Sunday, December 20, 2009
This was a long story in the making, as I put my name on a list for a "locker" lamb (a whole animal, custom butchered) last summer. I actually had forgotten about it when I got a call from Margaret of Spring Hill Farm--did I want a lamb they had just slaughtered? Did I?! This is what I have been wanting all along!
Margaret had already sent the lamb to Farmer George, a custom butcher in Port Orchard. I spent a while on the phone with a woman there to make sure that I got exactly the cuts I wanted and insisting that they include everything--the bones, the offal, the fat, etc. Everything but the baa. Margaret has even offered me some tongues, a part she usually saves for herself; she seemed genuinely happy that I wanted to make use of the whole animal. But, of course, no? That's part of why we are doing this thing . . .
Anyway, Port Orchard is a long drive from here, 83 miles to be exact. And I don't much like driving to begin with. Thankfully, I was able to combine this errand with picking one of the kids up from SeaTac (Seattle's airport), as Farmer George's is basically right off of the highway on the way. It's just, well, it's a looong trip (minimum of five hours, roundtrip, usually six or more if the arrivee checks bags or inconveniently chooses a time around Rush Hour to arrive). I usually eat before I leave and take nuts and fruit to sustain me, but this time it wasn't enough, and both the daughter I brought with me and the one I was picking up were starved as we headed back. Ok, so we ought to be able to find something edible on the 130 mile drive, right? I like to get out of the urban traffic before even looking, as dealing with unfamiliar neighborhoods in big cities is not my idea of fun when famished.
That put us in Gig Harbor, just over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Tacoma. It's a sweet small town, and we have had absolutely marvelous meals at Brix 25', but this time I just wanted fast, cheap, simple. Usually that means Mexican for us, where I can get a carne asada or a fajita salad and be relatively sure I won't get sick. I found a place that had pretty good reviews online--which is how I had found Brix in August (I bow to the iPhone in these situations!), but this time ended up being disappointed. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't good either. And I woke up the next morning puffy and congested (not horrible reactions--thanks, I think, to much time on the GAPS diet, but a reaction nonetheless). Enough said, as I am sure there are many folks who like the place. I just have different standards.
Which bring me to Healthy Eats Here, a healthy dining guide with restaurant reviews from around the country that is in ebook format. (Full Disclosure: the author, Holly Hickman is a friend of mine, but I was not given a free copy and she doesn't even know I am writing this. Hi Holly!)
The book sets out criteria for real food in a restaurant context and gives details about each reviewed site (quality of food, taste, cost, any caveats or serenditipites). It would be a wonderful last-minute gift for out-of-town family and friends who care about their food or who just love to eat. I can attest to Holly's credentials a Woman of Taste, a gal with a large appetite and the palate to discern the good from the godawful. And she travels, yes indeed, being a journalist and all. So she has had good reason to find food that tastes good, won't make her sick in the long run and will even support the health of the planet. Now we just have to get her to explore the Tacoma area . . .or to get me to be a PNW contributor? How about it, Holly--do you want contributors at large?
So, I have 50+ lbs of lamb in my friend's freezer (thanks E--I intend to defrost mine tomorrow if the weather cooperates), I survived the doubtful Mexican meal, and I have a source for choosing restaurants in unfamiliar towns. Not a bad week for filling in the gaps!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Compelling story: South Dakota Attacking Small Family Dairies (and take the Raw Milk Survey after you read this)
From a blog I regularly read, this is the same story of gov't's attempt to control us through our food, but the personal details are wonderfully instructive. A heartwarming story--and the bureaucratic nonsense might piss you off enough to take the survey, write letters, speak out. Yes, this is America in (almost) 2010. Keep fighting!
Lila Streff, the Goat Lady
This article came to the Journal from one of our Atlanta Correspondents, Linn Cohen-Cole. She has a good eye for developing issues in farm and food freedom. I am re-posting this letter to the Editor of the Black Hills Today News service by Lila Streff and the Streff Ridge Farm Goat Dairy in Custer South Dakota– Black Hills territory. This is because it is the finest example of a healing testimony of raw milk for her family, neighbors and friends she shares and trades with versus the government/corporate partnership that is trying to put a stop to it all. It is a story of guts and courage of a ”goat lady” standing up for her God-given rights to eat natural food, to obtain her families health with it and have a good livelihood without getting a permission slip from the state.
The location is most noteworthy. I think it might be time to head for the Hills and take part in this battle. This battle is not between the General Custer or The Feds against the Indians of the Black Hills again, but this time it is the government against the all of the cowgirls and goat ladies in the state. The timing of the state-scheduled standoff is significant– December 21– the date of the national rally in Wisconsin. If you cannot make it to this showdown, perhaps you could do your part by sharing this story.
Can you help the Streff’s and thousands of others small dairies, and those in the Departments of Agriculture and Health on our side, across the country that she is asking and praying for you to do?– Augie
State of South Dakota and Their Attack on Small Family Dairies
The Miracle of Goats Milk and Prayers
Black Hills Today Publisher’s Note: Dear readers, the following letter was mailed to me from Lila Streff of Streff Ridge Farm Goat Dairy in Custer South Dakota. I find this letter to be one of the most critical letters to the editor I have received in years and highly recommend you read it in its entirety. I am the youngest of 10 children raised in the country on real food. We had a huge garden, raised our own beef, chickens, and even a pig once. Of course we had eggs from free-range chickens, we made bread everyday, and milked cows and goats. The goats were added to the farm when I was born.
My wonderful mom, who is 85 years old now, nearly died having me. She lived through it, Praise God, but after hemorrhaging so badly, she could not breast feed me. Doctors tried every different kind of formula and store produced milk that they could find , but I couldn’t keep any of it down. Basically I was dying, is what the doctors said. Then one doctor said he thought goat’s milk might be my last hope. My parents purchased a goat and as I thrived, my whole family was also blessed with goat’s milk from that day on. We all grew up milking goats and cows learning many valuable lessons from farm life. We sold and shared milk with a whole lot of people.
My mom became the “goat lady” in our area. There were so many “real- life” stories of how people were helped by this unique commodity. Mostly I heard of those who had babies that needed it as I did. Goat’s milk digests in about 20 minutes and the nutrients are “bio-available” or “readily accessible”. Then there were those who had ulcers and found immediate relief. Goat’s milk has Alkaline Ash in it that neutralizes the acid in the stomach so that an ulcer can heal. This raw milk helped so many people. I never ever heard of anyone who got sick from it. At the age of 18, I went away to college to major in vocal music. This was when I was first introduced to “pasteurized milk”. I remember my strong dislike to the taste at first, but being a milk drinker, my taste buds finally adapted. It took me 2 0 years however, to figure out that the rest of my body didn’t do so well with pasteurized milk. I encountered regular stomach aches right away blaming it on being homesick, eating different foods and the stresses of studying so much. It became a normal routine to take antacids and I washed down spoonfuls of baking soda with glasses of water. I also developed sinus problems which as a vocal major was messing things up. As soon as spring hit that year, I was hit with what I thought was an ongoing cold. Finally it dawned on me that I had hay fever and other weird allergies showing up for the first time in my life. I began taking over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants that would cover every hour. Eventually none of these helped anymore. Three years later when I got married, my allergies were so bad, that a doctor gave me a prescription for prednisone. I finally found some relief, but couldn’t take that forever, so I was put on a cortisone nasal spray which alleviated the symptoms greatly.
The New Barn
During the next 4 years, my husband and I had moved into a mobile home on my parent’s property and brought 3 sweet little babies into the world. I didn’t like using the nasal sprays while being pregnant, so I suffered a lot. I had become a born-again Christian and began desperately praying that God would deliver me from the miserable hay fever and stomach ailments. I was frustrated and angry at times when I didn’t see Him healing me. Interestingly enough, my mom was still milking goats right next door and offered us all the free milk we wanted. We were used to the “town” stuff now and refused it, though I did give it to my babies because formulas and “town” milk made them spit up so badly. Somehow I missed what God was providing for me.
By the time I had my 4th baby, I was homeschooling and we had outgrown our little trailer. We bought some beautiful Black Hills property and built our own home. My husband had grown up much differently than I did. He was raised on main street in town and now worked in an office on computers, but I put him to work digging our own garden spot, building chicken coupes and a little barn for our son’s pet pygmy goats. I was a country girl at heart and my husband was seeing more and more of this surfacing now. I had a growing desire to live off the land.
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When our 6th child was two years old, my allergies were so bad that I coul d hardly even be outside to enjoy the gardening or animals. I also was becoming very sick in many other ways too, including extreme headaches. Finally I was diagnosed with a large brain tumor the size of a grapefruit and was rushed to surgery. It was a meningioma that wasn’t cancerous, but it took a full year to recover from the surgery. Doctors really can’t give a patient a clear-cut prognosis for recovery from this, so you just live day-to-day wondering “when” and “if” all of the numerous “nightmare” type symptoms will go away. However, today (four years later), I feel basically normal except for some hearing loss. I am thankful for how I have healed. Neurologists who have looked at my MRI and Cat-scan pictures say that it’s a miracle that I am alive –much less that I can walk and talk.
(pasteurized, of course). He had been severely constipated since he was a baby. A friend of mine had recently been informed by a specialist that her son had an allergy to cow’s milk. His symptoms were identical to my son’s. It suddenly dawned on me that my son had been needing goat’s milk just as I did as a baby. I wasn’t interested in having dairy goats that you had to milk morning and night, but as several events conspired, I was convinced that this was my calling—that God had raised me up to do this. I prayed about it a lot and then visited with my husband about getting just one goat to milk. Next, a friend who enjoys organic and healthy foods asked if I had ever considered milking goats. She was not aware that I was already praying about this. Then I stumbled across a scripture in the Bible, Proverbs 27:27 that says, “You shall have enough goat’s milk for your food, the food of your household and the nourishment of your maidservants.” Oh, how I didn’t want to be tied down to this; I had grown up with the chore of milking morning and night. I knew what this would mean, but I also knew what God was telling me. Goat’s milk had saved my life and now it was time to help provide it for the health of others.
In late August of that year, I bought Ginger, a Toggenburg goat. My son’s allergies were relieved immediately and so were mine. My hay fever and sto mach problems were gone. After people heard that I was milking goats and had raw milk, they wanted this milk too. Some people were sick and dealing with health issues. Others wanted it because they are sick “of” the pasteurized product from the store. They were also deeply concerned about the hormones that were given to cows, and they wanted a healthy alternative. I hated turning people down and was compelled to find and purchase more goats. At 42 years old, I became the new “goat lady” in our area.
Streff Ridge Farm Goat Dairy – New Barn
In September, two Nubians were added to the farm and then in October, four Saanens from Iowa were added. Within two years, I was milking 14 goats. My barn was a little shack basically with no electricity, running water or heat, and it had a dirt floor. Though I was animate about producing a good tasting, clean product – it was not sufficient enough to me. I had to carry the 4 gallons of milk back to the house where I strained it and cooled it. At this time, I began getting a clear vision of a new barn and its entire layout. This would be very costly – could I do this? Again I was praying fervently. One thing that came to me was that if I were to spend this much money ($85,000), I better check with the state to see what the legalities were.
The SD Department of Agriculture informed me that under the current laws, I could legally sell “raw” milk if I labeled it as such. I was set to go, but I wanted their advice on building my barn so that it would meet Grade A dairy specs. They were very helpful and I proceeded to build a barn to meet the standards that they advised. It includes a large kitchen (16’ x 18’) with a triple stainless steel sink, cement floors, etc… The milking parlor has four custom stanchions each with four headlocks so that I can bring in 16 goats at a time. I also have milking machines now. Yay!
Well, a few months after I began enjoying my most beautiful barn, (and willingly spending every last penny to make the payments on it), the Dept of Ag decided that their interpretation of the law went a little deeper. They decided that I also had to pass an inspection and get a permit. So I worked
with them, jumping through a few more hoops, passed their inspection, and got a permit. All the while I am wondering though —why do I have to have permission to do this in a free country? Why is it their business? I have done the thorough research on goat’s milk and its benefits; and scientist have proven that raw milk is truly safe because of the good bacteria, and other built–in safety factors that were added by the Author of life Himself. Safety factors include Lactoferrin- a protein which has antibacterial/anti-fungal properties against pathogens such as E-coli 0157:H7. I have also seen the “real –life “ studies of how raw milk is life-giving and pasteurized milk actuall
y makes people sick. Naively, I was surprised to find out that the people of the Dept of Ag just can’t believe this. They actually believe that pasteurized (cooked) milk is better and safer –which it is not. They also believe that it is their job to “police” raw milk. Do they really believe that people aren’t wise enough to observe where they purchase what they consume?
Now, six months later, the Dept of Ag has decided that the existing laws still just don’t cover all of the standards that they see fit for what they call the “fears of Raw Milk”. So they have introduced some new rules. Guess what? My barn isn’t adequate anymore. I would have to build another building to house an expensive bottling machine (which I would have to purchase also). I would also have to submit numerous tests that don’t apply to the big dairies. These tests would not only be expensive, but nearly impossible to pass.
The new proposed milk rules (supposedly) are to make selling raw milk legal in SD. However, the stipulations are so strict, that the producers of raw milk will not be able to afford to offer it. We were given just a few weeks to scramble our resources before the hearing on Nov. 17th , 2009 in Pierre, SD . About 25 -30 raw milk producers and customers showed up at the hearing to oppose the new rules. Then there was a 10 day window for the public to write letters. The closing day was the day after Thanksgiving, so we lost a few days in the postal service due to the holiday.
Now we are waiting in SD for the Dept of Ag to make their decision so that we can defend our rights at the next hearing before the Rules Review Committee, which will be held on Dec. 21st, the Monday before Christmas.
As I have become more involved in this, I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t about the benefits of Raw milk –vs- pasteurized milk at all. You see, we weren’t even supposed to bring those pertinent issues up at the hearing. This is because there is way too much proof that raw milk is healthy and safe—-and pasteurized milk is neither. This is really about government regulations and who controls our commodities. Our health is our food and someone wants to control all of this.
I am now being led to ask all kinds of questions that every American should be asking. Are we to be forced into eating foods that cause diseases? Do the people of a free nation (this free nation) still have the right to pursue happiness and their health? Who is behind all of this? I am wondering: even if the SD Department of Agriculture really hears our cry, can they make a decision of their own? Do they represent the desires of the people of SD or are they being influenced by some big corporation or entity? Where does this agenda to rid the small dairies who provide raw milk really originate, because this fight is being seen in every state of our free nation.
I found out that many of those holding offices in the SD Department of Ag actually grew up on farms enjoying the benefits of raw milk. I am praying that they will find it in their consciences to override any outside pressures of big business and the lies thereof and make the right decisions; Decisions that protect the people from big government; Decisions that protect our freedoms and our health. I am praying that the SD Department of Agriculture and the current administration will listen to the “public outcry” for freedom, and that they be a leader setting precedence for all of the states -that they can make an independent decision that represents the people for which they are being paid to represent.
I challenge all concerned citizens to contact the South Dakota Governor’s office to stop this whole process. Tell them you support the sale of Raw Milk and to stop the over regulation of family farms.
Contact Governor Rounds
Office of the Governor
500 E. Capitol Ave.
Streff Ridge Farm Goat Dairy
12376 Beaver Den Dr
Custer, SD 57730
Can you help the Streff’s and thousands of others small dairies, and those in the Departments of Agriculture and Health on our side, across the country that she is asking and praying for you to do?– Augie
Read Previous Story South Dakota Raw Milk vs Big Government
Visit the Black Hills Today, a rural news service, with comments on this story and who prints some very interesting stories on farm and food freedom. http://blackhillsportal.com/npps/story.cfm?id=3554
Be sure to SHARE her great story.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
My letter to the farmers:
Dear Jeff and Sarah--
I just read the PDN article, by Diane Urbani de la Paz, about the recent E. Coli concerns that the state has attempted to link to your farm and wanted to express our unwavering support. I will be posting this letter and a link to the article and your rebuttal to my blog, and will tell everyone I meet that your milk is not only delicious, it also as safe--or safer!--than any other milk they might buy. This article thankfully did express a healthy skepticism about the state's position that the E. coli originated at your farm; I have read a lot of pieces about raw milk that were much more damaging.
Our family moved to Port Angeles in April, but we have been visiting the area for years--and all this time we have been thrilled to drink your milk. We only wish you had cream and butter too! I am going to buy enough today for drinking and to make yoghurt, staples in our home.
I am a nutrition educator and former Weston A. Price chapter leader and hope to be a positive voice in all of the chaos, as I know you are getting concerned calls. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.
305 815 4175