Raw Milk Helped Save My Life

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An article by economist Mark Thornton on government prohibitions against raw milk reminded me of my youth.

Over six decades ago in southern California, my physician was Francis Pottenger, the nutritionist.

As part of my diet, I was required to drink certified raw milk. I still recall the brand: Roger Jessup.

He had me on a diet of red meat, steamed vegetables, eggs, and whole grain cereal cooked overnight. I was allowed no white flour products. I was allowed one scoop of ice cream per week as treat. He had my mother buy Adelle Davis’ book, Let’s Cook It Right (1948). She still has a first edition copy.

I became healthy within 18 months, and I have remained healthy ever since. Apart from an occasional bout with the flu every few years, and maybe one cold per year, my only problem medically in the last 45 years was a gall bladder operation a decade ago.

In the mid-1960s, a San Diego County Health officer began harassing another raw milk producer, Alta Dena. The family that owned the company, the Stueves [Steevees], spent years three defending their product. A court cleared the company.

In 1969, the Los Angeles County Health Department went after the firm. The accusation this time was that the product threatened people with Q fever. No evidence against the company was ever provided.

In 1974, the state Health Department went after the company because the product might produce Salmonella. Again, there was no evidence.

In 1983, the California Health Department went after the company again on the same charge. There was no proof.

In 1991, Consumers Union of the United States joined with California’s conventional dairy producers to file suit against Alta Dena Dairy for advertising, allegedly falsely, that raw milk was healthful and pasteurized was not. The State Health Department concurrently claimed raw milk products were a public health hazard and prohibited Alta Dena from distributing and selling its raw milk pending settlement of the Consumers Union suit. In 1992, the court ruled that Alta Dena’s health claims were illegal and ordered all raw milk sold in California to carry a government warning. The Stueves then sold Alta Dena Dairy, but continued to produce and distribute raw dairy products under the Stueve’s Natural label.

Finally, the owners of Alta Dena 1999 ceased selling the product.

The story is here.

I regard it as ironic that the only time I went to a hospital due to illness, 1950-2001, was in the fall of 1961. I got the infamous Salmonella. It got into the water system of Riverside, California. The authorities denied for days that the problem came from the water, but eventually it turned out that this was false. The government, not Alta Dena raw milk, was the culprit.

June 17, 2011

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2011 Gary North