I don't have a dog in the fight on raw milk vs. pasteurized milk.
But from a food debate standpoint, raw milk is an utterly fascinating topic. Why? Because it shows how certain food industry issues simply do not line up into a clean political matrix, with a clear "left side" and a clear "right side" telling us what positions we should hold.
In fact, holding a generalized position on the overall food industry can put you on the wrong side of an issue when it comes to a specific food product.
Raw milk is one such product.
To illustrate what I mean, imagine a Brooklyn-based foodie who dislikes and distrusts Big Food, Big Ag, Big Corn and Big Soda and anything else with a capital B, including Wal-Mart and Monsanto. In her view, the food industry clearly puts profits before people, and it should therefore be more heavily regulated by the government. Probably much more.
Further, this idealistic foodie thinks we need to change the default food environment, which she believes contributes heavily to society's obesity problem. This is why she strongly supported New York City's large soda ban, and it's why she also believes we'd be far better off if the government went ahead and just banned HFCS too. In her view, strict policies and regulations like these are good things: they are for our benefit and for our protection.
Now, we may not agree with all of her views, but I think we can at least agree that, in general, her positions are internally consistent. And please note: we at Casual Kitchen are not passing judgment on the merits of these various positions in any way! Reasonable minds can disagree reasonably.
One day, however, this Brooklyn foodie learns about all the incredible merits of raw milk. She discovers, from scanning some websites, that raw milk is delicious, healthful, and far superior to pasteurized milk. She can't wait to become a regular raw milk drinker.
But to her horror, she discovers that her government is as strict with raw milk as it she wishes it would be with HFCS! In fact, the federal government mandates the pasteurization of milk and milk products--for our benefit and for our protection.
Worse, eighteen states strictly prohibit the sale of raw milk under any conditions--including her neighboring state of New Jersey. And even in her home state of New York, raw milk is strictly regulated. In New York it is entirely illegal to sell raw milk at retail stores--again, for our benefit and our protection. Raw milk can only be purchased at specifically licensed and regulated farms, and there are strict rules that these farms must follow, including prominently posting signs warning consumers that this milk does not have the “protection” of pasteurization.
"Wait a minute," she thinks. "Why does the government force pasteurization on us? And how can the government possibly decide it's illegal to buy raw milk? This makes no sense at all!"
Our Brooklyn foodie's confidently-held, generalized position on the overall food industry ended up depositing her on the exact wrong side of the debate over raw milk. She's discovered, to her intense confusion, that she wants a more heavily-regulated food industry--except when she doesn't. Hopefully she'll see the irony.
Readers, what do you think?
Read Next: Oppositional Literature: The Key Tool For Achieving True Intellectual Honesty
How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.