By Nini Worman
Issue 34, June 2012
Read the full article here.
Full list: Milk News
By Nini Worman
June 4, 2012
By Kris Smith
On a sunny May Saturday — one which promised to be a good day at the market — I found myself instead walking down a forested path in Shrewsbury.
I wanted to take a pointed look at what was not at the market or, more precisely, what was banned from the market. My quest took me to Tangled Roots Farm, and the path led me to an open pasture where goats happily grazed.
Tangled Roots Farm is a diverse, beginning farm run by Lucas Jackson and Maeve Mangine. Nestled into the lush, forested hills of Shrewsbury, the farm sits on 110 acres that Maeve’s family has owned — un-farmed — for years. When you drive up, there’s a long-neglected orchard that Lucas is clearing and replanting. Farther down, stacks of logs sit in the woods waiting for shiitake mushrooms to appear. Cross the dirt road, and you’re back at the goat pasture and the real reason why I visited the farm: raw milk. Raw milk is simply unpasteurized milk, but it’s a lightning rod for controversy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is strongly against it, pointing out that three people have died in the last 23 years from illnesses traced back to raw milk. Yet, Vermonters, especially those from dairy families, have been drinking raw milk for generations. Advocates point out that raw milk is fresher, tastier and a way to support small dairy farmers that cannot afford expensive pasteurization machinery.
Without a doubt, big dairy farms need pasteurization to protect their customers and prevent disease. Large herds mean less individual attention and more sanitation concerns.
In contrast, Lucas and Maeve have a much more intimate operation. When Maeve walks into the goat pasture, her herd of goats flocks to her and nuzzles against her side. She knows each by name and can describe their individual quirks and attitudes. In the mornings and evenings, she milks the mama goats by hand in a meticulously clean milking shelter complete with tracking charts and daily measurements.
Despite their small scale and close attention to sanitation, Tangled Roots Farm cannot sell their milk at the farmers’ market or to any grocery store. Vermont laws mandate that raw milk must be bought directly from the farm. Even free raw milk “tastings” at the farmers’ market are banned. If your dairy happens to be on Route 7, your farm could put up a raw milk sign and benefit from a steady flow of raw milk enthusiasts and curious tourists. If, however, your farm is like Tangled Roots — down a long gravel road that most Shrewsburians don’t even know about — then you have a problem.
Yet, Lucas and Maeve are making the best of their situation. A month ago they postered Rutland with info about their milk, and on June 12, they’re hosting a Paneer, Caramel and Ice Cream Workshop in partnership with Rural Vermont and Rutland Area Farm and Food Link to highlight all the tasty treats that can be made from their milk.
They’re also using their website (tangledrootsfarm.com) to explain the benefits of raw goat milk: it has more calcium than cow milk, can help with lactose intolerance and can be drunk fresh or used to make cheeses. Plus, raw goat milk never goes bad. When it begins to sour, it can be used as a buttermilk substitute or made into yogurt.
In other words, Lucas and Meave have a delicious product but are inhibited in selling it by the laws surrounding raw milk.
Thus, like many of the 150 raw milk farmers in Vermont, Tangled Roots Farm’s story starts and ends with the land. Lucas and Maeve are beginning farmers with a tight budget. The land that they have access to is perfect for goats but is located down a road less traveled. They both believe their sales would increase if they could sell their milk at a more visible spot, like the farmers’ market. Maeve also continually laments that she cannot offer tastings at the market or at Pierce’s Store in Shrewsbury. She believes that once you taste her milk, you’ll be hooked. I can’t disagree.
Products that are banned from farmers’ markets often straddle the line of public safety and economic opportunities. With Lucas and Maeve, I have no doubt that they could sell their milk at the market safely, but how do you make sure that’s true of all raw milk? I can appreciate the debate that the Vermont Agency of Agriculture struggles with when developing their regulations, though, I wish they could come up with a solution that would better support small dairy farmers.
Since nobody can buy raw milk from the market currently, my advice for anyone seeking raw milk is to do your research: tour the farm, ask questions and make sure you’re buying from a reputable farm.
Tangled Roots Farm is an easy drive up Cold River Road to Stagecoach Road, and their stand is self serve. To reserve some milk, call Maeve at 236-1178. If you’re interested in attending Tangled Roots Farm’s workshop on how to make paneer, caramel sauce and ice cream, sign up at www.ruralvermont.org.
By Melissa Pasanen
May 25, 2012
Sally Fallon Morell, co-author of “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats” and founding president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, will be in the Burlington area, June 7-9, to present a three-day program of activities sharing the philosophy and practice behind a diet of traditional foods.
Fallon Morell bases her nutritional approach on the work of Weston A. Price, a dentist, who traveled around the world studying traditional diets in the early 20th century. In 2008, the Washington Post wrote about the increasing and broadening appeal of the Weston A. Price Foundation’s dietary recommendations despite — or, perhaps, because of — “the foundation’s unorthodox ideas about healthful eating.”
During Saturday’s program, a lunch will be served of local foods prepared according to Weston A. Price Foundation guidelines. In the afternoon, local chefs and farmers including Doug Flack of Flack Family Farm, Margaret Osha of Turkey Hill Farm and chef/butcher Frank Pace of Catamount Hospitality will demonstrate recipes for foods like fermented vegetables, bone-based broths and organ meats, and soaked grains, nuts and seeds.
All events are free but pre-registration is required.
Fallon Morell spoke with the Free Press from her home in Washington D.C.
Burlington Free Press: For those who are not familiar with the basic concepts of Weston A. Price Foundation and your book, “Nourishing Traditions,” can you summarize them briefly and share why you believe a return to “traditional” foods is beneficial to 21st century Americans?
Sally Fallon Morell: Starting with the second part of the question, the traditional foods are the food that the human body needs for health and if we don’t eat them we will not be healthy. We’re seeing the results of not eating these foods in our health crisis today, especially among children. [Regarding our basic concepts], we have identified 11 principles of healthy traditional diets. The key general principle is that in nutrient density, agricultural practices, food choices and preparation techniques, the diet is designed to maximize the nutrient value of the foods. We focus particularly on those that are especially high in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K that are found in certain types of seafood, in organ meats and in the fats of animals raised outside on pasture.
BFP: While the Weston A. Price approach focuses on whole, unprocessed foods and recommends avoiding refined grain products, sugars and trans-fats similar to prevailing nutrition advice, it also celebrates foods like butter, lard, liver and raw (unpasteurized) full-fat dairy products and criticizes foods such as soy. Your website cites a variety of peer-reviewed scientific research, but, in general, it appears the majority of health and nutrition professionals have not been converted to this point of view. Why do you think that is?
SF: Because they have been heavily propagandized by the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry either to think that diet has nothing to do with health or to believe that a healthy diet is a diet that excludes animal fats. There is no research that shows that animal fats are not good for us. [To put it another way], consumption of animal fats has been declining while diseases like heart disease and cancer have been going up. The group that’s really suffering is children. They really need nutrient-dense, full-fat foods to thrive and enjoy normal growth.
From the New Yorker
Posted by Dana Goodyear, April 23, 2012
“I’m an advocate for flavor,” Dan Barber, the chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill Stone Barns, told me. “I think milk has a superior flavor when it’s not pasteurized. And I love the challenge of working with something that’s changing constantly—even weekly.” To be clear: Barber does not serve raw milk at his restaurants—that would be illegal in the state of New York, where only on-farm sales are permitted—but for home experiments he does have access to a reliable supply of it, from his two-hundred-acre farm in the Berkshires. (It is not illegal anywhere to drink raw milk.) His farm’s sweetest milk comes in June, when the spring grass is in but the wild garlic and onion flavors are not as dominant, and in the fall, in the flush that follows a good rain.
In Barber’s experience, though, whether or not milk is pasteurized is secondary to what the cow—in his view, a “vector for the grass”—eats: not only are pasture-fed ruminants eating food they evolved to digest, but also their milk reflects the subtle, seasonal changes in the field. “Grain-feeding is a little like pasteurization,” he said. “It’s a dumbing down, an evening out of the flavors.” In the battle over raw milk, which I write about in the magazine this week, Barber sees a more important point being lost. “The picture is not just about pasteurization,” he said. “It’s part of a much larger question about how you’re raising the cattle and what quality of milk you’re trying to produce. To some people, having a U.S.D.A. official tell you that you have to heat the milk to a certain point takes away your American right to live, but I’d say you have a much more egregious problem if you’re importing transgenic grain from Iowa and polluting the Gulf of Mexico with so much nitrogen that it’s causing dead zones.”
But back to flavor. At Stone Barns, Barber serves “single-udder butter”: butter made from the pasteurized milk of a specific cow. (For example: Clover is an alpha-type who goes hard after the best grass; her butter is typically a darker yellow than that of Sunshine, an erratic, moody cow.) In September, Barber said, Alain Ducasse—who grew up on a farm—visited Stone Barns; Barber served him some toast and a sampler of single-udder butter and eagerly waited for his reaction. “He wasn’t overly complimentary,” Barber said. “I was like, Oh, man. It’s one of the best things we do!” He recalled that Ducasse asked him two questions: Has it been raining? Where are the cows pasturing?
As it happened, the Berkshires were being drenched by Irene, though Ducasse didn’t know it. He just tasted a washed-out flavor in the milk. In answer to the second question, Barber said that he’d recently been at the farm, and knew that the cows were right next to the barn, in the field with the richest, best-fertilized grass. Ducasse politely disagreed, telling Barber he believed the cows were on weak grass. “A week later, I talked to my farmer and he told me that after my visit he had moved the herd to the back pasture—the weediest, least mineralized spot,” Barber said. “It shows you that what we’ve lost in a couple of generations is the ability to taste those values that are truly delicious and healthful for us and for the property.”
Nutritional science has not yet caught up with the interest among chefs and deliberate eaters in less processed and untreated ingredients—and regulatory science sees reason to be wary of raw foods, milk especially. Barber says it makes sense to him that wild foods that taste especially good might have some as-yet unquantified value. “My personal opinion—not from hard evidence—is that nutrient-density benefits follow from flavor,” he said. “Over the course of ten thousand years, we bred and improved and preserved things not to sell to a foreign market but because they tasted better. I believe advocates of raw milk are right because the taste buds say so.”
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/04/is-raw-milk-worth-it-the-case-of-the-single-udder-butter.html#ixzz1t53uEeF0
Listen at Vermont Public Radio
Nancy Eve Cohen, 4/23/12
Yogurt has always been associated with good health. Now demand is growing for a new kind of yogurt – the Greek variety. Sales more than doubled last year. And just as this market shift is healthy for consumers, it’s also good for dairy farmers.
Fans of Greek yogurt say the thick, creamy yogurt fills them up with the right stuff. It has a lot more protein – double or even triple the amount that’s in conventional yogurt. That’s because Greek yogurt is made with a lot more milk.
Tom Moffit is President of Commonwealth Dairy in Brattleboro. His plant makes yogurt for retail stores who want their own brand. Moffit said he’s getting as much as 45,000 gallons of milk delivered every day.
“Part of the reason we are receiving so much as a yogurt maker is because we make a lot of Greek yogurt,” Moffit said. “Greek yogurt takes about five times as much milk to make than conventional yogurt.”
Moffit said he’s making almost all Greek now.
He leads the way up two flights of stairs to a catwalk that overlooks six stainless steel tanks each full of 8,000 gallons of skim milk that’s fermenting. That’s where the milk is cultured. But to become Greek yogurt it goes into a centrifuge that separates out the whey, the watery part of conventional yogurt.
“That’s what makes the Greek yogurt so thick and smooth and creamy,” he said. “You’re taking all the liquid out of it so we’re going to open this up and you can see fresh Greek yogurt that has just been made.”
But making such a rich yogurt requires much more milk than the conventional kind – two to five times as much. And Moffit says up until last month, when cows began producing more milk – as they do every spring – he couldn’t always get enough.
“Milk has been a challenge for us,” Moffit said.
It has also been a challenge for other yogurt makers. In New York state there are 29 yogurt plants, many of which make Greek yogurt. Pepsico says it’s opening a $206 million yogurt plant there. Moffit says that’s a big plant.
“We’re really concerned about the long-term prospects in the northeast for milk supply,” he said. “Its been a struggle for us. We expect over the next few years it will continue to be a struggle and I kind of scratch my head and wonder where all that milk is going to come from.”
“Five years ago we didn’t know what we were going to do with all the milk and now with the yogurt plants coming on it’s been drying up the milk supply,” said Robert Gilchrist, who markets fluid milk for Agrimark, one of the biggest milk-cooperatives in the region, with 1,200 farms. He said Agrimark couldn’t always deliver enough milk to yogurt makers when they wanted it last fall.
“Not on the days that they wanted,” Gilchrist said. “Most everybody got the milk that they needed, but they had to change their production schedules.”
Gilchrist said he expects the supply will be very tight again next fall.
Diane Bothfeld, Vermont’s Deputy Secretary for Dairy Policy says this is good news.
“I don’t think we’re concerned,” Bothfeld said. “We’re excited. It’s a great opportunity for our farmers in the region.”
When it’s harder for yogurt makers to get milk, they’ll pay a premium for it – a price above the floor price set by the federal government. Bothfeld compared the demand for the milk supply to the demand for a star baseball player.
“You’re going to have to pay to move that player away from that team to someone else’s team,” Bothfeld said. “So this milk all had a home and now there are new processors that want milk and they have to get it away from someone else who was making another dairy product.”
Bothfeld said she wants to find ways to push this opportunity further. Right now dairy cooperatives collect the premiums and share the extra money equally among all their farmers. Bothfeld said one idea being discussed is directing premiums to the specific farms that produce milk with a higher protein content, something Greek yogurt makers want.
As Bothfeld said, “The farmer had to change some feeding practices and management to get that extra protein. Is there a direct payment for that?”
This spring the milk supply has increased and the price paid to farmers has dropped. But back at Commonwealth Dairy, President Tom Moffit said he has persistent concerns about the future milk supply. He pointed to a machine that’s pumping Greek yogurt nonstop and said, “This filler is making 90 cups a minute of two-pound cups of Greek yogurt, so its using about 630 pounds of milk a minute. That’s a lot of milk!”
Moffitt says he doesn’t see an end to the demand for Greek yogurt. Or the milk that’s needed to make it.
February 27, 2012
American government seeks to further perpetuate the lie that all milk is the same with egregious new provisions in 2012 Farm Bill
The truth has once again shaken the foundation of the ‘American Tower of Babel’ that is mainstream science, with a new study out of Harvard University showing that pasteurized milk product from factory farms is linked to causing hormone-dependent cancers. It turns out that the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) model of raising cows on factory farms churns out milk with dangerously high levels of estrone sulfate, an estrogen compound linked to testicular, prostate, and breast cancers.
Dr. Ganmaa Davaasambuu, Ph.D., and her colleagues specifically identified “milk from modern dairy farms” as the culprit, referring to large-scale confinement operations where cows are milked 300 days of the year, including while they are pregnant. Compared to raw milk from her native Mongolia, which is extracted only during the first six months after cows have already given birth, pasteurized factory milk was found to contain up to 33 times more estrone sulfate.
Meanwhile, raw, grass-fed, organic milk from cows milked at the proper times is linked to improving digestion, healing autoimmune disorders, and boosting overall immunity, which can help prevent cancer. Though you will never hear any of this from the mainstream media, all milk is not the same — the way a cow is raised, when it is milked, and how its milk is handled and processed makes all the difference in whether or not the end product promotes health or death.
American government seeks to further perpetuate the lie that all milk is the same with egregious new provisions in 2012 Farm Bill
Of particular concern are new provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill that create even more incentives for farmers to produce the lowest quality, and most health-destroying, type of milk possible. Rather than incentivize grazing cows on pastures, which allows them to feed on grass, a native food that their systems can process, the government would rather incentivize confined factory farming methods that force cows to eat genetically-modified (GM) corn and other feed, which makes them sick.
As it currently stands, the government already provides incentives for farmers to stop pasturing their animals, instead confining them in cages as part of a Total Confinement Dairy Model, aka factory farms. But the 2012 Farm Bill will take this a step further by outlawing “component pricing” for milk, which involves allowing farmers to sell milk with higher protein and butterfat at a higher price.
Allowing farmers to sell higher quality milk at a higher price provides an incentive for them to improve the living conditions on their farms, and milk better cow breeds. But the U.S. government would rather standardize all milk as being the same, and create a system where farmers continue to produce cancer-causing milk from sick cows for the millions of children to drink.
February 23, 2012
A group that supports the sale of raw milk says the new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on illnesses caused by raw milk is flawed. In a news release, Sally Fallon Morrell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation says the CDC cherry-picked data to make a case against raw milk. She says consumers need to know that the incidence of foodborne illnesses from ALL dairy products – pasteurized or not – is “extremely low.”
The CDC says it reviewed data from 1993 through 2006 and found the rate of outbreaks from raw milk and milk products was 150-times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk.
Fallon Morrell questions the CDC choosing data only up through 2006 – saying in 2007, 135 people became sick from pasteurized cheese contaminated with E. coli and three people died from pasteurized milk contaminated with listeria. She says the CDC’s decision to start the review of data in the 1990s – following significant outbreaks in the 1980s from pasteurized milk – and cutting the data short raises questions about their bias against raw milk.
The CDC article can be found here.
By Stephen Dinan
February 13, 2012
The FDA won its two-year fight to shut down an Amish farmer who was selling fresh raw milk to eager consumers in the Washington, D.C., region after a judge this month banned Daniel Allgyer from selling his milk across state lines and he told his customers he would shut down his farm altogether.
The decision has enraged Mr. Allgyer’s supporters, some of whom have been buying from him for six years and say the government is interfering with their parental rights to feed their children.
But the Food and Drug Administration, which launched a full investigation complete with a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and a straw-purchase sting operation against Mr. Allgyer’s Rainbow Acres Farm, said unpasteurized milk is unsafe and it was exercising its due authority to stop sales of the milk from one state to another.
Adding to Mr. Allgyer’s troubles, Judge Lawrence F. Stengel said that if the farmer is found to violate the law again, he will have to pay the FDA’s costs for investigating and prosecuting him.
His customers are wary of talking publicly, fearing the FDA will come after them.
“I can’t believe in 2012 the federal government is raiding Amish farmers at gunpoint all over a basic human right to eat natural food,” said one of them, who asked not to be named but received weekly shipments of eggs, milk, honey and butter from Rainbow Acres, a farm near Lancaster, Pa. “In Maryland, they force taxpayers to pay for abortions, but God forbid we want the same milk our grandparents drank.”
The FDA, though, said the judge made the right call in halting Mr. Allgyer’s cross-border sales.
“Intrastate sale of raw milk is allowed in Pennsylvania, and Mr. Allgyer had previously received a warning letter advising him that interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal,” agency spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey said.
Fans of fresh milk, which they also call raw milk, attribute all kinds of health benefits to it, including better teeth and stronger immune systems. Raw milk is particularly popular among parents who want it for their children.
In a unique twist, the movement unites people on the left and the right who argue that the federal government has no business controlling what people choose to consume.
In a rally last year, they drank fresh milk in a park across Constitution Avenue from the Senate.
The FDA began looking into Mr. Allgyer’s operations in late 2009, when an investigator in the agency’s Baltimore office used aliases to sign up for a Yahoo user group made up of Rainbow Acres customers.
The investigator placed orders for fresh milk and had it delivered to private residences in Maryland, where it was picked up and documented as evidence in the case. By crossing state lines, the milk became part of interstate commerce and thus subject to the FDA’s ban.
At one point, FDA employees made a 5 a.m. visit to Mr. Allgyer’s farm. He turned them away, but not before they observed milk containers labeled for shipment to Maryland.
After the FDA first took action, Mr. Allgyer changed his business model. He arranged to sell shares in the cows to his customers, arguing that they owned the milk and he was only transferring it to them.
Judge Stengel called that deal “merely a subterfuge.”
Liz Reitzig, a mother who has become a raw-milk activist and is an organizer of the group, said the lawyers who pursued the case against Mr. Allgyer ought to “be ashamed.”
“Many families are dependent on the milk for health reasons or nutritional needs, so a lot of people will be desperately trying to find another source now,” she said.
By HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN
February 4, 2012
BRATTLEBORO — A 2009 law that allowed Vermont farmers to sell more raw milk should be amended to break down any further barriers toward increased sales, a farmer advocacy group says.
Rural Vermont recently released a report on how Act 62, the law that enabled the sales of raw milk to consumers, has helped farmers.
About 150 farms across the state sell raw milk directly to consumers, according to the report, and in 2011, raw milk sales contributed approximately $1 million in gross revenues to farmers.
Still, the law set restrictions and forced the farmers to comply with costly regulations, which Rural Vermont organizer Robb Kidd says are forcing some farmers to stop selling raw milk.
“Passing Act 62 was a very positive step because it protected the rights of farmers to sell raw milk,” Kidd said. “On the other hand, we’ve identified some areas where farmers are seeing the law as prohibitive and we hope some changes can be made to the law.”
Before the Legislature passed Act 62, farmers who sold 25 quarts or less were exempt from conducting costly test.
The 2009 law grouped all raw milk sales together, and now any farmer who sells raw milk is required to have their milk tested, even if they are having it tested to go into the commercial market.
Robb said Rural Vermont wants the 25-quart exemption adopted once again.
“We did this survey to show the Legislature a picture of how the law has made a difference,” Kidd said. “We found that while more farmers are selling raw milk, there is a need for some improvement.”
Rural Vermont also wants farmers to be able to sell raw milk at farmers’ markets, and the group says farms should be able to produce and sell value added products such as yogurt, butter and cheese.
House Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, said that while the Rural Vermont report contained some useful information, she did not think the Legislature was ready to make changes to the law at this point.
Partridge acknowledged that the debate over Act 62 caused some contentious discussions in the usually quiet agriculture committee room.
With raw milk sales bringing in additional revenue, and no health issues raised so far, Partridge said lawmakers are likely to put their energies into other agriculture topics during this session
“When we did the bill we put in some additional safeguards, and added requirements, and I think at this point we are in good shape,” Partridge said. “There were serious concerns raised when we talked about this, and I think we will probably leave this bill alone.”
The Rural Vermont survey found that raw milk costs, on average, $6.10 per gallon.
Of the 69 farms that provided figures, a total of almost 65,000 gallons were sold in 2011, with an average farm selling 937 gallons.
Farmers, according to the report, want fewer restrictions on sales, and want to be able to deliver the milk, and be able to sell it at farmers’ markets.
Rural Vermont Director Andrea Stander said she wants to put a comprehensive bill together for next session to address some of the concerns raised in the report.
The report found that even during the recession, raw milk sales remained stable, and Stander said the state should remove as many barriers as possible to help put more money into the pockets of farmers who want to sell raw milk.
“We need to take a look and see which of these things are most doable,” Stander said. “There has been a very clear and growing consumer demand, and many farmers said they saw a significant improvement in their bottom line. There should be some changes and we need to figure out how we can do that.”
By Dan Flynn