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In a recent post on his blog The Complete Patient, David Gumpert analyzes how perpetuating stereotypes can be prohibitive to productive dialogues while releasing expectations can lead to sincere engagement and discussions. While this premise can be applied to any debate, Gumpert specifically asks if the debate over food rights can move beyond stereotypes – such as the stereotypes of raw milk proponents as antigovernment hippies or public health agents as heartless enforcers of food regulations.
Gumpert cites both positive and negative examples of interactions between raw milk proponents and members of the public health community. He compliments Don Schaffner, a food safety professor at Rutgers University who engaged with Gumpert in the comments thread of one of his blog posts, by saying “I appreciated Schaffner’s comments following my previous post – not so much for anything specific he said, but for the fact that he was willing to sincerely engage, discuss…That he didn’t throw his hands in the air when the discussion frustrated, swear he was done trying to communicate with the wackos here (as some have done in the past).”
However, Gumpert chastised New Yorker writer Dana Goodyear, whose book includes anecdotes about attending raw food events that portray people who eat raw food in a stereotypical, derogatory manner. In one example, Goodyear writes, “The raw-milkers claimed to be on board with everything, from putting a stop to roadside sobriety tests to ending seatbelt laws.” Gumpert responds, “The imagery was clear: the raw milk supporters attending the conference were a bunch of libertarian antigovernment nut cases. I was at that conference…and heard little discussion about the politics of ‘the antigovernment extremists.’”
Gumpert ends his post on an optimistic note: with the hope that individuals on both sides of the raw milk issue will begin to see past stereotypes and engage in productive discussions.
The Campaign for Real Milk is a project of the nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation. Donate to help fund research into the benefits of nutrient dense foods. http://www.westonaprice.org/lab