48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Stephen T. Bemis
- Published on Amazon.com
As one of the lawyers advocating for the right to choose what to eat (isn't that a strange thing to have to say?), I appreciate Gumpert's thoroughgoing synthesis of the events of the last several years for what they were: a preview of the upcoming challenges to this fundamental right.
A pension lawyer, I have come to appreciate over the years that security in retirement is not just about monthly checks or 401(k)'s. The most important planning and investment anyone can make for happiness in later years is for good health. My own path to choosing raw milk was driven initially by health concerns. I now see the ongoing struggle in this tiny corner of America's food system as a canary in the coal mine. If we lose these battles for choice in nutrition, there is no telling where it will end.
David's book informs, in highly readable fashion, linkages and background much of which (because of my involvement), I knew. But there is much in his research and writing that I did not know until now, and his compelling telling of the story is thus a real service to the public and to all participants, both advocates, regulators, legislators, and others.
We desperately need more sensible dialogue, and it is my hope that this book will bring the pro's and con's closer together, simply by everyone being better informed. At the same time it illuminates a fundamental struggle for freedom (with responsibility) in the 21st century, for the benefit of a larger public who through this book can come to understand the complexities, as well as to appreciate the challenges of finding the "health" in "healthcare." For without improvements in health, healthcare will consume the country, and there will indeed be a harsher retirement for us all.
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This book grew out of a reporter's blog, "The Complete Patient." Because of the way the topic was born, and the somewhat objective approach the writer took, I believe that a transformation is taking place of the way many people view the issue of raw milk freedom. Many view raw milk economic (non)freedom as a moot issue. Someone - David Gumpert - became curious about why. And more curious. He was just writing about his health. I stumbled upon his blog a few years ago, just as he was becoming curious. One of our local pastured meat producers was rumored to be trying to jump through hoops regulators kept throwing at him. My childhood was riddled with underground raw milk seeking by my parents. People I grew up around looked at the food I ate as if it were some sort of poison while they consumed bologna on white bread, and Little Debbie snack cakes. So I was curious too, where his investigations might take him. I bookmarked his blog, and kept going back. When someone's farm was raided, he knew the same day, and told about it. His blog became a fascinating modern portrayal of what was really happening that nobody heard about. I work in the healthcare industry. In my 13 years as a registered nurse, the number of people I have to gown and glove for isolation for has grown exponentially. I have been acutely interested in the way superbugs develop. I've become over-aware (to put it mildly) of the knee-jerk reaction regulations health care and national food safety people come up with - regulations that make my actual direct care job, and our small private farm at home, increasingly impossible to do. On David's blog, I've been able to read a national hero food safety lawyer have at it with the biggest raw milk dairy manager in the U.S., along with the input of other small farmers, and people who feel their family members were poisoned by raw milk. Now David has put the culmination of a few years of such discussion into a whole, concise form. It is difficult to put down. I believe it is a classical production that like Michael Pollan's, "The Omnivore's Dilemma," boosts us over a barrier of consciousness that developed world humans have been attempting to breech for some time.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
There is a revolution going on. At first it was a quiet revolution. The initial skirmishes were fought on the fringes of society. Over the past few years, the revolution has become more vocal, more powerful. It has moved from the fringes to the very center of our culture. People are becoming more conscious of the food they eat. And not just what kinds of food. They also want to know where it came from and how it was produced.
The food issue has become so central that the government, normally oblivious to anything that happens outside of the Beltway, has become aware of and is even co-opting the terms and principles of the movement. Manufacturers are legally required to list the ingredients and nutritional values of the food they sell. The term "organic" is no longer a folksy assurance of goodness. It has been quantified and codified. No one may use the term who has not met the stringent standards set by the government.
Still on the fringes but becoming more common with each passing year are those who not only reject the products resulting from the factory farming model, such as enormous feedlots that are so unsanitary that the cows must be fed a steady diet of antibiotics to keep them healthy enough to produce milk or meat (antibiotics that may actually be contributing to rise of "super bugs", antibiotic resistant bacteria), these consumers are also rejecting the preparation methods mandated by law: the pasteurization and homogenization of milk.
Aficionados refer to it as raw milk. Raw milk producers and drinkers are not the wild-eyed fanatics or zany non-conformists. They live all over the country including the Midwest and New England, areas not known for radicalism. They are people who value milk for its nutrition. Nutrition that is destroyed by the processes of pasteurization and homogenization.
Louis Pasteur, credited with the discovery of pasteurization and long seen as a hero, lived during the era of the rise of feedlots, the factory farming of cows. Those lots were, and still are, breeding grounds for diseases of both animals and humans. Pasteurization is necessary to make milk safe to drink. Prior to the Industrial Revolution which brought first workers and then feedlots into the cities, cows were raised exclusively on farms, grazing in pastures during the summer and eating hay in the winter. The resulting milk was safe to drink. Disease was not a large concern.
The raw milk revolution is an attempt to reach back to our roots. Raw milk dairies raise and nurture their cows the old-fashioned way. They observe strict sanitary methods. They are subject to and welcome constant inspections. The consumers who buy their milk and milk products claim that this "natural" product is more healthful than the pasteurized, homogenized, antibiotic filled product found at the local grocer. These health claims are explored in depth in the book.
I have to confess that when I first picked up this book, my "fanatic alarms" were going off. But once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I devoured it in two sittings. The author, David Gumpert, is a journalist who uses his training to give as well-rounded a treatment of the subject of raw milk as possible.
The author admits up front that he is a raw milk drinker. He tries to present as many points of view in the debate as fairly as possible. He interviewed dairy farmers who sell raw milk and raw milk products, consumers who buy raw milk, the parents of children who became ill drinking raw milk and the government agencies, both local and federal, who are doing their best to stop the sale of raw milk. It's that last group that is not well represented but not through lack of trying on Mr. Gumpert's part. He was constantly stonewalled by the very bureaucrats to whom he was trying to give a voice.
This is a well-written, eye-opening book. Anyone who is interested in healthy eating should definitely pick a copy. Before I read this book, you couldn't have paid me to drink raw milk. Now that I am better informed, I am admittedly curious. I'll be keeping an eye out at farmer's markets for raw milk.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Before I read this book, I didn't realize raw milk rights were such a huge battle. I know raw milk is illegal in Alaska, so at the advice of my pediatrician I joined a goat share program. I found the farm through my chiropractor, who also recommends raw goat milk. My 3 year old son has never had pasteurized milk...he only drinks raw milk. I drank it while pregnant with my 5 month old daughter with the blessings of my midwife. Because my health care professionals recommended it, I didn't realize there was such a controversy.
Apparently there is a huge battle brewing over food rights, and David Gumpert discusses those in this book. It's quite frightening that our rights are slowly being eroded. You can no longer purchase unpasteurized California almonds (I had to search high & low to find someone who would sell me some), and stores can no longer sell unpasteurized fruit & vegetable juice.
This book will make you angry as you see how the FDA has treated dairy farmers like drug dealers. Unfortunately, the author is all over the place with his case studies. He'll talk about a case in California, then skip to one in New York, then Ohio. At the beginning of chapter 10 he'll talk again about the case he referenced in chapter 4, then in chapter 12 he discusses an incident he mentioned in chapter 1. This happens numerous times throughout the book. Because of this, the book seems very disjointed.
The book has a lot of legal cases, which is only mildly interesting. I think a synopsis of the cases would be fine, but he often goes in depth with multi-page legal cases. Also, a good portion of this book is just quotes from his blog, which gets a little annoying. He'll talk about a case, then say "here's what I posted about ____ on ____," and have 2-3 pages of blog quotes.
I really wish that David Gumpert had gone a little more into the "why." The book doesn't talk about why the FDA is cracking down on raw milk. He briefly mentions that Sheehan (the head of food safety with the FDA) was a patent lawyer for the dairy industry before he joined the FDA in 2000. What he doesn't do is make the connection that a patent lawyer for dairy was most likely working for Monsanto, who has lobbied against raw milk since raw dairy farmers don't use Monsanto's rBGH. There was major lobbying in Alaska by large outside dairy to keep the small local farms from getting any market share.
I also wish that Gumpert had given us some sort of call to action. This is obviously a problem, what do we need to do to fix it?
The bottom line is that this is an interesting topic, but the writing was too disjointed and too focused on specific legal cases instead of the broader topic.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
For me, being able to buy raw organic milk is a freedom issue with me! Not only because I grew up on raw milk, but because my family, going back centuries have always drunk raw milk. Tried store bought 'modern' milk when our son was young but he didn't tolerate it well. So we returned to raw milk and never have problems again. Do I think everyone should be forced to drink raw milk, like most states force people to only drink store bought 'modern' milk? Of course not! And while the author is indeed a raw milk drinker I am very impressed with how fair this book is.
Areas of the book I loved were the areas that deal with the centuries of raw milk and that homogenized pasteurized milk has only been around since post WW2, and that its all about big business and big business wanting to control what people eat and drink. Page 132 'September 2006 there were about 200 cases of illness attributed to bagged spinach, and six attributed to raw milk'. Yet we didn't see state government banning raw vegetables. Why the hypocrisy?