Is Raw Milk Really a Health Threat?

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The Burlington Freepress had a recent story about how Vermont’s State Agricultural Agency is putting a stop to workshops that use raw milk.

A small-farm advocacy group is crying foul over a state agency’s order to halt workshops that teach people how to turn raw milk into butter and other dairy products.

The Vermont Agriculture Agency deems the workshops illegal.

A warning letter from Agency Dairy Section Chief Daniel Scruton dated Feb. 10 states that Montpelier-based nonprofit Rural Vermont is in violation of state law “by holding classes in which raw milk is processed and served to the persons attending the class.”

Raw — or unpasteurized — milk is gaining popularity in Vermont, with advocates touting its health benefits. Detractors say the milk is vulnerable to contamination, and consumers risk illness.

Raw milk is a health threat, really?  This isn’t the 1920s where milk is delivered in ice-cooled buggies in glass bottles which were then stored in ice-cooled boxes.  Understandably, back then maintaining a cold, bacteria-controlled environment was a challenge.  Today, with modern refrigeration that is no longer a concern.

Looking at the bigger picture, this is an economic development issue.  As we pointed out earlier, Maine’s organic farmers are thriving and that’s also good for the surrounding towns and villages that were originally the center of the surrounding agricultural community.

Personally, we not only buy all organic (when possible) but we also belong to a CSA (community-sponsored agriculture) and buy all of our milk and eggs from a local organic farmer.  As such, most of the stuff we buy is locally produced.  Why would we go through such trouble?

Well, if you’re are serious about breathing new life into Northern New England’s towns and villages, the first place to start is to repurpose one of your largest budget items, i.e., groceries, in support of local production, i.e., farmers.  This is more important than ever as local farmers are just barely making it in the commodity markets.  The extra income from local sales can mean the difference between life or death.

Of course, this brings us back to the article.  Raw milk sales are currently the epicenter for the renewed interest in buying local.  This action by Vermont’s Agricultural Agency will throw cold water on the movement at an inopportune time.

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