Tennessee Senate Bill 15

I happened upon some unsettling news today.

Tennessee Senator Richard Briggs introduced Senate Bill 15 which currently reads, “Milk, dairy products- As introduced, prohibits a person who owns a partial interest in a hoofed mammal from using the milk of the animal for the person’s personal consumption or other personal use. -Amends TCA Title 53, Chapter 3.”

This would eliminate the use of herd shares for the sale and purchase of raw milk.

Why does that matter?

Let’s first look at what pasteurization does to our dairy.

Pasteurization is “the partial sterilization of a liquid (in this instance milk) at a temperature and for a period of exposure that destroys objectionable organisms without major chemical alteration of the substance” – Miriam- Webster dictionary

For our discussion, there are 3 key terms to look at in that definition, and I’ll go over them each in turn.

agriculture animal blue sky breakfast
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First, is the phrase, “partial sterilization.” What this implies is that in the heating of the milk, the native bacteria is only partially destroyed, as opposed to completely. This is not true. Probiotics die at around the boiling point of water (120°F, about 49°C). With the standard temperature for pasteurization being around 161°F, (about 80°C) the probiotic qualities are lost along with any potentially harmful bacteria. The whole reason milk began to be pasteurized in the 1880s was because of a series of illnesses resulting from harmful bacteria traced back to milk. This was largely because of unsanitary dairy practices, more so than the raw milk itself. The fact is, pasteurization is not selective in the bacteria it destroys; heat is not sentient. When you seek to destroy “bad bacteria” you run the risk of also destroying the good. The same is true of any broad spectrum antibiotic- it eliminates the bacteria causing the infection, but it also kills off beneficial gut flora.

Then we have, “objectionable organisms.” This is in reference to the bad bacteria we talked about earlier, such as Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi (which causes Typhoid fever) or Mycobacterium tuberculosis (which causes tuberculosis). These organisms are NOT naturally found in raw milk, but are introduced through poor sanitation and bad hygiene practices within the dairy. The whole reason you “strip” the teat before milking, and use an iodine wash prior to that is to kill off any potentially “bad bugs” before you milk the animal. The foreign and damaging bacteria do not begin in the milk, but in infected fecal matter, or infected wounds on the animal. Clean, healthy animals produce clean, healthy milk.

close up of milk against blue background
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The word “major” here is the biggest key to understanding the issues with pasteurization. The word major is a qualification, as pasteurization does in some ways alter the chemical composition of dairy. For starters, it kills off probiotic bacteria, which are essential for good gut health. Next, and more importantly, they kill the enzymes required to digest the milk.

People with difficulty digesting milk usually have trouble with one or more of the 3 basic components of milk: Protein (Casein), carbohydrate/sugar (lactose), or fat (or lipids). Milk allergy occurs when any number of these components are not properly digested within the body. When this occurs, the proteins, sugars, or fats can deviate from the intestines (because of a lack of probiotic flora) and into the bloodstream, where they are recognized as foreign bodies and are attacked by white blood cells, resulting in an autoimmunity, or allergy to the components.

The devastating reality is that natural, unpasteurized, raw milk contains the enzymes required for the digestion of all these components. Ever wonder why a baby calf doesn’t experience lactose intolerance? Furthermore, have you ever wondered why breastfed babies DO experience lactose intolerance? The issue implies that there is something missing from the chain of digestion. That something is a combination of lack of probiotic bacteria and enzymes.

So why am I so passionate about this issue? Several reasons.

First, it should not fall within the power of the government to tell me what I can and cannot consume. It should not fall within the power of the government to tell ANYONE what they can or cannot consume.

Secondly, this bill would eliminate the practice of selling/buying herd shares, which as it stands, is the ONLY legal means people in Tennessee have of obtaining raw milk for personal consumption. Senate Bill 15 would eliminate this means of commerce for small family farms, as well as detrimentally impact the health of individuals who depend on the benefits of raw milk for their digestive or autoimmune issues (such as those experienced by my children and me).

Thirdly, this bill would set a precedent which would bring the government one step closer to regulating what people are and are not allowed to raise/grow/sell/consume on their own property. I cannot be the only  one who forsees a future where small homesteads like mind are slammed with legal restrictions. With the tragedy of California’s wildfires destroying the source of much of America’s produce, Monsanto/Bayer/ and GMOs all spraying down our foods with toxic chemicals and introducing foreign genetics, as well as antibiotic and hormone laden meats and dairy, I can forsee a time in the not-so-distant future when raising or growing your own food very well may be the only way to avoid the serious health risks of the food sold in grocery stores today.

This bill threatens my way of life, and that of countless others in the state of Tennessee, and it is our responsibility and duty to inform our Senators and other representatives as well as to assert our rights as their constituency (they are OUR public servants, not the other way around…) to let them know we are not okay with that.

Make your voice heard. Contact Senator Briggs and let him know we do not support Senate Bill 15. We like and need our raw milk. And that should be our right and prerogative to continue consuming it.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/senatorbriggs

Email: sen.richard.briggs@capitol.tn.gov

Phone: (615) 741 1766

Fax: (615) 253 0199

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2 thoughts on “Tennessee Senate Bill 15

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