Raw Deal

Friday, March 20, 2009

If you're a foodie, chances are you know about the raw--unpasteurized--milk debate. Proponents of raw milk say it's more nutritious; opponents say it harbors bacteria. Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and public health at NYU, will outline both perspectives. Then Connecticut State Representative and raw milk enthusiast Diana Urban (D-Stonington) will explain why she is opposed to proposed new legislation restricting the sale of raw milk in that state.


Marion Nestle and Diana Urban

Comments [58]

Chris from NJ

NYers think they're so sophisticated. Yet, I've never seen a more ignorant, misinformed, misleading bunch of comments.

Mar. 23 2009 09:02 AM
Phil from Brooklyn

Here's another really interesting video on how raw milk is completely different from pasteurized and homogenized milk. Worth the 10 mins. to get informed!

Mar. 22 2009 06:58 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn

Jon, we may be getting off topic in "build it and the will come." The original purpose of this, and my comments, is to advocate the consumption of raw milk.

Anyone saying "drink raw milk" is aiming to increase awareness and ultimately increase demand. I agree with you that won't happen over night. But, increased demand will put strain on existing farmers (they will expand or they won't) but also open market opportunities for new people to enter the business–with financial incentive.

Now the crux I feel is that a raw milk farm can only be so big and productive before compromising the product. The solution will either be increasing farm sizes, or adding in more farms.

I totally agree that this won't happen overnight, but I do think that awareness should be raised at the alternative and hope that people will consider making the switch. Let economic forces determine how many farms there are. I currently pay $10 for a gallon of raw, and I think it's worth it.

Also interesting is that I watched a recent clip on this with a commenting Harvard Professor. She shared the statistic that 95% of Dairy Farmers in the U.S. are drinking their milk raw:

Mar. 20 2009 03:25 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Charlie from Brooklyn,

If your parents where alive during WWII, they probably had a garden in their back yard to. But the population was half of what it is now. Land was far more available back then. It’s a luxury now to have access to land that you own and can grow something on. Plus having grown up with a garden in my backyard, I can say with experience that having a garden, even a successful one will not even come close to qualify you as a farmer. Nice idea but still a “build it and they will come” answer.

Mar. 20 2009 02:17 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Charlie from Brooklyn,

What are you going to do in states like North Dakota where an average size farm is about 1000 acres? Its illegal to incorporate farms in North Dakota so no matter what the size, all of the farms are family owned farms. Are you going to just take away their land? Wouldn’t it make more sense to figure out how to make their farming more environmentally sound?

anonyme from ny

Farming in Detroit would be an extremely expensive and toxic proposition. You would first have to knock down a bunch of houses and buildings (very expensive). You’d then have to recycle what you can. But your still going to have to land fill a lot of construction waist. Then there are all the led paint and asbestosis materials from the older houses that would have to be processed and properly disposed of. Then theirs all the topsoil that you would have to truck in (and take away from somewhere else) to replace all the concrete and asphalt. Nice idea, but not really that realistic at the end of the day.

Mar. 20 2009 02:06 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn

Another good case study is the Victory Gardens of Britain in WW2, people became farmers pretty quickly.

Mar. 20 2009 01:50 PM
anonyme from ny

Public health concerns! Big brother!

Raw milk doesn't go bad any faster than pasteurized.

Mar. 20 2009 01:47 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


Now if you want to clean up how factory farming is done, that’s a far more realistic renaissance. And if you can do it so the average farmer can still make ends meet and sell an affordable commodity (remember, most framers that do most of the growing don’t get to set their prices at the market which is a whole other issue people don’t think about) you’d have farmers flocking to you.

Mar. 20 2009 01:46 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Charlie from Brooklyn,

I agree that there should be and needs to be a farming renaissance. But it would take at least a whole generation to do so assuming you started this afternoon. This recession won’t last long enough to do that. As I said, I grew up in a farming community and in my professional career I have had many discussions with farmers from farms of all shapes and sizes. Farmers are almost born to be farmers. You have to not only really love the land; you have to know it like a doctor has to know human anatomy. You also have to be ready to barely make any money. It’s a huge misconception that farmers in Iowa running big farms are driving around in Cadillac’s paid for by farm subsidies. It cant be any farther from the truth. Go visit Iowa or any farming Midwestern state and see for your self.

It used to be 4-H was in every school and chances are as a kid, you probably worked on a farm after school whether it was your family’s farm or the neighbors farm. Now You might find 4-H clubs in Midwestern states or in local farm communities. But other then that, AG and the science and art of are just not taught in public school. If you truly want a renaissance of new farmers then you have to start teaching it in kindergarten, today and continually in every grade until they graduate. That’s at least 12 years in the making. Sorry but to think you can snap your fingers and several thousand people will be more then ready to take on an extremely tough job that is very complex and that they no nothing about fits into the “build it and they will come” answer.

Mar. 20 2009 01:46 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn

John P #38, I considered some numbers in this and found a good example.

China's population in 1900 (basically pre-Industrial farming) was appx. 450 million.

The land mass of the US is also larger than China's, so if need by, I'm sure people would suck it up and farm our land instead of starving to death or eating sickening, empty, garbage from factory farms.

Mar. 20 2009 01:45 PM
Willa Mitchell from NJ

My father, born 1914, contracted "Bovine Tuberculosis".

It "rested" in the bone of his right wrist, with the threat of spreading at any time.

I can remember he had a noticeable inability/stiffness in his right hand, and
as a little girl, he would love it if I would massage his wrist.

Some of the life-altering problems that came up because of his disability were:
1. He was removed from school, and spent his childhood time lonely and isolated, in the prairie landscape of the Saskatchewan wheat fields.
2. He boasted to me how he trained himself to write and operate with his left hand.
3. He was banned from going to fight in the world war, and defend against the tyranny of the Nazis.
4. Attending Canadian University to become a surgeon, in mid-session he was forced to withdraw and change careers.

He became a beloved Canadian writer.

Mar. 20 2009 01:45 PM
anonyme from ny

You know people at Johns Hopkins are studying raw milk???

Mar. 20 2009 01:37 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn

#42-44 is on point. I recommend this site:

Weston A. Price traveled the world after being President of the American Dental Association, first-hand seeing how much healthy indigenous people are compared to Westerners. It's all in the diet.

Mar. 20 2009 01:37 PM
anonyme from ny

WAIT A MINUTE - I am listening later - talk about WHY - talk about urban dairies who crowded the cows and swill - not because it is inherently harmful.

We should all quit eating spinach or peanuts because of ecoli

You are made of bacteria too!!!

Science based food safety has created obesity and worse!

this is agribusiness feeling competition

Public health??? i don't think so!

Mar. 20 2009 01:36 PM
anonyme from ny

There are several states where it is legal to buy raw milk. Ron Paul has a bill to allow interstate sale of raw milk. Americans know hoe to organize to get what they want and need

Mar. 20 2009 01:32 PM
anonyme from ny

Planners are talking about farming abandoned Detroit neighborhoods

Mar. 20 2009 01:29 PM
anonyme from ny


WAKE UP!!! read Michael Pollan, (Omnivore's Dilemma) Barbara Kingsolver, ( Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) Sally Fallon/Mary Enig. (Nourishign Traditions - but for a picture of our perverse system, Eat Fat Lose Fat)

City folk! Cannot even conceive of anything beyond your way of living.

It's not just RAW milk but RAW MILK FROM PASTURED, TRADITIONAL BREED COWS. They are treated humanely (graze in the fresh air and sunshine) and enjoy a long lifespan. No marketing crap in those words. My farmers and I belong to an org that requires more testing than the law requires for certification.

I reversed osteoporosis in 15 months (maybe less, that was the time between the tests) with no drugs, just fabulous raw milk and real butter (cultured) and pasture eggs from farms run by farmers i know.

Who gives a hoot about what science says? Most in this field are bought and paid for by agribusiness. I think traditions of healthy societies are adequate guides. Obviously the French knew a lot, but they too succumbed to white flour. Still they know how to eat fabulous food without making themselves obese and with less heart disease, and when i lived (with a doctor) in France, that included raw milk (from a farmer I knew).

Factory farms abuse cows by feeding them not only drugs but grain they can't digest, and over milk them, so that they die in 3 years. The drugs are there because of the dysfunction of confinement, where they stand strapped in stalls in their own poop all day and never see the light of day. Everything from a factory farm is compromised and based on petrochemicals.

Mar. 20 2009 01:28 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn

Ironic considering the source:

“The land! That is where our roots are. There is the basis of our physical life. The farther we get away from the land, the greater our insecurity. From the land comes everything that supports life, everything we use for the service of physical life. The land has not collapsed or shrunk in either extent or productivity. It is there waiting to honor all the labor we are willing to invest in it, and able to tide us across any local dislocation of economic conditions. No unemployment insurance can be compared to an alliance between man and a plot of land.” ~Henry Ford

Mar. 20 2009 01:16 PM
Phil from Brooklyn

I've had exactly the same experience as Kevin (#32): Dairy intolerance from regular, factory-farmed and pasteurized milk, no issues whatsoever from raw milk.

Re: jtt's (#35) concern, who says that you should not assume that small farms are all pristine: I agree with db (#25). A small farm takes pride in its healthy and safe products, and simply can't afford selling tainted products, otherwise they'd be out of business (and out of making a living) REAL fast!

If you do some research you'll find that many, many more health scares were caused by pasteurized milk than raw milk. However, the dairy farm lobby is doing what it can to bury those stories and muddle the facts.

Pasteurization has its roots in early industrialization, which found it to be effective, and it prevails today as an easy cure-it-all to kill all bacteria, harmful as well as beneficial. As a side effect, pasteurized milk will have no defenses left to fight off any pathogens. Try leaving a glass each of pasteurized and raw milk out on the counter overnight, then smell the results the next day. (You might want to do one after the other, just to be sure you can tell that the sour milk is the pasteurized one... :))

Mar. 20 2009 01:13 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn

I think a key discrepancy is that feeding people is not the same as nourishing people, hence the rising disease rates in the country.

Jon, I completely agree with you that there are too many people to feed with our current land allocations, but at the same time I don't know what any one will eat when all of the farmers die.

My only hope would be that in this downtown many people out of a job will realize how rewarding a career in feeding yourself and other people is, as opposed to buying and selling everyone else's labor. I think there needs to be a farming renaissance, or else we're all on the way to being like those whales in Wall-E.

Mar. 20 2009 01:11 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


3) Where are you going to get the work force? At the turn of the century almost half the population worked on farms. Today, not even 3% of the population works in agriculture. Ag minimum wage is a lot less then minimum wage. Are you going to work for less then minimum wage? Farmers are literally a dying breed. Annually, far more farmers leave the business then join the business. If you want to start a revolution of new small farms, your about 13 years behind for recruiting new farmers because agriculture is not even touched on in public schools anymore. You’d have to play a lot of catch up to get the young folks of today interested in farming.

If you can give me realistic answers to all these questions and not the usual “if you build it they will come” answer to counter “factory farms” then you might just make a convert out of me.

Mar. 20 2009 12:55 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


So all you anti “factory farm people” want everybody to drink raw milk from the local farm. That’s great but when this country was still drinking milk from small farms, the population was not even half of what it was today. Plus small local farms were almost on every corner. Now, no matter how hard you hope, whish or fantasize, there just isn’t even close to being enough small farms left to feed 300 million people in this country plus all the food we export on top of that. Realistically, you’d have to create a lot of new farms to do this. So I have a few questions about how you realistically plan on feeding America on small farms that produce affordable food.

1) Where are you going to get the land? What would make good farm land today would cost a premium to buy and develop new farms. In some places you might even have to knock down some houses to do this. Sure, sounds great but it would be extremely expensive and like it or not, people have to live somewhere. So all the houses knocked down would have to be rebuilt elsewhere.

2) How are you going to get the right zoning permits for new farms? Sure it’s nice to have a local farm down the street. But I grew up in a farming community and nobody likes to live right up next to a farm, no matter the size or if it’s organic or not. So if you think your going to create a revolution of new small farms, get ready for a whole bunch of law suits from “not in my backyard” people.

Mar. 20 2009 12:55 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn

I think the assumption is based on the common practice of factory farms producing one thing, be it chickens or dairy cows. With no means of processing waste or diversifying, they're left with toxic amounts of things.

Smaller farms, as the CT delegate pointed out, are often diversified. Proper farming practices encourage diversification to eliminate excess waste–just like a mini ecosystem. When the living things on the farm are in symbiotic relationships with one another, then they're living healthy and the farms are self-sustaining and "clean" (by farm standards).

Mar. 20 2009 12:48 PM
jtt from nyc

a couple of observations:

Paseturization was named after Pasteure. he was French, working in France , not the evil USA.

Why does everyone here seem to assume that small farms are all pristine?

Mar. 20 2009 12:36 PM
Charlie from Brooklyn

Andreas I think it's misleading if you don't specify factory farm cows (where this data is coming from) and small farm cows being milked in healthy environments (raw milk).

Mar. 20 2009 12:05 PM
AndreasNYC from Manhattan, NY

A "chance" of contamination? Unfortunately people, including those in the discussion and running the call-in, didn't note that The Nation's Dairy Farm Magazine (Hoard's Dairyman) states as a matter of course that there are *millions* of pus cells, yes, "somatic"/white blood cells, in the average glass of milk. According to their latest available figures

The great state of New York consumes 280,000,000 somatic cells in each glass of milk.

Yes, 280 million pus cells in a cup of average NY State milk and it's basically in line with the rest of the nation. The trade journal says that about a third of the cows in most herds have mastitis and even 100 million! pus cells per glass is a goal to work toward

This data is collected as required by the US Dept of Health & Human Services, along with the Public Health Service and Food & Drug Administration in their 280 page set of protocols ("The Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO)").

You can quickly find state levels of pus cells per glass on this site along to references to the many documented health defects caused by non-human-mother's milk consumption:
+ Diabetes (type 1 & 2)
+ Allergies
+ Osteoporosis
+ Obesity
+ Osteoporosis (yes, too much animal protein reduces bone density).


Other References:
The April 25, 2002 issue of Hoard's Dairyman lists every state in America on page 342. (reproduced here:

Mar. 20 2009 11:58 AM
Kevin Sterling from Manhattan

Raw milk can be used to treat lactose intolerance - isn't that an oddity? When you pasteurize milk, you mutate the enzymes that humanity is built to ingest and become intolerant of them. I can only drink a few glasses of pasteurized milk before getting a stomach ache and bloating, I can drink unlimited amounts of raw milk.

Mar. 20 2009 11:56 AM
Kevin Sterling from Manhattan

UHT - Ultra High Temperature. (That's exactly what pasteurization is)

Mar. 20 2009 11:52 AM
Tony from Long Island

The legislator was completely wrong that all she can do is warn the public. Like it was mentioned multiple times there are risks associated with drinking raw or pasteurized milk.

This thinking would just lead you to put a warning label on any milk.

Additionally I believe it was mentioned there is no data on the percent of raw milk that causes outbreaks.

The legislature can create laws requiring quality testing of the milk. Both speakers agreed you can test the milk to find a pathogen. Random sampling is not the best statistical model but it is 100% more effective at actually protecting people then sticking a warning label on something.

Please reference the PMO. You can also require clean facilities and require use of teat dips.

Try moving dedicated USDA/FDA inspectors around. They do not need to sit at one plant all day to note the types of conditions that cause problems.

Mar. 20 2009 11:52 AM
Kevin Sterling from Manhattan

Watch a documentary on dairy cows some time, store milk often has blood and urine in it - but it's pasteurized. Bottoms up!

Mar. 20 2009 11:50 AM
Baby Nancy from Metuchen

When I was a baby back in the early 1940s (in New Jersey), my parents had milk delivered (so did almost everyone else, of course!). My mother told me that the milk was neither homogenized (it had cream on the top) nor pasteurized, but it was sold as "certified." Does anyone know if this was unpasteurized, that is, raw, milk? Mom implied that it was raw milk.

No one, by the way, got sick from it.

Mar. 20 2009 11:50 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

I drank milk as a child when I did not have a choice, same with meat, I ate what was prepared for me and was thankful for it! As an adult however, I have chosen, not to be a vegetarian or vegan, b/c I eat seafood (whole other topic there) but I don't eat red meat, pork, milk, cheese because my body rejects these things, I become physically sick. I think we should not drink milk as adults for sure and surely not milk from another species other than our own. My opinion.

Mar. 20 2009 11:49 AM
Kevin Sterling from Manhattan

I recently started drinking raw milk after doing a great deal of research on this. Several things to consider:

• Milk is the only thing on the planet
specifically created to be food
• Man has drank raw milk since the dawn of
human existence
• The rest of the world still drinks raw milk
with no consideration of "risk"
• The entire Amish population of the US
currently drinks (and often sells) raw milk
• Since pasteurization, obesity,osteoporosis,
tooth decay have all been on the rise –
active cultures in the milk help bowel
health, which assuages hunger and maintains
a body's fat reserves
• Industrialization, and growing cows in
unsafe areas to feed urban centers is the
only cause of contamination

Mar. 20 2009 11:48 AM
db from nyc

Pasteurization is what the industrial food system came up with to make up for poor hygiene in production and milking process. Instead of cleaning up the process the industrial system came up with the band aid of pasteurization. Pasteurization does save lives but from poor milk production not conscientiously produced milk. If you purchase your milk from a farmer whose pride and income is dependent on his customers staying healthy you will be getting a very safe and healthy product, otherwise he will find himself out of business. The Key is to have a relationship with your farmer not some anonymous corporate/industrial entity.

Mar. 20 2009 11:46 AM

why do certain brands of milk smell so bad?? and it seemst o have gotten worse recently.

my kids refuse to drink tuscan or horizon. only farmland.

Mar. 20 2009 11:42 AM

21 -- i recently learned that raw milk cheeses sold in the us are required to be aged long enough to kill any bacteria.

Mar. 20 2009 11:39 AM

ch/17 -

not to be contrary but arguably (I say that b/c I assume Bush was drunk when he decided to go to war w Iraq, and also decided to laugh at stricter environmental regulations) -- most people are killed by alcohol via its effect on drivers.

And of course driving drunk is a big time crime.

Mar. 20 2009 11:36 AM
G from Greenpoint

On the point raised by Chris (#12), it seems to me that adult humans ought not be drinking milk at all. By demonstration, "lactose intolerance" is not an affliction, it is a natural development in organisms (you and me) which, in nature, would not feed on milk past infancy.

On the other hand, I am a fan of many raw milk cheeses. :-)

Mar. 20 2009 11:34 AM
Jana from Paramus, NJ

Raw milk is the norm all over the world and one doesn't see mass outbreaks of disease from it's consumption. The benefits outweigh the risks and the responsibility is that of the consumer, not the government to regulate.

Mar. 20 2009 11:33 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

Seems like if you drink raw milk when you are very young, your bodies get used to the bacteria that is in it and you have no issues drinking it as an adult. Could it be bad for adults to start drinking it, as thier bodies are being introduced to something new? We spend so much time sanatizing things, drinking something raw like that could be a shock to the system.

Mar. 20 2009 11:33 AM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

The truth from Atlanta/New York

If you eat any raw meat, no matter where it comes from, you’re in for a whole heck of a lot of trouble. But red meat eaters that properly cook their meat won’t be running the same risks as those that drink raw milk. Of course eating any meat can increase your risk of heart disease. But so will non fat free milk, pasteurized or not.

Mar. 20 2009 11:32 AM
ch from NJ

I agree with The Truth from Atlanta.

Why, indeed, should the government "protect" us from this? Legislators are just searching for issues that can make them look like they're DOING something.

Regarding its effect on others: how many people are killed a year by other people using alcohol improperly? You don't see anyone proposing a ban on alcohol.

Let's get some perspective here.

Mar. 20 2009 11:30 AM

Given that around 50% of supermarket raw meat coming from the bodies of pigs (accdg to Kristoff last wk) and chickens (last year's story) are proven to be infected with diseases that are killed only from cooking -- why on earth would anybody assume that factory milk is any safer (prior to pasteurization, that is)?!

The issue here is factory food across the board: Cook well.

Mar. 20 2009 11:28 AM
Catherine from Rockville Centre

Re: the caller who boils his raw milk.

I can't help but wonder how much of the difference he tastes between store-bought milk and his milk is the difference between scalded milk and not-scalded milk. If you take store-bought milk and boil it, it will taste totally different from the milk you didn't boil.

Mar. 20 2009 11:28 AM
Lewis from New York

I suspect that organic milk would be closer to raw milk in terms of content. Can you guest address the difference and\or heath pro/con?

Mar. 20 2009 11:27 AM
Robert from NYC

would the chances of getting a disease such as e-coli from drinking raw milk greater than getting it from meat? Why don't we pasteurize meat?

Mar. 20 2009 11:26 AM
Chris from NYC

I know this isn't specific to the topic, but I've always wondered if there are any other animals (besides humans) that drink milk beyond infancy? If not, then why do humans insist on drinking it? It never seemed like a natural thing to consume (the milk created for another animal's offspring).

Mar. 20 2009 11:26 AM
bib from NYC

i came from india couple weeks ago. goa to be specific. i was ecstatic when i found that restaurant in my hotel served raw milk. for 3 weeks there was always 2-3 glasses of raw milk for me. never had any single problem.
risen in europe i was drinking raw milk daily in liters.
problem is we need to produce more milk, means we acquire milk from lower quality farms and weaker cows. here where the pasterysation and homogenisation comes in. to kill all the wrong stuff coming from the sick cows, to gether with most of the good bacteria and enzymes.

Mar. 20 2009 11:26 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

and what about the grass the cow is eating? ughh all nasty, I don't have to worry about either, I don't eat cow and I don't drink cow's milk!

Mar. 20 2009 11:23 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Now if raw milk poses a health hazard then red meat eaters have a larger problem...yes?

Mar. 20 2009 11:22 AM
samuel from nyc

I think it should be available to those who feel it is beneficial. why should the government regulate something like this?

Mar. 20 2009 11:22 AM
Sarah from Brooklyn

In Europe they drink UHT (ultra-high temperature) milk, which has been heated instead of pasteurized. It tastes far better than our milk, and can be stored for longer without refridgeration. Why don't we have that here?

Mar. 20 2009 11:22 AM
george kaplan from nyc

Is milk inherently beneficial to human health? Scientific evidence please, not just opinions.

Mar. 20 2009 10:54 AM
Michael from Boston, MA

Many researches have studied the link between milk consumption and human disease risk (type 1 diabetes among others). The raw milk debate presumes that cow milk is intrinsically nutritious and the question then is simply "Which is MORE nutritious?" I would like to hear the guest comment on whether or not there is any merit to these studies. Is milk inherently beneficial to human health?

Mar. 20 2009 10:28 AM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Pasteurization has literally saved millions of lives since its conception. It’s just absolutely ridiculous to think you’re safer to drink un pasteurized milk. Its no different then saying you’re safer not wearing seatbelts when real world statistics prove you’re far safer and far more likely to survive an auto accident with seat belts on. There is no epidemic in this country of people getting sick from drinking pasteurized milk. But there are several dairy’s being sued for selling raw milk that made their customers very sick. Is it really worth your life for the very small gain in nutrition? Just drink more pasteurized fat free milk if you want to make up for that nutrition loss. There are plenty of organic brands out on the market if your worried about hormones.

Mar. 20 2009 10:16 AM
fancy-socks from Manhattan

some CSA's in nyc provide raw milk shares. here's one

Mar. 20 2009 10:09 AM
Claiborne from Brooklyn, NY

My family enjoys raw milk while in Connecticut and our children have drunk it since they were young toddlers. I believe that if it's from a reliable source with sanitary bottling practices and periodic testing, the milk is actually more wholesome and nutritious than the large-scale, pasteurized industrial products out there. Thanks to the new CT legislation, we'll have to go to a bit more trouble to find our favorite milk now...and I hope the dairy is not forced to close or change their practices because they can no longer sell in stores.

Mar. 20 2009 08:53 AM
Robert from NYC

I want raw milk so I can make better cheese and tried once to get a dairy farmer at the farmers market to sell it to me (stealthily) but she said she wouldn't take the chance because it's illegal to sell here.

Mar. 20 2009 08:29 AM

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