Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Do these ill-informed people realize that there is a reason why the world so gratefully embraced pasteurization?

There's a loving NRP story about a small family farm struggling to bring the benefits of "raw" milk to its community:

The only way to obtain fresh milk in Indiana is to own a cow. The 53 families who take home jugs of raw milk from Mark and Debbie Apple's farm are not customers, despite the fact that their farm has 11 milk cows. Nearly a year after state health officials issued a cease-and-desist order, the Apples still milk cows -- and people still take home unpasteurized milk.
This is a striking example of the same historic ignorance I groused about in connection with the "historians" who, ill-informed about ordinary societal behavior, conclude that so-and-so was gay. The 19th century world embraced pasteurization because unpasteurized milk carries with it a very, very nasty disease called brucellosis. Thanks to Louis Pasteur, we don't have to think much about it any more, but the fact is that it was a child killer before Pasteur came along, and it made a lot of adults pretty darn sick too. I mentioned this fact to one "raw" food activist and she shot back, "Well, milk is cleaner nowadays." I'm not sure where she got this idea -- maybe from the shiny silver tanks milk is stored in. The fact is that, while milk may be cleaner, cows are not. If you ever go to a dairy farm, you find the place covered in fecal matter. The cows' udders trail on the ground through stuff you don't want to think about. Sometimes, they step on their own udders, ripping the skin. So, that lovely unpasteurized raw, pure milk can have fecal matter and cow blood mixed in with it. The other thing the raw food enthusiasts don't realize is that, while it is indeed true that pasteurization does kill some nutrients in food, it does not kill them all. Indeed, even pasteurized foods have more nutrients than the body can process, and we excrete most of them as waste products. This and This are two lovely articles about the risks associated with raw food and the minimal nutrient loss arising from pasteurization.