Raw Milk Debates in Washington State

I’m a huge fan of drinking raw milk. As a child I never enjoyed milk but I love the flavor of it raw. I suppose my body knew something my brain didn’t at the time.

I purchase from a small dairy in Washington State. I buy from a local milk group but I used to be able to purchase it at my local Whole Foods which was very convenient if I didn’t plan well for a week. Unfortunately Whole Foods has stopped carrying raw milk. Further, the local dairy has had some issues with the Department of Agriculture. Recently they were accused of being the source of a small (three people over three months) e coli outbreak. Of course this has caused law makers to consider whether raw milk should be legal.

I only drink raw milk from a small farm that I, or someone I know has visited. I wouldn’t consider drinking raw milk from a large production dairy. While I talk about how I love it, as healthcare provider I don’t specifically talk about the potential health benefits. I am more likely to point out that the heat from pasturization kills many of the good vitamins your body needs. However, I do want the choice to drink raw milk. Outlawing it suggests that I, as a consumer and healthcare provider, do not have the intelligence to choose what to put in my body.

No one has to agree with my choices. Even if I get sick, I do have good health insurance and I know many health care providers who can help me through that too. There is no argument for keeping me from drinking what I want. It’s not going to hurt anyone else. To this date, I have been sick less often. My husband continues to drink his pasturized 1% milk. He use to get sick less than I did. This last year he has gotten sick more. I suspect this will be a longer term pattern.

Raw Milk advocates are not saying that everyone needs to drink raw milk. We merely want choice. In many places, where there aren’t a lot of small farmers producing raw milk we sort of hope that everyone else keeps on doing what they are doing!

Thanks to Kimberly Hartke for running this article on what’s happening with raw milk in Washington State.

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Bonnie Koenig has been a licensed acupuncturist since 1999. She is passionate about helping people find real healing and real health. In the process she keeps asking about our attitudes towards sickness and health. Only by being clear on what sickness is, can we ever find health.

4 thoughts on “Raw Milk Debates in Washington State”

  1. I don’t have to worry about raw versus not raw milk, being vegan, but I do think raw milk enthusiasts should be able to make that choice for themselves. I’m interested, though… would we make the same argument for other industries and products? I think some people would say that this is just a part of consumer protection – the same kind of regulation that goes into making sure E. Coli isn’t in fruits and vegetables, the same kind of regulation that goes into making sure (certain, recognized) harmful additives aren’t in foods, ostensibly the same regulation that goes into dealing with lead paint issues, etc… Where do we draw the line, and why? It’s a very interesting conversation!


  2. But do we really get that protection? Looking more closely, how do I know that something doesn’t have MSG (something I try to avoid)? How do I know it doesn’t have soy (which I am allergic too-fortunately it’s mild and I only notice I itch)? So many things are so poorly labeled that it’s hard to tell. Also, are our foods really that safe? We find problems in industrialized beef too. I think inspections are good things–I mean I want to know that Dungeness complies with the law and legal safety standards. However, I don’t think that if they start having trouble that I should be prevented from finding another farmer who CAN comply with those standards.

  3. Oh, sure, I agree that enforcement of existing regulations needs to happen a whole lot more. IF those regulations should even be there in the first place. I’m around raw milk folks all the time, and I just hear them (not you) being really intense about dropping regulations, but then when we talk about other, similar, regulations – they aren’t so keen on seeing those change. So my question is, what’s the difference?

    I think it lies in the realm of perceived nutritional value. In the case of MSG – noone can say that MSG has nutritional value that should be preserved. Soy is more debatable, for sure, but most of the examples I listed are similar to MSG. We like those to be regulated because there is nearly universal acceptance that these things are more harmful than they are helpful. In the case of raw milk, this is not the case. While everyone would agree that E. Coli is a bad thing to have in your milk, raw milk advocates are concerned about the alternative – pasteurized milk and its loss of nutrients and vitality. So, the argument seems to go, let us have access to this thing we perceive as being more nutritious and we will take the risk on ourselves. That seems like a reasonable argument.

    Unfortunately, as in many debates of this kind, the conspiracy theorists and fringe elements end up making the movement as a whole look way weirder than it is. At least in Oregon. In the end, it’s just a freedom to choose the more nutritious alternative kind of discussion, and in that there should really be no argument.


  4. Eric, I have to admit that that concerns me. I hear a lot of anti-government stuff within the raw milk community. Although these are the very people who should be fighting for government regulations, as they like Monsanto about as much as I do (and I’m sure you love them too), they’re busy saying the government needs to get out. How do we fight Monsanto if there aren’t regulations. I avoid soy due to allergies–I’d just love to have it labeled! It’s frustrating to know that if I’m trying to detox (my allergies are minor and are mostly digestive upset–bloating and other common spleen qi xu stuff and panic itching if I hit it way to hard for too long) I pretty much have to cook at home because “vegetable oil” (which can be soy) is in almost everything. I feel for people who have allergies to soy and MSG and are really struggling–that’s a labeling law. I have no problem with raw milk being labeled.

    I don’t even care that others think I’m crazy for drinking raw milk–this means that I don’t have to search so hard for a local farmer to sell it to me! :).

    The raw milk polarization does also go farther–being vegan I am sure you have heard the back and forth hateful things that are sort of promoted amongst the “traditional food” and “primal/paleo food” people and back and forth. I don’t know why people get upset with other people’s food choices! Both vegans and traditional food people want access to healthier food–the best vegetables and for meat eaters–healthy grass fed beef or pastured chickens but instead of banding together to change our corporate food system that offers none of us anything–there’s dogmatic friction between the two groups. Again it’s choice and for some reason our country doesn’t like other people to make choices other than what we’ve made–hmm… wonder if there’s a post in this?!

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