This holds true for foods that most urban shoppers take for granted, such as eggs and milk. Using the cover of “protecting human health,” these agencies here and in Canada and to lesser degrees elsewhere, force operations to protect against foodborne pathogens that often don’t work or are not necessary with good farming practices.
We, consumers, get less nutrition from those milk and egg products but Big Ag thrives.
One way to continue “business as usual” is to prevent the rising demand for healthier milk and eggs that encourage small dairies and egg producers to have any market presence.
Meanwhile, the horrendous nature and consequences of CAFOs are hidden from milk and egg consumers. If this is unfamiliar territory, learn all that you need here.
Raw Milk vs Pasteurized Milk
Louis Pasteur was given a huge commission by French Emperor Napolean III to save France’s wine industry from excess spoilage. Pasteur’s heating process solved that problem and was immediately applied to France’s beer and vinegar processing as well.
Then it was applied to milk but did not catch on throughout the USA until well after Chicago’s 1908 bovinetuberculosis epidemic. Originally, the intention was to test all cows for TB using pasteurization only with milk from cows not yet inspected. But milk pasteurization did not stop there, though it took some time before it had taken over the nation.
By the 1930s, it’s estimated that half the nation was still using raw unpasteurized milk. Then shortly after WWII, the food safety agencies took over and all milk producers had to comply with pasteurization regulations. (Source)
Current increasing public awareness of microbial overkill with pasteurized and processed milk over the past couple of decades has created a demand for unprocessed raw milk from consumers who are concerned about getting the most health benefits from milk or other dairy products.
It’s now firmly established that pasteurizing any food destroys many of its nutrients, especially the enzymes that enable their metabolism. But getting unprocessed raw milk is almost like trying to do a drug deal outside of Big Pharma’s purview. It’s risky, especially for small dairy farmers who recognize the need for raw milk and its increasing demand.
Local food agencies can curb pathogenic invasions with sanity inspections. Generally, cows in small dairy farms are healthier than CAFO cows, to begin with. There’s no need to kill beneficial microbes and nutrients with heat if there is nothing pathogenic to kill in the first place. And for those consumers who are concerned about microbes in raw milk, they can easily pasteurize it themselves and still end up with a product that is whole, and not processed. For example, while processed “whole” milk is typically 4% fat (they add the fat back in during processing), unprocessed raw milk can be nearly 30% fat. Dairy fat is the most profitable component of liquid milk.
Nevertheless, small dairy farms and Amish farms are constantly getting raided for supplying raw milk to consumers. Some states make raw milk impossible to purchase unless one travels directly to the farm miles away. Buying clubs formed to bridge the gaps between consumers and farmers are often raided with hundreds of gallons or more destroyed with the lawful force similar to a huge cocaine bust.
Most of us know about this irrational phenomenon, which helps Big Dairy maintain its market dominance. But what about eggs?
Unwashed and Unrefrigerated Eggs
Chickens lay those eggs we blithely purchase from anywhere foods are sold. If they’re unhealthy from their extremely confined caging and force fed GMO corn and/or soy feed, their eggs can become vehicles for pathogenic carriers of salmonella and other lesser known foodborne diseases.
Here’s a clip from the documentary Food, Inc. that exposes conditions of chicken CAFOs.
So for these huge unhealthy laying hen operations, sometimes confining hundreds of thousand of miserably treated hens in filthy crowded battery cages, it makes sense to wash those eggs.
But then they have to be refrigerated because their natural pathogenic-protective coating is removed, making the shells vulnerable to pathogenic bacteria that can flourish within the eggs’ yolks.
The mandates of egg washing and refrigerating are federally enforced. It is not an option even for those small egg producers whose hens are healthy, free range, not confined, not fed soy feed or anything that is unnatural to hens.
This puts small farmers into difficult financial situations to become licensed and create what USDA and/or FDA regulations demand.
Many Nations Allow Eggs to Be Unwashed and Unrefrigerated
While living in Mexico for a few years, many of us gringos frequented a small health food store that Jorge Catalan owned. He was a local permaculture leader and was careful about what he sold. But the eggs were not refrigerated.
That shocked this egg eating gringo at first but Jorge explained how eggs do not have to be refrigerated if their protective “cuticle” (outer protective coating) was intact. If the eggs were not washed, the cuticles would protect them from microbial invasions that could be nurtured into infectious disease by the egg’s materials.
Just about every small food retailer who sold eggs in San Miguel de Allende did as Jorge did: purchased unwashed eggs from local producers and did not refrigerate them.
And not just because it was Jorge’s way. This was simply the way it was done. In case you’re thinking “well that’s just Mexico …,” this practice is common throughout industrialized nations in South America and Europe.
Here is a 30,000 hen egg laying operation in the UK that is free range, and does not use battery cages in warehouses, as is the common practice in the U.S.
Why Does Europe Ban Egg Washing and Refrigeration?
The USDA insists that U.S. egg producers “shampoo” eggs, sometimes with chemicals, and refrigerate them from farm to table. After their shampoos, eggs are often coated with a mineral oil to replace the washed off cuticles. This would seem sufficient, perhaps, but the washing process precedes the coating and there is that time of increased vulnerability.
In the E.U., this procedure is actually illegal:
Current European Union legislation prohibits the washing of Class A eggs. This is in stark contrast to countries such as the United States of America and, more recently Japan, which has embraced egg-washing technology.
The enforced practice of washing and refrigerating eggs has done little or nothing to restrict Salmonella breakouts from commercially produced eggs.
To summarize, European eggs are not refrigerated, not washed, and end up sickening fewer people than here. The U.S. is more effective at producing low-cost eggs, cleans the poop off, and requires refrigeration. Yet in 2010, half a billion eggs were recalled after potentially being tainted with salmonella. (Source)
European experts blame egg washing for a huge increase in salmonella outbreaks. Any time lapsed out of refrigeration with those washed eggs creates a condensation when they’re refrigerated again at home. There’s no telling if there are any refrigeration gaps before sales. This condensation of moisture invites infectious bacteria to invade those eggs worse than if they were unwashed and refrigerated.
Paradoxically, unwashed eggs that aren’t refrigerated can be stored longer at room temperatures. That’s a reduced energy cost for egg producers and retailers that can be passed on to consumers.
But the USDA and its local subdivisions can shut down any small farmer who cannot afford to adhere to the same requirements as huge commercial egg producers.
We Need to Support Small Farms That Respect Nature
The egg situation in North America resembles the required pasteurization scenario, totally unnecessary for conscientious small organic and pasture grazing farms and unhealthy for consumers. Yet they too can be shut down by food authorities before consumer demand gets too unhealthy for the large-scale dairy and egg industries.
If livestock is not crowded into CAFOs, allowed to graze in open grass fields and not inoculated with steroids and antibiotics, and treated humanely, their meats, dairy, and egg products are much healthier than their factory farm counterparts.
The CAFO crowd depends on Big Ag’s production of toxic GMO corn and soy for its unnatural feed.
And that sector of Big Ag gets the largest benefits of corporate agricultural welfare from the same federal government that harasses and intimidates small farmers who are doing the right things agriculturally. (Source)
We should have the right to choose and support better farming. This can encourage conscientious farmers to abandon factory farming methods that destroy the environment and produce toxin-free foods that actually add significantly to our health and immunity from disease.
Here is how one family farm in Australia does it: