I have been implementing a healthy traditional diet in our family since 2003. I have had chronic fatigue for over ten years. I don’t know whether I’ll ever be completely recovered but this way of eating has been a lifesaver. Thank you for all your work.
I just attended my first WAPF conference and it was outstanding. First, the friendliness of the people and children overwhelmed me. Meal after meal, the conversations were as exceptional as the food. Complete strangers could discuss amiably about the wealth of information they had just experienced in the talks. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s was the best presentation that I heard, but others were excellent, including those by Vicki Braun, Chris Masterjohn, Dr. Mary Megson, Dr. Veronica Daggett (Tilden), Kathy O’Brien, Kathryne Pirtle and Dr. Phillip Incao.
Mary Claire Robinson
Editor’s Response: Dr. Campbell-McBride will conduct an all-day seminar at this year’s conference, to be held in San Francisco. All of the talks from the 2007 conference are available on CDs and DVDs. Visit westonaprice.org for ordering information.
Please add my name to the WAPF success list—I was researching nutrition for bones (to avoid taking Fosamax) when a friend told me about the WAPF guidelines. I had news in July, 2005, from my NP that I was very close to osteoporosis.
Forward to today. I have to go see my NP to get the actual numbers, but her recent note (result of a scan on December 10, 2007) indicates bone density “improvement.” I joined our local chapter and have been buying local raw milk and other farm products for about 18 months.
New York, New York
Agile and Alert
My daughter Isabella is now one year and nine months old. Even though she came into the world with many risk factors, including an obese 43-year-old mother with a previous infant death, preeclampsia, a low birth weight of four pounds, and a difficult cesarean post-op period, she has turned out to be exceptionally strong, smart and is catching up physically to other healthy full term babies. People are amazed at how agile she is. She started talking fully at one year and five months. Her constant ear infections have stopped and so has her eczema and asthma that the doctors feared she would develop at a later age. Now she rarely gets colds.
This is all thanks to a religious following of all the principles of a nourishing traditional diet and feeding for a baby and toddler. She not only has the raw milk baby formula, but I give her lots of live yoghurt, kefir, organic eggs, sea salt, raw liver, raw tuna, meat stocks and whey.
Led Me to WAPF
I first came across your website while researching online. I was actually looking for the best brand of commercial baby formula as my own milk was drying up. It’s a long story but the main thing is that I found WAPF and my daughter, once a two-pound, three-ounce preemie, thrived on raw milk and bone broth formula, and is now a very vibrant, healthy, unvaccinated two-year-old.
My health has improved as well because of the website, links, books, etc. My life has changed dramatically and for the better. I now raise free-range pasture-fed chickens and eat as much as I can according to the dietary principles. Everyone I meet who I feel is really open-minded I introduce to WAPF. I’m getting the membership in my daughter’s name to honor her and how she led me to WAPF.
Did you know that the American Dental Association issued a bulletin to their members this year warning parents to avoid using fluoridated water when mixing infant formula? Use of fluoridated water increases the baby’s risk of the toxic effects of fluorosis. Only two out of an audience of about 50 at your recent conference were aware of this fact.
I was very pleased that Dr. Phyllis Mullenix was invited to speak at the Wise Traditions conference. For those unfamiliar with her story on fluoride research, the details can be found in The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson. Her talk titled “Why You Need to Protect Your Children from Fluoride” highlighted new research on the adverse effects of low-dose fluoride exposure such as we get with water fluoridation. For those who missed the talk you can get more information from a soon-tobe- released book she is co-writing for Second Look, a Tides Center project (www.SLweb.org, tidescenter.org), The Fluoride Illness Handbook: A Guide to Identification and Treatment.
In the meantime there is something that each concerned reader can do to help bring the practice of fluoridation to an end. Go to the Fluoride Action Network website (www.fluorideaction.com) and select the link to send a message to your congressional representatives asking for a moratorium on fluoridation and full congressional investigation. It takes many voices to force Congress to action. If you are a medical, dental, health, science, or water professional you can also select the link to sign the professionals’ statement.
Shirley Jacobson, RN
Raw Milk Stops Seizures
I am 29 years old and have suffered from epilepsy for 11 years now. I had my first seizure when I was 18. Medical doctors immediately put me on anticonvulsant medications. Aside from a few tests (MRI and Sleep Deprivation EEG), they never investigated what was going on in my life for possible causes or cures.
In these past 11 years I have had a few miscarriages due to the medication Dilantin that I was on, and I also almost lost one of my children due to fetal hydantoin syndrome. This syndrome is a rare disorder that is caused by exposure of a fetus to the anticonvulsant drug phenytoin (Dilantin).
When I was 16 weeks pregnant with my son Elisha, my water broke and I found out that doctors had no hope that my baby would live through the pregnancy. It was then that I began looking for an alternative way to deal with my epilepsy during pregnancy. The only thing I found out at that time was that the amino acid taurine could help reduce epileptic seizures and for the duration of the pregnancy, that’s all I used, but still had seizures, although at a much lesser degree.
Once my body got used to the Dilantin, it wouldn’t work any more. I tried a few other anticonvulsants and the last one threw me over the edge; I became anorexic, was constantly sick and wanted to commit suicide. (These side effects were all listed on the drug’s website.) That’s when I got desperate and began really searching. Thankfully I have found several natural healers! I have been going to a chiropractor twice a week, and I eat almost exclusively all organic food. I take fish oil, amino acids L-tyrosine and taurine, a very high quality multivitamin, coconut oil and raw milk! When I am out of the raw milk for a few days, I begin to have some auras and seizures. It is essential for me to be able to keep my supplements and milk around so that I can live a normal life.
Since eating a healthy diet that includes raw milk, I no longer need medication in the day time. I have reduced my dosage from 400 mg a day to just 100 mg at night. Now I am no longer sleepy, I have my memory back, I am not at a loss for words, and therefore my job of home schooling five kids (four of my own and one fantastic niece!) is much easier. I hope and pray that we will continue to have the freedom that our forefathers dreamed of when they gave their lives for us to be able to think for ourselves and make our own wise decisions!
Thanks for all you are doing to help Mark McAfee and Organic Pastures Dairy. I’ll be checking out the website to see what is going on and how I can help.
Discovery Bay, California
Slow Cooking and AGEs
Concerning the article on Slow Cookers, in the box “Preventing AGERelated Effects” on page 54 of the Winter 2007 Wise Traditions, the author is to be congratulated for bringing to our attention the damage that can be caused by advanced glycation end products (AGEs) from cooking at temperatures higher than boiling and cooking without liquids.
However, there are some errors. Marinating foods is not discussed in reference 6 as noted. The only criterion is temperature; if the temperature is high, then protein- and fat- containing foods are altered to form more of the damaging AGE compounds. Marinades should not be considered protective when food is heated above boiling as the foods can still reach high temperatures in the oven, skillet or on the grill no matter how much marinade is used.
Also, the article included microwave cooking along with the damaging frying, barbecuing, and broiling methods. This is not correct. Reference 8 explains that “Microwaving was shown to increase AGE content similar to boiling cooking methods…” This is because the microwave energy is absorbed by the water molecules in the food, which cannot exceed boiling temperatures.
An omission by the author is that foods that do not contain substantial protein or fat ingredients make few AGEs when cooked at high temperatures. This group includes baked grain products like bread.
AGE production is a very important topic; we should only boil or microwave foods that contain substantial proteins and fats. Although broiling, BBQ, baking and frying create good tastes, these are at a high AGE cost.
Editor’s Response: We do not recommend the microwave for a number of reasons, including destruction of nutrients and many unknowns. Research indicates that AGEs in food are partially or largely degraded by gut bacteria and/or rapidly excreted via the kidneys and are not harmful to human health (Mol Nutr Food Res 2007, 51, 1085-1090). However, AGEs created in the blood stream when blood sugar is high can have many deleterious effects in the body, although carnosine (from meat) and low levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids provide protection against formation. Cooked meat and fat are not the only sources of dietary AGEs. They are also found in coffee and crusted and/ or toasted bread and cracker products.
In regards to the article “The Slow Cooker Rules!” in the winter edition of Wise Traditions I thought that I should let you know that slow cooking is contraindicated for MSG-sensitive people. We have received a number of reports from MSG-sensitive people who have experienced adverse reactions from meals prepared in a crock pot.
The extended cooking time associated with slow cooking in a crock pot serves to break down the protein into individual amino acids, at least in part, resulting in some processed free glutamic acid (MSG). That is why foods taste good if prepared in a crock pot. Of course, MSG-sensitive people vary in their tolerances for MSG and only experience adverse reactions when they ingest an amount of MSG that exceeds their individual tolerance for it.
San Diego, California
I cannot for the life of me understand what the reason could be for publishing the letter bemoaning organic products imported from China. This is the new xenophobia, spouting hate in the name of “buying local.” There is no reason to believe that a third party certification on products from China means less than the same certification on domestic products. I’m surprised and disappointed that the Weston A. Price Foundation has published this nonsense.
But my disappointment doesn’t end there! In another letter, a mother expresses her relief over her child’s grandparents having lived 5000 miles away just because they gave them cookies! Talk about idiocy! I only wish my son had any grandparents at all to offer him home-baked sweets.
Are the above letters really ideals that we want to foster? Is this the message of the Weston A. Price Foundation? If so, I hesitate to commit another dollar in support of your efforts. I have always applauded and applied the principles outlined by Weston A. Price, but I worry that your organization is devolving into a radical, hateful and self-righteous community. I truly hope that you’ll put more thought into the words you publish in the future.
Ida Grove, Iowa
Editor’s Response: Given the recent problems with products imported from China, consumers have good reason to be skeptical of that country’s organic standards and certification procedures. For that matter, given the industrialization of organic production in the US, consumers have good reason to be skeptical of even domestic organic products. “Organic” milk from confinement cows is a good example. The point of the letter on “organic” products from China was to highlight the injustice whereby domestic small farms are subject to economic hardship, intense oversight and even harassment, while farm products (often subsidized) are shipped long distances from overseas where such oversight is not even possible. Regarding the mother who wished to limit sugar consumption in her children, she faces a dilemma encountered by many modern parents engaged in providing their offspring with a healthy diet. Very often relatives are unsupportive or even hostile to these efforts. The health-conscious parent in this situation walks a delicate line of protecting her children while avoiding remarks that may offend. Sometimes the best solution is limited contact. We would not characterize the sentiments expressed in these letters as “hateful.”
Our Medicated Children
Did you happen to see the recent PBS program entitled “Our Medicated Children”? The program was about all the problems (ADD, ADHD, ODD, autism) affecting our kids, which have ballooned over the last 20 or 25 years. The “solution” is to medicate them and the results are awful. My husband and I were dumbstruck. Can’t anyone see that the problem affecting so many kids all over the country must be very fundamental— like the food! If you go to PBS.org you can watch it.
We noticed that the mom of one kid who had lots of problems served him corn dogs, Gatorade and chips for his meal. Most of the moms on the program didn’t look healthy either, so they were probably not healthy when they conceived. This is just so, so sad.
Minot, North Dakota
Angst at New Food Regulations
I’ve so often wished that I’d had a well-written letter to express my angst to various organizations regarding new food regulations. For example, the institution that gives accreditation to my son’s daycare center has a new rule that nothing homemade is allowed on the premises, presumably to prevent any trigger to a student’s peanut allergy. The ridiculous part is that there is not one student with a peanut allergy! Their response is that anyone can develop one at any time.
So now, instead of homemade brownies or cookies for a “special snack day,” people have to bring in Oreos, Goldfish, and, in essence, foods with high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, etc. I’ve tried to write a letter, but it just doesn’t have the authority of one written by someone with all the facts. This isn’t the first instance that I found myself wishing that the Weston A. Price Foundation had some sort of resource for its members to draw upon when we need to be vocal but don’t have the words! We could also use a letter arguing for full-fat milk. Any thoughts?
New Canaan, Connecticut
Editor’s Response: We hope you will summon confidence in yourself to write that letter—nothing has more authority that the opinion of a parent concerned about her children! There is plenty of referenced material on our website that you can use. And WAPF is happy to provide free editing once you have put something in your own words!
Moved and Grateful
Yesterday I attended the hearing involving the raw milk farmers Barb and Steve Smith and Meadowsweet Farm in New York. They are providing raw milk products through a limited liability corporation, which the state opposes.
So much is in my heart after being present at the hearing. First, how moved and grateful I felt by all who have created the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. How amazing to witness the changes that have been achieved with this organization in place. I remember the farmers I have known in the past who have been in the situation the Smiths and others have gone through, but without the resources to hire legal counsel provided by the Fund. When I think of the feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger, and rage—to be so alone in their plight—and then to witness in person yesterday the fine legal support the Smiths had, I am overcome with a profound sense of pride and joy. I was moved to tears. Never has there been such a representation for farmers, ever!
Thank you, David Cox, for your passion and commitment. With your integrity and commitment you have restored my belief in our court systems and the law.
I was also moved by the Smiths and the many family farmers like them across the country, as they so courageously do what they feel called in their souls to do, at the risk of losing their meager livelihood!
However, I have to say that I was disappointed by the small number of people from the community who showed up. In part this was due to the hearing’s several hour postponement caused by an attorney’s plane delays. Many people were driving over an hour to show support but could not stay as they had kids coming home from school and had to leave before the hearing. In the end, there were only about 40 people in the court room.
The journalist David Gumpert made an important comment in our after-court conversations in the parking lot, with subzero wind chills. He said that “this needs to be more of a community issue, not a farmer issue.”
Fortunately there will be a new hearing in Albany this summer, which is closer to that part of the state where the number of raw milk drinkers is huge! And we now have lots of time to prepare for a large citizen representation in Albany. Let’s hope we can get hundreds of people at the hearing this summer. I am hoping that the low turnout for the Smiths will inspire all of us across the state to show that raw milk is a community issue, not just a farm issue.
Rochester, New York
Coconut Oil for Cravings
I use coconut oil as medicine for my clients, many of whom are addicts, and see very interesting results with them and on myself.
I have been struggling with my sugar addiction for years and done everything (biochemical repair, 12-step, food changes, etc.) but still have cravings now and then. And I have several clients with terrible cravings and relapses. But once I started them on coconut oil—one tablespoon with a cup of warm water between every meal—they start feeling great. I also take away all milk products, which is sad but it seems like the amino acids in casein in milk (probably not raw milk but we can’t get that here) are somehow creating endorphins and then craving.
The most important observation I have made is that people with chronic muscle and joint pain become pain free! This is not the case when they only remove milk but it happens when they also have been on coconut for a week. If they stop taking it the pain and fatigue in the muscles comes back. I wonder whether the short- and medium-chain lipids in coconut oil are somehow having this effect? I think it is a miracle!
Bitten Jonsson, RN
Foster Your Moss
Every sunny day at noon I sit on my front stoop and soak up the free vitamin D. My feet rest on the red bricks of my garden path. When we first built the brick path the stone dust between the bricks was “naked.” Moss is the protective flora of a brick path. Perhaps our guts are like my path. My path grows weeds.
If I were smart, I would have carefully tended my young path for its first year. I’ve seen Martha Stewart pour milk over new landscape areas to foster moss growth. I didn’t pour milk. I just moved on to the next landscape project. I had a bare yard to fill up.
Our guts are supposed to get seeded with “moss” from our mothers during our early months, and nurtured with their milk. Unfortunately, many mothers don’t have moss or milk (or time) to spare. So, paths can get off to a bad start, like mine did.
Even if a person’s gut has a good start, we may choose to kill off our moss with things like antibiotics. It’s like spraying the path with weed killer, killing both moss and weeds. The path may look better temporarily, but it is actually more vulnerable (after the smoke clears).
Since I’m a lazy landscape gardener (I prefer my food gardens), some of the walk weeds get tall and even bear pretty flowers. How embarrassing! They block the path. Those weeds put down such big roots they can’t be pulled out. We have to “weed-whack” the path. I think weedwhacking is like taking an herbal cleanse to get rid of candida and parasites.
It is possible that heavy metals rain down upon my walk, just as our guts are exposed to heavy metals through pollution, cavity fillings and vaccinations. Certain weeds may be able to tolerate this pollution a lot better than moss. Certain weeds may even thrive on it. But moss needs a pristine environment. This could make fostering moss most challenging. It is quite possible that plants that thrive in pollution might actually capture the pollution inside their bodies. Nature can be smart that way. But if I want moss to grow, I need to remove those full grown weeds from the path area and not let them grow back in. Elimination is important.
After weed whacking (cleansing), for one beautiful moment the path is clear. But the effect is temporary and imperfect. Stumps and low prickly things hurt your bare feet when you walk the newly cleared path. In no time the path is exposed to seeds via birds or wind, and baby weeds take root. Whacking controls weeds and discourages them, but doesn’t prevent them or clear their roots.
Prevention and clearing only come from moss. Eventually I got smart. I took a small piece of moss from the north side of my house, broke it up into pieces, and put it between the bricks in several spots. Planting moss is like eating live culture foods. If I were really smart, I would plant moss all the time. But as I said, I can be a lazy landscape gardener. Lucky for me, the moss took hold, and is slowly inching its way between the bricks.
My moss is so beautiful in winter, bright green in a barren world. Winter is when the mossy zones slowly encroach on the weedy zones of my path while the weed roots are resting and the weed seeds are waiting for spring. In winter, moss is thriving. Winter is a special niche season for moss. Setting up a niche environment for our human good flora may mean going on a low-carb diet, or raising body temperature, or exercising, or sitting in the sunshine.
It has been ten years since we built the path. I look out over my curving brick walk. The emerald green moss gives a quiet, ordered, ancient feel. There are still some naked spots where weeds will come up this spring. It isn’t an easy thing to create a protective flora. It may be a lifelong challenge.
Thank you for sending the WAPF materials including information on the dangers of soy. This will be helpful as I take steps to get the soy removed from our prison food. From past experience, I’ve found that the authorities usually cave under the weight of overwhelming evidence. I believe that the soy in the prison food is what led to my thyroid cancer and the removal of my thyroid gland.
You might be interested to know that there is no butter at all available for purchase or served to us. The only dairy product we get is skim milk made from powder, or reconstituted. I have had no dairy products other than skim milk in 17 years. The only meat we are served is ground beef loaded with TVP as an extender, pork once every other week, chicken leg quarters once or twice a week, turkey (well, they tell us it’s turkey but it could be almost anything because it’s all mixed up in some Frankensauce) and fish.
The fish is not like any fish you have ever had. We are served the portion-control scraps. This is the trimmings after the center has been removed for some restaurant. These scraps are seriously dredged in several kinds of flour and fried in soy oil. Because the skin and many truly disgusting parts of the fish are simply left in the mess, most men refuse to eat the abomination. I really love fish and spend most of the time in the chow hall trying to pick the white flesh of the fish from the breading and skin, etc. The total fish flesh that I am able to consume is about 25 percent of the weight of the total serving. The soy oil causes all manner of intestinal problems.
We are able to purchase many items from our commissary to supplement the unacceptable diet the state provides for us, but unfortunately, after an analysis of the product ingredients, I find that almost everything contains soy.
Editor’s Response: We strongly recommend eating the skin and “disgusting” parts of the fish, which would provide much-needed fat-soluble vitamins in an otherwise deficient prison diet.
Vanished Tins of Fat
Now in my 80s, I have eaten butter all my life, not just a little smear, but I have plastered that so-called yellow poison on my bread, my toast, mashed potatoes, you name it, I have always applied it with a heavy hand. And I will not buy meat unless it has fat on it. My blood pressure is normal and I am as active and mentally alert as someone in their 50s.
Back in the 1940s, the doctors told my great grandmother not to eat fat—they were doing it even then. “But I like fat,” she said, as she sliced through a rolled roast of beef. She ignored them and lived to an advanced age.
When I was young, fat was never wasted. Drippings from the roast were kept in one tin and fat from the bacon in another. They were later used for frying, smeared on bread and for making suet puddings and many other delicious edibles. We did not use oils, except for cod liver oil. We drank full fat milk and in my farming days, we would not consider butchering and dressing a thin animal. And we spread additional fat across the roast before it went in the oven.
A motto to live by: listen to your body, not the dietitians. Enjoy your food and don’t be afraid of fat. It’s not going to kill you. And keep those tins of fat on hand!
Geoffrey C. Morell
I read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell soon after it was published. The book impressed me for several reasons: the impeccable credentials of the author; his sharing of the conclusions from his research through this book; the carefully reasoned presentation of much data about correlations between nutrients and such epidemic problems as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune diseases; and finally the understated, academic tone of the book.
Some time later I read the disappointing review of The China Study by Chris Masterjohn in Wise Traditions. Instead of beginning by giving T. Colin Campbell’s impressive credentials to address a book on nutrition to the American public, Mr. Masterjohn began instead with a guilt-by-association attack on Campbell by stating that he is on the advisory board of an organization that has a pro-vegan agenda and has ties with several animal-rights organizations that advocate “terrorist” tactics to disrupt research that uses animals. Mr. Masterjohn also calls the book a “tower of vegan propaganda.” Such polemics divert the reader from Campbell’s story of how he became convinced that animal products correlate positively with the serious diseases of Western society, a conviction that led Campbell to take up a vegan diet for himself and his family.
Mr. Masterjohn describes on his website his experience as a vegan, his discovery of the benefits for him of eating meat, and his discovery of and involvement in the Weston A. Price Foundation as a community of like-minded individuals. That’s fair enough, but Mr. Masterjohn’s personal experience cannot but predispose him to discredit the conclusions of The China Study by any means at hand. Thus Campbell is accused of unwarranted generalizations, ignoring data contrary to his thesis, faulty logic, and distortion of the results of the China project as originally published in the research monograph. To what extent these represent careless, or biased, research by Campbell and to what extent they represent his disagreement with the views promoted by the Weston A. Price Foundation is difficult for this layman to determine. The impression given by the review is that The China Study is one non sequitur after another, rather than what it really is, a well-told story of the data and logic that led a prominent nutritional scientist to adopt a vegan diet.
In my eyes, some of the Weston A. Price Foundation authors discredit their position by abusing their opponents with insults. I for one am not impressed when the competence and honesty of Colin Campbell are publicly questioned. If the Weston A. Price Foundation is seeking to engage in serious debate over nutritional questions, a superior rhetorical strategy might be to show respect for those with a differing viewpoint, to speak moderately and reasonably, and to bring forth relevant anecdotal and statistically significant information.
This writer urges readers of Wise Traditions to read The China Study and decide for themselves whether it is “vegan propaganda” or a reasoned presentation of fifty years of nutritional research. Readers can read Campbell’s response to two negative reviews of his book, including Masterjohn’s, at vegsource.com/articles2/campbell_ china_response.htm.
Many of us are convinced that nutrition is important to healing and good health, and we are searching for helpful information as to what we should eat. Thus we read about this subject: The China Study, Wise Traditions, Michio Kushi, The Maker’s Diet, Dr. Sherry Rogers, and others. I’m sure many join in my frustration with the strong disagreements and dismay over the tone of the debate.
John R. Cogdell
Editor’s Response: We reserve the right to criticize anyone who misrepresents their research findings, regardless of their “impeccable credentials.”
Raw Milk Safety
I have been considering starting on raw milk, but have been unsure as to its safety, so I started some research. These are my results. All of this is based on data from the CDC and USDA. I’m a scientist by training, so I’m always looking at data.
On the CDC website we learn that from 1998 to May 2005 CDC identified 45 outbreaks of food-borne illness that implicated unpasteurized milk or cheese made from unpasteurized milk. These outbreaks accounted for 1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations and two deaths. In most of these reports, raw milk is “implicated,” not “laboratory confirmed.” But let’s assume all these cases are laboratory confirmed. Making these assumptions, we have about six outbreaks a year, with 143 people getting sick each year from drinking unpasteurized milk or consuming cheese made from raw milk. This may seem a very tough sell for raw milk because you can argue that not many people drink raw milk.
The most important piece of data would be the percentage of people who drink raw milk that get sick. I finally did find this info, in a very roundabout way! I compared this info on raw milk outbreaks to the CDC data on overall foodborne illnesses. In 2006, 17,252 laboratory-confirmed cases of food-borne infections were counted in a cohort of 15 percent of the US population. Extrapolating from this, we have about 115,103 cases of food-borne illnesses in the US in 2006 alone, 143 of which came from drinking unpasteurized milk. Note that these are only lab-confirmed cases. According to another CDC website, approximately 76 million Americans suffer from a food-borne illness every year, with 5,000 deaths each year from this cause.
If there are 143 cases of raw milk-borne illness per year compared to a total of 115,103 cases of food-borne illness, then one-tenth of one percent of all food-borne illnesses, or about one in 800, is due to drinking raw milk.
Still, we need to know what percentage of Americans drink raw milk. If 5 percent drink raw milk, then the percentage of illness is very small. If only 1 out of 100,000 drink raw milk, then the percentage of illness is very high. So it is very important to find these data. . . and I finally did! The data I found for what I wanted were for the pathogen Listeria. Very interesting information, which also allows me to estimate how many servings of raw milk are consumed in the US per year! Then I can go back to calculate estimates for the above data.
Here’s the link. Scroll down to page 25, Summary Table 4 at fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Slides_092806_JSofos.pdf. This table gives total cases of Listeria in the US as well as their food source. Most interestingly, it estimates the total number of cases per serving of that food eaten. This is the data I wanted. As we can see, unpasteurized milk is actually the fourth highest risk for Listeria illness, with 7.1 x 10-9 illnesses per serving. However, take note that the highest risk is deli meats, which have ten times the rate of Listeria illness per food serving, at 7.7 x 10-8.
To put that in perspective, for every serving of deli meat you eat, you have ten times greater risk of getting sick from Listeria than from drinking a glass of raw milk. Smoked seafood (like lox) and precooked shrimp have about the same rate as raw fluid milk.
Now, from this data, I can also calculate how many servings of raw milk are served per year in the US. There were 3.1 cases of Listeria from drinking raw milk per year, according to that chart. There also were 7.1 x 10-9 illnesses per serving. From this I can reverse calculate that the USDA estimates that there are a total of 437 million servings of raw milk consumed in the US per year. I can also calculate that there are about nine billion servings of pasteurized milk drunk in the US per year. That is 20 times the number of servings of raw milk, which leads me to conclude about 5 percent of the population, more or less, drinks raw milk, and 95 percent drinks pasteurized.
Out of a total of 437 million servings of raw milk in the US per year, 137 people got some sort of illness. On a per serving basis, that is 3.18 x 10-7. That means you would have to drink 3.18 million glasses of raw milk before you might expect to get an illness of any kind due to that milk. (Actually, you’d have to consume far more glasses than that, because those 137 illnesses also included raw cheese, not just raw milk.)
Just to give some further perspective, 16.5 percent of all broiler chickens tested by the FDA in 2006 contained salmonella bacteria. The rate of human salmonellosis in the US was 14.7 cases per 100,000 people in 2004. This is 4200 cases per year. Since 16 percent of the poultry have confirmed salmonella bacteria in them, one might assume that a lot of those cases come from eating chicken. But we don’t hear a big uproar about that, do we? The USDA hasn’t banned people from eating chicken.
San Francisco, California
Editor’s Response: When you look at the statistics carefully, you find that virtually all of the Listeria cases from raw milk products occurred in so-called raw soft cheeses. It is impossible to tell whether these cheeses are in fact made from raw milk because the test for lack of pasteurization is based on the presence of the enzyme phosphatase, which is produced by cheese bacteria. In any event, confirmed cases of Listeria from raw fluid milk are essentially nonexistent.
Is Your Mattress Making You Sick?
Imagine sleeping for eight hours per night, all the while breathing in dangerous chemicals that have been proven to be toxic and carcinogenic to human beings. Does this sound far fetched and crazy? Yes, it does. But it is also true.
A new law just put into effect, on July 1, 2007, requires all mattresses sold in the United States to be flame proof. This was spearheaded by the ISPA (International Sleep Products Association) with the stated purpose of making mattresses safer from fires. At least, that is their stated position. But on closer inspection, it appears there is a sinister motive. Fire safety is merely a farce; the real reason is to limit competition by effectively putting smaller mattress companies out of business, as they cannot comply with this new law. There are over 1,000 mattress manufacturers in the United States, and many will have to shut down their operations because it is too cost prohibitive to comply with these new guidelines.
Mattress sales are big business. Over 37 million new mattresses are sold each year, and smaller, specialty mattress manufacturers and imports have been taking away a large share of the big-three sales (Serta, Sealy, Simmons).
The challenge of making mattresses flame proof is that large quantities of harsh chemicals are needed, such as antimony trioxide, decabromodiphenyl oxide, formaldehyde, boric acid, and vinylidine chloride. These are all harsh and toxic chemicals that can have catastrophic health consequences for American consumers.
As you can imagine, this has caused a consumer backlash, as many people are experiencing symptoms such as rashes, itchy skin, runny nose, difficulty breathing and light-headedness. The long-term effects of many of these chemicals have not been determined, and could prove to be deadly by causing various forms of cancer.
There is one piece of good news, however. People who are adamantly opposed to sleeping with these chemicals have a way out. The law allows anyone to claim an exemption, as long as they have a prescription from a doctor. But there are only a handful of mattress manufacturers who will even make such a mattress.
Many mattress manufacturers have been in compliance with this law for the last two years, so if you have purchased a mattress in that time, you could have been affected. Of course, you will never know whether your mattress is dosed with chemicals because there is no labeling requirement. The ISPA made sure of that, as they don’t want people to know what they are sleeping with.
The solution is either to live with it (and risk your health), or purchase a toxin-free mattress by getting a prescription from your doctor. For more information, you may visit PeopleforCleanBeds.org or contact me at DrK@Technology-Bedding.com, (301) 979-9345.
Masood Kureshi, DC, Germantown, Maryland