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Milk and Honey

May 14, 2010

Summer 2010 Issue of Biodynamics
By Rebecca Briggs

A promised land “flowing with milk and honey.” An earthly paradise. Renewal, fertility, abundance, vibrancy. These visions have entranced humans for thousand of years. Milk and honey have great resonance in the world of metaphor, representing all that is good and desirable. In our day-to-day existence, we see the striking links between the two: bees, as important pollinators, enabling the continued production of plant life upon which cows depend, who then complete the circle by fertilizing and energizing the soil that supports these very same plants. Milk and honey—two seemingly simple food items with complex physical and spiritual interrelationships and rich cultural meaning.

And both are in trouble, although in very different ways.

In our Summer issue of Biodynamics, we delve into the murky and troubling world of raw milk regulation. As David Gumpert, author of The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle over Food Rights states, raw milk is representative of a much larger issue—our freedom to choose the foods we eat and the kinds of agriculture and production we wish to support. It is a touchy issue, one that generates passionate reactions from both sides. There are stories of the nutritional power of raw milk, of nearly miraculous health effects, and there are stories of those who believe that raw milk severely sickened them or those they love. This is a tremendously personal issue. But it is also a larger issue, a civil and political issue, as it speaks to our willingness to allow ourselves the choice to consume what we wish and to purchase from those we wish to support. As such, we must ask ourselves what sort of society we hope to foster. Do we trust ourselves to make our own decisions, or do we put our faith in government and other “experts” to judge what is good and what is bad for us? This can be a rather unexpectedly complicated choice, but one that we must begin to ask ourselves. We must begin to work through the ramifications of our existing or proposed regulations and prohibitions, and we must, I believe, trust ourselves to think through and discuss—as a community—all the complicated issues that will arise.

We also look at the importance of pollinators in this issue, celebrating their unique energy and contributions and addressing the efforts we might make to help them as they struggle in the face of our modern world. These pollinators are the often under-appreciated foundations of our agricultural productivity, without whom we would not long exist. If they disappear, all our arguments and discussions about freedom, choice, and the nature of our society will be moot.

But in moments of great challenge there is also great opportunity. Please join us as we look toward the future, considering how we—as biodynamic practioners and supporters, and as members of a wider movement striving for agricultural and cultural renewal—can meet these challenges.
There is yet hope for transformation. We may yet find our land of milk and honey.

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