The New York Times has recently published an issue of its Magazine all dedicated to food and dining. In one section of this Food Issue, the famous food writer and book author Micheal Pollan answered NYT readers' questions about current food topics and issues.
One of the questions addressed the thorny issue of raw milk in the USA. We report here the reader's question and Pollan's answer.
Q: Could you address the controversy regarding small-farm, raw-milk cheese producers?
A: Raw milk is delicious and nutritious — and more risky to drink than pasteurized milk. It also makes much more interesting cheeses, because some of the bacteria and enzymes destroyed during pasteurization contribute striking flavors. But producing raw milk safely takes a lot more care, and in recent years there have been several cases of people, especially children, getting sick after consuming raw milk.
There is a strong libertarian streak among many in the food movement, who demand the right to eat whatever they want, without interference from the government. They have a point — how is it that cigarettes are legal in this country while, in most states, raw milk can't be sold in stores? On the other hand, doesn't the government have a compelling interest in protecting children from a product about which they can't make an informed decision?
You do have to wonder about the Food and Drug Administration's priorities. Why is the government putting its resources into shutting down raw-milk producers, a teeny-tiny "industry," when there are many more serious threats to food safety on factory farms? (In fact the overwhelming majority of illnesses tied to milk and cheese come from pasteurized products.) While Amish dairymen are being raided by the F.D.A., Jack DeCoster, the notorious Iowa egg producer whose filthy, salmonella-infected eggs were linked to an outbreak that sickened more than 1,500 people last year, received a mild warning letter from the F.D.A. What is going on here? Sounds like political theater to me.
Source: The New York Times
Read all Pollan's answers and the rest of the Food Issue.