I was so shocked by this statement, that I looked it up to see if it was true. Did someone from the National Pork Producers Council actually SAY this? The answer is yes.
A few days ago, I tried to give some of our extra milk away to one of the neighbors. He put his hands up and said “I don’t want you to waste it, my wife won’t touch it.” He went on to say that she won’t even eat fresh eggs because she worries about disease. Someone asked me yesterday why they should purchase raw milk from a small family farm, as opposed to (cheaper and supposedly safer) milk from the store. My answer? You shouldn’t, if you trust the FDA to keep your food safe. You shouldn’t, if you trust large scale food industries to care about animal health. And we should trust them, right?
When we went to look at our cow, she had a slight limp from an infection in her foot. Her owner, a small dairy operator, told me that he hadn’t yet given her antibiotics because if he did, he couldn’t sell her milk. Now, here’s the thing. First, I appreciate his integrity. I don’t know what on earth would keep someone from giving an antibiotic and never saying a thing about it. Oh wait – we have “regulations” for that, don’t we? Well, there is no way regulators can catch everything and I have no doubt there are abuses – many of them – in the system. Secondly, I appreciate his “wait and see” approach. I’m also not quick to give antibiotics, and I would probably do the exact same thing (for different reasons.) His farm was small and clean, his cows were on pasture and every one of them looked healthy and happy and by the time Lucy came to us, she was no longer limping on that foot (she still has some redness and we’re treating it homeopathically, but that’s another post.) But here’s what got to me…
How often do cows, pigs, chickens, etc. in large scale dairy operations go without needed treatment, because to treat them would cause financial loss? How much of the milk we drink and meat we eat comes from infected, sick animals (in light of this, I would imagine that many “organic” operations are even worse)? Does anyone care that the cow has blisters on her teats, and is leaking pus into the milk because she’s been pumped with hormones to make her produce more milk, and spends too much time on the milking machine? And do you think these large-scale dairy operators are washing off the cows udders with a warm soapy washcloth and drying it well before milking? Or are they spraying her down with a hose, in a filthy milking parlor where 200 other cows have peed and pooped on the ground around her? But it’s going to be pasteurized, right? That will make it safe, right? Because FDA-approved beef and milk and poultry goes through some magical process that makes it healthy for us. Much more healthy than, say, a farm fresh egg or milk from a cow in the field.
Want to know why you should support your local farmers? Because you can go visit the animals. You can see how they’re cared for. You can watch the owner feed them and milk them and sometimes even butcher them. The man we got our cow from let us come into the milking parlor, and he let us watch how the milk machine worked and it was fascinating! THAT’S who I want to buy milk from. Not some FDA approved carton on the shelf from who knows where, fed who knows what.
The food industry is sick. And regulation isn’t going to change that. It’s only going to be changed when people take the responsibility for what they eat back into their own hands and form relationships with the people who grow and produce their food (or, of course, produce as much as they can themselves!) No FDA approved officer could be a stricter judge of cleanliness and health as a customer who demands the right to see inside the walls of the barn.
THAT is why you should purchase your food from a small family farm. Even if (especially if?!) they aren’t “FDA approved” or “certified organic.”