David Gumpert

David Gumpert is the author of The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights (Chelsea Green, 2009). He is also a journalist who specializes in covering the intersection of health and business. Read more on his blog.

Small is ornery

Maine towns reject one-size-fits-all regulation, declare ‘food sovereignty’

Photo: Chewonki Semester SchoolIn 2009, Maine farmer Heather Retberg learned that new regulations prohibited her from bringing her chickens to a neighbor’s approved slaughtering facility. She’d have to invest some $30,000 she didn’t have to build her own facility. So Retberg shifted her focus to raw dairy instead, selling directly to local neighbors. When she received a notice last year from the Maine Department of Agriculture that she needed a permit, requiring investment way above what she could ever hope to justify with her minimal sales, she’d had enough. She got together with four neighbors similarly upset with the new …

Curdled logic

FDA’s crackdown on raw-milk cheese based on flawed data analysis

Italy’s celebrated Pecorino di Farindola, pictured here, is now and has always been made from raw milk. We can get this right, peopleHas there been a serious jump in illnesses from raw-milk cheese recently? You might think so if you’ve read recent major pieces in The New York Times and The Washington Post — or the study put together by product liability law firm Marler Clark, which documented 54 illnesses attributed to raw milk cheese in 2010. The FDA is certainly concerned. It has been considering significantly tightening the rule that allows producers to sell unpasteurized cheeses to the public, …

Got safety standards?

Raw-milk producers take the initiative on pathogen testing [UPDATED]

A week ago, Pennsylvania dairy farmer Edwin Shank did something no other producer of raw milk in recent memory has seen fit to do: he halted sales to his more than 1,800 customers, without any urging by local regulators. He made his decision based on private lab tests — tests over and above those periodically conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture — that showed the presence of the pathogen campylobacter in one sample. While no one has reported illnesses to Shank or state authorities in the three weeks since the questionable milk went out into the marketplace, the owner …

They both can do a body good

Weed is OK but raw milk is not, says one California county

Humboldt County may be the marijuana capital of America, but it has no intention of becoming a mecca for another controversial natural product: unpasteurized milk.

Mug ring busted

Helpful raw-milk-drinking mom threatened with prosecution

For the last seven years, Rae Lynn Sandvig, a mother of four, has been helping a local dairy farmer distribute unpasteurized milk to 35 or 40 friends and neighbors in the Minneapolis suburbs. Then she got busted by the food police.

Listeria hysteria

The FDA's crackdown on small cheesemakers fails to turn up many bugs

While the FDA has forced the shutdown of small cheese makers Estrella and Morningland, most of its pathogen hunts have come up empty-handed.

First they came for the milk. Then they came for the Brie.

Who took your cheese? Could be the FDA

The government's war on unpasteurized milk was something most people could comfortably ignore as being about the fringe. But when the FDA starts messing with people's $22-per-pound raw-milk Camembert ... well, now that's serious.

Stop HACCPing us

Shutdown of two small cheesemakers raises more doubts about food-safety legislation

The FDA has a long history of going after small food producers for seemingly minor problems, and leaving the big ones to do their thing -- no matter how serious their transgressions. Perhaps that's why worries about the food-safety legislation are expanding.

Crying over illed milk

New study says raw milk not panacea for the lactose intolerant

For many years, raw-milk advocates have claimed that unpasteurized milk counters lactose intolerance -- the upset stomach many people feel after consuming dairy products. A Stanford study says otherwise.

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