The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
David E. Gumpert. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, $19.95 (254pp) ISBN 978-1-60358-219-3
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.
Reviewed on: 11/02/2009