By Tim Persinko
In a country of pasteurized milk sippers, they are the renegades.
Defying the most strenuous warnings of the Food and Drug Administration, a group of 1,000 in the Maryland and Washington D.C. area purchase raw milk from Pennsylvania farmers. And now the group, Grassfed on the Hill, say they are ready to fight the government to drink freely.
“We have every right to obtain the foods of our choice from the producer of our choice based on our values,” said the group’s founder, Karine Bouis-Towe. “The FDA and other federal government agencies should not interfere in private, direct relationships between farmers and consumers.”
The Justice Department is taking legal action to stop a farm in Kinzers, Pa., from supplying the group with raw milk, the Associated Press reports. “Raw” means the milk has not been pasteurized, the sterilization process applied to almost all milk consumed in the United States. The Justice Department says the farm has been exporting raw milk across state lines, a practice it claims is dangerous to the public.
According to the FDA, consumption of raw milk can cause chronic and severe health problems, and could potentially lead to life-threatening illness. Suppliers in Amish communities in southern Pennsylvania produce milk for sale that does not undergo the pasteurization process, and around the country, raw milk enthusiasts band together into purchasing groups to arrange orders.
Grassfed on the Hill claims that their purchasing group was infiltrated by an FDA spy, who gathered information to build a case against the Kinzers farm. They also say that as a group of private citizens, they should be able to purchase whatever kind of milk they want, without federal meddling. Grassfed on the Hill has threatened to file a lawsuit in support of the Kinzers farm.
Previously, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, an associated group, filed a lawsuit against the FDA, seeking to overturn their prohibition of interstate raw milk sales.
Although raw milk drinkers have argued that consuming unpasteurized milk promotes better health, the FDA argued in a court filing, “there is no generalized right to bodily and physical health.” They also pointed out that laws governing food consumption have been around since the Bible.