Is raw milk the new pot? That’s the question Dana Goodyear poses in this week’s New Yorker, mostly based on the milk raids and arrests at Rawesome, the Venice food co-op targeted last year. She lays down a pretty solid case — federal agents, raids, wads of cash, illegal transport and sale of goods, a robust underground market, secret farms hidden in the mountains, thousands of gallons of product destroyed, and arrests. Just switch out marijuana, DEA and “farmacies” for raw dairy, FDA and members-only food stores, and you get the idea.
The article is a pretty compelling read, full of facts, characters, and plots to shine a light on just how deep the controversy goes, from why people drink raw milk and why the government doesn’t want you to, to the farmers covertly raising cattle and goats and selling the dairy as contraband, to the lawmakers trying to regulate it. Raw-milk sales are now illegal in eleven states, and it’s illegal to transport raw milk across state lines. Still, people line up in a Los Angeles parking lot to buy Vermont unpasteurized butter from an unmarked truck. Two of the Rawesome Three arrested originally had bail set as high as someone accused of murder. Conspiracy theories abound; it’s the People vs. the Government. All the while advocates, even celebs like Vincent Gallo, just want to have their raw milk and drink it too. And just like weed, no matter how difficult it is to get, there will always be a dealer source waiting to take your dollas.