Friday, September 29, 2006

Some People are Straight Up Crazy

This is an interesting statement:
Today if you mention raw milk, many people gasp and utter ridiculous statements like, You can die from drinking raw milk!" But the truth is that there are far more risks from drinking pasteurized milk than unpasteurized milk. Raw milk naturally contains healthy bacteria that inhibit the growth of undesirable and dangerous organisms. Without these friendly bacteria, pasteurized milk is more susceptible to contamination.
Especially after considering this:

A 5-year-old boy from Issaquah was still hospitalized with [E-Coli] Thursday, while an 8-year-old girl from Snohomish County was recovering at home, said state health officials and a spokeswoman for a store that sold the milk.
The unpasteurized milk came from Grace Harbor Farms, a small dairy in Custer, north of Bellingham. It is sold by PCC Natural Markets and Whole Food Markets.[emphasis mine]

May I remind people that the reason we pasteurize milk is so that people don't die from easily preventable microbial infections like, oh, E-Coli. I've about had it with the natural foods/organic crackpots invading my store shelves. Stop. Please, please stop.


todd said...

I guess I'm one of the crackpots, but I only wish we had these things invading my store shelves. You see, where I live, it is illegal to buy/sell raw milk. I've never understood why some people think they have the right to deny other people the right to make choices about what goes into their body. You wouldn't drink raw milk, and that's fine, but I'm not forcing you to drink it, all I want is the right to do it myself. Just think how absurd it would be for me to say that we should outlaw lunchmeat because it has caused so many deaths. I don't eat lunchmeat, but I wouldn't deny anybody else the right to eat it.

Paul said...

From a libertarian perspective, I agree that the issue of force is a valid one. And frankly, I never even suggested outlawing unpasteurized milk. One should have the 'right' to enjoy unpasteurized milk, just as one should have the right to smoke weed, shoot heroin etc. Not to say that drinking unpasteurized milk is akin to shooting heroin.

My primary annoyance stems from the suggestion the pasteurization contains "far more risks" than drinking unpasteurized milk. This, in my estimation is at the least misguided, and at the worst, fraudulent.

It's one thing to give people choices followed by "caveat emptor", but to tell people that well established food-safety measures (irradiating meat, comes to mind) are more dangerous than the raw products--them's fightin' words and are fair game for ridicule.

todd said...

I think the issue of pasteurized v. unpasteurized is a difficult one to sort out. There's good evidence that quality unpasteurized milk is healthier for you than pasteurized milk. And, if we look at outbreaks of food-borne illness, there have been many more associated with pasteurized milk than with raw. Rather than scare-mongering (and I'm not talking about you, but the media in general), it would be more useful if we used more precise language, and if we invested in technologies that could reduce the chance of tainted unpasteurized milk ever reaching the public.

Another issue is time: if there's a problem with a product, you hope to notice it right away (cause-effect). With some dietary things (like raw milk, the vilification of fat in the diet, etc.), however, it's not until a lot of time has passed that we might notice a whole host of degenerative health problems can be linked back to certain behaviors. Let's think of the now discredited low-fat diet as an example of this. Soon, we'll be hearing more and more about how high cholesterol is not an accurate predictor of risk for heart attack.

So, in short, I think there is decent evidence that in the long term, quality raw milk is healthier than pasteurized.