On the Road Again: Reflecting on Climate Change, Community, Safety, Traveling Through Southern Asia

For the last four weeks I have played tourist, traveling through southern Asia—Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand,  Sri Lanka, and then for the last ten days, India.  For all the economic gains we hear so much about in Asia, the differences between that part of the world and ours remain stark. I’ve only begun to digest what I have seen. I’d like to share observations on a few things that stood out especially strongly:  

Climate change. One of the biggest surprises to me was the intensity of the heat, everywhere in southern Asia—generally between 90 and 100 degrees, with the humidity hanging heavy. Even on the ocean at night, I doubt it ever got below 85 degrees. Only in the 5-000-foot-high mountains of the south India state of Kerala, in the late evening and early morning hours, did the heat abate, to perhaps 75 or 80 degrees. In Mumbai, along the waterfront in the evening, when thousands crowd the boardwalk, a sea breeze cools things slightly.  

I met at least half a dozen experienced tour guides, and without exception, they feel strongly that global warming is upon us. One pointed out that Mumbai just had its hottest day within the last two years last month—42 degrees Celsius, which is 107 F.  And remember, most buses and trains, along with cars, and apartments, aren’t air conditioned.

The huge economic gains being made across southern Asia make the climate situation seem ever more daunting. Mumbai is a case in point. Its population has swelled to 18 million. Because it is situated on seven islands, some man made,space is limited and  a subway system in such a wet environment is out of the question. So most transport is via gas-burning vehicles. The traffic is brutal, and even in the middle of the day or late at night, main roads are backed up for miles. There is little in the way of open space like parks. It’s a pulsating city with wonderful art galleries, restaurants, and architecture. But the scenes made famous by the movie, “Slum Dog Millionaire”, aren’t difficult to find, even if the tour guides mostly avoid them. As dynamic and exciting a city as it is, it’s difficult to imagine how people can survive if it gets even a little warmer. I couldn’t wait to get out

Fishermen along the Arabian Sea assess their overnight catch. Community. While cities like Mumbai are highly westernized, it was out in the country that I saw inspiring examples of how closely-knit communities routinely come together for the sake of food production. While driving through one village, our tour guide stopped the van when he noticed perhaps 100 bicycles and motorcycles parked near a river. We walked through some woods, and there were several hundred villagers bent over in shallow river waters dragging small nets through the waters. Each month, according to the lunar cycle, villagers take a  day off from their regular work and gather in a community fishing celebration. I worried I was intruding, but villagers were proud to show off their catches of small sardine-like fish.  It was like that in other places as well, including in the seaside city of Cochin, where, as you can see in the photo, I was invited by good-natured fishermen to help in the ongoing routine of the day of pulling ropes that bring nets, and hopefully a few fish, out of the waters.

A few good-natured fishermen temprarily recruit yours truly to help in hauling out their nets. They wouldn’t have wanted me for very long. I came across a similar scene around six one morning walking along a seemingly deserted Arabian Sea beach. Suddenly, dozens of villagers began returning from their regular night fishing, mostly carried out on single-person floats that can’t be said to qualify as boats. They carried their rolled-up nets, with fish still visible in the netting.

Safety. At movie theaters, government-sponsored public health shorts warn and advise about problems well under control here. For example, prior to a Bollywood movie I attended, one short segment warned about malaria, while another dealt with glaucoma. I was glad as I watched the scenes of mosquitos hatching in still water that I had decided to take malaria-prevention pills.

The safety-related theme I experienced up close was on  the transportation side. I wound up covering a lot of miles around southern India, and all I can say is that I’m glad I didn’t have to drive. To describe the traffic as chaotic doesn’t begin to capture the situation, especially in smaller cities, where cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, motorcycles, and the ever-present tuk-tuk three-wheel taxis compete for turf (along with cows and goats, for good measure). There’s lots of horn-honking, but little in the way of the angry aggressiveness that typifies most American urban areas. As for safety, you’re pretty much on your own.

At least one member of the family, shown here cruising at 40-50 mph, has some protection. Most taxis have no working seat belts for passengers. Entire families ride around on motorcycles. No one wears helmets, for the most part, except in a state like Kerala, where the driver (usually the dad) is required to wear one. Tuk-tuks designed to hold maybe four people sort of comfortably routinely carry eight or ten people, and I saw a few cases where probably 12 or 13 people were crammed in.

In Mumbai and other cities, the commuter trains are so packed, the doors aren’t closed. In the Indian scheme of things, suffocation is counted as a greater threat than an occasional passenger losing his or her grip and falling out going around a curve.

The priorities are a lot different in a developing country of 1.2 billion versus a well developed country of 300 million.

The three guys riding the back of this tuk tuk hide at least eight others riding inside…also cruising at 40-plus mph. As for the food, I loved nearly all of what I ate. I generally avoided street food, figuring I probably am not ready for some of the bugs I would encounter. But I found myself eating raw fruits and vegetables, despite warnings I had received before the trip, and came out okay. Nearly without exception, I found the food to be more flavorful than most Asian food I’ve had in the U.S., and I’ve long been a big Asian food fan. The spices seemed to carry more oomph, more subtleties, than what I am used to. 

Finally, on the subject of pathogens, there was one bit of fascinating irony I came across while touring a Jain) temple in Mumbai. Like many devout Buddhists and Hindus, the Jains  are very respectful of human life, so much so that devout followers where white kerchiefs over their mouths…to avoid killing both good and bad bacteria we harbor.  

As fun and fascinating as the trip was, it sure is good to be back home.


The doors of this train are open, as always, as it pulls into a Mumbai station during the morning rush hour. Finally, I want to say how blown away I was by the guest posts that appeared during my absence. Informative, provocative and well written. Many thanks to Dave Milano. Pete Kennedy, Scott Trautman, Bill Anderson, Steve Bemis, Joseph Heckman, and Ben Hewitt.  Ongoing, there’s no reason this blog can’t include guest posts at other times, as well…all by way of saying I’m open to ideas and suggestions.

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42 Comments on "On the Road Again: Reflecting on Climate Change, Community, Safety, Traveling Through Southern Asia"

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Mark McAfee
April 11, 2011 9:16 am


I am on my I Phone so I can not post the link for the CDFA food and ag code that defines a dairy. I quick Google of CA Food and Ag code #32505 and you will find the definition of a dairy. It must have more than two cows.

David glad you are home. I did enjoy the great writing of the guest authors. I am still astonished by the Cornell study comparing illnesses from pasteurized v raw milk. The facts are the facts. What an embarrassment for the CDC and FDA. … Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 11, 2011 9:35 am


Great post. You talked about your personal experiences, and it was very interesting to me. I've never travelled to Asia, but I'm always interested in the global perspective on things.

This is "globalization from below" — it is a grassroots globalization — not the top-down military-industrial-corporate-neo-liberal globalization being imposed by the powers that be!

Speaking of future topics of guest posts, I would love to hear more about the personal experiences of raw dairy people here in raising and maintaining their herds and milk quality.

People like Ken, Miguel, Goatmaid, (and others) have some very interesting perspectives. Even people like… Read more »

Steve Bemis
April 11, 2011 6:27 pm

Does anyone have the link/citation to the Cornell study?

Dave Milano
April 11, 2011 10:47 pm

We ought to be thinking very hard about exactly what economy is.

Developed countriesthose wonderful, enlightened, modern inventionsmeasure economy in terms of money transfer, and the more the merrier. In the great big modern economic analysis then, there is no difference between buying fresh food or a new house, and getting divorced, getting cancer, or having a mortgage foreclosed. Its all boosting the economy. Money is changing hands! GDP is rising! Were making economic gains! Yippee!

To put economy into a human perspective, please see this series of video segments (with advanced apologies to those who have followed this link… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 11, 2011 11:36 pm

Thanks for the link Dave, I will check it out!

I couldn't agree with you more about the false promises of consumerism and technological "progress."

In the social sciences, the idea that increasing GDP will increase overall happiness goes back to the theory of marginal utility, which unfortunately is the basis of most economic theories today of liberal, conservative, and "libertarian" persuasions. It is the acedemic basis for the twisted system that holds us captive to debt, markets, and commodities. And it is profoundly dehumanizing.

I am definetly looking forward to checking out this video!

April 12, 2011 12:23 am

Anyone know a good lab for testing milk for fallout contamination? Mark, what did you find from the sample you sent off, to Italy wasn't it?


Mark McAfee
April 12, 2011 12:56 am


No word yet from Siliker Labs in Italy. They were the only lab we could find that would perform a differential assessment of Japanese radioactive isotopes verses just simple generic radiation. I wanted to get meaningful specilic information about radiation from Japan.

I am with Steve….who has the Link to the Cornell Study on pasteurized milk verses raw milk illness data.

I need it.


Mark McAfee
April 12, 2011 1:10 am

Here is the link to the story that made mention of a Cornell Study and data on Raw Milk verses Pasteurized Milk illness data.

I am not sure how scholarly the author is? He may have made some assumptions and broad sweeping statements as to the data. Does anyone know Vince Hundt…he calls himself a Coon Vally dairy farmer? I would be shocked to see that Cornell would make this kind of apparent pro raw milk statement. In the past Cornell has not been friendly to raw milk. In fact they have been down right tough… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 12, 2011 1:24 am

I know Vince. He is an organic farmer, and one of the few pro-raw-milk people who sits on the DATCP working group. I'm not sure what study he is talking about here, but I will try to get a hold of him and find out.

Mark McAfee
April 12, 2011 2:52 am

THX Bill,

Here is an appropriate piece on looking at radiation in our food and milk. Even though I generally do not like Dr. Mike Payne PhD DVM at Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at UC Davis I think he is right on this one.


The take away is this….. Japanese radiation is all over the USA and Canada at very very low levels, this radioactive "iodine isotope 131" degrades quickly and becomes a none issue.


Bill Anderson
April 12, 2011 3:08 am

I'm worried about pacific seafood, with all the radioactive water being released into the ocean. Any word on that? It could be years before we understand the full effects…

Bill Anderson
April 12, 2011 3:25 am

Washington waging class war against us, again!

"Dont Punish the Poor" Economist Jeffrey Sachs Slams Obama-GOP Budget Deal


If they really wanted to balance the budget, they would slash military spending. Can't believe we just started ANOTHER war. Obama is a tool! At least if McCain was in office people would be protesting in the streets right now!!!! Stupid Democrats always pacify social protest…

Bill Anderson
April 12, 2011 4:21 am

Great documentary Dave! I really enjoyed it. Its a good look at rural sociology in the "developping" world and the effects of industrialization. It is so sad, that this story has played out so many times in the last two centuries of the history of industrialism. Both capitalist and communist regimes have basically done the same thing — disposs peasants from the land and drive them into urban slums to be wage-slaves in industrial factories, eliminating their traditional substinance culture.

I am reminded of how Rudolph Steiner was a visionary in his efforts to help many… Read more »

Dave Milano
April 12, 2011 8:43 am


Yes, the Ladakhis (the subject people in the documentary I linked above) suffered dramatically from consumerism and the loss of their traditional culture. But they were absolutely not driven into the cities or into the modern world by some regime. The Ladakhis were rather enticed into it. They CHOSE to do it.

To believe otherwise is to pretend that solutions can be found in the forming of some sort of social movement, of yet another fighting force to do battle with a political evil. That would be merely another form of the problem, as many of Ladakhs community and… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 12, 2011 9:50 am

Hi Dave,

Not disagreeing with you about the problem of an overly aggressive mentality — I'm certainly against war, and prefer nonviolent methods of conflict resolution. But I recognize that there is a war being waged against us by our own government and ruling elites. Michael Schmidt has been a role model on the use of non-violent tactics in one of the battles of this war (the struggle over raw milk). And Michael is no stranger to conflict, yet he manages to gracefully handle these conflicts while recognizing the need to build a social movement and social… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
April 12, 2011 11:15 am

Mark, thank you, I couldn't find the codes when I searched the states web site.

Don Neeper
April 12, 2011 7:39 pm

This is off-topic to the current discussion, but the following story indicates that the Irish Department of Agriculture is set to introduce legislation banning the sale of raw milk from any species.


Dave Milano
April 12, 2011 9:06 pm

Bill, Your socio-political views are fully hinged on a recalcitrant belief that some ideal box can be built, out of which only goodness will come. That is wrong, as human nature instructs, and history has demonstrated again and again. Events in Ladakh teach us as much; whatever social and economic successes once enjoyed there were the result of no system at all beyond the local (religion a notable exception). Trouble came more from well-intentioned systems than evil capitalists. (Also notably, Ladakhis at their best did in fact enjoy what you would call an ultra-free-market which included not only local… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 12, 2011 11:33 pm


I've used this pH meter with mixed results:

(scroll down, second to the bottom)

A word of warning, though: pH meters are not the most reliable. This has been borne out by my experience and the experience of other cheese makers I know. They have a tendancy not to work spontaneously or to give erroneous readings. Sometimes they also randomly start working again. Other times you have to contact the dealer or manufactuer for a repair or exchange.

Here is a slighly more reliable instrument, though it gives you a different reading:


There… Read more »

Dave Milano
April 13, 2011 12:44 am


Thank you! I believe that our recipes do have TA listed as well as pH, but if I can extrapolate from your numbers it appears theres a quantifiable relationship between the scales, so a conversion factor must exist, no?

Ive seen in the lab that pH meters themselves seem pretty reliable, but the electrodes are a pain. Must be stored in a wet neutral solution, must be calibrated immediately before each measurement, tend to be fragile, are expensive to replace and generally last just a year or two at most. And not to put too fine a point on… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 13, 2011 1:09 am


There is no fixed conversion from TA to pH. Though they are related measurements, the conversion will depend entirely upon the unique qualities of your milk. The % protein is the biggest factor determining the conversion. However, things like calcium and mineral concentration in the milk, degree and type of proteolysis during milk storage prior to cheese making, and probably dozens of other factors which we don't even fully understand can effect the way that pH and TA relate.

Obviously, since you are seasonal, this conversion factor is going to vary seasonally even within just the milk… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 13, 2011 1:13 am

p.s. the pH meter I linked to earlier automatically adjusts for temperature (it has a thermometer built in). Most modern pH meters do.

April 13, 2011 2:18 am


Let me add that you should pay attention to the taste ,smell and firmness of curd and learn how these are all related to the PH and TA.Eventually your senses will tell you a lot about how the cheese is progressing.The goal should be to dispense with the expensive equipment so you can relax and enjoy making cheese.Time and temperature are important and stirring the curd gently makes better cheese.Sometimes those cheeses that are bad tasting at first can improve with age.Taking careful notes is a big help because by the time the cheese is tasted it… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 13, 2011 3:36 am

Agreed Miguel. I also think that having a community of cheesemakers who share experiences can aid in developping each others skills. I'm fortunate enough to have such a community, coming from Wisconsin.

The same can be said of dairy farmers. That is one of the main reasons I am for having a voluntary raw milk certification program, to increase cooperation and sharing of knowledge and experience amongst dairy farmers who are serious about producing quality and safe raw milk.

Dave, I don't think one measurement is better than the other, between pH and TA. They are just… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 13, 2011 6:37 am


Here is a book that you will find very useful:


Concerned Person
April 13, 2011 7:35 am
Lynn McGaha
April 13, 2011 11:23 am


Do you think someone can safely and effectively make raw cheese from Jersey milk or Brown Swiss milk in a home kitchen? Following Ricki Carroll's instructions, the two people I know who tried it with fresh raw Jersey milk didn't have successful results other than with the soft cheeses and have given up on making raw hard cheeses. Does the book you recommend above tell how to make raw milk cheese? Is that the book you would recommend to someone just starting out in cheesemaking? Does Peter Dixon teach how to make raw milk cheese?… Read more »

April 13, 2011 7:21 pm

Lynn, sounds like their rennet may not be fresh? With old rennet, you have to use more or you get softer cheese or curds that never really set.

I make hard cheese with my Jersey's raw milk: Colby, m.jack, cheddar, and a generic farm cheese; in fact, that's why I bought a cow. No matter which recipe you use, aged goat cheese all tastes the same… goaty, so now my goat milk is reserved for chevre and feta. Last fall I didn't have enough goat milk for feta so I added half-Jersey milk. It was not… Read more »

April 13, 2011 8:05 pm

I have most of the cheese books, including Ricki Carroll's a good great first book, but which I don't use much anymore.

My go-to book for the last couple of years has been "Making Artisan Cheese" by Tim Smith. It's a large glossy book with pretty pictures of cheeses, the 50 recipes are clear and easy to follow, and recipes list generic ingredients in specific amounts instead of kit ingredients like Carroll's recipes ("one packet of direct-set whatever"). Those direct-set packages get expensive once you start making a lot of cheese.

On strong recommendation from the GoatCheesePlus Yahoo Group, I… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 13, 2011 8:50 pm


Adding lipase enzymes will give the cow's milk "feta" more favor. There are already lipases naturally in raw milk, but not enough to break through the large fat globule membranes of cow's milk. Goat milk is naturally more lipolytic because of the smaller fat globule size, thus the "goaty" flavor.

April 13, 2011 9:08 pm

Hi Bill, I did add lipase, about what I put in my extra-strong feta, but the Jersey-ish feta was too creamy, too yellow, tooo something so it didn't move well. Even I didn't like it, though the chickens did. lol Might have worked had I skimmed all the cream off instead of part.

I buy lipase by the pound since I make three different grades of feta: medium, strong and extra strong that knocks the socks off wimpier consumers. I also make an incredible Herbes de Provence feta, my favorite.

Bill Anderson
April 13, 2011 11:37 pm

Its possible that the lack of flavor is because you are removing cream. (At the risk of being "master of the obvious" here — if there is no butter fat, then there is no reason to add lipase. Lipase by definition can only act on lipids.) You may also want to consider aging it longer to bring out the flavor.

Also, consider adding LH100 (Lactobacillus helviticus) to the cow's milk version. That will also help to bring out some flavor as the cheese ages.

Bill Anderson
April 14, 2011 3:36 am

Funny, CP, that Bill Marler has blocked my comment from being published on his blog, because I provided information about ways for consumers to identify if their raw milk is contaminated or not. Contrary to what Bill says, bad germs actually CAN be identified by taste and smell, if you know what to look for.

It would seem that Bill Marler is not interested in food safety. He is interested in outbreaks, because it makes him rich. Also, it would appear he is inerested in fear mongering and censorship. If he was really interested in food… Read more »

Mark McAfee
April 14, 2011 4:07 am

CP and Bill Marler,

Nice scare tactics and warning to moms about raw milk. If it was fare information there would be some positive pitch to it…there is none.

What I find most interesting is the complete lack of reference to substantiate the claims. Not one study or reference.

Kids adapt to bacteria even pathogenic bacteria. Show me a "dairy farm family" with a sick kid from farm tank raw milk…it may occur but it is extremely rare. When a gut is young and healthy, a pathogen is not considered a pathogen….it is like any other bug. A… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 14, 2011 4:14 am

I owe Bill Marler an apology. Apparently the comment was lost in cyber space. I will repost it.

Mark McAfee
April 14, 2011 4:17 am

Bill Anderson,

I posted my comments shown above to Marler as well.

We will see if he posts my comments as well. he has never blocked me before.

I bet he does post my comments.

We will see.


Bill Anderson
April 14, 2011 4:37 am

Here is the comment:

Fortunately, propoganda such as this is not going to turn the tide on the millions of people who are increasingly seeking out fresh unprocessed farm-direct milk. However, there are ways to ensure food safety in raw milk. And contrary to what this pamphlet suggests, there actually are ways to taste and smell contaminated milk.

For example, gross E. Coli contamination (of the type that would lead to an enterohemorrhagic infection) is very readily apparent to taste and smell. All coliforms (of which E. Coli is a part) in milk produce CO2 gas bubbles, and… Read more »

Bill Anderson
April 14, 2011 5:09 am


Excessive cooking causes whey proteins to denature and unfold, thus they bind with any casein (curd proteins) that might be present. I can see how this might cause an allergic reaction in a sensative child. It certainly changes the way that the milk coagulates and thickens. PMO ice cream makers do this intentionally (over-cook ice cream mix) to increase the viscosity of the ice cream, because of the denaturation of whey proteins.

Mark McAfee
April 14, 2011 9:03 am

Bill Anderson,

Marler posted both of our comments. Mine was far from kind. i should have been nicer but I had just recieved some very powerful emails from consumers that drove me to try and send a message of protection to Marler…one of the forces that is trying to deny moms and their babies raw milk.

This is the kind of email that puts the purpose and passion behind Mark McAfee and the team at OPDC….

Recieved today…quote from Moms Email saying Thank You:

I am e-mailing you to THANK you for your raw products. Your raw milk saved my baby.… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
April 14, 2011 8:29 pm

"..one of the forces that is trying to deny moms and their babies raw milk."

What or who gives anyone the right to tell another how to raise/feed their child? Or what anyone else consumes?

I'll remember to leave an air space in the jar. Thank you.

April 15, 2011 6:59 am
Bill Anderson
April 15, 2011 7:05 am

Great stuff Miguel! I'm a fan of Sepp Holzer and Permaculture ideas. There's a farmer in SW Wisconsin who I know that does some pretty incredible permaculture stuff. Inspirational.