It’s amazing how the simple things can get blown up to ridiculous proportions.

Take milk, for example.

Milk used to go straight from the cow to the bottling plant to the consumer within hours. I know, my grandfather actually had a milk truck back in the 40’s.  Back then it was pretty much as the cow made it– raw, unpasteurized, unhomogenized, with a thick cream layer at the top that could be made into butter, if the housewife wanted to.

To be fair, sometimes people got sick from pathogens in the milk, particularly when the cows were sick or the teats were not correctly cleaned. Yes, people did get very sick and even die from “milk fever”. Our technology was not good enough to be able to test the cows.

When pasteurization became widespread, it was hailed as the end to milk fever. Farmers hailed it as a timesaver too since now they need not even concern themselves with washing teats or with dumping milk from a cow who was sick– the pasteurization took care of all the germs.

Nowadays, milk is a processed product, and lasts for weeks on the shelf. Not everyone, however, is happy with this state of affairs. Some people, for instance, feel that pasteurization kills the beneficial microbes as well as the pathogens– throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. Others feel that the proteins in milk are changed during the processing, and indeed there are people who are allergic to processed milk but not nearly so allergic to raw milk. For these people, raw milk is a valuable source of protein and calcium that is otherwise unavailable to them.

Enter Sacto, stage left.

Sacto is obsessive about the possibility of food contamination, perhaps justifiably since the spinach scandal. But they also seem to have a “kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out” mentality which is not always the best thing. When it was discovered that there were microbes (oh, horror! microbes!) in raw milk sold in this state, they quickly passed AB 1735.

“Wait, not so fast!” cried some. “Not all of those microbes are harmful, some may actually be helpful for the gut, and you’re treating all of them like criminals! Besides, nowadays we can test for the harmful pathogens such as brucellosis!” That last part is completely true, I’m told there is a 10-minute “snap” test for brucellosis among others. It’s actually possible to determine the microbe content of a particular batch of milk, and to know if those microbes are good, bad, or plain nasty.

Even Sacto saw a need for compromise and crafted SB201, which while not perfect would have at least allowed the two raw dairies in this state to continue operations. Unfortunately our Actor-Governor has now vetoed this bill.

**shakes head sadly** I’m speechless.

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