Common Sense

I received a comment on one of my posts containing the words “common sense”.

Yes, I’m a big fan of common sense.   But I also have plenty of examples where defining ‘common’ isn’t so easy.

Take the debate over raw milk.   Anyone raised on a farm with dairy animals and/or a knowledge of human history will tell you it’s ‘common sense’ that milk from a healthy animal is okay for digestion by humans.

That same person will also tell you if there’s blood, pus or other yuckky matter in the milk, then not only you, but your animal has a huge problem.

However, a friend who works for a doctor confided in me his response when she told him about my raw milk adventures.

“Raw milk?!?   That stuff’s full of blood, pus and bacteria.”  Charges of stupidity or insanity were not made, but I suspect were thought.

Now, common sense for a doctor would say if a new nursing mother came in with blood and pus issues, there is some illness afoot that must be fixed.

Apparently, his ‘doctor’s common sense’ didn’t make the transfer to ‘raw milk common sense’.

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In the past 4 years, I’ve been given a ‘tour’ of four dairy operations.   Two organic and two not.    Two with plenty of pasture and two not.   Three I would drink milk from – one not.

Here’s my ‘common sense’ criteria:

  • How close does the animal feed match what they would eat if in the wild?
  • How clean are the facilities?
  • How much fresh air and green pasture does the animal get access too?
  • How much personal interaction takes place between the owner and individual herd members?
  • How overworked is the owner?  Tired?  Stressed?

I sadly must report to you, that though I had personal liking for the owner of the farm who flunked, I was not impressed with their operations.

Out of the four dairy operations toured, they were the only ones who sold to the local Milk Cooperation.   You know, the cooperation that buys milk from farmers for .09 a gallon, pasteurizes it and makes it safe for your consumption and then sells it to you for $2.36 or more per gallon.

I must also report that this farm has since gone out of business.  Even with playing by the rules and regulations, having enough cows to keep them and two hired hands busy milking 24/7, they still couldn’t make it financially off .09 per gallon.

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In contrast, the three other places I toured had 20 head or less.   One place had some hired help for busy times, the other two took care of operations themselves.   Where limited land did not allow for pure pasture feeding, even in the ‘green season’, owners contributed to their local economy by purchasing hay from their land-rich, livestock poor neighbors.

Two of the operations had jumped through all the necessary hoops in order to offer raw milk to their customers via milkshares.   They both had a waiting list for their shares.   They chose not to increase the herd to answer supply demands, because they were already pushing their own limits on what can be accomplished in a day.

They also steadfastly refused to either initiate more milk production via chemicals on the animals they did have or to purchase animals bred specifically to give a life-time’s worth of milk in 2 years.

One operation was that of a friend, who loves her goats and their milk.  Who risked imprisonment when she offered me raw goats milk in exchange for the homemade bread I had made for her.

The powers that be don’t care what kind of common sense I have.  They are vigilant in protecting me from my own foolish choices in both food and friends.

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Those who cry “use your common sense” to those who are just a vehemently crying for ‘stricter food safety laws’ forget the sense each side has is not common to the other.

Paying an average of $8/gallon direct to the local farmer who feeds you and treats his animals right makes sense to the raw milk group.  Fresh air, green grass, sunshine and plenty of room to isolate the healthy from the ill members, who are identified by someone who spends their life earning a living via healthy animals seems rational too.  Studies showing how ingestion of pasteurized milk actually robs your body of more calcium than you get just back up our ancestors choices and obvious ability to live and procreate while drinking milk that has naturally soured, because they didn’t have Frigidaire or Louis Pasteur.   Quality over Quantity, Good Nutrition, Local Resilience and Freedom of Choice are all based on a collective ‘common sense’ of this group.

Paying $2.36 a gallon for pasteurized milk  deemed safe by the FDA, nutritious by the USDA and touted as a staple in the fight against osteoporosis makes sense to the other side – both for their budget and their health.   Those whose ancestral line contains the “lactose intolerant’ gene also have sense enough to support legislation and laws to protect people from their own follies.  Everyone knows large greedy corporations will cut corners any chance they get.   Big CEO and share holders’ dividends depend on profitable margins.   They must be watched.  Those Bark Eaters and Tree Huggers who want us all back in the stone age must be watched too.   From their knowledge base, Pasteurized makes sense.

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Our forefathers tried to ensure a country where we could each follow our own brand of ‘common sense’.   They also attempted to give us the freedom to engage in both activities and education that would broaden our ‘common sense’ knowledge base.

In short, they didn’t try to force their brand of common sense on us, rather taught us that only with the Freedom of Choice could we hope to come to conclusions on what we want and what we don’t.

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Not as eloquent or fancy or even soul stirring as Thomas Paine’s original Common Sense, but current times are trying my soul….

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