The Raw Milk Revolution by David Gumpert

Raw Milk Revolution

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Interest in raw milk has been growing steadily as of late, and along with it has come pressure from state and federal regulatory agencies on suppliers to stop providing the controversial food.  In The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights, business journalist David Gumpert examines the legal bout over unpasteurized milk that has taken place over the last several years.

Concern begins with a small group of people getting sick and testing positive for the famous e.coli strain 0157:H7. Next, state officials deem that the occasionally life-threatening bacteria were contracted by drinking raw milk. (Gumpert shows just how inconclusive these findings can be, however.) Newspapers run headlines about raw milk nearly taking the life of someone’s child, and whether justified or not, the farmer is run out of business and a fear of the drink is established. The legal precedents being set in examples like this one are literally changing the rights of raw milk consumers and producers as you read this.

In addition to analyzing recent legal actions, the book presents anecdotal and scientific information on the health benefits and risks of consuming unpasteurized milk.  Many believe pasteurization destroys vitamins and enzymes (like lactase, the enzyme used to digest lactose), as well as various beneficial bacteria that are thought to play a role in strengthening our immune systems. Raw milk, like pasteurized milk, can however harbor dangerous bacteria if caution is not taken in production and distribution. Many outbreaks have been attributed to the consumption of raw milk throughout history. Gumpert makes it clear that he is pro-raw milk, but provides a very fair assessment of conflicting opinions.

Gumpert is also the author of the blog The Complete Patient, which began in 2006 and primarily discusses raw milk. The book frequently refers to the blog, including extensive quoting of both posts and comments. With the exception of some redundancies, the book is well presented and easy to understand.

A larger debate exists concerning food rights in general, and journalists like Gumpert are doing great work to illuminate the problems with our food system so that we can be free to produce and consume healthy foods. Overall, The Raw Milk Revolution is a great resource for anyone interested in raw milk.

A review copy of this book was kindly provided by Chelsea Green Publishing—thanks for sharing!

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11 2009

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