Synopses & Reviews
Beginning in 2006, the agriculture departments of several large states-with backing from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-launched a major crackdown on small dairies producing raw milk. Replete with undercover agents, sting operations, surprise raids, questionable test-lab results, mysterious illnesses, propaganda blitzes, and grand jury investigations, the crackdown was designed to disrupt the supply of unpasteurized milk to growing legions of consumers demanding healthier and more flavorful food.The Raw Milk Revolution takes readers behind the scenes of the government's tough and occasionally brutal intimidation tactics, as seen through the eyes of milk producers, government regulators, scientists, prosecutors, and consumers. It is a disturbing story involving marginally legal police tactics and investigation techniques, with young children used as political pawns in a highly charged atmosphere of fear and retribution.Are regulators' claims that raw milk poses a public health threat legitimate? That turns out to be a matter of considerable debate. In assessing the threat, The Raw Milk Revolution reveals that the government's campaign, ostensibly designed to protect consumers from pathogens like salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, and listeria, was based in a number of cases on suspect laboratory findings and illnesses attributed to raw milk that could well have had other causes, including, in some cases, pasteurized milk.David Gumpert dares to ask whether regulators have the public's interest in mind or the economic interests of dairy conglomerates. He assesses how the government's anti-raw-milk campaign fits into a troublesome pattern of expanding government efforts to sanitize the food supply-even in the face of ever-increasing rates of chronic disease like asthma, diabetes, and allergies. The Raw Milk Revolution provides an unsettling view of the future, in which nutritionally dense foods may be available largely through underground channels.
"This thorough, thought-provoking account of the illicit raw milk trade comes from a veteran health and business journalist who has followed the story on his blog (thecompletepatient.com) since 2006. Elaborating his online posts, Gumpert looks at the industry in Michigan, California, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, offering detailed accounts of dairy farmers persecuted and prosecuted for dealing in non-pasteurized milk-thought a cure-all by some, a health hazard by others (including the FDA). Dramatic anecdotes and digressions, including federal agents confiscating milk cartons, the rise of commercial feedlots and the story of pasteurization give context and weight to the book's first third. When Gumpert turns his attention to the minutiae of food contamination, however, readers' eyes may glaze over. Testimonials to raw milk's healing properties (for autism, cancer, asthma, allergies, 'virility' and more) are reported but aren't vetted; stories of foodborne illness, meanwhile, are truly harrowing, despite Gumpert's assurance that they've never originated in raw milk. Those close to the debate will likely find this a helpful snapshot, but anyone with passing interest should simply check out the highlights on Gumpert's blog." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)