David Gumpert Stresses “We Must Seek to Understand those who Oppose Raw Milk”
The keynote speaker at the recent International Wise Traditions 2009 Conference, held in the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois, was David Gumpert, journalist and creator of The Complete Patient blog.
David writes for Business Week, major daily newspapers and is an award winning author. His brand new book, Raw Milk Revolution—the Emerging Battle over America’s Food Rights was the topic of his address to 1300 attendees of the conference. He travels the country interviewing regulators, farmers and raw milk aficionados, and has spent the last year of his life writing this book.
He soberly told us that all the farms that the work of Sally Fallon Morell and her Weston A. Price Foundation members have saved, are now under attack.
What follows is his speech [my comments in brackets]:
Following this raw milk story…it was as if I was in two different worlds.–David Gumpert
“First, there is “this world” [referring to those of us in the ballroom], of people who welcome and respect nutrient dense foods. Then there is the other world, those who disparage nutrient dense foods. The only problem is, they are medical, public health and government health and agricultural regulators, who are very powerful people.”
“It is essential to know the mind of your enemy. Get inside their mind, gain insights into what is really going on. Learn their attitudes, approaches. What are they thinking?”
“Many regulators grew up drinking raw milk. Bill Chirdon [a Pennsylvania Dairy regulator] and even Bill Marler [trial attorney specializing in foodborne illness cases] grew up on raw milk. If raw milk was good enough for them, why don’t they think it is good enough for us?”
“The gulf between these two sides, was evident in my extended conversation with a public health official. Regulators are private, they like to do their work out of the public view. Kind of like police, they want to be out of public view so they can be as strict or lax as they want. He talked about the pros and cons of raw milk with me, he finally said, It might be alright for adults, but our real concern is about the children.”
“I told him of the studies that raw milk helps with asthma, allergies, even autism. The regulators response is, ‘why don’t parents just buy medication for the child, why does it have to be raw milk?’”
“I originally assumed that regulators did their “crack downs” out of a sense of duty. But, I found that they truly believe in what they are doing. In 2006,Lewis Jones, of the Ohio Dept of Ag, was going after a number of small dairies. Consumer affidavits showed they were not sure they were sickened by raw milk. When confronted with this Jones said, ‘Raw milk drinkers will never admit they got sick on raw milk.’”
“This same regulator said he would never take the risk of giving his son raw milk to help with his autism. If medical science couldn’t help his son, there was nothing else that could be done, was the impression the conversation left me with.”
“Regulators are arrogant about their beliefs. American Veterinary Association meeting last July. David and another person came and presented the pro-raw milk side. David pointed out it is not a public health crisis, using statistics showing a very small number of people have actually been sickened.”
“Raw milk farmers are scofflaws, criminals, according to the mindset of the regulators. The fact that a federal judge threw out a case meant nothing to them.”
“Regulators are angry, don’t like us [Weston A. Price and raw milk drinkers] and what we stand for.”
“I attended the International Industry for Food Protection meeting—John Sheehan [FDA Dairy Food Safety regulator] was the speaker. He canceled when he found out that I, Sally, and Michael Schmidt were attending.”
“When I later met John Sheehan at another event, he refused to speak to me.”
“Food is food is food, is what they want us to believe. We are a thorn in their side.”
“We are bringing up unpleasant ideas that they don’t want to think about.”
“Bill Marler—has now admitted, raw milk sold only direct from farms might be acceptable. Yet, he thinks we are willing to accept a few dead people to get our milk!”
“We have a war going on. FDA is leading the war. They are adamantly opposed to our having raw milk.”
“The battle over raw milk is a proxy battle. Food safety people want all food “treated” before we eat it. Raw milk is the first skirmish.”
“In Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin new raw milk battles have erupted. There is a full fledged campaign against raw dairy in Wisconsin. Two FDA officials and have identified 20 milk clubs in Illinois. They are going after one milk club at a time. And even suspending dairies’ licenses.”
“It all reminds me of a book I read recently—Family Properties. The book is about author’s Father who was a lawyer involved in Chicago racial politics. During the period of discrimination against blacks, her father had been defending people involved in a race riots. Her father was tailed by the authorities. It was determined that he wasn’t a communist,yet the FBI kept her father under surveillance the rest of his life.”
“The government tends to need enemies. The Soviet Union, terrorists, and “nutritionally dense food” advocates are the enemy.”
“What can we do? Five things.”
David’s Advice to Raw Milk Enthusiasts
1) Keep shining the light of exposure on what is happening. Continue the process of education. Fight back with videos, blogs, facebook postings. For example, farmer Scott Troutman in Wisconsin, he was cut off from selling milk, so he is using blogs and facebook to get the word out.
2) Monitor the regulators. They monitor the real milk site. They watch what we are doing on internet. We need to turn the tables and monitor the regulators.
4) Be a stickler for safety, and let your supplier know you worry about safety. Each outbreak of illness from raw milk is ammunition to the regulators, and they use it to maximum advantage. Give middle of the road regulators ammunition.
5) Keep consuming raw milk [which is our right].
“Our nation’s capitalist orientation is in our favor-–buying raw milk means that the demand will be a powerful change agent.”
[I agree with David, freedom and free enterprise go hand in hand. We need to remind our public servants that small farmers are essential to the free enterprise system and their freedom to operate, unimpeded, needs to be protected. I prefer to think of regulators, not as enemies, but as friends that we haven't convinced yet. That is why I will continue to blog about the raw milk issue, and our freedom to drink unprocessed, real milk.]
The Awards Banquet closed with a thank you to David, from Sally Fallon Morell, Founder and President of the Weston A. Price Foundation. She credited him for his hard work covering the raw milk issue from both sides. She then gave us her reaction to his keynote:
There is no force on earth greater than the informed consumer!—Sally Fallon Morell
To order David’s book, please visit Chelsea Green Publishing’s website: Raw Milk Revolution—the Emerging Battle over America’s Food Rights.