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, mark@organicpastures.com

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 http://www.realmilk.com .

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.

www.eatwellguide.org ~ 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.

www.realmilk.com ~ 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.

www.eatwild.com ~ 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.

www.wisefoodways.com ~ 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 www.threestonehearth.com). but it's still full of fun stuff to look at and read.