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Of Raw Milk and Swimming

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By Edwin Shank, July 5, 2010

Some of you have asked me to explain in more detail about the probiotic-building-of-immunity pathway to health and wellness as opposed to the antibiotic-kill-all-bacteria method. It is important to understand that these are my answers, not necessarily the answer or your answers. Each of you will need to decide and be ultimately responsible for yourself and for your family.

Let’s start with an analogy. I find that sometimes observing and understanding the simple and visible helps us grasp of the more complex and obscure.

According to the CDC, there are nearly 3800 drowning deaths per year in USA. That works out to a little more than 10 deaths by drowning per day. For every death caused by drowning there are another 4 near-drownings involving hospitalization and many times permanent brain damage.

These are sobering facts. This is reality for some families somewhere in America every day. It is only normal for parents, and others who care for the health and wellbeing of our communities, to ask the obvious question. What can we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from a similar tragedy?

Since all drowning occurs in water, we might quite logically conclude that water is the enemy and that the best preventive would be to prohibit people from getting into water. Make laws against getting into water. Pass regulations. Establish a Federal Drowning Prevention agency to enforce the laws. Raise taxes to pay them to protect us. The FDP could arrest anyone who dared to violate the law which obviously was established for public welfare.

You see where I’m going with this. An alternative drowning prevention is to learn to swim and to teach your children to swim. The ability to swim makes you and your loved ones practically immune to drowning while avoiding water like the plague only leaves your family more vulnerable. More vulnerable since it is highly possible that sometime in your life, in spite of your best attempts, and those of the FDP, you or your children will find yourselves unexpectedly in water without the least idea how to save yourselves.

Swimming does not make one 100% immune to drowning of course, so the FDP can always publicize a few highly emotional stories per year (complete with videos) in which those who were experienced swimmers still drowned. Parents who dared to risk their children’s lives by attempting to teach them to swim, as a preventive to drowning, could be prosecuted for willful endangerment and their children taken from them. After all, they were willfully, carelessly, callously ignoring data from the CDC which irrefutably documents thousands of deaths per year caused by water.

I know this analogy is not perfect, so don’t drag me through the coals to tell me so, but there are many parallels.

About 5000 people die per year in America of foodborne illness. These also are sobering facts. And it is only normal that parents and others ask the obvious question. What can we do to protect ourselves?

Many well-meaning people have concluded that bacteria are the enemy and so have set out to kill… set out to sterilize themselves and their environment. Kill all the bacteria! Fight BAC! Buy Purell… put a dispenser in every room. Get antibacterial soap. Anti-biotics for every sniffle. Outlaw unpasteurized cider. Pasteurize the nuts and almonds too. Outlaw raw milk and raw milk cheeses. These foods may contain pathogens!

There is only one problem with these bacteriaphobic actions and reactions. In spite of our best attempts, in spite of living in constant fear of the microbe, and in spite of efforts to increasingly sterilize our food… if we chose to live this way, we and our children will someday find that a stray bacterium has penetrated our sterile bubble… and our artificially protected, flabby immune systems will have no defense against it.

The alternative defense against foodborne illness is to embrace bacteria as a part of a larger eco-system, within which we humans integrate ourselves. It’s much like learning to swim. We who take this approach are not careless nor do we underestimate the power of the microbe. Rather, we respect it, and because of this respect we carefully and intentionally educate and help our immune system in its duty of defending us.

We focus on life instead of killing. Pro-biotic instead of Anti-biotic. This is what raw milk, raw kefir and raw cheese and raw kombucha tea are all about… building immunity and health! We learn to swim and teach our children to swim. Instead of fearing the water we relax and enjoy life as God created it! We embrace living whole foods. Whole foods full of immunity building probiotic bacteria, living foods full of nutrient-absorbing, living enzymes. Whole living foods full of unadulterated, unprocessed, unmessedwith, cell-nourishing, cell-repairing raw fats and protein.

Only living foods give life. Only living foods full of a diversity of natural micro flora from our local, natural environment can provide the education and information that our immune systems desperately need to actually protect us as God designed it.

God has designed the entire eco-system to live in harmony with bacteria. The sooner we drop our hubris and accept this humbling fact, the wiser and stronger and healthier we will be.

Think about it!

Your farmer,
~ Edwin

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This essay is an excerpt from the Fresh Thoughts on Real Food newsletter written by your farmers at The Family Cow. If you like this article and would like to receive other similar articles fresh as they’re written, feel free to subscribe here.

FDA Disclosure Statement

Edwin Shank is an organic dairy and chicken farmer, not a health professional. If it is a medical opinion you seek, by all means, call a doctor. This information is intended to challenge, or even provoke you to explore beyond the conventional food and health system.

Please Note: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.