Thursday, December 27, 2007

good news for raw milk in CA

from Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures

December 16, 2007


California's raw milk supply will NOT be interrupted in
January, 2008 or beyond!

It will be a happy, healthy New Year indeed! California consumers have spoken loudly against AB 1735's biased, scientifically unsupported restrictions on raw milk. Your passionate voices have been heard.

In the last three weeks, the CA raw milk battle front has been abuzz with tremendous grass roots effort, back stage political activity, and high level meetings. As a result, the course of California raw milk history has been changed.

Here is a brief update of the progress:

Three things protect your raw milk in California:

1.. The Secretary of Agriculture has offered political support. A.G. Kawamura has dedicated himself to safe raw milk for California, declaring that "AB 1735 standards will not act as a de-facto ban on raw milk." Secretary Kawamura made this statement adamantly and repeatedly at a December 20th meeting with Claravale and Organic Pastures dairy representatives. He pledged to review our four-inch stack of documentation entitled “AB 1735: Raw Milk-The Unheard Argument” and promised to work with us to assure raw milk's continued availability.

2.. A new law will be introduced in January reversing AB 1735. An investigation has exposed certain CDFA employees who met without authorization and, using erroneous data, advised staff members of the Assembly Agriculture Committee to place "eight special anti-raw milk words" into AB 1735. All CDFA agency legislative matters and bills must be reviewed and authorized by the governor's office, as required by executive branch and administrative policy and procedure. Instead, highly misleading information was used to rapidly and secretly pass AB 1735 on a "consent item" basis without discussion or open debate. Assemblymen and State Senators who voted for AB 1735 are now very upset that they were misled, and support immediate repeal on procedural grounds. The attorney general's office might step in, having noted an aberrant violation of established process in furtherance of a "biased agenda that is far from being consent item."

3.. A lawsuit is being filed this week in San Benito County. Part of that lawsuit includes an injunction which legally secures raw milk producers against enforcement of AB 1735 standards. This allows more certain protection against AB 1735 until a new law can be passed.
While the raw milk fight is far from over, the safety of the California raw milk supply has been secured with multiple layers of strategic political, legislative, and legal efforts. Hearings will soon be announced as part of the new bill and legislative process that will start in January. Your attendance will be essential to deepen the protections put in place.

Keep Sending a Powerful Message: In order to strengthen our work going forward, we ask that you take pictures of yourself and your family holding raw milk bottles from Claravale and/or OPDC. Write on the picture: "Please support repeal of AB 1735." Then mail them to the Governor's office, your State Assemblymen, and State Senators' offices. The impact of a personal plea with a picture of your family is worth a thousand words.

Congratulations to all who participate in the "grass roots raw milk revolution." Your thousands of letters and calls made all the difference! CA Raw Milk is SAFE from AB 1735 and those that sought to eliminate this sacred healing whole food.


Mark McAfee, Founder OPDC

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 2007

our Christmas day feasting came in two parts: breakfast when my sweetie got home from the night shift, and then dinner when he woke up to go back to work.

we had pancakes, Marin Sun Farms bacon, and mimosas for breakfast.
here's the pancake recipe i created. it's reported to be a favorite of Mr. Sealion:

1 1/4 cup sprouted spelt flour
1/4 cup polenta meal
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, beaten
enough whole milk added to the eggs to make 1 1/2 cup
1/4 cup melted butter
1 T real maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla

whisk the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the milk, syrup, and vanilla.
add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing thoroughly but not too much. add more milk as needed to create a soupy batter.
fry in butter. savor.

a note on "sprouted" flour ~ this i ordered from Summer's Sprouted Flour online. sprouting the grains before grinding the flour makes it more digestible. another way to make flour more digestible without buying fancy "sprouted" flour is to simply soak the whole grain flour overnight in the recipe's milk, plus a couple Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar, or in yogurt. soaked overnight, this will be ready by morning, to create "sourdough" pancakes. you can make sourdough waffles this way, too! delicious and wholly nutritious. if you use this overnight soaking method, you can leave the baking powder out of the recipe.

for dinner we had:
roast Highland Hills Farm beef braised in red wine and beef broth, with onions, and tiffie-kraut
pureed beet-cabbage borscht with spicy garlic-sauteed rainbow chard, and a generous dollop of yogurt,
butter head lettuce salad with bosc pear and goat cheese.
individual vanilla custards sprinkled with nutmeg for dessert

my latest favorite kraut recipe

it's kraut time again! time to buy winter vegetables, use a little of them, and then forget about them in the back-bottom of your fridge! never fear: winter vegetables last forever, and often taste even better as ingredients in sauerkraut (this is definitely my experience of cabbage; i like it much better once it's kraut).
sauerkraut is so easy and fun to make. all you do is chop up some vegetables ~ as simple as a head of cabbage, as complex as a ten-item recipe. you can grate the vegetables all fancy-like, chop them haphazardly, or even leave them whole. pile them in a big bowl, sprinkle with ample sea salt, and pound. i did a little sauerkraut demo/workshop for our family when we recently visited North Carolina. i wanted them not to be intimidated by the process. i think they enjoyed the pounding part ~ they took turns banging a ceramic cup into the veggie-concoction to get the veggie juices flowing. a wooden pestle or meat-tenderizer i think might be the nicest tool for this, but a small jar or cup work well. just be careful to hit the veggies and not the bowl. once the vegetables start to soften and juice is beginning to flow, smoosh the vegetables into a clean ceramic crock or glass jar. cram them in there tight as you fill the container. find a clean weight, such as a jar or bottle filled with water, a stone that has been scrubbed and boiled, a ziploc bag filled with water (although i do like to avoid plastic). this weight is needed to keep the veggies submerged in liquid. there might not be enough to cover them the first day, but probably will be in the days following ~ even overflowing from the jar! leave your containers out to ferment at room temperature from 3 days to 6 weeks, depending on how patient you are; the flavor will mature and ripen in this longer period. then enjoy!

here's my latest favorite recipe ~ a collection of veggies from the back-bottom of the fridge, and then some. :)

cabbage ~ both green and red ~ grated
strawberry daikon radish, sliced into pretty rounds
pink lady apple, sliced into pretty rounds
garlic, sliced
ginger, grated
celeriac (also know as celery-root), cut into match-sticks
carrots ~ the adorable little baby kind, left long
red pepper flakes
and sea salt, of course

a large jar of kraut, just chopped, alongside a gift jar already fermented

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ferry plaza farmers' market

the building, on Embarcadero on the water.

values, driving force, and purpose.

at the Far West Fungus demo booth, at today's Fungus Festival.

a basket full of love.

Bay Bridge as the backdrop, with always the street performer, and many the visitor.

a rainbow of peppers (in September).

i love it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

thanksgiving 2007

yesterday my sweetie and i had an intimate thanksgiving all to ourselves (and the kitties).
with the exception of flour, spices, molasses, and a very special ham, the ingredients came from local farms ~ in-season, wholesome and full of succulent flavor!

served in several courses, here's our feast:

first course:
Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Cultured Cream ~ made with homemade chicken bone broth. we added the cultured cream at the table so that we got the benefit of those great enzymes.
Sourdough Spelt-Rye Molasses Rolls with Straus Butter ~ hearty with a touch of old-time sweetness. this was an interpretation of a recipe from Bernard Clayton's bread book, using the whole grains that i had available, ground fresh. lots of butter.

second course:
Virginia Ham from Polyface Farm in Orange-Molasses Glaze, and Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Onions ~ the ham was transported in a suitcase from our recent visit to Virginia for the Weston A Price Foundation Conference, and a personal daytrip to Joel Salatin's farm in the spectacular Shenandoah Valley. the glaze recipe was from Joy of Cooking. my sweetie loves Brussels Sprouts. .

third course:
Red Butterhead Lettuce Salad with Point Reyes Bleu Cheese and Pomegranate Seeds ~ with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Individual Sweet Potato Pies with Whipped Cultured Cream ~ with a buttery sprouted-spelt crust, the pie filling included sweet potato and kabocha squash, and was sweetened simply with dates; these were what i had on hand. the cultured cream was flavored with vanilla and a dash of stevia powder.

photo: sweet potato pie with an extra helping of love. .

letter in opposition to AB 1735

this photo is borrowed from
which is from a website about "nutrient tools to alleviate depression." i don't advocate graffiti, but i appreciate this particular artist's re-interpretation of some dirty propaganda.

here is the latest letter i wrote to our legislators. my first one was all about the facts of coliform, beneficial bacteria, and pasteurization. this one is personal. because this bill affects me personally.

Please help to overturn or alter AB 1735. While Senator Ron Paul is realizing the untapped enterprise that could be had from shipping raw milk out of state by introducing HR 4077, other legislators have made it close to impossible for California citizens to obtain raw milk legally after January, because of AB 1735. How can these two be going on at the same time?

Have you ever tasted good, wholesome milk? Raw milk is what helped make our ancestors, the founders of this revolutionary country, strong and sturdy and able-minded to get the work of Democracy done. Raw milk is what helped sustain generation after generation of healthy Europeans, North Asians, Africans, Indians, and Native Americans, to have strong bones, straight beautiful teeth, and many fit, allergy-free, happy and well-adjusted children. It is not raw milk from clean sun-loving, grass-eating cows that we should be afraid of, but instead, the fecal farms where thousands of sickly cows live and die in the same confined space, knee-deep in their own feces.

My father and his 4 siblings were raised on a farm where they drank milk straight from the cow every day. They all have solid frames and beautiful, straight teeth ~ my grandfather still passionately walking the fields at age 92.

One of the main reasons I have been so content being a citizen of California is because I can walk up the street and buy gallons of delicious, fresh raw milk from Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley. I can't drink pasteurized milk; it causes me diarrhea, bloating and acne. I drink up to a quart of Claravale Farm's raw milk a day, and just completed a marathon this past summer. I attribute much of my stamina and joint health to raw milk. My husband and children need health-giving raw milk.

Please help us continue to be able to obtain raw milk legally. I encourage you to try some raw milk in the coming month and know what good, wholesome life-giving milk really tastes like. Try some before it's too late ~ you are the one who can do something about it.

Tiffanie Pope

how this affects you ~
even if you don't live in California, what happens with California's laws on raw milk *will* set a precedent in other states. this bill has been snuck under the table by Big Dairy ~ who doesn't want you to know that your milk comes from cows who are sick, covered in their own poo, and never allowed to see the sunlight, or taste a bite of fresh clover. this is the large majority of our milk supply in America. it's wrong on so many levels and it's not health-supportive. they don't want you to know that. and "USDA Organic" isn't necessarily better. please! find out where your milk comes from. seek out local, caring producers of wholesome milk. and find it raw, if you can.
Big Ag is not interested in wholesome food that supports healthy, happy children and our fellow inhabitants of the planet. they would rather leave us consumers in the dark, keep growing and manufacturing "food" in filth and toxic chemicals, and either pasteurize, irradiate, or fumigate all foods to make them "safe" for consumption. this food is not life-giving food. it has *serious* ramifications on our already-compromised health and well-being. this is being done without our consent, and under the radar ~ such as the fact that *no* raw almonds can be legally sold now, except directly from the farmer.
food isn't simply something to toss in our mouths to keep us going, to satisfy a craving, or stuff an emotion. food is what our bodies *are made of*. it's what our brains, our minds, our emotions, our hormones, our hearts, our lungs, our digestive organs, our bones, our skin are all created from and function on. we evolved as animals to eat life-giving foods. we cannot replace these with synthesized, irradiated, genetically-modified, factory-extruded, petrol-fertilized, pseudo-foods for much longer. each generation of children suffers more. they deserve better. and so does the rest of the planet.

to learn more about the life-giving benefits of Real Milk, and to find out how to get it where you live, visit:

to contact CA legislators about AB 1735:

Contact Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

By email:

By mail:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633

Contact Nicole Parra, Chair of the Agriculture Committee in the Assembly

Her website:

Capitol Office
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0030
(916) 319 - 2030
(916) 319 - 2130 Fax

Bakersfield Office
601 24th St., Suite A
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(661) 334 - 3745
(661) 334 - 3796 Fax

Hanford Office
321 N. Douty St., Suite B
Hanford, CA 93230
(559) 585 - 7170
(559) 585 - 7175 Fax

Contact the members of the Agriculture Committee in the California Assembly (where the bill originated)

Contact the Agriculture Committee in the California Senate

Contact your own representatives

Find your California legislators. Look up your representative by zip code and send them a note about this legislation.

for sample letters, go to

AB 1735: an important letter from Claravale Farm

photo: this week's collection of empties. so beautiful.

December (with all its lights music and commercials) is headed our way, which means we only have one more month to communicate the importance of real (raw!) milk to as many people as we can in hopes that we can rock our CA legislature enough to change this bill. as it stands, AB 1735 has been passed by our lawmakers *without* consulting us, the citizens. AB 1735 makes it next to impossible for raw milk to be sold in the state of California.

here i'm including a letter from Ron Garthwaite, owner of Claravale Farm ~ where we get our *awesome* thick-layer-of-cream delicious smooth and flavorful raw milk, by the glass quartful. this is also the milk that Three Stone Hearth makes available to customers. Mr. Garthwaite's letter is long, for a reason. and i have included it in its entirety for that reason.

Dr. Ron Garthwaite
Owner Claravale Dairy, Est 1927,

Dear Customers and Concerned Citizens:

There is a rumor circulating that we, the owners of Claravale Farm, are in favor of AB1735. That
rumor couldn't be further from the truth. We have just been trying to figure our what we are going
to do to survive. We are still in the process of moving to a new place which is the culmination of
12 years of hard work to create a 1930s style dairy. Well, we're not in the 1930s anymore and as
Dorothy said to Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. That said, we strongly encourage
everyone who wants to continue your God given and constitutional right to eat whatever food you
want, to exercise your liberties in righting this wrong. Please read the attached letter which
clarifies our position.

As the owner of Claravale Farm, I would like to weigh in on the recently passed AB 1735. We
have been getting a number of questions from our customers to which I would like to respond as
well as the press release from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and a
letter from Nicole Parra (chair of the assembly committee on agriculture) that was sent to our

Many of you want to know where we stand on this new regulation so let me give you our position
up front: This new regulation and the method with which it was implemented stink. If you want to
continue to be able to get Claravale milk or any raw milk in California you need to fight this law
with everything you have.

For many years now we have been telling our customers that there is no conspiracy within the
CDFA to eliminate raw milk; that the state was actually very supportive of the product. We were
dead wrong. I’m sorry for having misled you. They are simply much more devious, two-faced, and
sinister than I could ever have imagined. The reasons that they state for incorporating this new
regulation are so transparently false and the highly secretive method of its introduction so
obviously inappropriate that I think that there can be no doubt that the CDFA is on a mission to
hobble the raw milk industry in California. Once again, our government is using secrecy, lies, and
half truths to advance their own agenda without having to put up with the inconvenience of having
to deal with the people who they supposedly serve.

We already have an excellent and well constructed raw milk testing protocol in California which
includes bacterial counts and tests for all of the pertinent pathogens. The state has not been able
to shut us down with these regulations not because the regulations are insufficient but because
our product is clean and safe. So now they come up with a new regulation that contributes not at
all to product safety nor, at the bacterial levels we are talking about, to product quality. Rather,
the regulation seems to be solely for the purpose of limiting the raw milk industry in the state to an
insignificant level that would be entirely inadequate to meet the demands of the people of
California for raw milk.

Our customers tell us that the CDFA has told them that we are in favor of this law. In some weird-
bureaucratic-alien-space logic they say that since we didn’t say anything against it we must be for
it. Of course we didn’t say anything against it because we, like everyone else, knew nothing about
it. We didn’t inform them that we were against it because they never informed us of its existence.
Let me be clear: we are not in favor of this law.

According to our customers the CDFA has also told them that we are already in compliance with
the new regulation. As I understand the regulation this is not true. While the milk in our bulk tank
(where the milk is held after it comes out of the cow but before it goes into the bottle) consistently
meets the new requirement, the milk in our bottles does not.

The CDFA’s main argument in advancing this bill is a public safety argument. They state that
coliform bacteria are a fecal contaminant, that it is a danger to the public, and that they need this
new law in order to protect the public. This statement is patently false on a number of levels as
discussed below.

1. The coliform bacteria in our milk do not come from manure contamination. I am so sick and
tired of the CDFA telling people that our milk is contaminated with feces. It is not true. Our milk is
not contaminated with feces. They seem to think that if they say it enough people will believe it. It
doesn’t matter how many times they say it, it is not true. I repeat: Our milk is not contaminated
with feces. The fact that the milk in our bulk tank meets the coliform limits for sterilized (i.e.
pasteurized) milk demonstrates this fact absolutely and conclusively. At Claravale farm we have
been producing high quality, clean, safe, raw milk for over 80 years. We know how to milk cows. I
would take exception to the CDFA’s statement that most coliform bacteria come from feces but
whether they do or not, it is an irrelevant, inflammatory statement. Coliform bacteria exist and
thrive without contact with warm blooded animals either inside or out. It doesn’t matter where
most of them come from. The coliform bacteria in our milk are not from this source.

The reason why it is so important to the CDFA that you think that there is cow manure in our milk
is that they are trying to play off of the recent hysteria over produce and beef illnesses due to
pathenogenic coliform. They are trying to create a raw milk hysteria that will get people to support
their bill. In other words, they think you’re not very smart.

2. Coliform bacteria are not a health threat. I know it’s been said before but apparently it bears
repeating: Coliform bacteria are everywhere in vast uncountably huge numbers. They are on
every surface of everything you touch every day. They are on the top of Steven Bean’s desk (I
doubt that even he would argue a cow manure source for those particular coliform). Every day we
all (even non raw milk drinkers) consume uncountably huge numbers of coliform bacteria. Right
now, sitting there, you are composed of more bacterial cells, living on and in you, than human
cells. The vast majority of these bacteria are coliform. It is a sign of the times we live in that most
people consider what are probably the most numerous and ubiquitous life forms on the planet to
be some bizarre, dangerous, anomaly. If coliform bacteria were dangerous we would all be dead
before we even got out of bed.

All of this is not to say that very high levels of coliform bacteria in raw milk are good. They are not
necessarily (see below) but the assertion that coliform bacteria are a health threat is illogical and
untenable and demonstrates a disturbing ignorance of basic bacteriology. The CDFA knows that
this assertion is false but again, they think that if they can generate hysteria by calling it a health
threat they can gain public support for a law which has nothing whatsoever to do with public
safety but which has much more sinister objectives.

3. Yes, there are very, very, very rare pathenogenic forms of coliform bacteria but because they
are very, very, very rare this new regulation does nothing whatsoever to aid in the detection of
these pathogens. There already exists in California an excellent testing protocol for raw milk
designed to ensure public safety. Among many other things, these protocols include limits on the
number of bacteria which are allowed in the milk and specific tests for all of the pertinent
pathogens including pathenogenic coliform. Even in the absence of tests for specific pathogens a
coliform plate count tells you absolutely nothing about the presence or absence of pathogens. To
try to argue that the new regulation is necessary for the detection of pathogens given the already
existing specific pathogen tests is just stupid. It is as if the CDFA doesn’t even know why they do
the tests they do. Under the new law the coliform counts will be taken on exactly the same milk
samples as the specific pathogen tests. These specific tests tell the CDFA absolutely whether
pathenogenic coliform are present or not. The overall coliform count is simply meaningless in this
context. Again, the fact that this new regulation cannot be used to ensure public safety since it
gives no additional data pertinent to public safety argues for an alternate objective for the bill’s

The whole thing seems doubly absurd given the fact that, to my knowledge, there has not been a
case of pathenogenic coliform bacteria found in raw milk (there have, however, been cases of
government agencies trying to pin pathenogenic coliform outbreaks on raw milk dairies unjustly).
The pathogens which are more likely to be found in raw milk (salmonella and lysteria) won’t even
show up on a coliform count because they are not coliform bacteria. But again, it doesn’t matter
because there are specific tests for these pathogens which are routinely performed by the CDFA.

The whole thing seems triply absurd given the very real food safety issues in California. To put
this much time and money and energy into trying to outlaw a food which is demonstrably safe
when there are other food industries out there which are demonstrably not safe seems to me to
be criminal.

On one of the “fact” sheets given out by the CDFA there is a statement about how high levels of
coliform bacteria can affect milk quality by causing off flavors and shortening shelf life. This is,
strangely enough, actually a true statement. This is why milk processors pasteurize; not for public
safety but to get an absurdly long shelf life. At Claravale we take a different tack. Rather than
sterilizing our milk to preserve it so that we can warehouse it before we finally get around to
taking it to the store, we take the effort and expense to get it to our customers quickly. Some of
our milk gets to the store within hours of coming out of the cow and it is never more than a couple
of days old. This is nowhere near enough time for bacterial levels to come anywhere near
reaching levels which would cause the milk to be noticeably bad. The coliform levels necessary to
create noticeably bad milk are orders of magnitude larger than the less than 10/ml level. Our
levels are higher than 10/ml but our milk lasts a long time; certainly longer than the purchase by
date that we put on the bottle. Even though our levels are higher than 10/ml we daily get calls
from our customers telling us how delicious and wonderful our product is.

With respect to the discussion here, there are three factors which influence the growth of bacteria
in milk: initial bacterial count, temperature, and time. As I remember from my bacteriology
courses, because bacteria grow exponentially, temperature and time are vastly much more
important factors in determining final bacterial count than initial number. Within the narrow range
of bacterial levels we are dealing with here, initial bacterial count is irrelevant. Whether we begin
with 10/ml or 20/ml the results will be essentially the same. Time and temperature, however, have
a large effect. As I have already stated we go to great effort to cut down the time component. We
also minimize the effect of temperature. While the CDFA regulation on temperature is that the
milk must be kept at 45F or below, we keep our milk tank and cold room at 34F. This is why our
milk lasts so long. We start out at a low bacterial count (although not as low as 10/ml) and then
we keep the milk very cold and get it to our customers very fast. Under the new regulation we
could actually legally produce milk that has a higher bacterial count when it got to the customer
than it does now by keeping it warmer and using a longer purchase by date.

At any rate, with respect to product quality, this new law is unnecessary and irrelevant. We
already have laws pertaining to product quality. Specifically, the product must be good within the
purchase by date which must be on the package. It is irrelevant how the producer manipulates
the above three parameters to get that result. As long as the purchase by date law is enforced the
customer is assured of getting a good product.

In the CDFA “fact” sheet it states that the 10/ml level is the same level used in several states
including Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Washington. If nothing else does, this statement
alone makes their goal very clear. There are no raw milk industries in these states. The
regulations in these states were designed to hobble the raw milk industry not support it. When the
CDFA takes a law designed to severely restrict raw milk production in one state and incorporates
it into California’s codes obviously their goal is to severely restrict raw milk production in
California. In a classic and blatantly obvious lie of omission, the CDFA does not tell you in their
“fact” sheet that the states of Connecticut, Idaho, and New Mexico allow 50/ml in raw milk for
direct human consumption and that the state of Missouri allows 100/ml. These states have taken
the time to look at the science and develop rational, intelligent regulations. They understand that
using coliform levels to test the functioning of a piece of machinery is different than setting
coliform level allowable in raw milk for direct consumption.

Several times in the literature put out by the CDFA they state that they will be there to help us
producers meet the new regulations. Bull. It would have been helpful to have had some input into
this bill particularly concerning the specific allowable level of coliform bacteria. It would have been
very helpful to have had enough advance notice to possibly be able to make changes to conform
to the bill. The fact that this bill was kept secret until there is not nearly enough time to adapt (less
than 2 months) demonstrates that the State, in fact, wants us to fail. We recently completed a
new dairy facility at the cost of a million dollars. The CDFA was entirely aware of this since we
have to submit plans to them and let them inspect the facility during construction. Had they
informed us of this new regulation we could have made changes to the facilities in order to have a
better chance of meeting the new regulation. Or we may have decided not to build at all. Or we
may have decided to construct it to produce products other than raw milk. The fact that they went
ahead and let us sell our house and go into significant debt to build a facility that they knew they
were going to shut down within a couple months of its completion indicates that they are anything
but helpful. Not only do they appear to want our dairy to fail but they seem to want to totally
destroy us personally.

Much has been said on the internet about the situation in Washington. Washington may have
about 20 producers on the books but I don’t see the state as having a significant raw milk
industry. I haven’t researched the raw milk dairies of Washington but some have called me for
advice and I’ve heard about others. They seem generally to be small goat operations that sell
largely to their neighbors. The packaging laws are also different in Washington where they are
required to bottle by hand, which means that they typically pass the milk from the bulk tank
through a couple feet of disposable plastic hose into a sterile single use container. Contrary to
what it says on the CDFA “fact” sheet this is actually a much cleaner process than using
automatic fillers and cappers. (In fact, California’s machine capping law was not implemented for
cleanliness or public safety reasons directly but to prevent dairies from putting milk in the
customers own containers, which is illegal in California.) Coliform contamination is a surface area
phenomenon. No surface is 100% cleanable. The more surface area the milk is required to come
in contact with, the more coliform will be in the final product. The largest raw milk dairy in
Washington that I know about is about our size, however I don’t know what percentage of his milk
he markets as raw. At any rate, both the coliform count law and the hand capping law are used in
Washington to limit the industry, to keep raw milk production in the state small and insignificant.
Obviously you’re not going to be producing milk for 50,000 customers if you’re standing at the
bulk tank with a plastic hose filling each bottle individually by hand. If we were to transfer that
small goat dairy model to California it would literally take thousands of new dairies to fill the
existing demand for raw milk. We just finished building a new dairy in California. It took us 11
years and a million dollars. No small goat operation is going to recoup that kind of investment.
Anyway, if you were to move these wonderful, clean Washington raw milk producers down to
California the CDFA would shut them down because they don’t conform to California’s bottling

We are opposed to a coliform level regulation in raw milk because it is unnecessary and
ineffective in assuring a safe, high quality product for consumers. All of the laws exist already
which are necessary to accomplish this end. That is why there isn’t already a coliform regulation
for raw milk. It is irrelevant and unnecessary. It wasn’t an oversight on the part of anyone. A
maximum coliform level regulation for raw milk was purposely not included in the code. For
pasteurized milk the milk is pasteurized and then not tested for pathogens. In raw milk the milk is
not pasteurized but it is tested for pathogens. Neither the coliform test on pasteurized milk nor the
level of 10/ml were developed to directly deal with public safety issues. Both are used simply to
see if the sterilizer (i.e. pasteurizer) is working properly. That is why the regulation has historically
not been applied to raw milk. Raw milk is not pasteurized therefore there is no pasteurizer to test
therefore there is no reason for the regulation. Once again, the CDFA does not seem to know
why it is performing the test it does.

While we think it is unnecessary, Claravale Farm would not be opposed to a coliform regulation
that was developed specifically with product quality in mind. We think that a level of, perhaps, 100
cells/ml would be more than sufficient to assure product quality, could be obtained in farmstead
settings with the application of good dairy practice, and would allow for the continued production
of raw milk at current levels and above.

A couple of quick comments on some of the numbers on the CDFA fact sheet and news release:
The CDFA says that 25% of bulk tank samples meet the 10/ml level suggesting that 25% of the
milk could be sold as raw. This is how that works out mathematically: 25% means that three out
of four samples are bad. The state condemns milk if three out of five samples are bad. Three out
of four is higher than three out of five. At a 25% rate of good samples not a single drop of raw
milk will ever be bottled. The CDFA also states that 75% of the bulk milk samples from the two
raw milk dairies meet the new standards. This may be true but it is irrelevant and intentionally
misleading. It suggests that, with the 3 out of 5 protocol, all of the milk from these dairies could
have been bottled as raw even under the new regulation. As I understand the new regulation after
talking with the state, testing will be done in the final package, meaning that bulk tank levels are
irrelevant. With testing done in the bottle virtually none of the milk from our dairy will be able to be
bottled as raw.

And yet Nicole Parra tells you in her happy letter that the availability of raw milk in California will
not be affected. Hmmm. While the State of California would very much like to ban the sale of raw
milk outright it knows that this would be difficult to accomplish. The tack that it has taken instead
is to create a false hysteria around the product concerning public health and then to hobble the
industry with unnecessary regulations designed to keep raw milk production at a low and
insignificant level. While the State will then be able to say that raw milk is legal, because
technically it will be, it will not be possible to legally produce it on a scale that will come near to
fulfilling the demand for raw milk in California. Believe me, this new bill will absolutely affect the
availability of raw milk in California and, regardless of what Nicole Parra says, you will not be

If you want to continue to be able to obtain raw milk in California you should fight this law with
everything you have. Even if you are not a raw milk drinker but want to be able to get fresh,
unadulterated produce or meat or, in fact any fresh food in the future you should be fighting this
law. This is only one additional step in the State’s campaign to pasteurize or sterilize everything.

In order to present a united front and not duplicate effort, or work at cross
purposes, we would suggest that our customers go to the Organic
Pastures website ( or to find out what they can do to try to get this
law reversed.

Ronald L. Garthwaite, BA, MA, PhD
Owner, Claravale Farm
November 7, 2007 |


for sample letters, go to

Contact Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

By email:

By mail:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633

Contact Nicole Parra, Chair of the Agriculture Committee in the Assembly

Her website:

Capitol Office
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0030
(916) 319 - 2030
(916) 319 - 2130 Fax

Bakersfield Office
601 24th St., Suite A
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(661) 334 - 3745
(661) 334 - 3796 Fax

Hanford Office
321 N. Douty St., Suite B
Hanford, CA 93230
(559) 585 - 7170
(559) 585 - 7175 Fax

Contact the members of the Agriculture Committee in the California Assembly (where the bill originated)

Contact the Agriculture Committee in the California Senate

Contact your own representatives

Find your California legislators. Look up your representative by zip code and send them a note about this legislation.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

soul-warming cocoa

in celebration of raw milk ~

1-2 Tbs fair-trade cocoa
a dash of sea salt
cayenne to taste
coconut milk
raw milk

in a saucepan (or adorable tiny cast-iron skillet) on low heat, mix the cocoa, sea salt, cinnamon, and cayenne with water, making a thick paste. add a few Tbs coconut milk, and top with raw milk. add more water to create the thickness (and richness) that suits you. stir everything over medium-low heat, testing with your finger often. you want it to be warm, but not so hot you can't keep your finger in there. this will ensure you get all the goodness of the raw milk. pour into your favorite warmed cozy mug and greet the cooling weather with a dreamy smile.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Raw Milk Emergency in California

if a new bill stands as it has been written, raw milk will be illegal in California in January ~ just a few months from now.
i'm simply going to paste the press release from Organic Pastures in here so that i get it all straight for you. if this, or having legal access to nutritious foods in general, is at all important to you, please take the five minutes it might take to follow the link, use their form letter, and email it to the legislators, whose links have also been provided. if you care to read my personal experience of raw milk, you can find it after Mark McAfee's letter.

~ Press Release ~
October 26, 2007
Contact: Mark McAfee,

New Law Will End Raw Milk Sales in California

On January 1, 2008, California raw milk producers will face new requirements for
bacteria counts in the milk they sell to consumers. All raw milk must have 10 coliform
bacteria or fewer per milliliter under the new law signed October 8th by California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“This new law limits the sale of perfectly healthy, pathogen-free milk,” says Mark
McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures Dairy, the largest raw milk dairy in the United
States. “Most batches of our milk will not comply with the new legislation. By about
January 20th under the new law, our milk will be available to consumers intermittently at
best. Thousands of our customers who visit 300 stores in California each week will be
without a source of raw milk.”

Coliform bacteria are a diverse family of bacteria, the vast majority of which are non-
pathogenic and do not cause illness. They are killed by pasteurization.

The pathogenic forms of coliform bacteria can be tested for independently. The new law
requires no tests for pathogens.

“My customers’ choices are now being limited by a law that makes no sense. Why test
for coliform bacteria when you can test for pathogenic bacteria directly?” McAfee asks.
McAfee’s dairy already tests for E. coli 0157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes, the
primary human pathogens in the food supply.

According to raw milk activist Sally Fallon, “Officials cite health risks to raw milk but
once milk has been pasteurized, all the anti-microbial and immune-supporting
components are reduced or destroyed.” Fallon is the founder of A Campaign for Real
Milk, which promotes raw milk on its website .

Fallon adds that until the recent legislation, California has been a leader in providing
consumers with choice at the supermarket. “The legislation is obviously aimed at getting
rid of raw milk in California using standards that are unnecessary and impossible to

AB 1735, introduced to the State Assembly on March 15, 2007 and passed nearly seven
months later, targets the raw milk industry specifically. During deliberations over AB
1735, legislative records show that legislators discussed raw milk dairies. However, raw
milk producers were not consulted on the new legislation.

“Had they asked, I would have cited a 2004 study in the Journal of Dairy Science that
shows 80% of raw milk would not meet this new law,” added McAfee. “That is a whole
lot of perfectly good milk wasted that my consumers would want to buy. No one asked
them about this legislation either.”

Section 35928f of the California Food and Agriculture Code protects raw milk with the
statement “the state does not intend to limit or restrict the availability of certified raw
milk.” AB 1735 appears to redefine the standards of milk sanitation so that most raw milk
will not be considered “certified raw milk.” It will be illegal to sell healthful milk to
consumers on January 1, 2008.

McAfee has begun a voice mail, email, and letter-writing campaign to state officials and
has called for raw milk consumers and supporters to attend a press conference at the
Fresno Farmer’s Market on Saturday October 27 at 11:00 a.m. (on the corner of Shaw
and Blackstone).

Contact: Mark McAfee, Organic Pastures Dairy Company, 877-RAW-MILK

~ Tiffanie's Raw Milk Story ~

growing up as a kid, i wasn't ever a milk fan; i didn't guzzle it down with relish like lots of kids did. once i was old enough to to get away with it, i stopped drinking milk, maybe having some skim milk on cereal every now and then. as an adult, if i ever ate anything that had a lot of dairy in it, such as ice cream or a latte or real hot chocolate, i would experience obvious unpleasant belly effects pretty soon afterward. my skin responded to it by breaking out. though i ate (lowfat) yogurt regularly and happily, i accepted the concept that my body didn't like milk, and i avoided it. i went for more than a year without eating any dairy at all before i heard about the possible benefits of raw milk. while attending Bauman College's Natural Chef course, my instructor suggested that if i had trouble with pasteurized dairy ~ which is all i had consumed in the past ~ i might be able to digest raw milk; it still has all the enzymes in there that help to digest it. in particular, it still has lactase, which helps digest lactose ~ the one so many people have trouble with. lactase is cooked away when milk is pasteurized, along with all the millions of other beneficial "probiotic" beasties in there that help our bellies assimilate the nutrients from foods we eat.
i was skeptical at first ~ wouldn't raw milk *kill* you?? but i trusted that particular instructor immensely; she had a quietly confident wisdom about her that i admired. i remember buying my first bottle of unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk ~ with a thick yellowish layer of cream at the top. considering that i was still getting over the decades-ingrained fallacy that fat was bad for me (and would make me fat), actually drinking this stuff ~ potentially deadly pathogens, saturated fat and all ~ this was a watershed moment. i poured some into a small cup and sipped. this was nothing like the gray and watery skim milk i remembered from college, or the thick stuff i drank as a kid that left a slimy film in my mouth. it was smooth, sinfully creamy, and perhaps even a little bit sweet. that was a year and a half ago. i can't say i immediately jumped head first into drinking a gallon of raw milk a week (although my milk-drinkin' man has transitioned quite nicely to drinking close to that much in a week). i fermented it with kefir, and drank it in smoothies. i began using raw butter, and eating raw cheeses. these days i have gotten to where i might sneak a swig or two of milk straight out of the bottle from the fridge (and the cream from the top is the specialest of treats!!), but mainly i still ferment it as kefir for smoothies, or warm it up gently with vanilla and cinnamon and have it at bedtime. it's soothing and delicious and tastes altogether wholesome and nourishing.
as for my body tolerating it ~ i still have unseemly and uncomfortable effects if i forget and have a large portion of pasteurized milk (like if i drank a latte), i am able to digest raw milk without problems. my skin is clear, and my general health and strength, i believe, are improving. i have heard of other people's dynamic stories of drinking raw milk and recovering from lifelong allergies, healing from disease, and so on, and mine is not one of those stories, but it is a story of increasing health and strength (i did run a marathon this past summer .. ), and of discovering that my body is able to tell me what foods are healthy for me as opposed to leaving those decisions to an over-reaching government.

it's true that pasteurization protects us from pathogens, but if we saw the conditions in which a very large majority of America's dairy cows exist (even some labelled "organic"), we wouldn't want to drink that milk anyway. no wonder they have to pasteurize it. even if it does not contain potentially deadly pathogens any longer, neither does it contain any nourishing, life-giving properties. [ i don't see this as a reason to go vegan . . though i did in the past. . ; cultures around the world have thrived for many generations by getting their sustenance from raw dairy.] the raw milk that we buy ~ from Claravale Dairy, and Organic Pastures ~ comes from cows who live comfortably and exceptionally healthily in the kind of pastoral environment that comes to the imagination when you fantasize about the old fashioned family farm. their farmers go far above and beyond what is demanded of them to sell raw milk. they care about their cows, their employees, their families, and their customers. they drink the milk themselves, and they're passionate about it.

i don't have all the facts and figures memorized, but i can point you to the sites that do. all i'm saying is: even if you don't want to drink raw milk yourself, please give me, my family, and our friends and their families, and the thousands of other families in California, the right to choose to buy raw milk. we're allowed to ~ even encouraged to ~ ingest so many things that aren't at all nutritious, and that our bodies don't know *what* to do with. we're allowed to buy things that will flat out damage us and/or our unborn children. . how about giving us the choice to buy something that will nourish us for a change?

for more information on the benefits, fact-vs.-myths, wheres and whys of raw milk, please visit:

to read a bunch of other testimonials about raw milk (and read a cool blog), go to:

to read about the California raw milk emergency, please visit

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

hen butts, a sunny day in the hills, and gratitude

we went to the farm to pick up eggs today! at Three Stone Hearth, we use and sell eggs from hens who get to run around outside and peck. different than supermarket eggs, or even "free-range" eggs, these eggs provide (not to mention incomparable nutrition) the most phenomenal egg experience. they are not a supporting cast-member, but instead hold center stage with confidence! the yolk is a gorgeous orange color, and the flavor ~ ! the richest of eggy. creamy-smooth-savor-every-bite. to connect the community in a tangible way to our local food supply, the Three Stone Hearth folks invite customers to volunteer to drive out to the farm and fetch the eggs. city-folks eager for an excuse to inhale some fresh air, there is always a waiting list for people who want to make the run! in return, they receive a flat of eggs (30), and gas money. Sealion and i got to make the run this week.
we headed up out of the traffic of Berkeley and Richmond across the bridge and into the rolling (i call them Steinbeck) hills. my favorite California view (well, other than Big Sur. . ). through Petaluma (where lots of the "free-range" eggs are from), to the coast and Tomales. and a few more miles after that. to Clark Summit Farm, tucked into the cleavage of several hills that slope up and out. here, chickens, grouse, and pigs are scurrying scratching, rooting and snorting around every corner and under every tree and bush. after we loaded up the 6 boxes of eggs into El Caballero Negro, Franciszek, the farm intern, took us up the hill for a tour of the hen houses and pastures. sun sheds for the sows and piglets, moveable houses for the hens, and a section of pasture where the variety of cattle chewed and stared at us when we approached. Sealion reached into a laying box in one of the henhouses and pulled out ~ an egg! and i couldn't help but gawk at the round and feathered derrieres of some of those scuttling hens and think: i might have eaten an egg from that behind! at the very top, we could see miles and miles of those Steinbeck hills. and as we listened, there was simply the cluck and peck of the hens and roosters, and the breeze. this is why you volunteer for the egg run. as we made our way back down the hill, a piglet jogged along beside us for a while before he ducked through a fence to where his mama snoozed in the shade.

my first exposure to the concept of local, seasonal food was working at Good Foods Co-op in Lexington. i earned a much greater appreciation for locally-grown produce ~ fresh, juicy, ripe-to-perfection vegetables and fruits. the kind of flavors and textures that you can only get when foods are harvested close by and in their season. in the past year and a half, i have studied (maniacally) about food, nutrition and food supply. i have learned that natural, traditionally produced/prepared foods integrally create our health and, to a significant extent, our happiness. conversely, our industrialized food system wreaks devastating effects on our health, our Earth and her wildlife, and our culture. small farmers are increasingly rare. yet, at the same time, they hold the key to a worthwhile Future in America. working with good food on a daily basis at Three Stone Hearth, buying our food directly from the farmers at the Farmers' Markets, and then getting to visit the actual farms that provide my nourishment ~ coming in closer contact with my food supply gives me a sense of awe and immense gratitude. it takes courage and will to raise and produce food the right way in our country today. and, frustratingly, it's confusing and daunting even to learn what Good Food is nowadays! i am thankful to those who have gone before me and shown light on the path that led me here. lately i look down at my plate and experience knot-in-the-throat gratitude for the bountious feast.

my favorite egg dish right now:

Breakfast Soup
i have no problem, and actually enjoy, dinner-type meals in the morning. i often eat leftovers from breakfast.
when i don't, this is what i've been eating lately ~ with a slice of very well-buttered sourdough toast. :-)

butter or coconut oil for the pan
a bowl's worth of broth ~ hopefully homemade bone-broth, or other leftover soup
a handful of deep leafy greens, chopped and washed
one or two eggs
dulse flakes, sea salt, and vinegar ~ apple cider, red wine, or balsamic, whatever sounds right

i use an adorable little cast-iron skillet for my soup. it benefits from some good fat melted on there beforehand. and of course it's good for the soup. i heat the skillet to medium-low, melt the butter or coconut oil, then add the broth. heat it gently to a simmering boil, then drop in the greens. swirl them around to get them immersed in the liquid. make a little nesty-like place in the center of the greens, crack the egg and very gently leave the contents of the egg there. this will keep the white mostly in a nice little glob around the yolk. cover, and let the egg sit there in the simmering soup for a few minutes ~ at least five. once it seems that most of the white is cooked, and you can poke at the yolk and it seems to respond to the spoon, pour everything from the skillet to the bowl of your choice. i like deep round bowls. try to keep the egg sunnyside up, for presentation. add dulse, sea salt, and vinegar to taste. for maximum deliciousness and nutrition, i like the yolk to still be gooey in the center. this way you still get all the great enzyme benefits of that highest quality pastured egg.

i try to see if, even for just a few minutes, i can allow myself to focus solely on the experience of eating my soup. calmly digested, this is nourishment for the body whole.

two books that have had a profound impact on the way i view food and eating are:
Full Moon Feast, by Jessica Prentice,
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price.
another must-read for Americans who eat is The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.

to learn to be a most-conscious meat-eater (and animal product consumer ~ vegetarians need to know, too!!), i have just finished the book The Meat You Eat, by Ken Midkiff.

hens lounge and scratch in the shade of a tree.
piggies browse everywhere.
real, good eggs ~ a flat of them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

finding good foods where you live

here are a few sites which are really helpful in finding good local, sustainable, and mindful foods where you are. ~ you can type in your zip code, and the mile radius you want to search, up to hundreds of miles. it gives you links to farms, stores, bakeries, restaurants in your area that are growing, preparing, and selling good food. ~ this site explains in great detail what real milk is and why it is better for you and your family than the stuff most grocery stores, and even most "health food" stores are selling. then it gives you state-by-state, and country-by-country information about the laws regarding, and the farms and retail establishments that provide real milk. ~ this site is a wealth of information on why grassfed meats are the only way to go. you can click on your area of the map and it gives you links of farms that are raising their animals in a way that is healthy and natural for the animals, and nourishing and safer for you to eat them. i like that she recommends that, once you find a farm in your area, you actually *visit* the farm to see for yourself whether you feel confident eating their products. a nice outing in the country, and a closer connection with your food supply. ~ pertinent in location only to the bay area, this is the first site that spoke to my heart about eating wise. it's kind of out of date at this time b/c the author is up to her elbows creating nourishing foods at the kitchen i work at in Berkeley (which, i haven't even said, i don't think, is Three Stone Hearth[!!] at but it's still full of fun stuff to look at and read.

Monday, September 10, 2007


this month is the Locavores Challenge. this, for those of you unfamiliar, is a voluntary (self-inflicted ~ ha! sorry!) commitment for a month to attempt to eat within a 100-mile radius of where you live. it's a great exercise, and quite an eye-opener! eating locally is the best way to get the most delicious, nutritious, freshest food. and is the best for good farmers, and especially our Mama Earth.
it's already part-way through the month, i know, but this is a great thing to be mindful of at any moment. an interactive Locavores network has been set up that is similar to Tribe, with people joining from all over to share and discuss their own schemes and trials in local eating.
here's Jessica Prentice's official schpiel, which i received via email:


Eat Local Challenge 2007: September

September is already upon us!

The last of the bounty of summer is still gracing our tables: luscious tomatoes, sweet corn, delectable green beans, and crisp, crisp apples. What to do with all the excess?

When we look at history, we quickly realize that having 30,000 items to choose from in the average American supermarket is only a relatively recent option. For the rest of human history, eating locally was a matter of practicality -- only the rich could afford imported food. The idea of eating within your foodshed isn't really all that revolutionary. Ask one of your older relatives about canning and pickling produce, about making their own jam and their own butter. These were common everyday practices well into the mid-20th Century.

And now is the season for all that canning and pickling and jamming and jarring. Now is the season to learn how to preserve the summer's bounty for the winter months.

So that's what this year's eat local challenge is all about: PRESERVING.

Check out the Eat Local Challenge blog for some recipes and advice.
Ask your older friends and relatives. Do some experiments in your kitchen... and then SHARE them with us!

That's right, the Locavores website is becoming interactive. There are tons of social networking websites out there... and there are plenty of blogs where people talk about food... but there hasn't really been a way to combine the two... and none of them have been geographically focused. So we came up with the LocavoresBlog.

Here, once you sign up, you can join a group for your geographic area. There you can share information about good local food providers, restaurants, CSA's, and food coops. You can ask other people in your area where the farmers markets are. You can share your favorite pickle recipe. You can organize local foods dinners. You can even upload your photos. You can form a community of people within a foodshed who care about supporting local, sustainable food production.

We're launching this site *today* -- so right now it's pretty bare. It's waiting for YOU to add the content. So let's get started!

You should receive an invitation to join shortly after this email. Simply respond and sign up. You can make your own page and then join up with a group. You can invite other members if you have friends or family who you think ought to know about Locavores. Enjoy each others' company. Tell us where the good food's at. Feel free to start a new group if you don't feel your area is represented. Surely there will be unforeseen glitches. We'll try to fix them as soon as possible.

Finally, you may have noticed that the local food movement (that's you!) has been getting a lot of press recently. Barbara Kingsolver's newest book, *Animal, Vegetable, Mineral* describes her year of eating locally.
She mentions the Locavores several times in the book.

More recently, in a New York Times op-ed piece, the historian James E. McWilliams sought to debunk the idea that choosing locally produced food automatically decreases one's carbon footprint. He warns that efforts to reduce food miles might actually support higher carbon emissions at the source. McWilliam's editorial has been much discussed and debunked in the blogosphere -- most notably by Michael Shuman here:
-- and we couldn't possibly do a better job.

We would just like to point out that focusing on food miles as the most important criteria in judging a food system IS dangerous. One of the lessons of the local food revolution that we are in is that ecological, systems-oriented solutions are often better in the long term than linear solutions. Fewer miles does not necessarily equal better and more socially and environmentally responsible food.

Like every problem worth thinking about, food justice is many-layered and complicated. There is no black and white solution. But there are many incredible thinkers and activists and chefs and gardeners and people like yourselves working on all the grey areas in between. Lots of people are working hard to overcome the brutal paradoxes of local food and class. Lots of people are trying to figure out how we can knit revitalized local and regional food economies into the current global one. And we are all trying to answer Wendell Berry's hard questions: "What will nature permit me to do here without damage to herself or to me? What will nature *help* me to do here?"

Locavores: Eat Here!

Don't forget to sign up for the LocavoresBlog once you receive the invite.

Sage Van Wing, Jessica Prentice, Jen Maiser, DeDe Sampson

* * * * *

For more about the Locavores, please visit our websites:

Friday, August 10, 2007


things that are inspiring me:

and the book i'm reading: _Animal,_Vegetable,_Miracle_, by Barbara Kingsolver

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Real Dirt on Farmer John

if you love good food, you have to care about good farms ~ these are the ones where real people care about the folks who eat the food they raise, and about the impact they have on the earth and on generations of creatures after them. with industrialization, corporatization, globalization (and i'm sure we can fill that in further), the family farm has been in trouble for a long time. i opened up the Sacramento newspaper today and read an article about the local Bartlett pear crop. pear farmers say it's difficult to compete with overseas producers who pay their workers $2 to our $10-$12, and it's also hard to find laborers to do the work. "If you think you're unhappy depending on foreign oil, wait until you're dependent on foreign food," said organic pear farmer, Tim Newharth.

transgenic animals ~ not just for meat but for milk ~ are being touted as safe and soon could come to a Safeway near you ~ unlabeled. most of the soy and corn in the US is already genetically modified (and mysteriously folks are experiencing more and more allergies. . ). "USDA certified organic" continues to get watered down. we've heard plenty about e. coli in vegetables. and this doesn't even begin to get into the discussion that our food is just not nourishing us anymore; it's causing disease and degeneration. it is becoming grossly obvious that an industrialized food system doesn't work.

how do we, people who love delicious, nourishing food, combat this horror? here's the first step: insist on knowing where your food comes from. vote with your dollars and invest in your local food economy ~ shop at farmers' markets, join a CSA if possible, ask questions. raise food for yourself ~ even if it's just a tomato in a barrel or an herb on your window sill ~ and savor the deep satisfaction of providing for your own need.

our household went to the Gala Premiere Opening Night of The Real Dirt on Farmer John, at Sacramento's Crest Theater. It was sponsored by Organic Sacramento and Rudolph Steiner College (where i did some volunteering on their biodynamic farm), and had lots of tables set up with information and fresh produce from local farms, wine and cheese tasting. The film was great ~ essentially an autobiography of a man after my own heart: a sentimental, quirky artist and his love-affair with the earth. inextricably intertwined is the plight of America's family farms, and the struggle and pain of actual farmers and their families. and community. the happy ending is a call to action, and so i answer ~ by echoing the call.

here's the trailer:

go see it! :-D

un-pesto with roasted garlic and greens

it's everything-fresh-from-the-garden time! now's when we play "find the hidden squash in THIS meal!" and tomatoes, too, make it to the table every night. i gave up on keeping the oregano in line long ago and, clearly, it has its sights on the yard. with the refreshingly cool nights that Sacramento provides, our household enjoys quite a few meals out in the backyard under the fluffy arms of the crepe myrtle, with citronella candles ablaze. and most of the meals i prepare are salads.
our CSA box, which we get from Full Belly Farm ( ), came loaded with basil this week, and i was determined to use it before it wilted. the aforementioned tomatoes and herbs are out of control, and at the co-op (Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op), i saw some dandelion greens that called out to me. so here we are ~ a recipe with which i was particularly pleased:

~un-pesto with roasted garlic and greens~

at its root, the word "pesto" inherently means "to pound or crush", or the concoction thusly formed. however, when you say "pesto" today, we take it to mean that particular pounded or crushed concoction of basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts (or walnuts) and parmesan, or something reminiscent. this recipe uses all of those ingredients (and then some), but keeps all of them in their more recognizeable forms ~ un-pestoed. the greens add a bitterness that is a nice addition to the traditional basil, and they themselves are nicely complemented by the parmesan and walnuts.

olive oil

1 bulb of garlic

1 bunch fresh, gorgeous dandelion greens
1 bunch collards (or other greens ~ lacinato kale would be very nice; collards were just waiting patiently in the fridge)
cherry tomatoes, halved or quarted depending on size ~ about 20

a bunch of basil leaves ~ hopefully a cup or more, packed, chopped
oregano ~ perhaps 1/4 cup of the leaves, chopped
thyme ~ because it's so good, and because the oregano tries to crowd it ~ a Tbs or so, chopped
walnuts ~ about a cup, chopped, then slowly toasted with olive oil
parmesan reggiano ~ freshly grated ~ a whole heaping lot of it!
sea salt ~ don't be afraid to be generous b/c the dandelion greens will soak up a lot of the flavor
freshly ground pepper
a few dashes of balsamic vinegar

preheat the oven to 400.
loosely wrap the garlic bulb, drizzled with olive oil, in aluminum foil, or use a stonewear garlic roaster (i found one for 99 cents at a thrift store!), and roast until soft ~ up to an hour. unwrap it, and let it cool.

meanwhile, put the walnuts on to toast, and:

chop the dandelion greens and collards (stems removed) into pretty, 1-inch ribbons, and wash thoroughly.
heat a skillet (we love the cast iron!) to medium temp with a generous drizzle of olive oil. saute' the greens till they are soft, but have not lost their deep green. remove from the heat and toss in the cherry tomato halves.

add the herbs, walnuts, and parmesan to the greens mixture. it's ok if it's still a little warm; this will meld the flavors!
with a bread knife, or other large serrated knife, saw off the top of the garlic bulb and squeeeeze the garlic cloves into the pesto concoction. be careful not to drop any of the papery skin in there (or to remove it if you do). add sea salt and pepper to taste, perhaps leaving the option of vinegar and additional olive oil (and more parmesan!) up to each person as she serves up her plate.

i served this over a bed of lettuce greens as a cool salad, with slices of roast chicken.
however, the leftovers have made an absolutely divine egg scramble!! pile on the parm!

photos: backyard bounty:
cherry tomatoes, hefty mister sunflower, eggplant, squash blossom, and ripening bell pepper

Thursday, March 08, 2007

orange love

blessed to live in Orange Country (not county), CA, our household has been taking advantage of the harvest this season. we are members of Full Belly Farm CSA ( ), and have been making sweet juicy orange love for weeks now. i think the oranges they deliver come from Blue Heron, and they are the most flavorful oranges i've ever set tastebud to. from tiny tangerines to big, plump navels ~ they are delicious, and don't last long in the kitchen! Sealion uses them for smoothies, i put them in sauces and dressings, and we all eat plenty straight out of the peel.
although the juice is excellent in hot soups and sauces, i try to add it at the end, or else use it cold, b/c that way you get the maximum benefit of the vitamin C.
here's a recipe for a salad dressing that we've been enjoying, that incorporates oranges, green onion, and olive oil, all from our local area (i hate to brag; we're so blessed!).

~ Orange-Green Onion Dressing ~

the juice of one large juicy orange, or two small ones
one stalk of green onion (green garlic is good, too!), minced
two tablespoons (or more) extra virgin olive oil (we use Bariani)
1/4 tsp (or more) red pepper flakes
sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

a delicious addition: one ripe avocado, cubed, and mashed (or blended/processed) into the mix.

Whisk all ingredients and serve on fresh clean lettuce. The flavors of the dressing meld and ripen if you can bare not to eat it all immediately. :)

(tonight i will use orange juice for: Moosewood Cookbook's Brazilian Black Bean soup recipe. yum! )

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

yogurt success

the living community that it is, my yogurt keeps evolving. and it's gotten to a new level again this time!
i was pleased with the last batch, thinking i might not be able to get it any closer to that Straus heaven to which every yogurt secretly aspires (if you don't have the pleasure to taste it, you can read about it ~ and the dairy's methane digester ~ here: ). well, we got one step higher. this time i did a whole half-gallon container of Organic Pastures raw whole milk. i divided it into the Always Yogurt mason jar, and another one, with a tablespoon of my own yogurt in as the culture. in the cooler with a hot water bath surrounding them. and two days later = i thought they hadn't taken by looking at them, b/c there wasn't a blob of yogurt with watery whey as always before; it was all the same consistency. so i opened them up, and ! it's all thick! definitely a thicker blob in the center, but even the thinner stuff is thick and. . CREAMY!! doesn't pack the sour punch that the last batch did, and that's ok, too.
i realize this is not the most interesting post to read, but i'm excited!! this is good stuff.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

ferment, chapter two

well, the verdict is out for my latest eXtReMe(!) Fermentation Adventure Week ~ that week ~ a couple ago, when i fermented anything and everything (except meat) i could have my whey with (ha. sorry that's a horrible pun. but i kept it!! it's making the cut!).
my taste-testing panel (the very brave Mr. Sealion) and i sampled the ferments today.
the beet kvass ~
which i'd never had it before, is cubed raw beets with some whey, sea salt, and 2 quarts of water. . and you drink the liquid as a tonic. was mild and beety, with perhaps a slight hint of seasalt. i suppose i might have been expecting the intensity of beet *juice*, which i love (in a concoction the Sac Nat Foods Co-op's deli calls Madame Curie ~ beet, garlic and ginger=YUM!). it was fine. Sealion called it "potent beet zing", i think.
the citrus preserves ~
a layered concoction of lemon, orange, and grapefruit, with whey, sucanat (evaporated cane juice), and sea salt, came out WOW! grapefruit x 1000 !!!! ( i don't like grapefruit. . ) my total experience of it was touching one little triangle of an orange slice to my tongue, and saying "NYAAAA!!!" i did this several times, for effect. kind of like those sour candy balls kids eat ~ i couldn't actually keep it in my mouth, but would just touch it to my tongue for the sensationalism of it all! Sealion said, "WHOA!!" and, "well, at least it's pretty [in the jar]!" HA!
win some, lose some. process is a beautiful and fun thing.
mango chutney ~
OOOO!! i like! i don't know how you could go wrong with mango, but i wasn't gonna hold my breath. this ended up having a smooth texture like applesauce, with spices, raisins, chopped almonds, grated ginger, and a lot of lemon zest (and whey to aid fermentation). the first thing i notice when i put it in my mouth is the zing of the fermentation, then the sour of the lemon. the spices come later, and linger (esp. the minced ancho!). i ate spoonfuls of this happily, noting different flavor discoveries with each bite.
i could imagine it going nicely on a burger. yum.
tiffie-kraut :) ~
i don't even remember what all i put in this now. . it was comprised of what i found on the overflowingly-piled produce shelf of the fridge: saved-and-forgotten cauliflower leaves (not florets), some purple cabbage, forgotten green onion, sliced strawberry radish, apples. . celery. and garlic slices.
this is Sealion's favorite. the overarching flavor is garlic, and has a nice fermentedness about it. and a lovely purple color has permeated everything, the juice and the veggies (as you can see in the photo of the first "ferment" post). i was happy that it simply tastes like kraut to me, and is not something i have to get up the nerve to taste every time ~ i am passionate about fermentation, but still new, after all..

now: what's next?

Monday, February 05, 2007


more on the subject of Wasting Nothing ~ we've been making a lot of broths lately.

as we are preparing the evening meal, we collect all the useful scraps in a bowl ~ onion and garlic peels and nubs (there's a whole lot of those), leek parts, carrot nubs, green tops ~ such as carrots and leeks, ginger, peppers, celery and its leaves, herbs, and bones. we keep a few gallon-size freezer bags in the freezer, and just deposit the scraps in the bags.
when one of the bags is full, it's time to make broth.

we have a cast iron Dutch Oven (a soup pot with a tight-fitting lid) that i fill with scraps.
i usually include an extra onion, or any loose garlic cloves lying around,
and a few sticks of kombu seaweed~ extra dense with minerals.
depending on the flavor i'm after, i might add a sweet potato or carrots for sweetness, or extra ginger, or hot pepper, or even more garlic. you can tailor your recipe, with herbs and spices, too, or enjoy the pot-luck.
i fill the pot with filtered water so that it covers the scraps.
slowly bring it up to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer.
with an all-veggie broth, you can let it simmer for just a few hours till the veggies are soft, or you can let it long-simmer to get a dense, mineral-rich broth.
the kind of bones you include dictates how long they simmer. fish bones ~ heads and all if you have it ~ take just an hour or so, not longer.
chicken and beef bones are very nourishing. to get all the goodness out of these, keep the pot on a very low heat for up to two days.

add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to pull the nutrients out.
check the pot occasionally and add more water so that the ingredients are always covered with water.

when the broth is done to your liking, strain it. then: use it, or
let it cool ~ you can set the pot in a larger container with ice, or pour the strained broth into a shallow dish like a casserole and set it on ice (veggie broth needn't cool with as great haste).
transfer the broth to smaller containers. i like to pour it into glass jars, and set them (tightly sealed) on their side in the freezer for quicker thawing. lots of people like to use ziploc bags, and freeze them flat; this works well too.
label them so you remember what they are.

(things not to be included in the broth-pot: high-fat fish bones, such as salmon [the oil breaks down too quickly, and then is not good for you], and members of the cabbage family [these tend to add too strong a flavor]).

anytime i make a soup or sauce, i pull out some broth and use it for the liquid.
this adds so (!) much flavor (!), and so (!) much nourishment (!) to the meal.
if you eat meat, the gelatin in the broth helps your body assimilate the nutrients.
~ and any "real" cook (says _The_Joy_of_Cooking_) swares by broths and stocks in her soups and sauces!
you can also use the broth by itself ~ for a nourishing meal on its own. . with a little salt, you're good to go! . . and ~ a great supplement for furry companions.

in Nature, there is no waste. broth-making is gleaning more valuables before they end up in the landfill.
plus ~ why throw away all that nutrient-rich goodness? responsible for you, your loved-ones, and the Earth.

broth making is so easy. it's takes a little forethought until you're used to it, but the rewards will train your brain very quickly! :-D

Sunday, February 04, 2007

yogurt and sourdough

while i'm on a roll ~
i've finally made yogurt i like a lot!!
i've been making it pretty regularly, using Organic Pastures raw whole milk, and Strauss whole milk yogurt as the culture.
i had been heating it only to the minimum temperature so as to keep the beneficial rawness in action, and wondering whether i was just not going to produce satisfactory yogurt that was turning out . . passable..
but ~ the last time i was determined. i let that baby sit in its little cooler beside the radiator for days. i added more starter, warmed up the container again, and let it sit some more. what i got was *so* fermented, it was sparkling. i'd say ~ alcoholic to the nose. i tasted it. it had a bite, alright. but had a good texture, and i grew to like it.
well ~ this most recent batch i used *that* as my starter culture, and voila: i had a good textured, tasty yogurt in two days! the "curd" had filled up the whole of the jar, with whey just floating around it (others had been 1/3-1/2 full of curd ~ runny at that ~ and the rest whey). some pretty cream on top, the custardy-curd held up on my spoon, and was ... tasty!!
i am encouraging a yogurt culture that is tailored to our own specific yog-ing situation. :-D
at first i attempted to mask that flamboyant tartness with something sweet, but i've since embraced it.

it might help that i am growing accustomed to other sour flavors, as with the taste of homemade sourdough bread b/c
i have finally figured out how to keep a sourdough culture!!!
this process had been elusive to me. i followed the suggestions i'd read and heard, and either i a) didn't have faith, b) didn't know what i was supposed to be looking for, c) wasn't using fresh enough flour, or d) wasn't feeding it often enough or ~ e) any combination of the above.

i consulted Sourdough Home, at , and found that the starting "recipe" i was using was alright:
1/4 cup filtered water
a little less than 1/4 cup fresh flour, rye works well to get it started, preferably freshly ground
mix it up, store it in a jar with a cloth over the top to protect from flies,
keep it in a warm place (in winter, i've been keeping it snuggled up near the radiator.. with the cats.).
every twelve hours, pour some of it out, and feed it some more flour and water. it should show little bubbles within a few days. you might not notice it as "active" but give it time, have faith, and be patient.

it worked. maybe i just believed, or maybe other factors were involved, but i have a lively starter that is fun to watch, sometimes like a lava lamp. it smells pleasant ~ not "rotten" or "off",
and it makes good bread!!

photo: successful yogurt. :)

the r(E)volution will not be microwaved

"If Evolution Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve"
-Jello Biafra

might i strongly recommend:

_The_Revolution_Will_Not_Be_Microwaved_, by Sandor Ellix Katz.
i was a fan of his as soon as i opened the cover of his first book, _wild_fermentation_.
i got to hear him speak at a small meeting in Nevada City. he was as personable and inclusive in person as his voice is in his writing. i had brought him some homemade ginger ale, and ginger-carrot-hiziki pickle in homage, but i got all red-faced and sheepish.. leaving the place i immediately felt GOOFY. but that's ok. he didn't know any different, and i was even more inspired!
this man's life is the inspirational light that shines through his writing. his book is at once handbook for eating and manifesto for living. by choosing to take an active roll in feeding yourself, you take a stand against the Powers That Be who would have you mindlessly agree to whatever they're shoving your way ~ whether it be multi-national corporate consumerism, genetically-modified mono-cropped anti-nutrition, or global political smokescreen and blatant lies.

here's the review i wrote on Amazon:

in a time when spinach could be deadly, and cloned animals might be ground into that next Big Sandwich,
there is an underground revolution happening, and it's happening all over the world. folks are making possibly-unnoticed-but-radical choices about food. they choose not to let corporations and government dictate what and how they must eat, because when food choices are taken out of the hands of the people, the people lose.
in this textbook for the revolution, Sandor Ellix Katz examines the intricately interwoven web that is our food supply. from water and land rights to bake sales, "free trade," and free food, he shows the damage done when big government (big brother) and big business make our food choices for us. the book uncovers a whole lot of the story that they would prefer we not know, and shows how tied together it all is ~ history, ecology, economy, ethics, civil rights, big vs. small, corporate vs. community, seed laws and plant prohibitions, down to even the most basic right of putting in your mouth something you feel like eating, and maybe sharing it with a friend. the picture seems mighty bleak. but that's where the revolution comes in; people everywhere continue to join around the table ~ the very basis of culture itself ~ not to let the powers-that-be separate them from their food supply. for survival, for nutrition, for connection, for charity, for protest ~ for pleasure (!), folks are keeping food traditions alive, or exploring them for the first time. they're holding onto age-old agricultural practices (like seed saving), and creating new solutions to food waste (like dumpster diving and road-kill salvage!). but Katz doesn't stop there; each section (as well as including extensive resources for further study and connection) extends a personable and encouraging, do-it-yourself helping hand to guide the reader to take steps to becoming a revolutionary herself. because choosing to be aware about food at all has become an act of rebellion.
The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved is concentrated, intelligent research as well as compelling, passionate storytelling. it is manifesto, cultural catalyst and cookbook, promising a place for each of us at the revolutionary table.
a fan of Katz as soon as i opened Wild Fermentation, i highly recommend this book. if you are interested in food politics at all, or even just love to eat good food, this is a must-read textbook and reference tool for our time.

photo: Sandor Katz with some cheesy red-faced chick as he toured CA to promote his new book.