When mom is the source, milk —the universal first meal — requires no further processing.
With cow’s milk, it’s a different story. Before Louis Pasteur concluded that heat kills disease-related bacteria, everyone drank raw milk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that drinking raw milk is very dangerous, and federal law forbids interstate distribution of unpasteurized milk for human consumption.
Still, some proclaim it their right to drink raw, unpasteurized milk.
Max Kane, director of a Chicago food-buying club, protests that raw milk eases the excruciating gastrointestinal distress he’s suffered all his life. Last winter, Kane rallied a disgruntled coterie of raw milk revolutionaries in Chicago’s Independence Park.
Several in this group of “mothers and others” defied federal law by transporting 100 gallons of raw milk from Wisconsin to Chicago.
This was the second Raw Milk Freedom Ride. The first was on the East Coast, and Liz Rietzig was there. “A group of moms drove to Pennsylvania, got milk from a farm, and took it back to FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, to demonstrate that this is our right, that we know how to feed our families and that the current FDA ban does not belong in a free society.”
Chicago mother Elise Kloster brought her children to the event in Independence Park, where they enjoyed treats of raw milk and cookies offered to assembled champions of the unpasteurized.
Kloster prefers raw milk because “you know it’s whole, so it’s really very flavorful and rich-tasting, and it changes with the season, depending upon what the cows are eating. Some batches are very mild; others have much more farm-flavor.”
The raw milk movement brings together contentious and socially-conscious folks — at the event in Independence Park, I noticed many ’60s-types in their 60s — asserting their right to drink unpasteurized milk, for its taste and curative qualities.
I drank some, and it was delicious.
Though it seems risky to ignore health warnings, it’s hard to argue with those like Kane who claim that it soothes stomach distress — and that it’s our natural right to consume whatever the hell we want.
David Hammond is an Oak Park writer and contributor to WBEZ (91.5 FM) and LTHForum.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.