When Hipsters Can't Get Their Raw Milk

Readers, thanks for indulging me while I take a break from writing to work on other projects. Today's post, from two years ago, illustrates an unexpected (and ironic) result of wanting a much more heavily regulated food industry.

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 default opinions to 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 consistent. And please note: we at Casual Kitchen are not passing judgment on her views 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, in her research on the topic, 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, many 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? Why do they make us cook our milk? 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 plopped 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. Here's to hoping she'll learn from the irony.

Readers, what do you think?

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