Sweetcream Economics?


Fascinating story on NPR this morning about the rise in cow-sharing arrangements in order to acquire fresh, or "raw" milk. Apparently, getting milk straight out of ol' Bessie is illegal in all but 28 states, unless you happen to own your own cow.

From what I can surmise by reading the CDC reports linked to from the above page, the potential of disease from unpasteurized milk, apparently, is enough of a concern to make sure people aren't allowed to go straight to the source. (Were I an immature person, I might make a joke about the bureaucratic desire to wean folks off the natural teat and onto that of the state. Luckily, I'm not.) The other bit of insight from reading one CDC report is that the burden of proof has somehow landed on the potential seller:

Persons who drink unpasteurized milk and milk products might believe that these products taste better, provide greater nutrition than pasteurized products, and/or decrease the risk for various medical conditions (4). However, the benefits of consuming unpasteurized milk and milk products have never been validated scientifically (5).

Questions: Given that plenty of other unpasteurized items (juice, for one) are far more readily available, not to mention the numerous things that are dangerous on ingestion food object or not, is the potential for disease large enough to warrant making the sale illegal? And, why is it incumbent on the seller to prove that there is scientific validity for health claims in order to avoid a regulatory requirement (the pasteurization)?

For those with an interest in cow-leasing, I'd suggest starting with some interesting discussions on the economics of cow herds. If you like what you see, you can move on to investigating various schedules for the acutal costs of beef cow leasing. I imagine the process is similar for milk cows.

And, until someone can get Don Boudreaux to hurry up on his policy changes, here's your FDA warning to make sure I'm in compliance.


A while back, my wife thought I was making it up, when I told her about spreading of disease...

You see, not only have I had milk straight up, I had it in a remote Russian village. And here's your scientific validation of the benefit: to me it tastes a hell of a lot better. I'd get some right now if I could... I have no opinion on the alleged "health benefits"...

As for the risks, why are there so many raw milk disease outbreaks in the US, and so few in Russia? Besides blocking all imports, Russia has no national distribution of milk...

I mean there are problems, but not with milk directly...

My mother grew up in China and Russia. She drank non-pasturized milk all her life (until arriving in this country). As do billions today all over the world. She also preferred the taste of fresh milk.

I also can vouch for the superior taste of raw milk. The lactase, which is normally denatured by pasteurization, breaks down the lactose into glucose and galactose, creating a mildly sweet taste.

Why would potential for disease at any level warrant violent interference with a consensual transaction?

This essay of the health benefits of real milk is not promising...

This is a major issue with me -- I grow apples and am going through the permitting process to make and sell hard cider. As you said, some juices do not require pasteurization but some do. It depends on if human-specific pathogens can grow in the product. For apples, it can. Orange Juice? No. Beer? No. Wine? No. Hard Cider? Yes...

Milk is an even better culture medium for a wide range of human-specific pathogens e-Coli, Salmonella, plus a bunch of minor players.

Someone living close to the animal (milk goes from teat to mouth within the day) in less than sanitary conditions (ie: on a farm where their body's immune systems are frequently challenged and therefor strong as opposed to urban where everything is sanitized as often as possible), the problems with raw milk are minimal. Growing the cattle in the country and then trucking the unpasteurized milk into a city, holding it and distributing it to people is a health nightmare waiting to happen.

I have a few people who like raw unpasteurized cider (sweet -- not hard) and I make them sign a release when they get a gallon of it. The taste is _much_ better, yes, but I would not want the responsibility of selling it if I was not handing the product to the end consumer and having them sign that release...

Hope the licensing goes well Dave, and good luck. In today's climate, I can understand the desire to have those releases.

Of course, that's largely the problem, isn't it? We're past the point where people are responsible for their own safety, and moved into a place where it seems like milk sellers could be all for the regulation since it would (largely) protect against legal ramifications from someone deciding it was the milk-producers fault for their being ill.

Eating raw meat or chicken could have harmful side effects, but I don't think a lawsuit blaming the butcher would pass in court. Getting salmonella from raw milk sounds like a perfect target for a suit alleging "unsanitary conditions".


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This page contains a single entry by published on December 17, 2004 11:22 AM.

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