Category Archives: Random Rants

Rocky Mountain “Moo Shine” and Raw Milk Temperance

Revered by some as “natures perfect food,” and yet demonized by others as “deadly poison,” milk, one of the most innocuous liquids known to man, is now the subject of possibly the biggest food fight of its kind. Mild mannered farmers coming to words with government agents, food safety attorneys, and irate consumers while “big dairy” farmers manipulate legislators and lobby for legislation that weighs heavily in their favor. So, what’s all the hullaballoo?

Like moonshine in the US Prohibition Era, raw milk is being targeted as unhealthy and dangerous, but unlike moonshine, raw milk that is produced following strict code of cleanliness and correct nutrition for the animals producing it, is safe. Even for babies. In the absence of mother’s milk, raw milk can be combined with other ingredients to make a baby formula that helps babies thrive, and meets the nutritional needs of babies much better than powdered or canned baby formula can. Also, unlike alcohol prohibition, today’s heavy regulation and bans on raw milk seem to be spurred more by big agriculture and the dairy industry to suppress unwanted competition, rather than a genuine desire to protect public health by a nanny state run amok.

Before the prohibition, clean water was scarce, and milk had become dangerous due to the cattle being fed the grain byproduct, or “swill,” left over from alcohol production. By the 1820?s the average American, including children, was drinking an average of 7 gallons of pure alcohol annually or the equivalent of about 2.5 ounces of pure alcohol daily, which translates out to 70 gallons of beer, or 39 gallons of wine, or 15.5 gallons of distilled liquor, per year.

To try to control the use of alcohol, reformers began an educational campaign teaching temperance or the “reduction or elimination of the use of alcoholic beverages.” Reformers experienced a significant amount of success with their educational campaigns, and In the 1830?s the average alcohol intake was down to only 3 gallons of pure alcohol per year, but because of alcohol’s addictive properties, reformers set their sights on ending alcohol consumption completely.

During this time, according to Jeffrey A. Miron at Boston University, “temperance movements waxed and waned in the U.S. from early in the nineteenth century, and these movements produced numerous state prohibitions. Many of these prohibitions were subsequently repealed, however, and those that persisted were widely regarded as ineffective. Amid the atmosphere created by World War I, support for national prohibition reached critical mass, and the country ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in January, 1919. Under this amendment and the Volstead Act, which provided for the enforcement of Prohibition, the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol were prohibited by federal law.”

Aside from the differing reasons for temperance, the parallels are strong. The current “raw milk temperance” being pushed by the big dairy industry has the same goal – to use federal law to end “the manufacture, transportation, and sale of” raw milk intended for direct sale to the consumer – albeit for differing reasons. Raw milk temperance also enjoyed a huge success as the result of its ‘educational’ smear campaign against raw milk in the early to middle 1900’s, and almost completely wiped out small raw dairies who were selling directly to consumers. But that was not good enough. Now in the wake of consumers’ ever increasing interest in local farm fresh foods, the dairy industry has doubled its efforts to eradicate raw dairy altogether using federal regulation and whatever means possible.

Like alcohol consumption, raw milk does have its risks – just as any other food does. However, food borne illness from raw milk is relatively small compared to that of other raw foods, even when compared to pasteurized milk. Supporters of raw milk prohibition claim that the reason those instances are small is due to the fact that less than 10% of the US population consumes raw milk, and that in fact, instances of food borne illness are actually higher per capita. Even if this were true, their comparison does not take into account the diet of the cow producing the milk, or the difference between raw milk that has been properly handled and raw milk that has not. It also does not take into account that there have been no deaths from food borne illness associated with raw milk in many years, but there have been deaths from food borne illnesses linked with other foods, including pasteurized milk and cheese.

The standards of cleanliness and the way that cows producing raw milk for direct sale are fed have improved dramatically since the days of the swill milk dairies. Even if they had not, you would think that the temperance movement would take a lesson from history – prohibition was unsuccessful then, and it won’t work now.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Obama could still get re-elected in 2012, in spite of his low ratings. You can either take hope in this, or like me, you could view it as a warning that the US could soon be re-electing for a second term a president that views the constitution as a roadblock. That is why he wears that smug look – because he knows this and he is counting on it – in fact, I would say that it is a big part of his re-election strategy.

How could this happen when we have so many good presidential candidates springing up lately? Well, look at the European Election results from 2009 – the socialist party walked away with a large chunk of the parliament seats, just like Obama may be able to do with the presidency if conservatives don’t get their act together. A multi-party system sounds like a good idea in theory, but look how the system breaks

down:

In fact, Obama is encouraging this division. The more conservative parties we have with candidates running for office, the better chances Obama has at a second term. We saw this happen in 1992 with the Bush/Clinton/Perot split. Clinton won the election with only 43% of the popular vote. Perot drew away almost 20% of the conservative vote, allowing a win by a liberal president when almost 60% of voters chose conservative candidates. I personally believe that Ross Perot was a good candidate for the office of president, but without the GOP nomination, his run split the vote and allowed Clinton to take the presidency. A similar thing happened in 1996 with the ticket divided 3 ways between Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, and Bob Dole. Of course it didn’t help that the GOP  did a lousy job picking a Republican nominee that year – Dole was not a candidate who could win an election that year, and I am not sure I would have wanted him to. However, had they chosen better, there is a good chance that  Clinton might not ever have served a second term. On the same token, if Nadar hadn’t drawn away 2,000,000 votes in 2000 Gore would never have had to demand a recount. The point is that in 2012, conservatives have more to lose than ever before in the history of the US.  We have

conservative and moderate parties blossoming up like tulips on the tail end of a wet winter. Not only do we have the Libertarian candidate Ron Paul vying for the Republican nomination,  there are several other parties gaining momentum in the wake of conservative disenfranchisement. Republican politicians have churned out a slew of liberal

double speaking frauds who have used the republican ticket to get elected before showing their true colors, or

moderates and conservatives who are too limp spined to even hold up to white house

socialists like Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders, let alone sit up straight on their own. Since 1992,

there have been 25 new political parties founded in the United States, and with conservatives’ inability to come together on a few key issues, we continue to become more and more fragmented. If Ron Paul doesn’t win the republican nomination and he decides to continue running on a Libertarian ticket, the 2012 election results could very easily look something like this:

Well, I am not sure if the green party still has quite that much support, but the point is that the fragmentation between several good candidates can actually work more in favor of the minority party than for the good of the country. In a time when so many liberties that we have long taken for granted are at stake, we can’t afford to continue like this, or we may well be at the end of an era – and looking into an uncertain future, where freedom is sacrificed for social programs and security. Let’s hope I’m wrong.