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The Battle Over Raw Milk: Let's Ditch the Hysterics and Give People a Choice

Few foods provoke such strong reactions (for and against it) as raw milk. Find out why.

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While raw-milk advocates might not agree with all aspects of Payne's plan, he is coming to the table with reason instead of rhetoric. He provides a starting point from which the raw milk advocates and regulators could begin negotiating. In contrast, regulators in some other states have sought to ban raw milk or to impose extremely burdensome requirements on consumers, such as having to drive out to the farm each and every time they want to buy raw milk.

Food-safety laws are put in place to prevent those who grow, process and sell the food from poisoning their customers, not to limit consumers' choice in foods. Other risky foods are legal, even though they sicken many people. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently found that oysters are the fourth leading cause of food poisoning of all of the foods regulated by the FDA. Fluid milk -- raw or pasteurized -- did not even rank in the top 10.

If consumers can take their chances eating raw oysters, then why shouldn't they be allowed to drink raw milk?

Both foods should be regulated to ensure that producers sell the safest possible product and that consumers are aware of the risk. In that way, the government could do its job to protect consumers from harm while allowing them to take risks of their choosing.

Whatever the outcome of the raw milk fight may be, ditching the hysterics and working toward compromise is the best path forward.

*Editor's Note: Organic Pastures produces all of the fluid raw milk sold under its label. The outsourcing mentioned in the article refers only to other products such as butter and colostrum.

Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and is a member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board. She is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It .

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