GOOD

Why Are Police Raiding Raw Food Stores

While raw food advocates might not have any science behind their beliefs, all food lovers should be worried about the government's recent crackdown.

While raw food advocates might not have any conclusive science behind their beliefs, all food lovers should be worried about the government's recent crackdown.

On June 30, armed federal agents stormed Rawesome Foods in Venice, California. Four officers had their handguns drawn, and video of the raid shows them skirting boxes of produce in a warehouse. The alleged perpetrators had put their stash in a back cooler. What was it? Raw milk, straight from the udder, and full of what one Rawesome employee said was vibrational nutrients.


News of the raid spread quickly. Perhaps it came as a particular affront because it happened in California, the front line for alternative healers, meditation gurus, and Juliano, the raw food poster boy and author of The UnCook Book. Or perhaps it was because federal agents had their guns drawn for a seemingly nonviolent raid on a vendor that had been operating without a Los Angeles food license for five years. Even libertarian U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) joined the fray, telling The Colbert Report,“People have a right in a free society to do stupid things.”

The fall-out continued later this summer when the Food and Drug Administration forced Morningstar Farms in Missouri to destroy 50,000 pounds of cheese after California officials reported finding contaminated samples of the farm's raw milk cheese in the Rawesome raid. With apologies to Ron Paul and Stephen Colbert, the latest in an ongoing battle over raw foods doesn't need to turn the country into any more of an idiocy spectacle. If anything, it’s time to reexamine the roots of raw food—and, if nothing else, at least consider how raw milk might lead to a better cheese culture.

Humans have come a long way from our hunting and gathering days, but raw foodists believe that we’ve suffered as a result of eating foods cooked at 104 degrees or higher. The ideology has taken hold among New Age types and Christian evangelists, who tend to frame raw foods as “natural” opposed to contaminated by human culture—recalling the structuralist views of the late anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss, who believed raw foods were symbolically closer to nature than are cooked foods. But, as Richard Wrangham argues in Catching Fire, learning to heat is what made us human. And just this week, scientists found evidence that Paleolithic humans in Europe cooked primitive grains, further dismantling the historical basis for a raw Paleo diet.

In fact, there’s little definitive food science that establishes the superiority of raw foods across the board. Food is just not that simple. Kidney beans are toxic when raw. Other foods become more palatable or nutritious. Spinach, for example, contains high amounts of oxalic acid, which can inhibit calcium absorption when eaten raw. All this may be beside the point to raw foodists, who cling to beliefs about the enzymatic and nutritional benefits. While raw-foodists represent an in?nitesimal fraction of Americans, the fad has gained momentum in the last two decades. For example, in 1975, The New York Times reported that only five certified dairies in the United States sold raw fluid milk. Clearly, that’s changed.

Raw milk and raw milk cheese were the focus of this summer’s raid. Each raises separate issues and each deserves more attention. While raw milk can be consumed safely provided proper care and attention is given to the health of a cow, milk can host Listeria, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella. Milk once helped transmit typhoid and tuberculosis at the turn of the 20th century, and mandatory pasteurization was hailed as a major public health victory. Now, almost all milk is cooked (pasteurization heats it to 161 degrees and keeps it there for 15 seconds), and the Food and Drug Administration considers drinking raw milk like “playing Russian roulette with your health.” Although one recent study linked its consumption with lower rates of asthma and allergies, Bruce German, a food chemist at the University of California at Davis, told NPR that the study was far from conclusive, because it didn’t account for factors that could influence a person’s health—say, lifestyles associated with paying $6 a gallon for milk. He told me in an e-mail, “The health risks of raw milk are well documented in the scientific literature and the importance of pasteurization is not a subject of scientific controversy.”

Making cheese out of raw milk is another issue, but the FDA still bans the import and the sale of raw milk cheese less than 60 days old over similar concerns about bacterial pathogens. Given the right combination of salt, acidity, and microbes, these cheeses can be far safer than raw fluid milk and tastier. There’s well-documented body of research to support how this traditional food is essentially made safe by good microbes. Heather Paxson, the author of the scholarly paper “Post-Pasteurian Cultures,” told me there’s a major difference between the microbiological risks associated with raw milk and raw milk cheese. Still, the FDA’s pasteurization mandate persists, rather than considering how we can sort out helpful and harmful microbes and safely produce, packaged, and market raw milk cheeses.

The latest raids may have hit a raw nerve, but maybe not for the right reasons. It’s clear that the federal government should look out for our health, but it’s ludicrous that they went in with guns drawn to an unlicensed food distributor that sold milk to a couple hundred Californians, while two egg manufacturers whose raw eggs sickened 1,600 American never went under the gun. Still, all raw foods are not created equal. If there’s any lesson that comes out of this, let’s hope it’s more attention to delicious Brie, ricotta, or queso fresco, which everyone—raw and cooked food lovers alike—can get behind.

Articles
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture

In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News