Yes, says Deborah Blum, who says food faddists who go for raw milk are really putting themselves in danger for no good reason. Excerpt:
But the subject of raw milk just makes people irrational. The doctor’s snit about his preferred dairy product is part of a grand theatrical tradition, a century’s worth of contention, lawsuits, accusations, counter-accusations, profanity, career damage, threats, and a certain amount of pure melodrama: “Pasteurized milk is dead milk which will rot on standing,” one of the New York physician’s intellectual descendents declared during hearings preceding the FDA’s 1987 ban on interstate shipping of raw milk. “One of nature’s most perfect foods has been murdered.”
Worshippers at the milk shrine–to indulge in yet more hyperbole–stand before only one image of that perfect food. It’s golden, creamy, foamy, fresh from grass-fed, family-farm cows. It doesn’t cause but cures illness. Raw milk, with its legion of followers, has become a poster child of the food rights movement, giving emotional power to the idea that all of us deserve access to untainted, unprocessed, healthy food.
And it’s in this incarnation–the one that draws a cultlike following–that the raw-milk ideal becomes dangerous.
Blum says that the incidents of sickness related to drinking unpasteurized milk has doubled recently. I have never understood the raw milk thing, even though I generally share the culture of people who drink it. I like to eat raw milk cheese from time to time, and feel comfortable with the element of risk I assume in so doing. I also eat raw oysters on occasion, knowing full well that I’m taking a chance on foodborne illness in so doing. But drinking raw milk? Why take a chance on it? I have never been convinced of the health benefits of drinking raw milk, and given the amount of milk we consume in our house — mine mostly as an additive to coffee, but my kids drink a lot more — the risk of sickness from it seems far too great. And what are the benefits that compensate for the risk?
Remember Asbury, people!
UPDATE: This post has apparently been linked by a pro-raw milk site. Folks, before you jump to conclusions, understand that I support the legal sale of raw milk, but I don’t wish to drink it myself.