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An Open Letter to an Angry Lady

Don't insult the cook

Creative Commons License photo credit: kevindooley

Inspired by an Unpleasant Encounter at the NIH Lactose Intolerance Consensus Conference

This is my written response to a lady who was most upset that I would publicly advocate raw milk in Maryland, a state where it was illegal. She grew up on a dairy farm and said “my father would never sell unpasteurized milk” and she cited the many deaths from undulant fever that occurred in his day and age. She considers raw milk a life and death issue. Fortunately, the NIH staffers supported my freedom of speech and declined to throw me out of the building. Saddened to have so enraged this woman, I am attempting to get this letter to her via the conference organizers.

Dear Angry Lady:
We met at the NIH Lactose Intolerance conference. You were quite angry about my exhibit booth there for the nutrition education group, Weston A. Price Foundation. Because of the high emotion, I was not able to really share with you why we were there, and what we advocate.

To try to bring some understanding between us, I feel compelled to write you.

We are a 12,000 member organization of farmers, health conscious consumers and health professionals. We promote whole foods, home cooking and support for local agriculture. We are educating the public and health professionals about the pioneering research done by Dr. Weston A. Price on primitive people groups around the world back in the 1930’s.

He found that indigenous people who ate their traditional foods had perfect teeth, an absence of degenerative disease and strong moral character. Once they were exposed to modern, processed foods, their health deteriorated. He wrote a nutrition classic, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, which is highly regarded by university nutrition and anthropology departments.

I know, based on your experience and knowledge it seems wrong for anyone to promote raw milk. But may I tell you why I do?

My ancestors were dairy farmers, too. My great-grandmother was a cheesemaker’s wife in the 1920’s. Her husband’s brother was a dairy farmer. She contracted tuberculosis of the bowel. A raw milk and raw egg diet prescribed by her doctor healed her of the disease. She lived in a tent in the front yard of her brother-in law’s dairy farm in Oregon, while she took “the milk cure.”

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with a painful knee condition,  chondromalacia patella (runners knee). I have discovered that raw dairy products have helped to greatly improve the quality of my life. I own a cowshare at a certified grade A dairy, and my dairy farmer’s program was established with the approval of our state agricultural officials. This same dairy has saved the life of a baby failing to thrive, a story which was documented in a Washington Post article several years ago, called The Raw Deal.

So, for those of us on the other side of this issue, raw milk is about life and death, too.

It is important for you to know that there are two ways to insure that fresh milk is safe for consumption, one is pasteurization. The other, more conservative way, is with traditional animal husbandry. I mean by this, keeping cows on pasture, allowing them exercise and sunshine and feeding them only grass and hay. The farms that have strayed from traditional animal husbandry have led to the current state of affairs where we are forced to pasteurize much of our nation’s milk supply.

Today, with our ability to test for pathogens and bovine diseases (which modern raw dairy farmers do) it is entirely possible to ensure fresh milk’s safety. According to the Associated Press, raw milk is available in 35 states either through direct farm sales, cowshare programs, and in the case of California and 8 other states, even retail stores. So, Maryland is in the minority of 16 states that frustrate consumer access.

Nowhere in North America is it illegal to consume raw milk. What we are really talking about is that in some states, consumer freedom of choice is being denied. You might be surprised to hear the farm fresh milk is widely available in the United Kingdom, Italy, Slovenia and other European countries.

I wish you knew how many people with chronic health issues, like myself, are experiencing better health with carefully sourced farm fresh milk. The reason our non-profit exhibited at the NIH Lactose Intolerance Consensus Conference was to tell the attendees that 80% of those who are lactose intolerant, are able to consume unprocessed milk with absolutely no problem. Pasteurization is the root cause of much of the dairy intolerance people experience, today. When we sterilize milk, it destroys the enzyme lactase, naturally found in milk, which helps to digest lactose.

A young mother in Maryland who has led the effort to re-establish access to raw dairy in her state, is doing so because her children can’t tolerated processed milk. They are growing up healthy and strong on raw milk from Pennsylvania farms where it is legal for the farms to sell it (over 100 farms have raw milk permits issued from the state). Can you imagine the hardship of having to go to another state to provide food for your family—while watching as Maryland dairy farmers suffer great financial losses in this economy?

We also want the NIH attendees to know that many lactose intolerant people find relief by consuming fermented dairy products such as kefir, yogurt and cheeses. The fermentation process pre-digests the lactose, which means it is more easily tolerated.

I understand the thrust of the conference was to encourage dairy consumption in some form, and in that way, the Weston A. Price Foundation is at the forefront of promoting safe, healthy dairy foods.

Mission of the Weston A. Price Foundation

But, we stand for much more than safe raw milk, we encourage a comprehensive dietary protocol which stresses whole and natural foods prepared using traditional methods. These foods include grassfed meats, bone broths, fermented vegetables and sourdough grains. We are helping thousands regain their health with our therapeutic diet. And we are encouraging America to learn, once again, how to cook at home and sit down for nutritious family meals—something our children and families will truly benefit from doing.

Please visit our westonaprice.org website and you’ll realize that there are many things that we promote that you probably can see value in, and just know that our experience of fresh, unprocessed milk is one of a life saving, health restoring foodstuff that under the right conditions can be safer and more nutritious, even, than pasteurized milk.

I do appreciate hearing of your concerns, and I hope this letter finds you well and will be received as the olive branch it is intended to be. I am very grateful for the opportunity to exhibit at this prestigious conference to share our story with you and others. I hope you will look at some of the new evidence and that someday you will agree that consumers need the right to choose healthy food, and the farmers need to have the freedom (and the support of state government officials) to meet the needs of the citizens they seek to serve.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Hartke
Publicist
Westonaprice.org and realmilk.com

Kimberly Hartke is the publicist and a volunteer chapter leader for Weston A. Price Foundation, a 501c3 nutrition education non-profit. She is a health conscious consumer and she and her husband have lost weight and regained their health through lifestyle changes. These new habits include: sourcing ingredients from local farms, cooking at home, and embarking upon a dedicated fitness regime at their local health club.

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Comments

  1. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Here is a great podcast and blog about milk, good to share with others who want more information.

    http://www.infectedshow.com/episode-010-milk/

  2. Julia Martin says:

    Kimberly, This letter is so inspiring! Concise, but with important information for everyone. Would it be all right to repost? Julia

  3. The angry lady might want to know that pasteurization is no guarantee of safety. Many people have contracted salmonella and many other diseases from drinking pasteurized milk. A friend of mine who grew up in Afghanistan explained that everybody knew that the best way to get safe milk was from a healthy cow. When he was a child, people got their milk directly from a farmer. No farmer would dare to sell milk from a sick animal.

    I personally believe that raw milk from healthy cows raised on pasture, properly stored and chilled, is the safest milk you can drink.
    .-= Stanley Fishman´s last blog ..Cooking Real Food — The Most Important Task =-.

  4. Excellent!! Thank you.

  5. Lauren Grosz says:

    Kimberly, what a heartfelt reply. It must have been an uncomfortable situation, but you clearly exhibited true grace under pressure! Keep up the terrific work.

  6. Well written letter! I hope it reaches your Angry Lady with some understanding. Great information for all. I’m going to tweet!
    .-= Pure Mothers´s last blog ..One Burnt-Out Green Mama =-.

  7. Ann Augenstein says:

    Kimberly, that’s an excellant, well-written letter. Anyone with any intellectual honesty would have to consider your points. Regardless of the outcome with that woman, you’ve sown some powerful seeds.

  8. Kristin Canty says:

    Kim,

    this article and this letter are just so beautiful! I LOVE this post!!!

  9. Jill Cruz says:

    Well-done!!

  10. Celeste says:

    This is one of the most beautiful, illustrative, and profound statements of WAPF’s stance on real milk (and traditional foods) I’ve read! What a gem. Thanks, Kimberly! You’ve turned a most unfortunate, no doubt harrowing experience into a wonderful teaching opportunity. I’m definitely passing this along.

  11. I was raised on raw milk, both from my grandfathers farm and milk from a neighbors farm. Fortunately I live in PA where it is not illegal to buy raw milk. While I did get away from using it for many years, I never had any illness because I drank raw milk. As with anything cleanliness is of the utmost importance. Where you live, how your cows are taken care of, what they are fed, how much stress they are under, are all important factors in having a healthy herd and producing a superior product.
    As is also the case with grass fed beef. My grandfather has had cows since was a small child, he is now 84 yrs old, He found that by doing grass/hay vs tons of silage, and grain the cows are healthier, happier and have healthy normal size offspring vs. calves that are too big and need to be pulled. He has lost fewer calves, they have survived all sorts of weather and in good health.

Trackbacks

  1. […] by Maureen Diaz on March 4, 2010 This is my written response to a lady who was most upset that I would publicly advocate raw milk in …undulant fever that occurred in his day and age. She considers raw milk a life and death issue. […]

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