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Posts Tagged ‘food industry’

In the April 2008 issue of Harper’s there’s a really interesting article on “the raw-milk underground” – farmers who produce and sell unpasteurized milk to people who prefer its taste, nutritional content, and beneficial bacteria. Selling raw milk is illegal in Canada and in half of U.S. states.

Raw milk advocates say that we are weakening our bodies’ defenses against disease by eating only “sterilized,” bacteria-free foods. And, they argue, food companies contribute to chronic disease – making far more people sick than unpasteurized milk does – by promoting unhealthy diets. Yet legal and regulatory action is primarily taken against sources of acute, not chronic, illness. So raw milk dairies get shut down, while the major food conglomerates flourish.

I thought this quote from a dairy farmer nicely summarized the contradictions: “If my milk gets someone sick, I deserve some blame, but not all of it. People have to take responsibility for maintaining their own immune systems. And we have to look at an environmental level, too. Where did these germs come from? E. coli O157:H7 evolved on grain-fed cattle. It’s amazing to me that we’ve sat by as factory farmers feed more than half the antibiotics in the country to animals and breed these antibiotic-resistant bacteria at the same time the food corporations are destroying our immune systems.”

The irony, of course, is that Group Danone (maker of Dannon yogurt and Perrier water) is making a fortune selling yogurt advertised as containing probiotics (beneficial bacteria). Danone’s claims about the benefits of Activia and DanActive yogurt have been contested in a class action lawsuit filed earlier this year, but a Time Magazine article last week says that probiotic-fortified foods are the next big thing for the food industry. I guess the idea is to get all of the “good” bacteria with none of the risk. But would “bad” bacteria even pose a risk if we farmed and ate another way?

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