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 …