The Disdain Factor, Which Decrees That Unhealthy is Healthy; Some Personal News

I’ve been reading the various analyses of the terrible events in Mumbai over the weekend, and realizing that most of the analysts don’t really know what happened or why. But that doesn’t prevent some from venting their hostility on other matters.

An op ed article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal by one of the paper’s top editors assesses comments made on CNN by Deepak Chopra, the writer on spirituality. In her initial description, we learn all we need to know about where this editor is heading when she describes him as “… healer, New Age philosopher and digestion guru, advocate of aromatherapy and regular enemas…”

I’m not a huge Deepak Chopra fan. I found a couple of his early books insightful, but kind of lost interest in him the last few years, as he seemed to become increasingly commercial and trendy. Still, the editor has clearly set him up as a straw man for her disdain for those who are different in important areas—not only in how they approach terrorism, but in how they come at health and food.

That disdainful description, got me thinking about Judge John Egan’s decision in the Meadowsweet Dairy case. In particular, how he determined what a “consumer” is by looking it up in various dictionaries, to come up with the scholarly legal conclusion that, well, based on all the definitions, everyone in New York is a consumer, and therefore all New-York-produced food is subject to regulation by the New York Department of Food and Agriculture.

He couldn’t be bothered with the notion that a person who purchases food at a grocery store is different from, say, a food co-op member or farm shareholder who invests and commits to receiving regular food output, or even a person who milks a cow or grows his or her food.

By being unwilling to examine the shades of gray in this case, and by limiting his analysis to dictionary definitions, he was, in effect, saying: “Look, all you had to do was look this stuff up in a dictionary. Even a bunch of twelve-year-olds could have done that.” It would have been difficult to be more disdainful than that.

The message behind such disdain seems to be this: Don’t you people get it? Aromatherapy is snake oil. De-tox is a relic of a bygone era, replaced by allergy medications and fast food.

And you raw milk drinkers are all consumers, no matter how you obtain your milk, and you’re under the control of the state. We’re going to protect you from your childlike craziness, no matter how hard you kick and scream. (And despite the fact that dairy is the least threatening food for illness, per An Observer’s comment and link following my previous post.)

Dave Milano says it well in his comment on my previous post concerning warning signs: “A government-industry alliance has decreed that food coming from unnatural ag practices, which is then deconstituted, reorganized, chemicalized, heated, and otherwise processed, is ‘normal’ and therefore requires no health warnings, while a natural product like raw milk is treated as a virtual poison.”


I’ve wanted to mention a couple of personal items from the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Wise Traditions conference in early November. I was honored by the WAPF with an award–its first-ever Integrity in Journalism Award, “for dedication to accurate reporting on raw milk.” I wasn’t able to be present for the actual ceremony because I had to leave for Germany, so I want to say here how truly gratified I am to have been honored in this way.

Second, I announced at the conference to attendees of the panel session I participated in that I am in the process of writing a book about raw milk. I will be trying to make sense of the controversies and battles that have emerged over the last couple of years—not an easy task, as everyone here well knows

This blog, and its participants, will be a big part of the book. I will also be looking for personal testimonials about how raw milk has improved people’s health. I already have a good number of these, which have come from consumers in Michigan, Ohio, and California in connection with legal and legislative battles in those places. Christine Chessen is collecting them for her organization, CREMA, and certainly you can feel free to copy me in anything you do for CREMA. If non-Californians have other examples, I’d welcome them (send to

I’m on a tight schedule—the book is due to be completed this spring, so if my blog postings are a little erratic in their timing…you’ll know why.


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10 Comments on "The Disdain Factor, Which Decrees That Unhealthy is Healthy; Some Personal News"

Elizabeth McInerney
December 3, 2008

Yea! I have been wondering when you would write a book on raw milk! I can’t wait to read it :-) Go David!

Don Neeper
December 3, 2008

Do you already have a publisher for your book, and hopefully an ‘advance’ to tide you over while writing it? :-)

Don Neeper
December 3, 2008

This is off-topic, vague and sketchy, but apparently the Ohio Department of Agriculture is still hard at work:

"Manna Storehouse, a food co-op in La Grange, providing grass fed beef, lamb, pastured poultry and other Weston A. Price foods was raided yesterday [Monday, Dec. 1st] by SWAT, ODA officials, and local authorities.

The family that runs the co-op tells me they were herded into the living room for 8 hours while the home and business was torn apart. They were not given reason, saying they were under investigation. All of their computers and phones, and customer information were taken, as well as $10,000 worth of beef. A ‘warrant’ which didn’t appear to be valid, showed the reason for investigation, was ‘beef’.

If you are a customer, please know they only have cell phones and a few numbers that may be in those phones they can call. They have no records as they were all taken, so they can’t be in contact.

They won’t know anything until they go to court, and at this point are considering going to the media.

Interestingly, I believe they said a month or so ago, an undercover ODA official came to their little store and claimed to have a sick father wanting to join the co-op. Both the owner and her daughter-in-law had a horrible feeling about the man, and decided not to allow him into the co-op and notified him by certified mail. He came back to the co-op demanding to be part of it. They refused and gave him names of other businesses and health food stores closer to his home. Not coincidentally, this man was there yesterday as part of the raid.

If you are a one who prays, they ask for your prayers."

I am not personally acquainted with the Manna Storehouse, but a quick web search resulted in its web site:

My only thought was to wonder if they were storing fresh or frozen beef on the premises. I don’t know what the Ohio Revised Code says on the matter, but there may be explicit rules for fresh meat that may apply to even a private co-op.

Steve Bemis
December 3, 2008

David, congratulations on the recognition. And here’s a suggestion for another angle to explore in your book:

As we get more and more examples of out-of-proportion enforcement against small farmers, it occurs to me that in addition to ideology, disdain, fear of competition and other helpful analyses offered on this blog, there may be yet another light to shine on the big business/regulatory opposition to raw milk and various other local foods. The motivation I’m thinking of may lie principally with big-ag and its allies (big-chem, big-insurance, big-med and others), although I can feature it being shared at some level with regulators. On the big-ag side, the media/regulatory/lawsuit frenzy directed at small farmers serves the very useful purpose of distracting the public (and, to a certain extent, the regulators) from the real problems, namely acute problems like food poisoning outbreaks in tomatoes and periodic e coli in meat which are truly dangerous and wide-spread, as well as chronic long-term problems from the obesity/diabetes/malnutrition triplets and from poisons such as MSG, aspartame, hydrogenated vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugars and flour, etc. – similarly dangerous and widespread although less visible. So long as everyone grabs newspapers (or spends time on a blog) with the latest news of a small farmer getting raided, the media are not likely to waste much time on the elephant-in-the-room. Especially if that elephant helps to pay many of the bills for media dependent on advertising. For their part, regulators who are chronically underfunded and short-staffed (not to mention, totally outgunned by big ag and the complex chronic problems which are hard to see, never mind analyze) can sleep at night thinking they are doing at least some good, when they get down on a rogue farmer.

Don Neeper
December 3, 2008

This just in:

"Dear Don,

Transparency and engagement are priorities for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Our success depends on not only opening up a process that has historically been inaccessible to most Americans, but also encouraging citizen participation.

Last week, we took an important step towards these goals by asking the public to participate in a discussion about health care on our website.

The result was fantastic. Started by a question from our Health Policy Team, thousands of comments poured in over a few days. Some people answered the initial question, but others engaged with one another debating and developing new ideas and approaches to health care reform.

Members of our Health Policy Team, including former Senator Tom Daschle, read through these comments over Thanksgiving weekend.

Yesterday, they sat down to record a special video response. Watch it and join the discussion:

This is just the beginning. These discussions are a valuable resource for Transition staff and an important way to ensure that everyone has a voice in the process.

Thank you,


John D. Podesta
Obama-Biden Transition Project"

I haven’t watched the video yet, and I’m mad that I missed an opportunity to contribute to this whole discussion!

Don Wittlinger
December 3, 2008

According to a Jeffery Smith article it is likely more GMOs coming. Even worse for raw dairy folks he links to a report that the boss behind the raids of peaceful raw dairy farmers in Pa. Monsantos ally to stop rbGH milk labeling in Pa. current Ag. Sec. Dennis Wolff is being considered to be new US Ag. Sec.

The Complete Patient
December 4, 2008

Don, the publisher is Chelsea Green, which publishes extensively on health and food issues, and does pay advances.
Steve, appreciate the suggestions about exploring the bigger causes of the out-of-proportion regulatory and legal actions against small farms. Lots to consider, since so many connections. The media used to avoid irritating the retailers and auto companies because they were such big advertisers; now that treatment is reserved for Big Pharma and food companies. The politicians love these industries as well, for the jobs they create, and the campaign contributions they make. And then there are the cultural biases, per this post. I’ll try.

David Gumpert

Sylvia Gibson
December 4, 2008

Congrats ! David, on the Integrity in Journalism Award, that speaks volumes about you.

john d
December 5, 2008


Congratulations on being recognized for the integrity of your journalism. There was certainly no mistake there in the selection process. BTW, I look forward to reading your book. I’m sure it will be most insightful. Let me know if there’s any information I can help you with from north of the 49th parallel.

I also wanted to talk a bit about Dan Neeper’s little report on the Manna Storehouse raid. I excerpted part of that comment for a post on the Bovine yesterday and it’s getting an incredible volume of traffic. I think that story has touched a nerve out there in rural America. Today I found a blog that had more details on the case, and what I read there is truly scary. It makes you wonder what this is all about. David, I think this is something you might want to look into deeper. Here’s my most recent post on the raid:

Blair McMorran
December 5, 2008

Congratulations and I’m looking forward to your book! Sign me up for 50 copies, more later.
It makes me happy to hear that parts of your wonderful blog, it’s heroes, and its brilliant insightful reader comments will be documented. Never has the like happened.

If you do one thing, put it the consumer’s hands. The consumer can’t let any more blood be shed, any more acres lost – unless we really know what our lazy blind selfish butts are sacrificing. We just won’t survive without real food.