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The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle over Food Rights Paperback – November 6, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This thorough, thought-provoking account of the illicit raw milk trade comes from a veteran health and business journalist who has followed the story on his blog (thecompletepatient.com) since 2006. Elaborating his online posts, Gumpert looks at the industry in Michigan, California, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, offering detailed accounts of dairy farmers persecuted and prosecuted for dealing in non-pasteurized milk-thought a cure-all by some, a health hazard by others (including the FDA). Dramatic anecdotes and digressions, including federal agents confiscating milk cartons, the rise of commercial feedlots and the story of pasteurization give context and weight to the book's first third. When Gumpert turns his attention to the minutiae of food contamination, however, readers' eyes may glaze over. Testimonials to raw milk's healing properties (for autism, cancer, asthma, allergies, "virility" and more) are reported but aren't vetted; stories of foodborne illness, meanwhile, are truly harrowing, despite Gumpert's assurance that they've never originated in raw milk. Those close to the debate will likely find this a helpful snapshot, but anyone with passing interest should simply check out the highlights on Gumpert's blog.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"David Gumpert has chronicled the Raw Milk War with insight and humor. He provides an important record of systematic government bias against Nature's perfect food. Must reading for raw milk fans and government officials alike."--Sally Fallon Morell, President, The Weston A. Price Foundation

"David Gumpert has become the official chronicler of the 'raw milk movement' in the United States. The Raw Milk Revolution is a highly readable expose that successfully captures how the controversy over raw milk is at the center of a larger battle between the industrial food system and the local food movement. Gumpert explains how raw milk, more than any other food, threatens proponents of the 'germ theory,' centralized food production, and the 'nanny state.' The Raw Milk Revolution is an extremely important book because it sounds a clear warning that upholding the right to produce and consume raw milk is critical in preserving our food freedoms in general."--Peter Kennedy, President, Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

"David Gumpert employs his expertise as a professional business writer to dig deep and wide into the exploding raw milk controversy. His compelling analysis of the science, economics, politics and history of 'nature's most perfect food' opens the door to a greater understanding of the major challenges facing our food and agriculture systems today. Anyone concerned with the health of our people, our environment and our democracy should heed his words."--Dean Florez, Majority Leader, California State Senate

"If you want to understand the vocal opposition to food safety laws, you should read Gumpert's book. That's not the only reason to read it though. Even if you have little interest in raw milk, I think this book is a key piece in the puzzle to understanding the backwards priorities in America's food safety system."--Jill Richardson, La Vida Locavore review

"In this fascinating book on raw milk, journalist David Gumpert delves into the messy politics of food safety, which pits government technocrats and prosecutors against farmers, consumers and their advocates. It's a compelling account, one that should be read by any raw milk devotee--and more importantly, by anyone concerned about the broken and arbitrary way the government regulates the food we eat."--Samuel Fromartz, author of Organic Inc: Natural Foods and How They Grew

"The raw milk underground is one of the most contentious battlefields in the revolution to reclaim our food from industrialization, over-processing, and corporate control. In this book, David Gumpert investigates in great detail the health claims of both raw milk advocates and public health officials, as well the legal tactics being employed by government agencies to stop the growing movement to obtain and supply raw milk. His comprehensive analysis effectively deconstructs and illuminates the many complex issues of health, safety, and freedom that are raised by this debate."--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 1 edition (November 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603582193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603582193
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen T. Bemis on October 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As one of the lawyers advocating for the right to choose what to eat (isn't that a strange thing to have to say?), I appreciate Gumpert's thoroughgoing synthesis of the events of the last several years for what they were: a preview of the upcoming challenges to this fundamental right.

A pension lawyer, I have come to appreciate over the years that security in retirement is not just about monthly checks or 401(k)'s. The most important planning and investment anyone can make for happiness in later years is for good health. My own path to choosing raw milk was driven initially by health concerns. I now see the ongoing struggle in this tiny corner of America's food system as a canary in the coal mine. If we lose these battles for choice in nutrition, there is no telling where it will end.

David's book informs, in highly readable fashion, linkages and background much of which (because of my involvement), I knew. But there is much in his research and writing that I did not know until now, and his compelling telling of the story is thus a real service to the public and to all participants, both advocates, regulators, legislators, and others.

We desperately need more sensible dialogue, and it is my hope that this book will bring the pro's and con's closer together, simply by everyone being better informed. At the same time it illuminates a fundamental struggle for freedom (with responsibility) in the 21st century, for the benefit of a larger public who through this book can come to understand the complexities, as well as to appreciate the challenges of finding the "health" in "healthcare." For without improvements in health, healthcare will consume the country, and there will indeed be a harsher retirement for us all.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book grew out of a reporter's blog, "The Complete Patient." Because of the way the topic was born, and the somewhat objective approach the writer took, I believe that a transformation is taking place of the way many people view the issue of raw milk freedom. Many view raw milk economic (non)freedom as a moot issue. Someone - David Gumpert - became curious about why. And more curious. He was just writing about his health. I stumbled upon his blog a few years ago, just as he was becoming curious. One of our local pastured meat producers was rumored to be trying to jump through hoops regulators kept throwing at him. My childhood was riddled with underground raw milk seeking by my parents. People I grew up around looked at the food I ate as if it were some sort of poison while they consumed bologna on white bread, and Little Debbie snack cakes. So I was curious too, where his investigations might take him. I bookmarked his blog, and kept going back. When someone's farm was raided, he knew the same day, and told about it. His blog became a fascinating modern portrayal of what was really happening that nobody heard about. I work in the healthcare industry. In my 13 years as a registered nurse, the number of people I have to gown and glove for isolation for has grown exponentially. I have been acutely interested in the way superbugs develop. I've become over-aware (to put it mildly) of the knee-jerk reaction regulations health care and national food safety people come up with - regulations that make my actual direct care job, and our small private farm at home, increasingly impossible to do. On David's blog, I've been able to read a national hero food safety lawyer have at it with the biggest raw milk dairy manager in the U.S.Read more ›
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There is a revolution going on. At first it was a quiet revolution. The initial skirmishes were fought on the fringes of society. Over the past few years, the revolution has become more vocal, more powerful. It has moved from the fringes to the very center of our culture. People are becoming more conscious of the food they eat. And not just what kinds of food. They also want to know where it came from and how it was produced.

The food issue has become so central that the government, normally oblivious to anything that happens outside of the Beltway, has become aware of and is even co-opting the terms and principles of the movement. Manufacturers are legally required to list the ingredients and nutritional values of the food they sell. The term "organic" is no longer a folksy assurance of goodness. It has been quantified and codified. No one may use the term who has not met the stringent standards set by the government.

Still on the fringes but becoming more common with each passing year are those who not only reject the products resulting from the factory farming model, such as enormous feedlots that are so unsanitary that the cows must be fed a steady diet of antibiotics to keep them healthy enough to produce milk or meat (antibiotics that may actually be contributing to rise of "super bugs", antibiotic resistant bacteria), these consumers are also rejecting the preparation methods mandated by law: the pasteurization and homogenization of milk.

Aficionados refer to it as raw milk. Raw milk producers and drinkers are not the wild-eyed fanatics or zany non-conformists. They live all over the country including the Midwest and New England, areas not known for radicalism. They are people who value milk for its nutrition.
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