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News for July 4, 2010

What's the FBI Doing in My Milk?

This past Wednesday, June 30th, the FBI in conjunction with the FDA raided Rawsome, a private membership food-buying club that has supplied my home and much of the Venice and Santa Monica community with super high-quality nutrient-dense foods for the past decade. The club, which opens on Wednesdays and Saturdays only, is extremely popular among raw-foodists and other citizens who choose to eat foods which are unprocessed and "as natural and organic as possible." The general belief among this group is that these fresh foods are much better for the human body than pasteurized, irradiated, processed foods. The FDA does not share this opinion and has expressed its concern that many of these foods will be dangerous precisely because they are raw and untreated. For example, the FDA has expressed concerns about drinking unpasteurized milk products, which I have personally been drinking (and loving) for years. The FDA has now passed regulations against selling various raw foods, hence the need for a private club, which legally can operate without a license.

In order to shop at Rawsome, one must first read and sign a document detailing the alleged dangers of consuming natural, unprocessed and unpasteurized food products. Once signed, a would-be patron will pay an annual membership fee to gain the right to shop at the club. The shopping experience is reasonably run of the mill. Many of the foods sold at Rawsome - fruits, vegetables, nuts - can also be found at most any other market. The difference at Rawsome is that the quality is often better as is the possibility of finding heirloom varieties of one's favorite produce. There is also the fact that people who shop there have this "in the know" grin on their face as if they are hip to some special thing that will make a difference in their lives. And, of course, they are right. It feels great to shop at Rawsome knowing that it sources its foods from local organic farmers and vendors and goes to extraordinary efforts to provide the highest-quality, most nutrient-dense foods available. The FDA does not have the information necessary nor the legal right within a private membership club to dictate what food I am allowed to purchase, eat or feed to my family. Regardless, a raid was conducted yesterday and Rawsome has been shut down allegedly for operating without a license - a license that is not legally required for them to operate their private club.

READ MORE (Huffington Post) ]

Authorities, Including FBI, Raid Aajonus Vonderplanitz' CA Buying Club and Raw Dairy Herdshare

The food police have increased the heat on private providers of nutrient-dense foods, raiding and shutting down Rawsome Foods, a Venice, CA, buying club run by raw-food advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz.

In addition, the authorities have gone after a nearby goat dairy Vonderplanitz has a herdshare arrangement with--one they raided a year-and-a-half ago, run by Sharon Palmer.

READ MORE (The Complete Patient) ]

William G. Winter: In defense of consuming raw milk

I am a healthy and happy customer of Minnesota's farm-fresh, organic and clean raw milk. As such, I've been mystified by the knee-jerk hostility expressed by the news media. Allegations are suddenly "facts." Incomplete and inconclusive investigations are now "indictments." The Star Tribune editorial "Recklessly ignoring raw milk's danger" (June 28) came off as a critical scientific statement excoriating us as Internet idiots.

Apparently we easily bamboozled fools need the government to "protect" us. But yet there was no scientific backbone to the article. Science begins with a literature review, but there was no evidence of that.

READ MORE (Star Tribune) ]

Many Support Raw Milk For Health Benefits

The people who drink it, claim it's healthier. Unpasteurized or raw milk is blamed for making at least 24 people sick in Colorado.

State health officials believe the risks are too great and urge people to drink pasteurized milk for their own safety.

READ MORE (CBS 4) ]

USDA Reports Food Shortages: Wall Street 'Caught Off Guard' by Severity

Several recent headlines indicate that food prices will continue their swift climb upward. These troubling new reports show that agriculture production and stored grains are critically low and experts are now predicting food shortages.

Look at a few of today's mainstream headlines: Drought threatens global rice supply in the India Times; VA farmers say heat taking toll on crops, Associated Press; Severe food shortage follows lack of rainfall in Syria; and, finally, Corn prices bolt as USDA downsizes crop estimates, which states that, "Commodity professionals were caught off guard Wednesday by a U.S. Department of Agriculture report showing 1 million fewer acres of corn planted this year than earlier projected, and almost 300 million fewer bushels of corn in storage." And these articles don't begin to address crops being damaged by the toxic rain from the Gulf oil disaster.

READ MORE (Before It's News) ]

Organic farmers probed by state over free labor

Under normal circumstances, San Anselmo vegetable grower Jerome Draper doesn't have - or need - a lot of help. His father and mother are usually enough to gather up the tomatoes and other crops Draper raises on his one-acre organic farm.

"I pay my dad $1 a year, and he splits it with my mom," Draper said.

READ MORE (Contra Costa Times) ]

Local organic food: An answer or a sure path to disaster?

I there is a hotter topic in the publishing industry than local organic food, I don't know what it is. Two books that recently crossed my desk take decidedly divergent approaches to the problem of commercial agriculture, though both authors agree that commercial agriculture is a problem.

There the similarity ends.

READ MORE (Vancouver Sun) ]

Moo-ve on Up!: Sustainable Innovations in Dairy

Dairy, like just about every other agriculture sector, has become very consolidated. So much so that it is speculated Dean Foods, in cooperation with other major processors, owns up to 80 percent of the fluid milk in dairy-producing regions of the U.S. As one might imagine, sometimes this consolidated system doesn't work so well for the small dairy farmer, who is vulnerable to losing his or her contract with big companies, and can't hope to compete, given the fact that so much consolidation has driven the price of milk ever lower. In response to this between a rock and hard place situation, reports of major milk cooperatives pushing out small farm competition have prompted town hall meetings for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Justice, and farmers. Senators from milk-producing states like Wisconsin and Vermont are pressing for anti-trust investigations, and class action lawsuits are mounting against the major processors. Certainly, there's much to be done for dairy on a national and political level, and perhaps we will see some progress shortly. But in the meantime, some small dairy farms are picking themselves up by the bootstraps and coming up with creative, sustainable solutions rather than give in to bankruptcy.

Vermont is home to New England's largest dairy industry. It came as no surprise the other day when I got stuck driving behind a big old milk truck on Route 7 for miles, until it finally pulled off at an old farmhouse with cows out to pasture nearby to fill up. Unfortunately, within the past five years, more than 250 Vermont dairy farms have shut down due to low milk prices (thanks to those consolidated companies.) But in an effort to maintain a viable and sustainable business, many small dairy farms are choosing to go against the grain of industrial milk completely, ducking out, and providing communities with what, in many places is the equivalent of prohibition bootleg: raw milk. Raw milk is illegal to sell for human consumption in some states, due to health safety concerns. What distinguishes raw milk, after all, is the fact that it is unpasteurized, unlike the milk that you can buy in the store that has been pasteurized (or ultra pasteurized) to extend its travel and shelf life. But a growing number of people are seeking out raw milk dairies, and buying directly from the farmer, singing the praises of raw milk, which is reported to have a host of health benefits, especially for those with digestive issues. In Vermont, as in other states, small dairies who sell raw milk in weekly shares or at a farm stand are finding a way to reclaim a slice of the dairy industry and create a more sustainable business without facing direct competition from big milk companies.

READ MORE (Just Means) ]

Your Blue Jeans May Hold the Key to Cheap Solar Power

Researchers at Cornell University have developed a process for building an organic molecular-scale framework that could be used to colletct solar energy. They did it using phthalocyanines, which are common dyes used in blue jeans and numerous other products.

The researchers came up with a way to assemble the molecules into a precisely structured two-dimensional “solar paper” that is far more flexible, and potentially far cheaper, than conventional solar panels. Though still a long way from development into actual solar cells, the structure could speed future research along by answering foundational questions about the movement of electrons through organic materials.

READ MORE (Clean Technica) ]

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