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Is Raw Milk Becoming Too Popular for its Own Good?

It's been a tough twelve months for proponents of raw milk. Last April, as many as 81 Colorado consumers were sickened by campylobacter associated with raw milk. Last September, about 35 people became ill with campylobacter, apparently from milk from a Wisconsin dairy. And just in the last few weeks, 17 raw milk drinkers in the Midwest associated with a dairy in Indiana have become ill with campylobacter. Added to all that, Whole Foods last month notified producers in four states - California, Washington, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania - that it would no longer stock raw milk.

What's the problem? As far as the public health and medical establishments are concerned, whenever people consume raw dairy products, it's a problem. In their view, raw milk is inherently dangerous and shouldn't be produced or consumed.

But the fact that as many as three million Americans regularly consume raw milk, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, calls the health establishment's radical view into question. Still and all, raw dairy proponents are coming around to the view there is a problem - it's just not the problem the authorities would have us believe.

In their view, these are really problems of success, stemming from raw milk's fast-growing popularity.

As part of a long-standing campaign to encourage consumption of locally produced nutrient-dense foods, the Weston A. Price Foundation has been encouraging consumers to switch to unpasteurized milk.

But that doesn't mean the organization wants conventional dairies to just discontinue pasteurization and sell their milk raw. As the organization says on its Real Milk web site, it "recommends Real Milk--that is, milk that is full-fat, unprocessed, and from pasture-fed cows. We do NOT recommend consumption of raw milk from conventional confinement dairies or dairies which produce milk intended for pasteurization Real Milk, that is, raw whole milk from grass-fed cows (fed pasture, hay and silage), produced under clean conditions and promptly refrigerated, contains many anti-microbial and immune-supporting components; but this protective system in raw milk can be overwhelmed, and the milk contaminated, in situations conducive to filth and disease. Know your farmer!"