Raw milk has many health benefits, but commercial milk and dairy could be harmful to our health. A group of pediatricians and Harvard researchers are urging Americans to stop drinking conventional milk. The addition of “health-compromising sweeteners” prompted the warnings from the medical experts.
The milk study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, stated that obesity, inflammatory-related pain, and diabetes stemmed from such sugar-sweetened beverages. Soda and sugary sports drinks have long been associated with health risks, but the recent study is among the first (perhaps the only) to link conventional milk and dairy products in the same negative impact group.
Researcher David Ludwig has this to say about the health risks study:
“This recommendation to drink three cups a day of milk—it’s perhaps the most prevailing advice given to the American public about diet in the last half century. As a result, Americans are consuming billions of gallons of milk a year, presumably under the assumption that their bones would crumble without them. The worst possible situation is reduced-fat chocolate milk: you take out the fat, it’s less tasty. So to get kids to drink 3 cups a day, you get this sugar-sweetened beverage. We can get plenty of calcium from a whole range of foods. On a gram-for-gram basis, cooked kale has more calcium than milk. Sardines, nuts seeds, beans, and green leafy vegetables are all sources of calcium.”
The only conventional milk product still recommended by the study was the reduced-fat variety of milk—but at no more than a 3 cup per day consumption rate. Ludwig went on to state that if the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is promoting reduced-fat milk, the federal agency is also inadvertently recommending the consumption of added sugars.
Full-fat dairy products in their pure, raw, and organic state do not contain artificial sweeteners. Raw milk reportedly has the potential to control diabetes, promote a healthy heart, lower bowel cancer risk, and aid in the absorption of vitamins.
South Dakota Raw Milk Legalization Update
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture appears to be loosening its raw milk regulations, paving the way for state residents to gain increased access to healthy dairy products. During a public hearing focused on milk health regulations, South Dakota State Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch stepped back existing dairy regulations in the face of vocal opposition.
Unpasteurized milk producers may be able to sell raw dairy products commercially,but would be subjected to freshness dating, health testing, labeling, and safety precautions.
Fortunately for non-commercial producers, raw milk consumed within the household or given away for free would not be bound by the same government dictates. When commercial sale is not the intended end result, South Dakota raw milk appears to be regarded the same as a produce from a backyard garden. It is unclear if herd sharing or similar agreements would fall within the non-commercial sale category.
Opponents at the South Dakota raw milk meeting wanted unpasteurized dairy producers to request a state permit and meet a stringent set of rules, even if the raw milk would only be given away or consumed within the household. The state Department of Agriculture plans to replace the terms “provide and offer” with “sale,” securing the right for easy non-commercial raw dairy activity. Existing animal health rules would be eliminated from the state milk law because such issues are already addressed in animal industry statutes.
South Dakota State Department of Agriculture attorney Courtney De La Rosa had this to say about the raw milk hearing:
“[The rules] clearly state that individuals who consume raw milk from their own animals will not be affected by the proposed rules.”
The state raw milk laws apply to cows, goats, sheep, and other hooved animals. A second public hearing on proposed changes to South Dakota raw milk laws is planned for July 26.
Delaware Raw Milk Battle Update
South Dakota is not the only state considering offering residents the ability to choose healthy raw milk over conventional and artificially sweetened milk. A failed unpasteurized milk bill in Delaware is expected to make a new appearance in the near future.
If the Delaware raw milk bill garners approval, dairy farmers could sell unpasteurized dairy products without fear of prosecution or steep fines. Republican State Representative Bobby Outten, who sponsored the bill, had this to say about the dairy legislation:
“It’s been years since I drank it. When my grandmother and grandfather had a farm in Laurel, I used to go down there and they’d milk cows and we’d drink the milk, but I’m not a big milk drinker. Occasionally I’ll drink chocolate milk, but it’s hard to get it raw [milk] out of that.”
The Delaware raw milk bill failed after Democrat State Representative John Mitchell attached an amendment to the legislation which would increase commercial sales in retail stores. State Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee opposed the raw milk legislation because he believes unpasteurized dairy poses a public health risk. Perhaps the recent study by the Harvard researchers and pediatricians will help change his mind about which type of milk is truly the healthiest option.
Vernon Hershberger Update
Wisconsin raw milk producer Vernon Hershberger is currently appealing the holding verdict in his recent court case. The Amish farmer was found to have violated a hold order placed on his unpasteurized dairy products by state officials. Attorneys representing Vernon Hershberger are fighting the guilty verdict on the charge in the Sauk County Circuit Court. The violation filing stems from a 2010 raid on his Loganville, Wisconsin farm in 2010.
When the raw milk trial concluded in the wee hours of May 25, Hershberger was found not guilty on three counts. The Amish dairy farmer was found innocent on charges relating to the operation of a retail store, milk producers license, and the operation of a dairy plant.
Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Guy Reynolds ordered Hershberger to pay $500 in court costs and a $1,000 fine for allegedly violating the hold order after the Grazin’ Acres Farm raid. Vernon Hershberger’s attorneys are also contesting the exclusion of expert witnesses and raw milk consumption safety facts at the Amish raw milk farmer’s trial.