I think this is the appropriate moment to thank all of the wonderful organizers of this conference and the officers of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. Let’s give them a big round of applause. It is a particular pleasure and a privilege to speak to you today. Years ago, after I graduated from college and began my education, I read three books that had a profound influence on my thinking and in fact set me forth on the career that has brought me before you today.
The first book was Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price. Dr. Price was a pioneering dentist who had the wisdom and persistence to study the dietary habits of healthy nonindustrialized people before they disappeared from the face of the earth. His research led to the radical conclusion that the diet that supports good health is in all respects the very opposite of the dietary recommendations given by all those smart people who work for the medical/agricultural complex and the government. A healthy diet is one that is rich in animal fats, organ meats, and raw-milk products from grass-fed animals; it contains fermented foods full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. If your dinner plate is swimming in butter and you eat sauerkraut or some kind of lacto-fermented condiment with your meal or perhaps a deliciously nutritious fizzy lacto-fermented soft drink, you are following the principles of healthy diet.
I’d like to interrupt myself for a moment and point out a serendipitous link to Dan Barber’s wonderful presentation about foie gras this morning. Dr. Price discovered a vitamin that he couldn’t identify, so he called it Activator X. When people consume diets that are rich in this vitamin, their offspring have beautiful facial development—broad faces, high cheekbones, naturally straight teeth, and also complete freedom from tooth decay. A few years ago researchers at the Weston A. Price Foundation finally figured out that Activator X is vitamin K2, the animal form of vitamin K. The number one source of vitamin K2 in the Western diet is goose liver! So foie gras is more than just a luxury item, it is a supremely healthy food!
The second book that had an enormous influence on my thinking was Small Is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher, particularly his emphasis on the value of small mixed farms and local food economies. The argument people used in Schumacher’s day—and are still using today—against his ideas is that we would all starve if we had a system of small farms, that only big agriculture can feed the world. I remember how excited I was by the book when I first read it in the mid-1970s. I got into a conversation with a UCLA professor, and when I began talking about Schumacher’s book, he said, “Oh yes, we tried that in Africa.” He was referring to the small-scale production of egg cartons, and he said the problem with the “small is beautiful” idea was that it led to abundance. “We ended up with too many egg cartons.” And then he went on to explain how abundance severely disrupts the global economy!
Small Is Beautiful was the inspiration for the Weston A. Price Foundation’s local chapter system, which is a confederation of volunteers who help connect consumers with farmers engaged in nontoxic pasture-based agriculture.
The third book was There Is a River by Thomas Sugrue. I don’t have time to discuss the contribution this book has made to the change of consciousness we have undergone in this culture since the 1950s. Suffice it to say that it eventually led me to the writings of Rudolf Steiner, whose work dovetails with that of Schumacher and about whom I will have more to say later. There is a River helped me form what Schumacher called the center of basic convictions, those ideas which have the power to move us and help us form a coherent and meaningful view of the universe as we pursue our fundamental human purpose. We all need that core of ideas upon which to build our careers and our lives.
Today I would like to talk about very small living objects that have been ignored, marginalized, or even demonized by the clever thinkers of our modern age. They are enzymes, cells, and bacteria. Let’s look first at enzymes. I don’t have a picture of an enzyme to show you, but they are beautiful proteinaceous objects in three dimensions. In diagrams they look like bunches of ribbons twisting in all directions, and they are even more complicated than they look because every section of the surface of these twisting ribbons has a specific positive or negative charge. Enzymes are so small that their actions take place on a subtle electronic level, and if the charges are not the right ones in just the right places on these ribbons, the enzymes cannot do their work.
One place you find these enzymes in abundance is raw milk. The enzymes in raw milk work synergistically to inhibit or kill pathogens, strengthen the immune system, and ensure that all of the nutrients are absorbed. This is why raw milk only rarely causes disease, in spite of what you may have read. There is a great deal of propaganda accusing raw milk of terrible crimes, but in fact the enzymes in raw milk prevent the growth of pathogens and strengthen the immune system against the pathogens.
To take just one example, the enzyme called lactoferrin works by stealing iron away from pathogens and then carrying the iron through the gut into the bloodstream. So the enzyme actually does double duty, as do many enzymes. First it kills off a wide range of iron-loving pathogens (which most pathogens are) such as the TB bacillus. Another super iron-loving pathogen is candida, which poses a big health problem today. Lactoferrin kills candida. At the same time lactoferrin helps the infant to absorb all the iron in milk. This is why infants on breast milk or any other raw milk don’t get anemic, which they do on pasteurized milk. In addition, lactoferrin stimulates the immune system.
Lactoferrin is one of those beautiful small things that our modern health officials have marginalized. They simply have no sense of shame about what industrial processes do to these elegant fragile compounds. Rapid heating, pressure, and chemical treatment can warp and distort the precise folds and surface electrical charge of enzymes like lactoferrin in raw milk, thus rendering them ineffective and destroying their potency so that when we drink pasteurized milk, what we get is a messed-up bunch of enzymes. The body, thinking that they are foreign proteins, is then forced to mount an immune response.
Now let’s turn our attention to cells, the components of animal and human bodies. Modern materialistic science marginalizes cells by calling them simple. Some textbooks still describe cells as simple, membranous sacs that contain fluid and a few floating particles even though today’s biologists actually know better; they know that cells are infinitely complex. For example, scientists have learned that animal cells actually contain tiny motors in the mitochondria. The fuel they run on is called ATP, and the enzyme ATP synthase present in the mitochondria acts like a water turbine. Hydrogen ions are pumped across the membrane toward the outer surface of the mitochondria by means of high-energy electrons. The concentration gradient of the ions diminishes as they pass through a tube in the enzyme ATP syntase, and the energy from the backflow turns the turbine. That’s in the mitochondria of the cells, and there are literally millions of these motors in every cell. Amazing!
We know that cells have elaborate ways of communicating with one another by means of various hormones and other substances. They have receptors on their outer membranes that allow them to receive signals from other cells and to reply with their own signals. It seems that the brain of the cell is the membrane—the mem-brain—but cells cannot do this communicating unless the membranes contain plenty of saturated fat and cholesterol. The elaborate sensing mechanism simply will not work without saturated fat and cholesterol.
One-celled organisms, as opposed to cells forming human and animal bodies, have not only been marginalized but completely demonized. Under the catch-all term of germs, these one-celled organisms have, since their discovery, been blamed for most of the diseases we suffer from, diseases that are actually caused by either toxins or nutritional deficiencies.
I’m reminded of a story told to me by friends from France who were at a family gathering. A little girl of about four dropped some food on the floor, and when she started to pick it up, several family members shouted out at the same time, “Don’t eat that, it’s got germs on it!” The little girl straightened up and said: “Germs, Jesus Christ, and Santa Claus! That’s all I ever hear about, and I’ve never seen a single one.”
Because these microorganisms—viruses and bacteria—are invisible, they can be blamed for attacking us and making us ill. Modern medicine holds microorganisms responsible not only for infectious diseases like flu and pneumonia but also for chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer. And if it’s too much of a stretch to blame these types of diseases on germs, the blame is placed on the other G word, genes.
Germs and genes take the rap for nutrient deficiencies and for toxins in our air, water and food. I’ll give you a very good example of misplaced blame. The symptoms of polio, said to be caused by a dastardly virus, are identical to the symptoms of DDT poisoning. The polio epidemic in this country waned when DDT was outlawed in the United States. The polio vaccine, deliberately held back until that ban, was then trotted out with great ceremony and given credit for the decline of polio. So the invisible virus still takes the rap.
I recently clicked on an AOL trailer that warned—this was the headline—“283 kinds of bacteria lurking here.” The word “lurking” lets you know this is something ominous. The article revealed that your dashboard can be as dirty as a toilet seat, with 283 different types of bacteria per square inch. Drivers with children and pets were found to host an even greater number and range of potentially harmful germs. With dangerous germs from children and pets “lurking” on dashboards, doorknobs, and kitchen counters, the world of reductionist science is surely a dangerous and hostile place.
The demonization of microscopic life, according to which the only good microbe is a dead microbe, provides justification for the pasteurization of milk as well as the sterilization of the food supply and has also built the edifice of modern medicine based on antibiotics and vaccinations. As we well know, these measures have not solved the problem of disease. The desperate solution now proposed is the combination of ultra-pasteurization, irradiation, full-spectrum-cure antibiotics, and dozens of required vaccinations before the age of five. A baby gets its first vaccination when only one day old. A propos modern medicine and agriculture, Schumacher said: “The neglect, indeed the rejection, of wisdom has gone so far that most of our intellectuals have not even the faintest idea of what the term could mean. As a result, they always tend to try and cure a disease by intensifying its causes. The disease having been caused by allowing cleverness to displace wisdom, no amount of clever research is likely to produce a cure.”
The irony is that in recent years a few scientists have made discoveries that completely discredit the germ paradigm. Unfortunately, our public policy is the product of biologists and microbiologists who went to school 30 years ago. They would not be learning the germ theory in school today, at least not this version of it. We now know that we live in symbiotic relationship with microscopic organisms on our skin, in our bowels, and throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract. Without the six pounds of bacteria lining the gastrointestinal tract—and by the way these bacteria number more than all the cells in our bodies—we could not digest our food or absorb the nutrients it contains. They provide our number one protection against toxins in our food. If the bacteria in your intestinal tract are numerous and healthy, they keep out mercury, pesticides, and all sorts of toxins. Eighty-five percent of our immune system consists of wonderful bacteria in the gut, which produce a range of nutrients and even chemicals that make you feel good. Without germs we are dead. And what is more, germs are now being harnessed for soil remediation and environmental clean-up. There are even wild theories that oil is a renewable resource produced by micro-organisms inside the earth and that life forms can transmute one element into another by enzymatic action.
Even the so-called pathogenic organisms have been found to play a beneficial role in the human ecology. What germs do, even the pathogens, is scavenge dead tissue, which our bodies give off when they’re malnourished or poisoned. Dr. Weston Price put it very well when he said, “We do not die of disease; we get disease because we are dying.” According to this view, germs are just the clean-up crew, yet they get the blame when disease strikes.
The modern hostility to microorganisms has led not only to our dysfunctional medical system but also to gross problems on the economic level, and this is where it all ties in with Schumacher, as we shall see. Even if modern science grudgingly admits that cells are actually immensely complicated or that microorganisms can have beneficial effects, it still maintains that these beautiful tiny organisms work as individual units or even are in competition with one another, thereby imposing our views of human economics onto the microscopic world. But we now know that single-celled organisms form groups or colonies in which cells cooperate with one another and then specialize in function.
As an example of this cooperation I would like to consider a highly provocative statement by the late philosopher and seer Rudolf Steiner. When a student asked him what was needed in order for the proper development of humanity to occur in the future, the very subject Schumacher explores so eloquently in Small Is Beautiful, Steiner replied with a list of three statements. Today I shall focus only on the third statement. Steiner said that in order for human beings to make progress—economic, political, or spiritual—they must understand that the heart is not a pump. What are we to make of this strange statement? Why didn’t he talk about such important topics as finding a solution to arms proliferation or class struggle as a way for humanity to make progress?
My colleague Tom Cowan, author of The Fourfold Path to Healing, has pondered this statement for over twenty years in order to ascertain its accuracy and understand its implications. I’m going to give you the short explanation today. A pump is responsible for movement of a liquid, pushing it and making it go faster. That’s what a pump does. Normal science and medicine take it as givens that the organ of the circulatory system responsible for the movement of the blood is the heart and that the muscular contractions of the heart walls provide the pushing needed to move the blood. They accept these assertions even though scientists do not understand how such a small and relatively weak organ can generate the amount of pressure needed to move a viscous fluid like blood, in spite of all the resistance presented by the miles and miles of blood vessels that make up the circulatory system. Nor do they really understand how the heart can perform this muscular activity minute after minute, day after day, year after year for a whole lifetime.
Credit for the discovery of the heart’s alleged pumping action goes to William Harvey, the “father” of modern cardiology. In 1628 Harvey claimed that the beating of the heart is the sole cause for the circulation of the blood through the living organism. Another physiologist, Antoni, said that the heart functions like a pump that drives the blood through the vessels. Aristotle and Vergil thought that the heart rather than the brain was the seat of the mind, and a similar belief can be found in ancient Hindu scriptures and other Eastern philosophies, but Western materialistic science sees the heart merely as a mechanical pump. This distinctly modern and mechanistic view is the edifice upon which all modern cardiology is based. It is a perfect example of what Schumacher would describe as the sacrifice of wisdom to know-how.
The first problem with this premise is that it is wrong. The blood going into the heart is going at the same speed as it does when it leaves the heart. The heart does not speed up the blood because the blood is already going at full speed when it enters the heart. The so-called pumping of the heart does not make the blood go any faster. After the blood leaves the heart, it slows down as it goes “down hill,” if you want to think of it like that, into the tiny capillaries, where a transfer of nutrients between the blood and the cells occurs. When the blood gets to the capillaries, it stops, then oscillates for a few seconds and starts moving again. After the transfer of nutrients, the blood enters the venous system, first the tiny venules and then the veins, which become progressively larger as they approach the heart. As the blood gets closer and closer to the heart, it goes faster and faster.
From these facts it is easy to see that the pumping action, the driving force for the movement of the blood, must begin at the level of the capillaries, not the heart. As the blood returns to the heart and the total cross-sectional area of the veins progressively narrows, the blood moves faster, just the way water in a river goes fast where the river is narrow (as in the few large veins going into the heart) and slows down where the river is wide (as in the millions of tiny veins). The valves in the veins keep the blood moving uphill, so to speak, toward the heart, and the contractions of the leg muscles help increase the momentum. The blood builds up maximum speed as it enters the largest veins and reaches the heart. The heart actually acts as a dam for this onrushing blood. It stops the incoming blood and traps it in its chambers, which can be likened to expandable holding tanks. When the chambers are filled to the maximum, the heart gates open—these gates are called valves—and the blood essentially falls down through the rest of the body due to the force of gravity. The heart does not pump the blood; the blood pumps the heart. What does the heart do, then, if it doesn’t pump the blood? The heart listens. This amazing organ senses what is in the blood and then calls forth the necessary hormones so that homeostasis is maintained and the cells can function optimally. The heart is working for the cells, serving the cells, not by pushing blood toward them but by balancing and integrating the blood’s chemistry. In fact, Steiner suggested that the heart also senses and integrates our thoughts, our emotions, and our will to carry out tasks. The heart, then, is not a mechanical pump but actually serves as the integrator of all of our experience.
Interesting as this may be, what does it have to do with the future of humanity? Why do we need to realize that the heart is not a pump in order to make progress? It is not uncommon in the history of the world for philosophers or social scientists to look to the human being as the model for society at large. The alchemists summarized this way of thinking with the phrase, “as above, so below.” A famous example of this thinking was the concept of the survival of the fittest, used by social Darwinists to justify the mistreatment of the poor or the slaughter and repression of indigenous people. We now know that this is not an accurate description of nature at all. Nature is not about survival of the fittest; it’s about exquisite cooperation. Yet social Darwinism is still used to justify all sorts of terrible things that are done on the social level.
If we are to use the human being as a model for our social system, it is important to get the model right. Survival of the fittest is no more an accurate description of human evolution than is the model of the heart as a pump. They are both inaccurate and inherently misleading. A society that believes the heart is a pump is a society that accepts centralized control, a planned economy, central banks, national foreign policy and government-dictated medical policy, chain stores for our clothing, and one big company that makes everybody’s shoes. If society believes that the heart functions as a listener, then the model for the state is not one of central control, be it the socialist state or the Federal Reserve, but one of wise decentralization, with ten million local farmers who take care of their own land and help their neighbors rather than a few concentrated industrial animal operations; of thousands of artisans making shoes and clothing rather than a few large shoe companies and clothing produced in third-world sweatshops; of a billion personal religions, not three or four central dogmas; and of a God who listens and reacts to our needs just as the heart reacts to the circulation, not the other way around. The heart as a pump is reflected in society as control leading to slavery and the inability of humanity to progress, just as Steiner suggested. The heart conceived as a listener, powered and sustained by the products of billions of beautifully coordinated cells, allows us to progress to the kind of political and economic system that Schumacher envisaged.
Schumacher describes very well the fallout from bigness in agriculture caused by the mechanistic view that “the living world has no significance beyond that of a quarry for exploitation.” The monocultures of big agriculture require the use of toxic chemicals, animals raised in hellish confinement, agricultural bounty broken down into component parts in huge factories, and the economic decline of rural life, leading to the disappearance of small towns and the concomitant growth of huge cities. The challenge is to revive our farms, return prosperity to the countryside, and restore balance between the urban and the rural. That’s the challenge that we’re all facing. How do we meet this challenge?
In his introduction to Small Is Beautiful Kirkpatrick Sale mentions the answer that Schumacher gave to a request for political advice stemming from his economic and social insights. The reply was to plant a tree. I would offer a different suggestion for what we can do to reach our goal of diversified, prosperous, local economies. If we all did this, it would serve as a powerful engine for restoring our land and creating millions of prosperous villages throughout the world, at the same time largely solving our health crisis. My solution is this: Drink raw milk. I’ll explain why I say this by describing the economics of milk production.
Let’s take the case of a conventional dairy farmer who has his 30 cows in confinement—kept in a barn and fed grains and other industrial feed—and sells his milk to the local coop. Farmers today are getting about $10 per hundredweight for their milk, the same price they got before World War II, but they are paying modern prices for everything else. Following the advice of their state Agriculture Department, farmers have modern Holstein cows, bred to produce the maximum amount of milk. Their cows are basically just machines for producing milk. Each cow will produce about 190 hundredweight per year if really pushed. This works out to a total yearly income of $57,000, most of which is eaten up by feed—to get maximum production the cows need large amounts of grain—and veterinarian bills. The spouse has to work in order to bring in cash and pay health insurance. The couple lives just above the poverty line, so if they go into debt and the price drops even a little or their cows produce less than expected, they lose their farm.
The dairy industry is largely controlled by four corporations: Dean Foods, Dairy Farmers of America, Land o’ Lakes, and Foremost Farms. To give you an example of the reach of these dairy companies, Dean Foods controls many familiar labels like Ador Farms, Alta Dena, Borden, Medal Gold, Nature’s Pride, Shenandoah’s Pride, and Sealtest. It keeps the names of the local companies that are bought out, so you may think you’re buying milk from a local dairy company when it’s actually owned by Dean Foods. The company also produces the usual line of processed products such as coffee creamers, whipped toppings, dips, and dressings.
In addition, Dean Foods owns 100 percent of Horizon organic milk, and it controls the soy-milk maker White Wave as well. People say to me, “You’re against soy, so you must be in the hands of the dairy industry.” Well, the dairy industry and the soy-milk industry are one and the same. Every big dairy company owns a soy-milk company, and they make more money from the soy milk than from cow’s milk.
In 2002 U.S. dairy farmers went out of business at the rate of 16 farms per day. That same year Greg Engels, the 45-year-old CEO of Dean Foods, made $3,200,000. Mr. Engels is paid this well because he has made his business “economical” by exploiting the farmers, the land, and the cows as well as you and your health. He pays as low a price as possible to farmers and reaps as large a profit as possible from the sterile products of the dairy factories. This is called “efficiency.”
What has led to this obscene disparity? It is the demonization of germs, of microorganisms lurking in Nature’s perfect food, which modern science must eradicate by means of pasteurization. With few exceptions pasteurization is required by law for all milk products, which means that farmers are forced to participate in this system. All the dairy products are channeled into the narrow neck of the funnel—the processors. The farmers cannot sell directly to the consumer or to local stores.
When I read Small Is Beautiful almost forty years ago, I was taken by Schumacher’s vision of technology, and what most inspired me about his book was the fact that he was not against technology. I come from a family of engineers. For the first eighteen years of my life, when I sat at the dinner table, I heard about engineering, and so it appeals to me when Schumacher notes that we cannot live without science and technology any more than we can live against nature. Unfortunately, the attitude in his day, and that attitude is still with us, was that technology can help us dominate nature, or in the case of genetic engineering—which hadn’t come on the scene yet when he was writing—do better than nature. A friend of mine once told me that a scientist said to him in all seriousness, “Oh, we outsmarted nature long ago.” This attitude is especially prevalent among genetic engineers.
In contrast, Schumacher argues for a technology that leads toward harmonious cooperation with nature rather than warfare against nature, toward the noiseless, low-energy, elegant, economical solutions normally applied in nature rather than to the noisy, high-energy, brutal, wasteful, and clumsy solutions of our present-day sciences. I cannot think of a technology that is more noisy, high-energy, brutal, wasteful, and clumsy than the pasteurization and homogenization technology used to destroy the goodness of fresh, raw milk. The journalist Emily Green describes the inside of a pasteurizing plant in an article published eight years ago in The Los Angeles Times: “Before entering the bottling area, workers must dip the soles of their shoes in antiseptic baths. Staff members wear smocks, hairnets, jackets for the cold, and earplugs against the roar of machinery. Conveyor belts foam with antibacterial lubricant. Inside that machinery, milk shipped from farms is remade: first it is separated in centrifuges into fat, protein, and other solids and liquids. Once segregated, these are reconstituted to set levels for whole, low-fat, and no-fat milk. What is left over will go to butter, cream, cheese, dried milk, and a host of other milk products sold.” You can see what this system does with nature’s most perfect food: it actually breaks the food down into industrial components. Why? Because there is much more money to be made by selling these components separately than together as whole unadulterated milk.
You may have asked yourself why the dairy industry goes along with the low-fat fixation when butterfat is such an important dairy product. The reason is that the industry has figured out that it’s far more profitable if the butterfat is put into ice cream, so it is happy to go along with what I call the puritanical diet, which consists of low-fat milk, lean meat, high-fiber foods, and no salt—a diet that makes you deprive yourself all day long. If you are really good on this puritanical diet during the day, then you finally succumb around nine o’clock at night to the pornographic food in your freezer, which is a quart of commercial ice cream. When you eat ice cream, the dairy industry makes more profit on the butterfat than if you drink whole milk and use butter throughout the day, so it’s not that the industry doesn’t want you to consume butterfat; the accountants and CEOs just want you to eat it in the way that makes the most profit for the industry.
By the way, pasteurization is not something we can do in our kitchen by gently bringing a liquid to a higher temperature—not that this is good for milk either. Pasteurization rushes the milk past superheated plates. It goes from a cold temperature to the pasteurization temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit or the ultra-pasteurization temperature of 230 degrees Fahrenheit, which is above the boiling point. On the stove in your kitchen you can’t even get it above the boiling point. So pasteurization is totally unnatural, in terms of both the temperature levels reached and the speed with which the milk is heated. And homogenization is accomplished by a machine as big as this room, which presses the milk through tiny holes, is extremely noisy, and smells like burnt grease.
Just think back to those fragile enzymes in the milk. What must pasteurization and homogenization do to them?
With what rationale are these brutal technologies applied to milk? It’s the belief that germs are the enemy and that milk is inherently dangerous. According to this view, Mother Nature devised an incredibly risky way of feeding her young, and humans can improve on it by industrial processing. Those promoting pasteurization do so in complete blindness to the consequences, not only to the health of our growing children, who in ever greater numbers cannot even tolerate conventional milk, but also to the detriment of the farming life and rural communities. There is no greater boon to local communities than the sale of raw milk and raw milk products directly to the public, farm to consumer. Compulsory pasteurization robs local economies of the premier value-added food. So let’s look at some of the numbers again.
Let’s take typical farmers with 30 cows on one hundred acres but put them in a different system, one in which they have a grass-based dairy and sell milk directly to the public. They would use old-fashioned cows, those that do better on grass, and wouldn’t get nearly as much milk from each cow. (They are attached to their cows whom they don’t think of merely as creatures to be exploited for their milk.) They would get only about 100 hundredweight of milk per cow per year, about half as much as with the conventional system, but they are selling directly and will earn at least $4 a gallon for their milk. Some farmers are earning more; we know farmers who are getting $8 or $9. In Florida the farmers are getting $13 a gallon for their raw milk, and people are happy to pay that much for it. But let’s be conservative and stick to the figure of $4 a gallon. If they sell the milk for $4 a gallon, butter for about $10 a pound, and cream for $9 a quart, they are making $50 per hundredweight instead of $10—five times more.
If they make a good cheese, they could actually make much more per hundredweight, sometimes even $250 per hundredweight of milk for the cheese. A number of years ago, the French government did a study on farm sales to determine which product brought the most added value to farmers. Instead of wine or champagne, as was expected, it turned out to be cheese.
Let’s stick to the number of $50 per hundredweight, however, and do the math. At $50 a farmer grosses $5000 per cow with 30 cows, making the gross income on milk products $150,000 a year. That’s almost three times as much as for the conventional farmer milking the same number of cows. And there’s more. Because our farmer makes butter, cream, and cheese, there will be whey and skim milk left over. Humans should not drink skim milk because it leads to nutrient deficiencies, but the skim milk and whey are free food for pigs and chickens, and they can thrive on it. See how this all fits together? In addition to milk and milk products, the farmer can now sell eggs, chickens, turkeys, pork, bacon, and lard, which he has raised for almost nothing. I’ve had farmers tell me that in the old days the real money for farmers, the money they used to build their houses and take winter vacations in Florida, came from the end-of-the-year income from pigs.
There’s still more to this model. Male calves go into veal or beef, and depending on how hard farmers want to work, they can then use the manure to grow vegetables and fruit. They may also produce maple syrup or honey. For the sake of argument let’s add another $50,000 of income, which is very conservative, to the total, bringing us to something like $200,000 gross income on a small farm of 100 acres with 30 cows. That’s a lot of money for a little farm. And of course the vet bills are much lower, there are virtually no feed bills, and the initial capital investment is very low. This is a perfect example of what Schumacher calls an intermediate economy, using intermediate technology and low capital input to get started.
Another major topic at the Weston A. Price Foundation is lacto-fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and pickles, which are extremely important to have in our diet because they put good bacteria into the gut. Lacto-fermented foods can be made on the farm with very low input, low capital investment, and intermediate technology. Finally, what we’re excited about is the prospect of a cottage industry for soft drinks. We desperately need healthy soft drinks in this country as an alternative to the soft drinks that are currently consumed, and they do exist. The technology to produce them is lacto-fermentation. A little whey and salt are added to juice from your orchards or sap from your trees, and the result is a beautiful, bubbly, fizzy soft drink that’s healthful as well as a huge value-added enterprise.
What do these numbers mean for local economies and local employment? If just 10 percent of the U.S. population bought raw milk, raw butter, raw cream, and raw cheese directly from farmers in addition to the other products produced on the farm, we would need 75,000 100-acre farms, each with 30 cows. If each farm generates an annual income of $200,000, the total revenue would be $15 billion a year, year after year, much of which stays in the local community. If everyone in this country drank raw milk, buying from local farms, the total income would be $1.5 trillion or 8 percent of the gross national product year after year. You can see now why the original and basic source of wealth is cattle. The stock of the stock market goes back to cattle, and the word “capital” is from the Latin for heads of cattle. The cow is a sacred animal, and when we treat her as a sacred animal, our lives will be blessed, and local economies will flourish because of new jobs created. We can all contribute to this model, even if we don’t have the personality to be activists, by purchasing raw milk and other farm products from local farmers.
The big impediment to this happy picture is the anti-raw-milk agenda with its scare-mongering propaganda directed against germs and leading to compulsory pasteurization laws. I think you can see from the picture I have painted that compulsory pasteurization has been a major factor in the destruction of America’s local economies. Although we constantly hear rhetoric extolling the efficiency of very large farms, the rising cost of fuel and declining commodity prices are making this model more and more untenable; in fact, I believe it’s about to collapse. The farm of the future is not the mechanized animal-confinement operation or the mega-monoculture but the 30-cow dairy farm that sells directly to the public or provides products to shareholders. This model will flourish because the day is coming when no conscientious couple will dream of starting a family until they have found a source of pure and healthy raw milk for their children, when no town planners will proceed without first setting aside the most fertile land for local dairies, when no doctor will omit raw milk as part of his or her treatment, and when no government official will dare to impede access in any way to raw milk or other pure foods. And all that raw milk will come from small local farms.
We’ve heard of trickle-down economics, but I look forward to the return of what I call bubble-up economics, wealth bubbling up from a vibrant local farm economy. If individual farms can work together like the cells of the body, then the heart—which is the government—will have no choice but to listen. We will force it to listen. And we can all work together to make this happen by buying local foods, investing in local artisan food production, and above all by drinking raw milk. But first of all we must believe: Very small is beautiful!
Question & Answer Period
Q: In a similar way to what Anna Lappé said this morning, you have provided us with a conceptual framework to begin to rethink our world. I’m familiar with Rudolf Steiner’s concept about the heart not being a pump. Steiner says that one of the vital functions of the heart is to provide a rhythm for the circulation of the blood. The idea that the blood rushes into the heart and the heart acts as a dam is actually a form of regulatory activity, so if we look at this as a model of society, we realize that if our heart did not beat, the blood would rush out of control to the detriment of the entire organism. In financial terms, we see that the absence of regulatory activity contributes to the destruction of the organism.
A: That’s very well stated. A lot of people today who defend free enterprise call themselves constitutionalists, yet the Constitution actually says that the role of Congress is to regulate the economy. But first the government needs to listen to us, which, as we in the raw milk movement know, hasn’t happened yet. As more and more people drink raw milk, however, that will change.
In New York’s Chinatown the women take marijuana seeds. It’s apparently the best medicine for constipation, and nobody’s going to stop them because the Chinese in New York are too powerful. My whole philosophy for bringing raw milk back on the market is simply to create a powerful demand for it. We need to convince people by the thousands to drink raw milk, and when a certain critical mass is reached, it won’t matter what the laws are; the government will have to listen to us. We’ve already started to see this happen, especially thanks to the legal help that we now provide through the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
Q: As a Ph.D. geneticist I object to the notion that there are no harmful microorganisms out there. I have a raw-milk farm near me, and I am happy to drink that milk because I know it is tested carefully for the presence of microorganisms. Nevertheless, while it is true that more highly evolved microorganisms have learned to be in symbiosis with other life forms, there are plenty that are still young in the evolutionary scheme of things, such as HIV, which at this point is fighting against us for its life, so to speak. I don’t want people to go away from here thinking that all microorganisms are our friends.
A: I would counter by saying they all have their place. There is a purpose for parasites, for example. Very often what we call pathogens are not “fighting for their life,” they are just doing their job. For example, if you are eating foods that are indigestible, like improperly prepared grain, candida will do the digesting for you. As for HIV, I strongly urge you to look at the website virusmyth.com. I’m not saying you’re wrong; I’m just saying there is a good deal of controversy about this issue.
One more thing: we often find a virus associated with a disease, which does not mean that this virus is causing the disease. There is a tremendous amount of disagreement about whether viruses and germs cause disease or whether they’re just bystanders acting as the clean-up crew.
Q: One hundred and two years ago Upton Sinclair wrote a book called The Jungle, which called upon government to regulate meat production. My question is, if there is even a small percentage of cases of disease from raw milk, how can you say that it shouldn’t be regulated? Isn’t it right for the government to establish regulations so that people don’t have to run the risk of getting sick?
A: First of all, we have actually looked at every single published report that claims raw milk causes disease, and about 95 percent of those reports are based on bogus science or bad science. Either the researchers don’t have a sample or there is no statistical association or they have created a statistical association by their sampling techniques. The wonderful system in raw milk can be overwhelmed in a dirty environment, but under normal conditions of cleanliness, there is no danger involved. My own opinion is that raw milk should be regulated at retail sale. If it’s being sold in stores, there should be regulation, but the direct sale by the farmer to the consumer is a matter between the farmer and the consumer, with the consumer acting as the regulator. To give you an example of how this is working, in Pennsylvania there are a number of farmers who are selling raw milk without a permit, even though permits are required by law. Instead, they have created an organization that both consumers and farmers belong to, and that organization has standards the farmers must adhere to. They are regulating themselves, and the consumer can accept or reject that situation by either joining the club and purchasing the milk or not joining the club. So far, with thousands of members, there have been no problems, and the government has not tried to make those farmers get permits.
Q: My second question is, how can Dr. Price say we don’t die of disease but rather disease strikes us when we are dying, given the fact that disease also strikes young children and both women and men in prime physical form?
A: It’s because they are malnourished or they’ve been poisoned, one or the other.
Q: What if they haven’t been poisoned and they still get the disease?
A: If they’re getting a disease, it’s because there is something missing—and that can happen to children and to adults in the prime of life. The healthy body does not get disease, any kind of illness. It’s perfectly immune. Many of us have seen this when we’ve embraced Dr. Price’s principles. We don’t get colds and flu anymore, and we’ve seen some of the so-called incurable diseases go away. You don’t have to agree with that paradigm, but that was how Dr. Price saw it, and he was observing people who had no disease. If they started to eat our foods, however, they suddenly developed our diseases.
Q: A lot has been said today about small local farms. As a couple interested in buying one, we can’t afford it. Is anything being done to help people in our predicament?
A: I’m more knowledgeable about people who are already farmers, so I can only offer suggestions in that regard. Let’s say you need a milking machine, but you cannot afford one. If you’re practicing nontraditional agriculture, it’s difficult to get a government loan. What we did was set up the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund because small farmers have no way of defending themselves. For $125 a year farmers have access to instant legal advice via a 24-hour hotline, and we take their case to court if necessary. Usually one phone call from the Fund’s lawyer takes care of it. This system is really working, and it’s been amazing to see a pullback by government officials because now they have some respect for the farmers.
For the past month, I would say that the message of every other phone call we’ve gotten has been, “I need money,” or “I can’t get a loan,” or “If I want to farm organically [or sell raw milk], I can’t get a loan.” I think what we need is an investment bank for small organic farmers. The wealthier people in the community would put money into it, and the bank would loan that money out. This would be a way of getting money to small farms, but there would have to be a totally dedicated, honest, and capable person to administer it. Another good way to raise money is to organize a cow-share or farm-share program. It’s actually a very good business model for raising capital for a farm.
Q: During the 1930s the farmers in New Zealand were receiving a mere 5 cents a pound for butterfat, and then there was a change of government. The new government wanted to see a healthy income for farmers, so it set up the Dairy Board. The New Zealand Reserve Bank (not the Federal Reserve) advanced funds directly to the Dairy Board and took over control of the sale and purchase of the butter or the milk. It paid the farmers 15 cents a pound. The income of those farmers skyrocketed, and the whole country benefited.
Another point: everything shouldn’t have to be so hygienic. Personally, I’m an advocate of kids playing in the dirt. Why? To build up immunity to the bugs that are around us, which brings us back to the bugs in milk. By providing your family with raw milk, you build up the bugs in their bodies to resist diseases.
A: Regarding the price New Zealand farmers got for their butterfat, if we move to a system of local farms, what we’re going to see is abundance, and there will be a surplus. That’s another way government can listen and then provide a rhythm to the commercial affairs, so to speak, making sure that whatever is sold outside the community brings a fair price to the farmers.
As for hygiene, I want to mention a study that was done in China. Researchers tested the milk in a mothers’ milk bank, and they were stupefied at the extremely high levels of pathogens in the mothers’ milk. These were the bad guys, the really bad pathogens that are supposed to cause disease, but the babies didn’t get sick from the milk.
In China there’s a custom for mothers not to bathe for the first month after having a baby, and this is a very wise practice. The enzymes in the mothers’ milk actually program the infants to be immune to the pathogens for life. Exposing them to those pathogens for the first month of life is actually a way of protecting them, whereas if you keep them as sterile as possible, not exposing them to anything and not giving them raw milk, either from the mother’s breast or from another mammal, then the infants will not be immune. After all, raw milk is the only food designed to kick-start the immune system. I do think we need to realize that these “terrible” pathogens have a cooperative rather than a competitive role to play. Sometimes nature surprises us.
Q: What do you think about antibiotic use, immunizations, and the comment that humans are the only creatures who drink the milk of other than their own kind? And how do we get the most nutrients out of the food we cook and freeze?
A: The use of vaccinations is based on phony science. If you look at the statistics, the number of cases of a disease always goes up after the vaccination against it has been introduced. We need to let our children contract the childhood diseases. Of course we don’t want to be insouciant about our children’s health, but there are better ways of protecting them than with vaccinations. I guarantee that if you’re feeding your children the fats of grass-fed animals, raw milk, and cod-liver oil, they will never be in a situation that requires antibiotics. The saddest cases we see at the Weston A. Price Foundation are those children who have been on many courses of antibiotics. It’s extremely difficult to regain health after the intestinal flora have been destroyed by antibiotics. This is a good example of the harm resulting from the world-view that microbes are the enemy.
Your comment about only humans drinking milk is not true. If you give milk, especially raw milk, to a cat, a dog, a goat, a horse, or a pig, all of them will drink it. They know it’s a real food, one that they normally don’t have access to, but it’s definitely a food for them. And they do beautifully on it too.
The best manner of food preparation depends on the food. Milk should not be heated at all. Grains should be cooked; they need to be soaked and fermented first, then cooked. This is what traditional cultures all did to secure the maximum nutrients from their grains. Most vegetables should be cooked because we cannot digest the fiber. Cooking breaks down the fiber and liberates the minerals; then, of course, you serve the vegetables with lots of good butter or cream or cook them in lard or other animal fat so that you have the fat-soluble vitamins you need to absorb the minerals. That’s why vegetables with butter taste so good. What tastes good is usually what’s most nutritious, unless you’re using processed foods, which spoil your taste buds. By the way, you can freeze raw milk, and freezing does not degrade the nutrients. Many people do this if they can get to the farm only once a month.
Q: The idea that people eating traditional diets are naturally immune to most pathogens is new to me. How do you account for what happened to the Native American cultures when Europeans arrived with huge amounts of pathogens and in a very short period of time wiped out 95 to 99 percent of the population, according to some estimates. I assume that these people were eating what you would consider a traditional diet.
A: Don’t forget that the number one item the white people brought with them was sugar, and I have a theory about this. If you grow up with a perfect diet and no sugar, you actually have a much harder time dealing with sugar if it’s introduced into your diet later in life. On a good diet with no sugar all of the disk space, so to speak, for the development of your body will go to perfect hearing, perfect eyesight, perfect development. Everyone in this room grew up eating sugar, and our bodies made compromises and probably developed a bigger pancreas and so forth, but then they compromised on the eyesight, the hearing, the strength. Our bodies have adjusted to a diet containing sugar, whereas the Native Americans had no immunity whatsoever to processed foods like sugar. I think it made them extremely vulnerable to disease. Now, you can argue whether the disease was caused by pathogens or not.
By the way, regarding the blanket theory about small-pox: there was a doctor in Texas, Dr. Charles Campbell, who strongly believed that it was caused by bedbugs. He completely eliminated small-pox in his town of San Antonio by getting all the inhabitants to wash their bedclothes. And what did we give the Native Americans, which made them sick? We gave them blankets. All the blankets had bedbugs in them, and my theory is that smallpox is caused by a toxin in the bug bites that the body was trying to get rid of through the skin.
There are various explanations for the plague of “infectious” disease in the Native Americans. It may have been pathogens, but I certainly think part of the problem was the introduction of our processed foods, especially sugar. Many of the people who came here were looking for places to grow sugar and trying to get slaves to tend the sugar cane. The sugar industry fueled the explorations of the New World.
Q: What would you like to see on a grass-roots level in order for us to become more active, and what would you like to see the next administration offer from a central position to help the grass roots in that process?
A: A good goal for all of us is to spend half of our food budget locally and buying directly from farmers. Of course, in this area you can use your BerkShares local currency to buy local food. I’m not saying 100 percent local because it would be so difficult. If you want to eat rice, for instance, you’re not going to be able to get that locally. The Weston A. Price Foundation has lots of ways to suggest for you to become more involved. We have many local groups that are active.
In the next Administration the FDA should stop its campaign against raw milk. I’m also very concerned about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), which we have a lawsuit against, and I would like to see the next Administration abolish it. I definitely would like to see the government stop promoting vaccinations. The FDA and the Department of Health are trying to make vaccinations mandatory in every state.
I would also like to see the USDA work with state agriculture departments to build more small, local abattoirs, maybe movable abattoirs in large trucks, which would go around to the farms. That has already happened in a few places. The USDA needs to change completely because it is promoting commodity agriculture and is totally against grass-based farming.
Q: Other than goose liver, what foods are high in K2?
A: Surprisingly, the food with the highest level of vitamin K2 is a fermented soy product called natto, which we don’t eat in this country. But in Asian cultures that don’t use butter or much in the way of meat fats, the needed K2 is provided by natto, which is made by a specific fermentation culture. Here’s a good example of why it’s so important to look at a food in the context of the whole diet. There’s no vitamin K in soy milk or any of the processed soy foods. Restaurants in Japan that serve natto have special rooms where you eat it because the odor is so unpleasant. I’d rather get my K2 from foie gras!
Grass-based cheese is also an excellent source because of its butterfat content and because it’s a fermented product (K2 is produced during the fermentation). Other sources are meat fats from grass-fed animals, egg yolks from grass-fed chickens, chicken liver, probably all types of liver. In the seafood department someone has developed a fermented cod-liver oil that’s showing very high levels. The yellow buttery goop in crabs, lobsters, and shrimp is very high in K2, as is caviar. So foie gras and caviar are my favorite sources. I don’t believe in renunciation.
I’d like to comment on palm oil, which Anna Lappé talked about this morning. Palm oil comes from the palm fruit, a highly oily fruit, which is basically the olive oil of the tropics, a healthful, stable oil, mostly saturated and monosaturated. Only a low level of technology is required to get the oil out of the fruit. We have been advocating for years the use of palm oil in processed foods, which is not to say we advocate processed foods, but if an industrial oil is to be used, the most healthful one is palm oil.
I don’t like the fact that it’s being grown in big plantations any more than I like the fact that olive oil is being grown in big plantations. But the most environmentally destructive oil is soybean oil. Our entire Great Plains area has been sacrificed to soybeans—for margarine and shortening and salad oil. If you have a choice of buying a cookie that’s made with palm oil or soybean oil, you’ll want the cookie with palm oil. On the environmental level it’s probably the same as any of the other industrial oils.
I think the goal insofar as palm oil is concerned is the same as for any commercial oil: to make sure we’re using the healthful ones. That means olive oil, palm oil, and coconut oil. We need to figure out some way for them to be produced on a small scale, and that is definitely going to be the hardest to do in the case of palm.