June 21, 2011

Raw Milk

Filed under: Corporatism, Food and Farms, Relocalization — Russ @ 2:56 am


New Jersey is one of several states which explicitly criminalize the sale of raw milk. It’s therefore at the extreme end of a motley array of possible state attitudes. While the federal bureaucracy (no law) also criminalizes the transport of raw milk over state lines*, it’s up to the states to decide what happens within their borders. (The FDA often lobbies against decriminalization.) 
[*This includes, according to a recent FDA assertion, the customer himself going to another state to purchase raw milk and then bringing it back home. The government soothingly claims it has no intention of trying to arrest or otherwise sanction such individual purchasers, but it wants to reserve the right to do so. Of course, it was just a year ago, in promulgating its totalitarian brief in the FTCLDF lawsuit, that the FDA claimed it had no aggressive enforcement plans against dairies and raw milk co-ops. That was proven to be a lie within weeks.]
The result is that a few states have regular legal sales, others allow sales from the farm, others explicitly or implicitly allow cow shares (where the customers are technically part-owners of the cow; this was meant to exploit loopholes allowing the farmer himself to drink raw milk from his own cow), while a few like NJ criminalize the whole shebang.
Today in NJ there’s a movement to decriminalize raw milk purchases directly from dairies. (This is characteristic of liberalization campaigns in dozens of other states.) As things stand, the bill has been passed in the Assembly. If it passes the Senate, this will not only strike a blow for freedom but should be a healthy economic step. NJ used to have hundreds of flourishing small dairies. Today it has literally zero direct-to-customer dairies; all NJ milk production is slated for the corporate maw. I’m looking forward to the day I can propose to our farmers’ market committee that we try to organize some kind of raw milk CSA through the market. (I don’t know yet if the bill would allow direct sales at farmers’ markets.)
Raw milk is beneficial to health. It has more nutrients than pasteurized, and is often easier to digest for the lactose-intolerant. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that it helps alleviate or send into remission such medical problems as allergies, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, ulcers, autism, ADD, and others. In spite of government scare-mongering, properly inspected raw milk production systems are in fact just as safe as those for pasteurization. Even under today’s twilight regime, the incidence of illness from raw milk is negligible (as the CDC itself admitted, in a report the FDA has sought to suppress). Meanwhile, there’s growing evidence that pasteurized milk has its own health issues.
Why was raw milk criminalized in the first place? It never had anything to do with food safety. It’s the same old story – unlike mass pasteurization, raw milk is not readily corporatizable. Especially with the rise of the movement for healthful eating and concern over the socioeconomics of food, raw milk is a potent competitor to corporatism. So as always, where possible the corporate system simply has the competition outlawed. That’s how capitalism works in the real world, as opposed to the ivory tower. (If anyone thought my language of criminalization and decriminalization was redolent of the marijuana issue, that’s no coincidence. It’s the same kind of corporate-driven outlawry which has no other reality basis.) In a recent example, state thugs in Massachusetts (where cow shares are legal, but being illegally harassed by the state) openly admitted that they’re acting on behalf of Big Dairy, which has been pressuring the state government.
By now, whenever we hear the term “food safety” we have to assign it to the same Orwellian category as “war on terror”. It’s the same scam, meant to drum up the same groundless fear, in order to push through pro-corporate policy which could never prevail in a democratic marketplace of ideas. That’s what happened with the recently passed Food Control bill. (They did get the support of some useful idiots, consumer and food safety advocates. That’s typical of myopic special-interest do-gooders – even where they have subjectively good intentions, they’re incapable of seeing the big picture and the context of their issue within it. Therefore they consistently end up as objective corporate lackeys.)
We the people need to break free of government food control. The government is not on our side in any way. It doesn’t care about the safety of our food, our health, or the vitality of our economies. On the contrary it will happily sacrifice us all, our health and our pursuit of happiness, to the corporate imperative. This imperative dictates that government must also viciously assault the basis of our economic life. Food relocalization is the Archimedean point from which we can move the world away from this corporate feudalism and back toward economic prosperity and political democracy. In the end this will depend upon pure bottom-up citizen action. But any possible system reform, in the rare cases where the politics does make it possible, can help as well. That’s why the raw milk bills pending in NJ and so many other states are important.


  1. Russ, you have fallen into the trap again and you do what you chastise NC for …

    The government is either an elite unpatriotic gangster corporate pig owned and controlled corrupt criminal murdering institution with blood on its hands, or, it is not.

    When you implore people to ‘reform’ that corrupt murderer, you are, by that same action, legitimizing and validating that corrupt murderer. You become part of his propaganda – that all is right in the land and the political process is working and therefore responsive to the will of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Better to use the issue to show the need for, and to organize, election boycotts to delegitimize the murderers. The time is ripe, the smell of dissent is in the air. The oppression of the pig has become unbearable now as he moves into the hen house and boldly shits and wallows in the chicken yard each and every day.

    There is always an incremental play of good cop behavior and bad cop behavior along the edges. The good cop concessions; indicate the fear of the elite unpatriotic gangster corporate pig, and, are used to moderate and make tender the bad cop moves – like recent scamerican supreme court lackey decisions.

    We are being forced into a perpetual conflict with each other and the sooner we defocus that effort by delegitimizing the unpatriotic elite gangster pigs, the better off we will be.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    Comment by i on the ball patriot — June 21, 2011 @ 8:56 am

    • I always said certain targeted state-level action sometimes may be worthwhile. For that matter, I’ve even said that about targeted actions at the federal level. We’ve discussed this before. There’s no comparison between my carefully deliberated (and always reasoned) advocacy of special in-system actions and NC’s general promiscuous reformism.

      In this case, there’s enough of a groundswell and deficient enough corporate resistance that worthwhile laws can be passed in some states. This would bring the intrinsic benefits of the decriminalization as well as give us some breathing room vs. the federal food assault, which works in tandem with state cadres wherever it can.

      Comment by Russ — June 21, 2011 @ 9:17 am

      • Russ, I understand your position, and the concept of selective and limited engagement in trying to buy some breathing room. And, knowing that, I could have been more thoughtful in my wording. Apologies and thanks for the post with its otherwise good information.

        But I think your limited and selective engagement policy should be challenged. I believe in my heart that when you make another payment into a Ponzi scheme you only serve to prolong and further empower the Ponzi scheme. The real loss is the time and energy dissipated that could otherwise be spent in taking down the Ponzi or investing elsewhere — in working on election boycotts to flush this crooked bunch of corporate pigs down the shatter.

        Look at the present reality …

        The scam pro unpatriotic gangster elite scotus walmart decision just made is again (how many fucking times must you hit your head against the wall?) an example of the gravity of the situation.

        A gaggle of traitorous scotus goons, seated by corporate gangster pig graft and corruption, and revered and elevated to star status by a subservient bought and paid for unpatriotic scrotum sucking sell out, lap dog, media, have just made another decision IN FAVOR OF an unpatriotic gangster corporation — a corporation empowered by the past, and still standing, corruption of past wealthy elite unpatriotic gangster pigs — a decision that SCREAMS “JUST US!” and that pisses on women and is blatantly evil!!!!!!

        And in the same time frame, for some local flavor, a fellow citizen pushed beyond his coping abilities by the same crooked system, sets himself on fire and you can nary find a mention of it even in the LOCAL media.


        Somewhere in a comments section — zero hedge I believe it was — I recently read a good analog for the QE programs. I think it is apropos here. The comment said the QE programs were like pumping sea water from the ocean into the stern of the sinking Titanic to raise the bow.
        Lidia you serve to raise the issue of perception and the depth of the corruption involved here, we have vastly different viewpoints;

        That you think the gangster rapist will turn away because you ignore him is ludicrous. You are building a monastery in the woods.

        The INTENTIONALLY poisoned mortgage market, and the time projected to ‘resolve’ it, is one more facet of, and more proof of, the top down orchestration of a grinding down of the masses and the creation of a perpetual conflict in them. The Pernicious Greed oppressor cares not about profit like his old Vanilla Greed brethren (that’s what NC is all about, the old PROFIT DRIVEN Vanilla Greed has its nose out of joint that CONTROL DRIVEN Pernicious Greed is fucking up the game). His goal is global herd thinning and imposing a planet wide two tier structure of ruler and ruled.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        Comment by i on the ball patriot — June 21, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

      • You’re welcome i ball. I do more than boycott elections, I try to present the basics of an ideology attacking representative government as such.



        Similarly, I’ve presented a comprehensive anti-corporate philosophy.


        Not to mention condemning the SCOTUS as illegitimate. (Though that’s already part of the renunciation and transcendence of representative government.)



        If I recall correctly, you haven’t been so uncompromising on these structural points, but have on the contrary espoused a kind of reformism where it comes to the government and corporations.

        Given that, it’s odd that you’re such a purist where it comes to tactics. It’s generally the other way around – a true activist is uncompromising on principle and ideology, flexible on tactics. I think I fall into that category. (I think Lidia and I had a similar misunderstanding on MMT as an idea.)

        In this case, we’re talking about a relocalization issue. These are the things we have to do. Yes, in the end all will depend upon bottom up direct action. That’s always the case.

        But given the fact that the law will often try to oppress us in these endeavors, wherever there’s a good chance of blunting or forestalling this assault that’s action worth taking. The return on investment can be high. (It’s not something doomed and therefore worthless like having “fought” for a better sham finance reform bill or something.)

        Comment by Russ — June 21, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

      • Russ, yes, you do a lot more than boycott elections. I did not mean to put you on the defensive but it is great that you put out the links you did for those reading on.

        For me boycotting elections has become a symbol of working outside the system and not within it. I, and many other activist friends, have been illegally, immorally, and selectively dicked over by the system enough times to know it is a scam.

        My hard nose ‘purity’ in tactics does port over to my ideology. We do differ in ideology though. My ideology allows for centralized government, and large project group structures where the need is determined by direct democracy for those large projects. But I am just as hard nosed about structuring those efforts to be owned and controlled by the people through direct democracy, extreme transparency, and exceptionally harsh punishments for those who would violate the public trust. I would be uncompromising on principle there as well.

        The size of the alliance is not as important as the integrity of the alliance. Small alliances are ripped apart just as easily as larger ones. The key is in the contractual rules being spelled out clearly with preexisting punishments that are strongly enforced. Those going back to the land, or forming communes, should be diligent and discuss their bail out positions. There is a lot of hard up front work required to get a place comfortable; the well in, the septic in, garden productive (a back breaking project in new ground but it will be a joy and almost grow itself the third and fourth years), living and livestock structures enclosed and comfortable, etc., and when the dream meets reality there are many moments of doubt and viewpoint changes. Best have it all talked out in advance.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

        Comment by i on the ball patriot — June 21, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

      • I too insist that direct democracy has to decide everything. I don’t know how you square that with wanting centralized government as well, which is mutually exclusive with democracy.

        I agree that the integrity of any group is the most important thing. As for talking everything out ahead of time, that should be done to whatever extent possible. Certainly, where it comes to the kind of specific communal project you describe. At a broader movement level, many things can’t be known ahead of time and will have to be discovered along the way.

        But people must start out at least agreeing on the core principles.

        Comment by Russ — June 21, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

  2. On my recent Vermont trip I had the first raw milk I had ever had in my life: delicious! It was goat milk, to boot, but not at all “goat-y” tasting. I believe that small producers in that state can sell up to something like 30-50 quarts/day without having to get into some kind of oversight… a small concession of autonomy. :-/

    i on the ball, I agree here with Russ’s “bridge” considerations. Having these issues brought up ‘conventionally’ raises awareness, and starts people thinking. I don’t see oppressive state and federal governments in league with corporations being overthrown in one fell swoop; I envision them merely being side-stepped and ignored, hopefully falling into irrelevance, as people turn away from them, and the resources to maintain their complexity diminish.

    Wasn’t there something on NC about the number of years it would take to process all the foreclosures? The logistics are not going to be in the oppressors’ favor for long, is how I read that. Anyway, the gist is here: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2011/06/foreclosure-backlog-will-take-decades-to-clear-out.html

    In New York State, lenders will need 62 years to repossess the 213,000 homes that are now in severe default or foreclosure, longer than any other state. New Jersey’s backlog is 49 years while Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois are at least a decade behind, the paper quoted LPS Applied Analytics as estimating.

    Comment by Lidia17 — June 21, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    • I’ve never had raw milk yet. It sounds great. According to the link above, in Vermont farm sales are legal. I don’t know the details.

      I saw that foreclosure backlog piece. Imagine if all those debtors jubilated at once? It would be the end of the banks, and perhaps of this whole system.

      Comment by Russ — June 21, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  3. “Food relocalization is the Archimedean point from which we can move the world away from this corporate feudalism and back toward economic prosperity and political democracy.”

    I like this metaphor a lot. We know that whatever the complexities of the transformation to come, food relocalisation must underly it, it’s our unshakeable base. I’m starting to think that my initial ideas about centralised, high-intensity urban aquaculture are probably not going to be easily implementable- time’s getting short and the capital requirements are prohibitive. I think trying to popularise a low-cost, open-source recirculating system that could easily be implemented with minimal space and resources, which would provide a family with, say, a fish a week, might be more productive. In the meantime, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the smallholder is really going to be the fulcrum of this transformation. I’ve talked it over with my better half and we’re now thinking about trying to purchase a smallholding in the general vicinity of the city, where we can start experimenting with agro-ecology techniques and small-scale distributed aquaculture. The idea still feels a little crazy for us two city mice, but I figure if we can do it, just about anyone can. I think we’re due for a correction in the real estate bubble which is still inflating around here (largely due to the influence of PRC hot money, I think) in a couple years, so hopefully there will be an opportunity to organize folks to snap up some of the unproductive hobby-farms that the idle rich find they can’t justify anymore..

    Comment by paper mac — June 21, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

    • That sounds like a great plan. I hope you’re able to do that and that it works out for you. I still know little about aquaculture, just the basic idea. One of our vendors just started with aquaculture and is supposed to be bringing four varieties of Asian fish to the market this year. But he runs a good sized farm, so I don’t know how space-intensive his aquaculture operation is.

      Comment by Russ — June 21, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

    • papermac, I had seen a couple of YT videos about a vegetable-growing system which incorporated fish as a fertilizer source and also a food source… can’t find the particular ones I am thinking of right now, but it worked along these lines: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=aquaponic-plants-and-fish

      Comment by Lidia — June 22, 2011 @ 8:28 am

      • There’s definitely a lot of potential to integrate aquaculture with agriculture. I think in particular the use of fish waste (both from processing for meat and their excrement) as fertiliser has a lot of potential for aquaculture systems to be integrated into agricultural ones in different fashions, depending on local needs.

        Comment by paper mac — June 23, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

  4. […] against raw milk in New Jersey From Russ on the “Volatility” blog: “New Jersey is one of several states which explicitly criminalize the sale of raw milk. […]

    Pingback by Crimes against raw milk in New Jersey | The Bovine — June 22, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  5. I don’t think people even knew how diseases could be transmitted via milk, water & food until the middle of the 19th century. Pasteurization was considered an amazing step forward in the 20th century because it saved the lives of people in the cities where concentrations of people, animals and breweries made decent sanitation really impossible. I can see how well meaning people could have embraced it. The trouble is, it also allowed the industrial food system to grow into something that has also become harmful to human health and now threatens the species’ survival.

    I have to admit that I was afraid to drink the first glass of milk I got from my goats. I was so brainwashed I was pretty sure I would just fall down dead.

    I do think that local boards of health are important while we try to decentralize and relocalize to the point where people know where their milk is coming from. Outside of the big cities people always knew their farmers and how clean (or not) their facilities were. I have Russian friends who say they buy milk from pretty dirty little farms back home. They are surprised at how fussy we are about cleanliness. But since I don’t have a completely separate kitchen and septic system from my regular kitchen, I cannot get approved to sell raw milk from my 3 goats in Massachusetts. I believe that if I had only to deal with my local board of health I would be fine. And if someone got sick from my milk they would know right away and stop me. Disease wouldn’t spread all over the nation the way it does with big ag. My hope is that the states will allow local boards of health to deal with real micro dairies that are only milking one cow or fewer than 6 goats.

    We need to beef up our own state and local food safety facilities. One absolutely can get sick from food and animals can transmit disease if they are not properly cared for. They don’t do it in CAFO facilities because they are filled with antibiotics. If you aren’t really careful about clean water and clean food for animals they can get sick. I know people who think that they are being really good because they don’t use antibiotics. But they aren’t clean so their animals get sick and die. There is no place in my state where you can get your milk tested. It has to be mailed to Cornell in Ithaca, NY and the Post Office takes more than two days (even priority mail.) Also, we have no place to test our pressure cookers to be sure they are safe. They laughed at me at my county extension service when I asked them to do it. Told me to go to New Hampshire. I rely upon advice from NOFA, a purely private and voluntary organization and from the internet.

    I totally agree that food freedom is the mantra that can pull a lot of people together. The FBI looks awfully foolish raiding these poor little farmers. A lot of rich lawyers in the cities and their families drink raw milk so there is some elite money behind us as well.

    OK – I just read that Elizabeth Warren is running for the Massachusetts Senate. Shall I send her a dozen eggs? I would really like to see Scott Brown gone!

    Comment by Ellen Anderson — September 13, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

    • According to what I read, in Massachusetts your state power has directly violated the law in persecuting cowshares, and an official publicly admitted they were doing so at the behest of Big Dairy.

      Comment by Russ — September 14, 2011 @ 5:27 am

  6. […] since then.   One battlefront most relevant for the food movement is the government’s War on Raw Milk on behalf of Big Dairy. (But see also the commerce clause issue, with Obama’s Stamp Mandate […]

    Pingback by Property and Raw Milk « Volatility — October 1, 2011 @ 6:41 am

  7. […] through the New Jersey legislative process including a 71 to 6 passage in the Assembly last spring, the raw milk partial decriminalization bill was allowed to die on the vine at the end of the Senate’s session this week. Big Dairy was […]

    Pingback by Raw Milk, Decriminalization/Legalization, Public/Private, Property « Volatility — January 10, 2012 @ 7:50 am

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