Monthly Archives: November 2011

Activism Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

Why an Idaho Girl Supports CA Raw Milk – Organic Pastures Dairy

www.mypicshares.com
For nearly five years, my family has drank raw milk. It’s one of the most important staples in our kitchen for sustenance and health.  Not once has it made any of us sick.  It should be the right of everyone to be able to to choose what foods he or she will and won’t consume. In a country where food recalls are frequent and the companies that sell those products are continued to allow to sell those products despite little to no change in their growing and production habits, I will continue to stand up for our rights as citizens in this country to consume the foods we choose.

Last week, some children in the state of CA became sickened and three were admitted to the hospital. On Tuesday, Novmember 15th, the State of CA issued a recall on all products from Organic Pastures Dairy in Fresno, CA.  The California Department of Public Health reported that no E. Coli 0157:H7 was found in any of the products taken from the homes of these five children who became ill.

By law, Organic Pastures performs weekly tests on their milk before sale, and continue to receive clean test results. However, because all these children reported drinking raw milk, the State of California maintains that the culprit must be from the milk and that Organic Pastures may not sell dairy products until further notice.  According to Mercury News, “California State Veterinarian Annette Whiteford ordered all Organic Pastures’ raw dairy products, except for cheese aged at least 60 days, to be pulled immediately from retail shelves. She strongly urged consumers to dispose of any such products in their refrigerators.”

On the heels of this incident, just two days later, Ready Pac Foods Inc., based in Irwindale, CA was asked to recall 5,379 cases of their bagged salad products due to possible E. coli bacteria contamination.  Just last month, another recall of bagged lettuce was issued from Taylor Farms of CA (same state).  These are not isolated incidents nor coincidences.  The reality is, recalls from bagged produce and other products happen all the time.

Where is the E. coli coming from? Answer: runoff water from factory farms, where E. coli and other pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella are rampant due to unsanitary and unhealthful practices. This is why I don’t buy any bagged lettuce. I buy local, whole heads of lettuce when they are in season, and whole lettuce heads at the health food store, organic when I can.

During the time when my family first started drinking raw milk, for nearly two years we had no raw milk access here in Boise, ID. So I ordered packages of raw dairy products to be shipped to our home every 6-7 weeks. We consumed milk, butter, cheese, and colostrum and it was a delicious and nutritious part of our family meals. Then, the State of CA decided that raw dairy foods could no longer be shipped beyond the borders of their state, so we had to start finding raw dairy sources here in ID.

What’s all the fuss about raw milk, anyway?

Raw milk receives a great deal of criticism by mainstream health communities and the media. But raw milk from healthy cows on pasture is a safe and natural food, no different than farm-fresh produce from sustainable farmers using healthy practices. It’s important to note that thousands upon thousands of food products are recalled in our food system regularly – including many types of fruits and vegetables which have been found to contain the E. coli bacteria. And yet you won’t hear medical and health authorities telling the consumer public to stop buying and eating these foods.

When milk is pasteurized, the heating process destroys healthy bacteria which prevents the pathogenic from becoming a problem. The beneficial bacteria, found in raw milk, are largely unavailable in the food supply due to processing, irradiation, and pasteurization. We need these bacteria to keep our digestive and immune systems, and health in optimal condition.  Dr. Joseph Mercola, M.D., a leading authority in health, discusses the importance of probiotics in maintaining our health. Pasteurization also destroys necessary enzymes which allow us to absorb the nutrients found in milk.

Raw milk is not the same

Of course, authorities claim raw milk is different than fruits and vegetables.  They say it isn’t the same as consuming raw vegetables or other agricultural products containing pathogenic bacteria because milk is not cooked, such as vegetables, or washed and that if contamination exists there is really no method of destroying it. Public health officials contend that pasteurization was developed to kill these harmful bacteria, since before it was used milk contained harmful bacteria that regularly made people sick or killed them.

Commercial dairies use unsafe and unsanitary practices

In her book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why, Nina Planck tells us that pasteurization came along as a response to slop dairies in the 1800s, which started to spring up in urban cities in the eastern U.S.  These dairies were located next to whiskey distilleries for convenience – they used cheap feed from the distilleries in order to control costs. Some of the dairy owners even added molasses, burned sugar, starch, flour, or chalk to impart more texture and body. Some dairies added water to their milk to stretch the milk farther and save more money.

Cows also lived in the most horrific, unsanitary conditions as well, and were often found crammed together in close quarters, having open sores on their bodies, and ulcerated gums with teeth falling out. It’s no surprise that when the cows consumed this feed and lived in this manner, they became sick. Then, the milk consumed from the cows in these dairies made humans sick – causing all the diseases which have been reported by public health officials for many years and bringing the justification for pasteurization to surface – tuberculosis and brucellosis (also known as undulant fever), and many others.

Cattle are ruminants and their digestive systems are intended to process grass – not grain, corn, soy, flour, sugar, or any other substance. When you take the cow out of its natural environment of pasture and sunshine, and force feed it substances it was not meant to ingest, problems occur. In the case of slop dairies, regulations and laws for keeping cows healthy and clean were not in place; and the advent of pasteurization did not improve conditions, it only allowed them to continue.

So when public health officials made the statement about pasteurization being developed to destroy harmful bacteria – they were only partially right. The pathogens were indeed there due to the horrific conditions present in dairies, but pasteurization doesn’t always solve the problem.  Nina Planck also mentions the fact that certain bacteria such as Listeria, are not impervious to pasteurization.  Also, in large dairies, pasteurization “allows less scrupulous dairy farmers to be lax with cow health and milk handling because they count on pasteurization to destroy pathogens – at least the heat-sensitive ones – that may taint milk.”  This is as true today as it was over a hundred or more years ago.

Watch highlights from the video conference given by Mark McAfee about the recall:

Read the official press release from Organic Pastures. And, please take action and make your voice heard about this matter!

Contact:

California Department of Food and Agriculture, Office of Public Affairs, Steve Lyle:

(916) 654-0462
slyle@cdfa.ca.gov

Leave your comments on the California Department of Food and Agriculture Facebook page.

Keep up with the latest developments on this case via Organic Pastures Facebook page.

What’s the bottom line?

Raw milk from healthy cows on pasture eating grass is the obvious choice for health – it is full of important beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and brimming with nutrients that simply are difficult to obtain in most of what’s available in our food supply. Milk that is pasteurized is sure to contain harmful bacteria that will make you sick, and as we’ve reviewed, pasteurized milk is not always “safe” to consume.

Why our family chooses raw over pasteurized milk

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

The truth about raw milk, Part I

The truth about raw milk, Part II

This post is part of Sarah The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family

How to Make a Difference in Your Child’s Health with Real Food

www.mypicshares.com

Do you spend time reinforcing good health habits with your child? There are a variety of messages sent to children from many sources about health. Many of these messages contain false information, so it is important to help your child understand the reasons why.

Food manufacturers, for example, label foods they sell as “healthy”, “natural“, “trans fat free”, “whole grains” or “low-fat“. Do these claims make foods healthy? Although the pressure to buy these products is always there, it’s important to realize that our children’s health begins with us. If we don’t go beyond store bought foods and educate ourselves about what will keep our children healthy during the formative, developmental years, it will have negative effects for the rest of their lives.

With that said, it’s critical for children to receive healthy, proteins, and cholesterol for brain, heart, and other body organ system health and development. So it’s up to us, the parents, to be willing to go outside of what conventional wisdom recommends for nutrition, as most conventional ideas about what is believed and taught is actually harmful for children’s health.

Making smart choices for your child’s diet really can make an enormous difference in their ability to learn and develop, ward off illness and disease, maintain energy and focus, stay physically active and keep moods balanced out.

Be interested and interactive with your child about healthy choices for health and life. Here are some suggestions:

  • Just like grownups, children need real foods with full fats and proteins for good health. Foods with fat are replete with essential nutrients our bodies need to maintain various functions. If you aren’t eating these foods already, consider the following: raw milk, grass-fed meats and poultry, eggs from pasture-raised hens, organic fruits and vegetables, raw, sprouted nuts and seeds, whole, sprouted and soaked grains, rice, and legumes. Foods that have been processed (changed or altered somehow) with preservatives, chemicals, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, high-heat, or are low-fat or non-fat are all foods we should avoid consuming. Real, traditional, whole foods from nature provide the correct balance of nutrients and other essential components (like essential fatty acids, antioxidants, co-factors, and enzymes necessary for absorption, correct digestion, and good health).
  • If you are on a budget, don’t despair. You can still make some healthy changes without overspending. Removing processed foods and replacing with real foods are the main idea. Try making nutritious broths from scratch with bones, water, salt, celery, carrots, and onions. You can add a little meat to it for more sustenance and this can make several meals. Include plenty of vegetables, some sprouted bread with plenty of butter, and you will have a nutritious, economic meal. Here are some tips for saving money on organic foods.
  • Help your child to understand the connection between a healthy immune system and a healthy diet, which keeps you from becoming sick. When children eat healthy foods and have energy, focus, and feel good, they will be more motivated to make healthy choices as they grow older.
  • Provide a good variety of healthy cooked and raw foods. Also consider fermented, raw foods that are nutrient-rich such as yogurt and kefir, and lacto-fermented vegetables (see recipes at the end of Getting the Most out of Your Vegetables). Fermented foods are naturally rich in friendly bacteria and have a profoundly positive effect on both the immune and digestive systems.
  • Avoid as much as possible, refined sugars and processed foods.  Beware of  processed foods that are believed to be healthy such as pasteurized dairy, low-fat foods, cereals, crackers, tortillas, pastas, food bars, and store-bought breads (those that are not from soaked, sprouted, or fermented grains). For some good descriptions of how to tell what foods are healthy and what aren’t, read this article about knowing your foods.
  • Spend time in the kitchen with your child, helping them to learn how to make healthy, delicious foods to serve in your home. Let your child experiment and become exposed to the process of making healthy foods.
  • If traditional, whole foods are new to you, start some research about where to shop in your local area as well as on the Internet.  Learn about traditional foods for a good foundation for your child’s health. Also read Changing ingredients for a nutrient-dense diet for ideas on how to switch out unhealthy for healthy ingredients in your kitchen.
  • Shop for food with your child. Let your child be involved in going to the health food store, farmer’s market, or local farm where you buy food. The more your child becomes connected to where food comes from, the more active and interested he or she will be in eating healthy.
  • Vegetables are important, but they should be properly prepared and served with healthy fats.  Serving vegetables with butter, olive oil, or animal fats like lard and tallow is very important to ensure absorption of the nutrients in these foods. Animal fats contain fat-soluble vitamins which help with digestion of vegetables and fruits. Another great way to serve vegetables is by culturing and fermenting them.  Here’s a great article about how to make your own cultured vegetables at home from Donna Gates (Body Ecology).  Cultured vegetables not only provide more nutrients than raw or cooked vegetables, but also contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics which support your child’s immune and digestive system.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day since the body has been in a fasting state for many hours. It can be an especially challenging time to get in enough nutrients. Fats and proteins are important, but also consider vegetables as a possible component of breakfast. Be willing to think differently about breakfasts and consider preparing items like eggs from pasture-raised hens with no-nitrate bacon or sausage from naturally raised beef or pork. You can incorporate all types of vegetables as well as leftover meats into omelettes such as broccoli, spinach, bell peppers, squash, and zucchini. For some good ideas about breakfast makeovers, read this article.
  • Plant a garden with your child, whether it be a community garden, a school garden, or a garden in your own backyard.
    Teach your child about the importance of sustainable and organic foods and why organics are superior to the conventionally-grown variety.
  • Model good eating habits with your children by eating the same kinds of foods with them when you are together. Even though your child will show some rebellion about some things, he or she really will be affected by your habits, and try to emulate the things you do.
  • Become an activist in your community and encourage your child to follow along. Children learn by example and if your actions show that you care about healthy food, your children will grow to care about it as well.
  • Communicate to your child that although eating healthy is important, it’s what a person does 90 percent of the time that counts. Occasionally there will be situations where eating healthy is simply not possible – due to outings or visits with other important people in your life who may not follow your philosophy. Be reasonable about these instances, as your child will only have access to food provided to him or her by the responsible adult, or possibly older children.
  • In instances where your child will be away from home, such as school lunch or on other outings, consider sending healthy foods in a sack to encourage good eating habits while he or she is not in your care. Here are some great ideas about packing foods for lunch and other occasions, by using foods and leftovers from meals you’ve already prepared.
  • When you are planning to make changes in your child’s diet from processed to traditional foods, it may be most effective to integrate changes gradually. You can replace some items right away that are unhealthy with healthy choices you know your child will like. The more you expose your child to the healthier choices, the more he or she will come to expect eating those foods and enjoy them.
  • Don’t become discouraged if your child resists change. Be willing to rotate by offering different choices and provide encouragement and perhaps a reward like a fun outing or a break from school work or chores now and then as incentives to try new foods. If your child isn’t eating something you believe he or she should be, take a break from the food and return to it in a few weeks or a month. Above all, keep trying!

Here are some other related topics to feeding your children nutritious foods:

Feed your children real food – don’t they deserve it?

Your voice can make a difference in the way children eat lunch

The 10 most unhealthy “health” foods marketed to kids: Babble’s list

 

This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays carnival.