Anything goes in Humboldt County -- anything but raw milk, that is.
Tonight, the Board of Supervisors will debate whether to legalize the sale of raw milk. That's milk that hasn't been pasteurized to remove microbes such as those that cause bovine tuberculosis. Such illnesses are rare in developed countries, but raw milk is still seen as lacking a layer of protection.
Raw milk is legal in California, but Humboldt has banned the product. That's led to a local "black market" of illegally-sold raw milk according to Grist, much like you'd find in places that have banned pot.
Leading the challenge to that ban is dairy producer Organic Pastures, which produces more raw milk than anyone else in the state.
According to Organic Pastures, raw milk offers benefits that are lost during processing. They estimate that 50,000 people drink raw milk each week. Company officials pointed to a European study that indicated that raw milk may offer protection against allergies.
But federal government disagrees, calling raw milk "inherently dangerous," and calling for its prohibition.
Humboldt County's department of Health and Human Services recently issued a report documenting the extensive risks that raw milk poses.
If tonight's meeting does not lead to a repeal of the ban, Organic Pastures may consider leading a petition to overturn it.