The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Benefits outweigh risk with organic food

Posted: 9:00 p.m., 2/23/2010

One would think “America’s Dairyland” and the state ranked second in the nation for organic farming would make it easier for its farmers to make a living. Especially ones who use eco-friendly and energy-saving methods of distributing their products.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case as the state continues to crack down on the sale of all raw milk.

The sale of raw milk has been banned in Wisconsin since 1955, according to a recent Leader-Telegram article. The law – and subsequent ‘need’ for pasteurization – is meant to protect consumers from bacteria that can be in raw milk and in some cases, unsanitary production conditions.

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Some farmers have found a loophole in the law by allowing people who want to drink raw milk to buy stock in their cows and subsequently satisfy the requirement of the law that raw milk consumers must be part of the farming organization. But those farms have been scrutinized and have faced legal repercussions in some cases for the practice.

Strict food regulations are well-intended and needed. The things found in some of our processed food are bad enough and there’s no telling how much worse it could get if regulations aren’t in place. But in the case of raw or organic foods, consumers should be allowed to make the choice if they feel it is an eco-friendly or personally beneficial one.

The reality is that most people who buy organic products, or desire to drink raw milk, do so because they know exactly what they are getting themselves into. Most people don’t buy organic foods on accident. In many places like Eau Claire, you have to go to select grocers to get a good selection of organic foods and most of the time, more costly price tags don’t make those items something the average penny pincher would spring for.

Although there certainly is a risk in drinking raw, organic milk, many feel it’s health benefits and all-natural production far outweigh any risks – especially when the other option is drinking milk from cows that may have been shot full of antibiotics or hormones.

The taste is also a benefit. As someone who has been making an effort to consume mostly organic food – while still on a student budget – I can honestly say that I’ve never had better tasting food. Even in things that you wouldn’t think could taste any different, like broccoli and eggs, the freshness and natural flavor is something I would think everyone would desire.

There are also a ton of things people shouldn’t consume and do anyway. I once had a roommate who ate raw hamburger as a snack. Of course there are regulations of the processing of beef, but the government can’t stop people from eating a ‘cannibal sandwich’ occasionally.

Not to mention, think of all the legal things we consume that we absolutely shouldn’t. No one can argue drinking raw milk is worse for you than drinking alcohol . or eating Spam or Twinkies.

As mentioned earlier, Wisconsin was recently ranked second nationally in organic farming. It is an obvious mainstay in our economy, and those farmers should be rewarded for their practices by extending them the freedom to provide natural milk for customers.

Especially in a society that lives far beyond it means and often couldn’t care less about the energy that goes into producing its food, those that use natural, eco-friendly means of bringing consumers fresh food should be supported.

Luckily, some of our local elected officials feel the same way. Senator Pat Kreitlow, D-Chippewa Falls and Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau introduced a bill in December that would allow farmers with a grade A dairy farm permit to sell raw milk directly to consumers.

The first hearing on the bill will be March 10 in Eau Claire.

Hopefully our great state will make the decision to support those who take the natural road.

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Benefits outweigh risk with organic food