Michael Schmidt and raw milk at NOFA: The hunt for Elsie’s grave

This just in from Michael Schmidt, who is reporting on his visit to Princeton New Jersey, where he was a keynote speaker at the recent Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) conference:

Michael Schmidt in New Jersey, at the grave of Elsie the cow.

I just returned from New Jersey where I was asked to give the closing keynote at the NOFA conference at the prestigious Princeton University.

This has been my  second time that I had a chance to exchange ideas, thoughts and challenges of the raw milk movement with Joseph Heckman professor at Ruttgers University.

As insignificant it seems, as amusing was our  journey in order to find Elsie’s grave.  Elsie was the best well known, well travelled Jersey cow from the famous Walker Gordon Farm which had pioneered the ROTO -LACTATER , a rotary milking parlor for 2000 cows, starting around 1920 till 1972 as I recall.  The significance of this operation is, that they produced raw milk for human consumption.

Relics of the Gordon Walker Farm in New Jersey.

It was the right instinct and the determination of Professor Heckman, which enabled us to pay tribute to this American promotional icon.

The farm itself is gone replaced by subdivisions, just the road names keep reminding the ever increasing non farmers that once in the dark ages the was a farm.

Elsie’s grave is not far away from Princeton, one of the few prestigious universities in the US.

Michael Schmidt lectured in the hallowed halls of Princeton University.

Yes I lectured in Princeton about life as a farmer, a law breaking farmer, a rebellious farmer, not satisfied with the ever increasing complacency of society. I spoke about the reality of sacrifice and passion to create a renewed vision for Agri -Culture.

Joseph Heckman is a professor deeply grounded in the science of the soil.

He keeps plowing the ground for more and more scientific clarity about the scientific facts about raw milk.

Remember the old song from experts, from politicians, from health dictograts and civil servants towing the part line.




Hold on my friends. Professor Heckman has been and still is uncovering the existing but ignored scientific evidence. He is creating a database which will be very useful and critical in the future debates and court cases.

From the ground up. He will be part of uncovering  the truth Elsie took into her grave.


As the raw milk dispenser machines are continue to pop up all over Europe the battle about our fundamental rights continues to rage.

My friend Vernon Hershberger faces times of uncertainty and hardship.

May we all rally behind every farmer who follows his consciousness and not his fear.

Sunday morning I attended the service in the magnificent chapel at the Princeton campus to honor another great individual who was battling and dying for  justice in the world.

Princeton chapel, where Martin Luther King spoke out against injustice.

Martin Luther King came in 1960 to give one of his great sermons in this chapel. Yes he broke unjust laws, yes he went to jail many times, yes he died for the cause but he was on top of the mountain and had no fear.

After that Joseph and I went to see an exhibition tracing Albert Einstein in Princeton. Yes he became famous but he also was relentlessly searching  for truth and justice.

Professor Joseph Heckman at the Einstein exhibit in Princeton.

We can learn from the past, we can also bow our head in honor of man like Einstein and Heckman. Both do or have done what scientists do best, search for the truth even in the face of constant adversity or when it is just Elsie’s grave.

The young man in the picture with me is Samuel who wanted to meet me and who came to listen to my presentation. A young soul in search of ideals and beauty.

This young man came to hear Michael Schmidt's lecture at NOFA.

I was deeply honored that he came apparently  because of who I am.

As Joseph Heckman said several times during our  time spent together trying to find  Elsie’s grave;

Science will not decide the fate of the raw milk movement, science will help to create a better understanding why drinking raw milk is not playing Russian roulette.

Quote on a building at Princeton.

From the Einstein exhibit at Princeton.

More Einstein at Princeton.

Detail of the picture of Elsie's grave, from the beginning of the story.

More on Elsie the cow (via Wikipedia): 

“Elsie the Cow is a cartoon cow that has been used as the logo for the Borden Dairy Company since 1936.

Elsie was created in the 1930s to symbolize the “perfect dairy product”. For a time in the mid-1940s when she was voiced by Hope Emerson, she was better known than some human celebrities, and Elsie the Cow remains among the most recognizable product logos in the United States and Canada.

Elsie and her calves were featured in Elsie’s Boudoir at Freedomland U.S.A. from 1960 to 1963. Freedomland was a theme park depicting America’s history, located in the Bronx. A live cow representing Elsie appeared on stage at the Borden’s exhibit in the Better Living Pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, in a musical revue with a score by the Broadway composer Kay Swift.

The first Elsie, “You’ll Do, Lobelia,” was a registered Jersey heifer born at Elm Hill Farm in Brookfield, Massachusetts. The most alert cow at Borden’s World’s Fair “Rotolactor” (the first rotary milking parlor) exhibit, Borden purchased Elsie from her owners, family farmers from Connecticut, and promoted her as their mascot. For the rest of the season, this particular Elsie, dressed in an embroidered green blanket, was put on display twice each day for all to see.”

Selena Gomez stands by as Elsie the Cow (Elsie the 30th) blows out her candles atop her 70th birthday cake during the Texas State Fair in Dallas. From Sevelina.org. Click image to go there.


Filed under News

9 responses to “Michael Schmidt and raw milk at NOFA: The hunt for Elsie’s grave

  1. Janice Sealey

    Thank you for this beautiful, comforting, hopeful posting Michael.
    You have taken us to the still point between the arts and sciences, between past and present, where creativity emerges in full, energetic strength. The authentic dialogue between you, Joseph, young Samuel, Einstein, and Elsie is lively and embraces great possibilities for organic farming and raw milk.
    Thank you!

  2. Joseph Heckman


    Thank you for speaking at the NOFA-NJ conference where you delivered a wonderful keynote address. I can think of no person better than Michael Schmidt to deliver a freedom message about our basic human desire to enjoy the foods of our choosing.

    To read more about Elsie the cow, Walker Gordon Farm, and the famous Rotolactor, I recommend the book Walker-Gorder, One of a Kind, by Edward E. Tindall, MS, DVM and C. Stanton Clark. The book is beautifully illustrated. Here is an excerpt from this book’s preface:

    “For those of us who grew up with the taste of fresh, really fresh, whole milk, unadulterated in any manner except to chill it ice cold, today’s milk is a sad replacement. Homemade butter, ice cream, buttermilk, and whipped cream are all but unheard of in the modern market that advertises quality and delivers false promises. The only arena in which current products can win is on price, and this is the unbeatable formula. We have the security of a new sterile product, at least as far as pathogens are concerned, but at the expense of freedom of choice. In microcosm, the dairy industry might be said to reflect our lives in general.”

    Although certified raw milk era seemed to end with the closing of Walker Gordon farm about four decades ago, there now is hope in an organization called Garden State Raw Milk that there will be soon be rebirth of raw milk available from local New Jersey farms.

    Web links for further information:





  3. Gretna Maggiacomo

    Boy oh boy, you keep busy & I am so grateful…I foresee positive development ahead thanks to the many dedicated honest folks who are working hard to bring back good health to all!

  4. For me, this is more proof that raw milk is great. There is a farm in Connecticut, called Baldwin Brook, that in my opinion is the best milk in the state. Baldwin Brook’s raw milk still tastes fresh after five weeks in the refrigerator. This article about elsie reminds me of this farm and the raw milk revolution.

    PS: It might be a good idea to take a closer look at why this milk is so great.

    Ed Hartz
    The Raw Milkman

  5. nedlud

    I am not as favorable of the scientific method or as musically inclined as Michael Schmidt and I can deal with it. It’s okay, I will argue. I am not as different from him as we both are from the bureaucrats.

    I have drank raw milk for nearly 40 years, going back to a single family cow and to purchasing milk out of the nearby dairy farmer’s bulk tank. I (we, my wife) have had dairy cows for 32 years. It has not always been fun being a farmer, especially not lately.

    I like dairy cows (a lot) and I love freedom.

    And that is just the way it is.

  6. My husband and I had the pleasure of eating an informal lunch with Joseph Heckman at the Wise Traditions Conference in San Francisco in November of 2008. That evening, we took our 4 kids with us to watch the documentary film “Michael Schmidt: Organic Hero or Bioterrorist.” Michael Schmidt was present and spoke afterwards.

    We attended that conference because the information in the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon was a part of a huge shift we made in feeding our family between 2002 and 2008. Our oldest son had chronic ear infections as a toddler and his little sister broke out in rashes if she ate dairy, eggs or grains. We chose a nutritional change rather than surgery or medication, which led us to purchase 5 acres in 2005 so that we could raise our own grass-fed goats to produce milk and to raise ducks fed without soy and corn to produce eggs for our family. Despite our inexperience as farmers, it worked. Ear infections cleared, and rashes disappeared…except for the time we ran out of our duck feed and substituted some with corn and soy for a few days. The lack of health issues our 3rd and 4th kids have faced is clear evidence that it was the processed foods, not the people that were the problem.

    Little did we dream that because of our choices and changes, the boy with chronic ear infections would grow to have such good hearing that he could hear bats squeak as they flew overhead, keeping our little farm’s bug population in balance. (I have never had ear infections, and couldn’t hear the bats even though I stood next to him.) Little did we dream that he would one day become a choirboy at the American Boychoir School in New Jersey, and that the chef at the school would support his health by allowing us to provide pastured eggs, grass-fed meat and raw milk to supplement the school’s meals. Little did we dream that Samuel would have the opportunity to meet one of our family’s heroes, Michael Schmidt, in person at the NOFA-NJ conference last weekend.

    Our heartfelt thanks goes to Joseph Heckman for his untiring efforts on behalf of raw milk. Connie Deetz, of NOFA-NJ enthusiastically worked out the logistics for Samuel to be able to attend the closing keynote. What a delight it was to be in touch with her! It is because of Mary Langeron, the Princeton Weston A. Price foundation chapter co-leader, that we learned about the NOFA-NJ conference. She and her husband Nick are the ones who actually get nutrient dense foods to Samuel on a regular basis.

    When Samuel called home to tell us about his day last Sunday evening, his first sentence was, “Mom, did you know that Michael Schmidt is a conductor and he’s had concerts in his barn!” He continued by telling us that Michael left “a perfect setup” as a dairy farmer in Germany and came to America so that he could make an impact, following in the the footsteps of Ghandi. Our family followed Michael’s hunger strike closely, and rejoiced when the Premier of Canada DID finally meet with Michael. What an impact Michael Schmidt’s actions have had on North America! I share our story as one example of the difference raw milk and other nutrient dense foods can make in individual lives.

    So our greatest appreciation and admiration go to Mr. Schmidt for his kindness in taking time to talk with Samuel personally last Sunday, and for including a photo in this blog post for us to see. I know that Samuel has an idea of how special an opportunity that was for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he later looks back and realizes that this meeting was one of the influences that set his direction in life.

    Kathy Rausch
    Harmony Harbor farm
    Renton, Washington State (near Seattle)

  7. Raoul

    Thanks for sharing Michael and The Bovine. This is an example of alternative media at it’s best: Interweaving food, culture, history, fellowship, science, humanism and dreams of doing good all in one day ! What more could one ask for ? The Young gentleman reminds us older adults to set a good example and create a better world for when his generation is ready to assume the reins of responsibility. His face is so radiant and sincere I believe it is partly due to the outstanding diet his parents and local WAPF chapter leaders work so diligently to arrange for him ? But why stop there ? Let us work doubly hard to arrange the best food and nutrition for all children and young adults like Samuel from here on !

  8. I remember like it was yesterday, walking in the gate of the CNE in 1955, and seeing Elsie the Borden cow. The Borden company also used Elmer the Bull as the mascot for its brand of white wood glue

  9. Carol

    Michael, I continue to admire your tenacity, drive, and commitment ! I’m also grateful you could spend some time with Prof. Hickman and Princeton.

    Can you tell me, is that young man who came to hear you speak Birke Baehr? I saw him on a TED spot….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nndEZBQ9bds&list=FLpJZ2hEQI6qrq8-HVxE17wQ&index=4&feature=plpp_video

    We can be grateful there are many other young people out there like him who care about the health of humankind.

    Keep up the work, Micheal ! We are all grateful!

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