A process of meetings and dialog involving raw milk advocates and regulators, such as Michael Schmidt has long asked for in Ontario, is beginning to yield fruit in Michigan. Here’s part of what David E. Gumpert, of the Complete Patient blog reports about recent exciting developments in that process:
“Did you ever think you’d see this statement endorsed by dairy regulators?
“Milk fresh from the cow is a complete, living, functional food…the full benefits…are only realized when all of these components function as a complex interdependent and balanced process.”
Or how about this:
“Of all the milk constituents, the milk fat globule is the most drastically altered by the combination of pasteurization and homogenization.”
After endless reassurances from scientists and other officials in public health, agriculture, medicine, and government that there’s no difference between pasteurized and unpasteurized milk, we are now being told something entirely different by an organization that includes top dairy regulators and an agriculture university dean (along with a number of raw milk proponents). The organization is the Michigan Fresh Unprocessed Whole Milk Workgroup, which includes among its members the two top dairy officials of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and a dean of the Michigan State University College of Agriculture.
The Michigan Fresh Unprocessed Whole Milk Workgroup, which I described in a previous post, is a committee that grew out of the ashes of the bizarre “string operation” against Michigan farmer Richard Hebron in October 2006. After forcibly confiscating $8,000-plus worth of dairy products the farmer was delivering to members of Ann Arbor’s Family Farms Co-op, Michigan’s Department of Agriculture sought to have Richard indicted on criminal charges. Instead, a county prosecutor refused to go forward with the case, and pushed the department to settle with Richard. As part of the settlement, the department agreed to allow herdshare arrangements. Subsequently, the department’s two top dairy officials, Katherine Fedder, who ordered the investigation and subsequent raid on Richard Hebron; and Susan Esser, agreed to join the Michigan Fresh Unprocessed Whole Milk Workgroup, which is charged with answering the question: Where do we want to be in three to five years on access to fresh unpasteurized whole milk.
The workgroup has moved systematically, some might say tediously, to address ten topics relating to the question of access to raw milk. When it started meeting in early 2007, it expected to get through the topics in 18 months. Now, nearly three years later, it has formally addressed only two of the ten topics.
The statements I quoted from above come from the second topic and was just posted in recent weeks, on the subject of “Benefits and Values.” Part of the challenge facing the workgroup is that each of its eleven members must approve each and every word of each topic discussion. No majority-rules here. That’s the bad news in terms of pace, but it’s also the good news in terms of buy-in and impact. You know that the government and ag people have reviewed and signed off on everything posted….”