Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Dee Creek Farm raw milk saga

This moving story of big government vs small farm is excerpted from a post on Stone Soup titled “My Sister’s Story: How Uncle Sam Controls Your Choices” by Katrina Stonoff:

The Pucketts of Dee Creek Farm

Mike and Anita Puckett of Dee Creek Farm. (via Stone Soup)

Sept 8, 2008: “I hardly know where to start. For almost three years, I have kept quiet about this, at first out of respect for families whose children were sick, and then on advice of my sister’s attorney. But all legal action ended Friday, and now I can speak. I’ll try to tell the short version of how we ended up at the federal courthouse Friday. This is all public record now — you can even download the letters of support friends and family wrote — so I feel I can speak fairly freely. Finally!

Background

My sister and her husband (Mike and Anita Puckett) ownDee Creek Farm, which is about an hour south of here, and they run it with their daughter Summer Steenbarger. They sell a variety of organically grown products ranging from pastured chickens and eggs to artisan cheese and produce. All their food is exquisite — tastes amazing and is created without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or drugs.

They never planned to operate a raw milk dairy, but after they bought a milk cow for their family’s use, people began clamoring for them to sell milk. Apparently there are some health benefits to drinking raw milk (neither pasteurized nor homogenized): people who are lactose intolerant can often drink raw milk (99 percent of the time, according to some raw milk proponents), and there’s also evidence it helps people who suffer from other ailments like asthma.* In Washington, it’s illegal to sell raw milk without becoming a licensed dairy, and licensing requirements are onerous — to the point of being nearly impossible for a small, family farm with a few cows (in Oregon, there were no dairies licensed to sell raw milk for human consumption at all, though I heard through the grapevine that someone was licensed very recently). However, it IS legal, in both states, to drink raw milk from a cow you own, as the Pucketts were doing. Continue reading

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Aporkalypse Now — the tinfoil hats may have gotten it right after all — CAFO pig farm theory being discredited as cause of recent Mexican Swine flu outbreak

This excerpt is from a roundup of the latest chatter about Swine flu on The Ethicurian blog:

Flashback to the last Swine flu epidemic in 1976. Center for Disease Control photo. Original Salon.com caption: An elderly woman receives a vaccination during the nationwide swine flu vaccination campaign, which began Oct. 1, 1976.

Flashback to the last Swine flu "epidemic" in 1976. Center for Disease Control photo. Original Salon.com caption: "An elderly woman receives a vaccination during the nationwide swine flu vaccination campaign, which began Oct. 1, 1976."

 

“Smithfield smeared: The Mexican government’s chief epidemiologist said it’s “highly improbable” that the Smithfield-operated Veracruz factory farm is responsible for the nation’s swine-flu outbreak. Why? Pigs at the farm are from North America, while the genetic material in the virus is from Europe and Asia. Article also details the pleasing news about how Smithfield’s in a panic over the bad PR and its shares have dropped nearly 3%. (Wall Street Journal)

Um, don’t they need you guys?Mexico’s government is suspending all nonessential activity of the federal government and private business as the number of confirmed swine flu cases jumped to 160. (MSNBC)

Swine flu may be accurate after all: The pork industry is squealing over naming the new virus swine flu, since it’s supposedly a blend and hasn’t been traced to any pigs, nor can you catch it from pork. (New York Times) Obama has begun referring to it as the H1N1 virus, “evidently in deference to U.S. pork producers,” says the AP.Meanwhile, Tom Laskawy digs up an “intriguing notice” posted to the International Society for Infectious Diseases by Columbia University researchers suggesting that the current swine flu outbreak may be a ‘reassortment’ (i.e. rearrangement) of existing swine flu viruses and not a swine, avian, and human influenza combo. (Grist) Continue reading

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A food system that kills — Is Swine Flu the meat industry’s latest plague?

Here’s an excerpt from a great story on the Swine Flu from grain.org:

“Mexico is in the midst of a hellish repeat of Asia’s bird flu experience, though on a more deadly scale. Once again, the official response from public authorities has come too late and bungled in cover-ups. And once again, the global meat industry is at the centre of the story, ramping up denials as the weight of evidence about its role grows. Just five years after the start of the H5N1 bird flu crisis, and after as many years of a global strategy against influenza pandemics coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the world is now reeling from a swine flu disaster. The global strategy has failed and needs to be replaced with a public health system that the public can trust. Continue reading

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Making Camembert in Chicago with raw milk from Amish Guernsey cows

Here’s an excerpt from a story by Doug Taron from his Gossamer Tapestry blog. Doug may not realize it but one of the significant characteristics of Guernsey milk is that it tends to have more A2 Beta Casein than A1. Look for our upcoming review of the new book “Devil in the Milk” for a full exegesis on what that means, or enter A1A2 in the search box to read our earlier stories on the subject:

Raw Guernsey Organic Amish milk makes the difference for great Camembert.

Raw Guernsey Organic Amish milk makes the difference for great Camembert.

“I just finished another batch of Camembert. I’ve now done enough of these to know that they are consistently coming out well. Some of myearliest efforts were delicious and developed the surface mold well- but the interior was excessively runny, sometimes to the point of being nearly liquid. My more recent efforts have been especially successful. Continue reading

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Swine Flu a result of industrial farming?

Here’s an alternate take on the possible origins of the current Swine Flu outbreak from Grist.org — this is excerpted from Tom Philpott’s recent story titled “Symptom: Swine Flu. Diagnosis: Industrial agriculture”:

Confined Animal Feeding Operation of the sort blamed for Swine flu. Photo via honestmeat.com

Confined Animal Feeding Operation of the sort blamed for Swine flu. Photo via honestmeat.com

“Several days after news broke of a possible link between Mexico-based hog CAFOs and the rapid spread of a novel swine-flu strain, what have we learned?

• Clarifying details about respiratory ailments in the Perote area of Vera Cruz State—where U.S. pork behemoth Smithfield Foods raises nearly a million hogs a year in large confinement buildings, under a subsidiary called Granjas Carroll—have emerged. In my original post on this topic, I didn’t fully understand that the outbreak of a virulent respiratory condition in the town of La Gloria—located near Smithfield’s farming operations—wasn’t initially identified as swine flu. The disease emerged as early as February and infected 60 percent of the town’s 1,800 inhabitants, according to the widely cited blog Biosurveillance, run by the U.S. disease-tracking consultancy Veratract (which claims the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Pan-American Health Organization as clients). Three children died during the outbreak, Veratract reports. Residents blamed the Granjas Carroll confinements for the outbreak; and local authorities evidently agreed. “Health workers soon intervened, sealing off the town and spraying chemicals to kill the flies [which grew in swarms on Granjas Caroll’s manure lagoons] that were reportedly swarming through people’s homes,” according to a Monday account in the Guardian. Continue reading

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Slow food founder Carlo Petrini says focus on small food producers could revive economy from the ground up

Here’s an excerpt from Pamela Cuthbert’s story in Tuesday’s Toronto Star titled “Slow food author promotes focus on food producers“. Carlo Petrini is visiting Toronto for the first time this week to accept an award from the Planet in Focus film festival, the same festival that awarded a prize to Norman Lofts for his documentary on Ontario farmer Michael Schmidt and his crusade for wider acceptance of raw milk.

Slow food movement founder Carlo Petrini. Photo: Barry Lewis/Corbis - The Guardian

Slow food movement founder Carlo Petrini. Photo: Barry Lewis/Corbis - The Guardian

“He is a Time magazine cover boy, an author and a fiercely opinionated left-leaning journalist.

His latest work is the user-friendly Slow Food Revolution: A New Culture for Eating and Living – in which he urges us to align our interests with the artisans who produce our food.

This week, Carlo Petrini, the man who founded Slow Food in his northern Italian hometown of Bra in the ’80s, makes his first Toronto appearance.

He is arriving straight from a summit in Rome on climate change that is being attended by fellow eco-warrior Prince Charles.

He is in town to accept an award from the Planet In Focus International Environmental Film Festival, and to help develop a national association for Slow Food in Canada. Continue reading

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Survey for American raw milk drinkers — results to be presented at raw milk symposium in Seattle this summer

Amanda Rose is doing a survey of raw milk drinkers in the United States to gather information for the American Veterinary Association’s raw milk symposium. David E. Gumpert took the survey and had this to say about it:

Amanda Rose surveys the thoughts and habits of American raw milk drinkers.

“….The most interesting part of the survey is a list of statements about raw milk, which respondents are supposed to rate for accuracy, for example:

“Raw milk does not contain pathogens if the cows (or goats) are on grass-based diets.”

“Raw milk kills babies.”

“Raw milk contains deadly pathogens.”

“Raw milk is a food that is uniquely safe.”

“Raw cow milk is as safe as raw human breast milk.”

While I have my opinions on certain statements, I have to say that I don’t have the drop-dead research to support some of the statements–for example, milk from grass-fed animals doesn’t support pathogens. We can debate such questions, but there is definitely a research void.

If, as some sources have suggested, something on the order of three million Americans are consuming raw milk, why isn’t the government at least interested in learning more about their habits and attitudes? The problem is that the government isn’t interested in learning more. While a number of raw milk proponents have been critical of the American Veterinary Medical Association for seeming to exclude prominent raw milk backers at its July session on the subject, I want to credit the AVMA organizers of the raw milk session. By promoting original research on raw milk, they have taken an important step—one that even raw milk proponents haven’t been super aggressive on….” Continue reading

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