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Let’s Do Something About the Lack of Well-Rounded Raw Milk Information

April 21, 2015

By David E. Gumpert

zinniker cows - 250I know I’m not the only supporter of food choice who is frustrated because much of the news in the mainstream media about raw milk seems to be negative and often inaccurate. I know I’m not the only one who is tired of complaining and wants to do something about it.

But do what? There is clearly a dearth of accurate information being presented by the media about raw milk. Many of the articles that are written are confusing and inaccurate.

For example, in December Time Magazine reported on a CDC study that said outbreaks involving raw milk had quadrupled over the most recent six years. “This Is One Health Trend You Don’t Want to Try,” headlined the Time article.

The Time report conveniently avoided explaining that outbreaks aren’t the same as illnesses, and that the CDC’s report had inexplicably neglected to include the number of annual illnesses in the data it disclosed. And rather than note that the CDC’s own report indicated that more than 80% of illnesses were of the mild variety, from Campylobacter, Time instead pointed readers to a CDC website where they could find “a raw milk horror story from a mother who fed it to her son, then saw him go into kidney failure and be placed on a ventilator.”

The December Time article was only the latest such questionable report on raw milk. For the last decade or more, we have seen deeply flawed reports from the CDC and FDA on raw milk illnesses and the supposed dangers of raw milk cheeses.

I don’t pretend to have a magic fix for the abundance of inaccurate information about raw milk, but I have developed an idea for beginning to counter the problem. My idea is two-fold:

  1. Counter misleading information with accurate information. In other words, package truthful and honest information about raw milk—the good, the bad, and the ugly—into an engaging format that people can quickly and easily absorb.
  2. Get lots of people who care about food accessibility to join in supporting the dissemination of this information, as a way to bypass the mainstream media.

I have been a journalist for more than 40 years, and thus have considerable experience communicating information. My idea has been simple: write a book that explains in clear non-inflammatory language the realities of what has been happening—the pros and cons of raw milk. Then, get that book into the hands of as many people as possible who are interested in learning more about raw milk.

In order to fulfill that last goal of getting the book out to as many interested people as possible, I decided to do something different—not go the conventional-commercial-publisher route, but instead publish the book myself. My reasoning was to be able to offer the book at a more reasonable price than commercial publishers are inclined to do. I also wanted to be able to donate proceeds to organizations that share the same goal. Most importantly, I wanted people who are as frustrated by the government-industry misinformation campaign as I am to help get the book out into the marketplace, directly to people who desperately want accurate and truthful information about raw milk.

Raw Milk Answers coverI recently completed writing the book, The Raw Milk Answer Book, and the initial response from a diverse group of reviewers, including farmers, researchers, academics, and medical people, has been very enthusiastic. Virginia farmer Joel Salatin said the book “churns out every answer to every conceivable question in the raw milk controversy,” and he called it “a must-read.”

Robert Karp, Co-Director Biodynamic Association said, “Being an idealistic, savvy, health-conscious consumer these days can be a lot of work. Thanks to David Gumpert, making the hard decision whether to include raw milk as part of your family’s diet just got a little easier. David has sorted through the data—good and bad, for and against—to create this thorough, balanced, easy-to-read guide to raw milk for the thoughtful consumer. I hope many people will find their way to this long overdue book!”

So how do we get the book’s important message out to the people who want it and need it? By offering it to individuals who care about getting accurate information about raw milk disseminated as widely as possible.

We have an opportunity to reverse the misinformation campaign. Let’s change things in this especially challenging area.


David E. Gumpert is author of The Raw Milk Answer Book, along with two previous books about food rights: The Raw Milk Revolution and Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights. He writes the popular blog, www.thecompletepatient.com, which has for years highlighted government harassment of raw dairy farmers and misinformation about raw milk.

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