans had nothing to fear from bovine bacillus.”  Schmid writes that “the only way the bovine tubercle may pass directly into the milk is if the disease in the animal has become generalized and tubercular lesions have formed on the udders.”  Another indirect route is fecal contamination (35-36). 

The human tubercle may contaminate the milk if a tubercular milker coughs into or otherwise mishandles the milk.”  (35-36)  But, the closed-system automatic milking machine, invented in 1920, prevents the contamination of raw milk by human milkers.  And, today, “most states no longer test for bovine TB because it is nearly unknown in America…though most states that license the retail sale of raw milk do require testing the cows used for milk production” (71-74). 

 Applied Dairy Microbiology (2001) is a comprehensive reference text for dairy microbiology.  In it, Schmid says, Elliot T. Ryser, PhD, of Michigan State University, discusses the safety and quality of milk and, without references for what is “incorrect information,” claims that bacterial infections like diphtheria, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever were linked to raw milk before World War II (232-234).  Meanwhile, Schmid notes, Ryser does not discuss the 1927 Montreal pasteurized milk-borne outbreak of typhoid which affected nearly 5,000 people and killed 450 people.  Further, Schmid writes, Ryser claims, without references, that the 1986 banning of all interstate shipment of all raw milk products reduced raw-milk related outbreaks of milk-derived illness except in farm families (308-310). 

Schmid notes that Ryser does call aflatoxins, which derive from mold in grains, “ `a major public health concern based on the potential impact of chronic exposure.’ “  Schmid agrees with Ryser that aflatoxins are “potent liver carcinogens for both animals and humans.”  Aflatoxins, Ryser writes, are “ `relatively unaffected by pasteurization, sterilization, fermentation, cold storage, freezing, concentrating or drying….’ “  Yet, Schmid notes, Ryser does not discuss “the desirability of grass feeding,” or “the possibility of utilizing pasture-based systems,” or “the importance of using less grain in feeding” (232-234).  

Schmid, after his exhaustive search through the archives of milk-related data, concludes that the dangers of drinking raw milk from healthy cows and from clean milking systems have been grossly exaggerated by public health officials,  by medical literature, and by, therefore, doctors.  This banning, Schmid argues, has been based on junk science, outright distortions of data, and invented stories:  raw milk is a nutrient dense whole food with a long history of supporting human health.  In the past 40 years, there have been no milk-borne cases of typhoid fever, scarlet fever, or diphtheria despite the fact that raw milk is legally sold in some 35 states and that “millions of farm families” have consumed raw milk (310-311).

So, Schmid charges, warnings about raw milk derive from another motive than the protection of human health (310-311).  And the banning of raw milk by our private and public institutions is a betrayal of our trust (149).     

 Schmid critiques the USDA’s “Official Statement on Raw Milk.”  He argues, with the weight of his research behind him, that “honest investigators have demonstrated that the risk from raw milk is very low”; that “raw milk from healthy cows raised on fresh pasture, produced under sanitary conditions, simply does not contain pathogenic bacteria”; that raw milk can be and is routinely tested for bacteria; that the system of unhealthy cows in confinement dairies produces dangerous pathogens that pasteurization does not kill; that the “cases” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses to support the banning of raw milk are biased and flawed; that our government is operating a double food standard as many other industrial, processed foods are much more lethal than raw milk; that the scientific evidence supporting the nutritional benefits of raw milk are being ignored willfully; and that government rulings have nothing to do with the safety of raw milk and everything to do with benefiting the commercial dairy industry (433-442).  I would add that this situation is an effect of the power of corporatism.   

Most importantly, Schmid charges that mandatory pasteurization is a fascist tactic that cannot be said to be supported by our constitution which embodies concepts of freedom of choice.  He asks whether “our constitutional government…[has] the right to make laws outlawing a food that has sustained much of humanity throughout recorded history” (264). 

It’s a good question.

Tipping Points 6: The Untold Story of Milk

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(You may want to read my essays in order.)

April 26, 2010

Tipping Points 6

The Untold Story of Milk

 Ron Schmid, in his recently updated book THE UNTOLD STORY OF MILK (2009), explores the history of the commercial milk industry.  The pattern Schmid describes is the same pattern described by Will Allen in THE WAR ON BUGS (2008), discussed in Tipping Points 4.  Both men show that industry demonizes competitive practices (organic farming, raw milk), creates and uses junk science, purchases massive amounts of advertising, and acquires government support to legalize industry practices and to police industry domination of the desired market. 

Schmid shows how little freedom of choice we actually have with regard to milk.  Most Americans have lost the ability to purchase nutrient dense raw milk, and too many dairy farmers have been driven from their farms due to relentless industry pressures to produce large quantities of milk cheaply. 

Schmid demonstrates that all commercial dairy cows, including organic cows, are production units in an industrial system.  The cowness of these cows is being violated.  Commercial cows are neither grazed on pasture nor milked for a reasonable amount of milk.  Thus, the commercial milk system is a garbage in/garbage out system. The milk from these factory cows is not the same as the nutrient dense milk from a pasture-fed cow.  And, industry-processed milk is highly processed.   

Today’s commercial milk industry, as Schmid’s research shows, has not changed philosophically and, in many ways, physically since the early 1800s at the dawn of this industry.  Then, cows were located next to and fed with the swill from whiskey distilleries.  In the late 1830s, Schmid relates, Robert Hartley wrote graphically about the conditions in these dairies.  These cows stood constantly in filth and foul air (55).  They produced cheap slop milk that was so thin and blue that dealers added “starch, sugar, flour, plaster of Paris, and chalk” to give it substance and color (36).  Hartley believed slop milk to be dangerous because when he drank it unknowingly while traveling, it made him sick (33-38).  Unbelievably, the last distillery dairy did not close until 1930. 

Today, Schmid writes, many industrial cows are fed such things as pellets made from the chemically tainted sludge from ethanol plants; chicken manure, which is a known source of salmonella; grain, which increases milk production but causes acidosis and which permits the cow’s stomach to harbor acid-resistant E. coli pathogens; soybeans; bakery waste (bread, cakes, pastries, and candy bars); and “citrus peel cake loaded with pesticides” (39, 223, 358, 298, 324).  Today, most commercial cows are kept in environmentally controlled dairy barns where they stand constantly on concrete floors, which causes painful, laming infections of their feet (210-211).  Normally, cows spend about 50 percent of their time lying down (212). 

Schmid shows that commercial cows are either sickening or sick.  The average life span of a commercial dairy cow is only 3½ years, rather than the normal 12 to 15 years (206).  The national Mastitis Council estimates that some 40 percent of “all dairy cows have some form of mastitis,” an infection of the udder—which means that a lot of commercial milk is coming from sick cows who are being given antibiotics and other drugs.  Medicating sick cows, in turn, “kills off beneficial bacteria in the cows’ intestinal tracts and allows pathogens to proliferate.” 

Thus, Schmidt concludes, both the industry and our industry-corrupted government accept “a substantial amount of disease in confinement cows as part and parcel of the operation” (215).  And, Schmidt adds that “for over fifty years, the federal government has done everything in its power to encourage the production of large quantities of cheap milk and cheap food in general—at the expense of quality and at the price of driving millions of small, quality-conscious farmers off the land” (164).

Cooking milk, or pasteurization, supposedly kills pathogens (210-214).  But commercial milk contains pathogens that even ultrapasteurization cannot kill:  Johne’s disease bacteria, known as Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis and thought to cause Crohn’s disease; Listeria monocytogenes; and E. coli O157:H7, a deadly strain of this particular E. coli strain (437, 358-359, 238-239).  [Schmid cautions, however, that many forms of E.coli do not cause human illness and, in fact, “play a beneficial role in the digestive track.”  Even with E. coli O157:H7, “Schmid writes, “only a few…strains are pathogenic” (311).]  Additionally, cows eating moldy grain can excrete into their milk aflatoxins, which are liver carcinogens and which pasteurization does not kill.  And, commercial pasteurized milk has harbored antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella strains that have caused widespread illness and, even, death (231).

Many pathogens today have recently emerged.  The industrialized, centralized food system is producing these new pathogens.  They are the blowback from the breakdown of holistic farming practices that respect the cowness of cows and the levels of use the soil can support.  Using technological solutions, such as moving from pasteurization to ultrapasteurization to irradiation, is only creating further problems for humans as these solutions are altering food components. 

Schmid writes that Robert Tauxe, from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), reported in 2002 that 13 recently emerged pathogens annually cause the 76 million individual cases of food-borne illnesses, 300,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths.  Tauxe estimated that one in four Americans experience a food-borne illness every year.  Additionally, Schmid argues, it is becoming clearer that much human illness is being caused by the “reduced human immunity due to poor nutrition” caused by consuming products from the centralized food system (274-277). 

Nevertheless, Schmid writes, “milk in general—both pasteurized and raw—is a particularly safe food” when compared to the amount of food-borne illnesses created by the food industry.  In 1997, “milk and milk products accounted for only two tenths of one percent of all reported cases of food-borne illness.”  But, when an outbreak occurs, Schmid cautions, it “usually involves many individuals” (274). 

The more important question—and the subject of Tipping Points 8—is not whether commercial milk is safe, but whether, as processed as it is, it supports human health.  Schmid argues that commercial milk is, from the beginning, a compromised product that can and does produce allergic reactions and chronic illness.  In my terms, commercial milk is a fake food since the cows are not fed what cows eat, which is grass; are not treated properly, which means they are diseased and pumped full of drugs; and as the milk is heavily processed and adulterated with additives—some of which, like the addition of dried nonfat milk to skim milk, are not listed on the label as they are deemed to be industry standard practices.  

We can help our remaining dairy farmers to survive by helping them to escape the commercial system.  Unless you’ve been on chemotherapy, you can help develop a regional milk market by buying local real milk, cream, and value-added milk products, like butter, cheese, kefir, and yogurt.  The web site, Real Milk is one place that lists where to find local milk:  www.realmilk.com.  And, The Weston A. Price Foundation web site is another place where the benefits of real milk are discussed:  www.westonapricefoundation.org.  Real milk may cost a bit more, but as it is a whole, nutrient dense food, you’ll benefit more.  And, likely, you’ll spend less on treating illness.