News for October 9, 2010
Raw Milk: A Healthier Alternative?
The day after I visited Alice Jongerden at her Chilliwack dairy, I found myself rushing into hospital. A few hours before, my daughter had turned pale and started vomiting. No one—not the nurses, not the paramedics—could explain what was obviously a violent reaction to her 18-month vaccinations. “She’s still breathing!” the nurse said, as if this were the only concrete reassurance she could give. Driving the winding highway into the emergency department—we’d insisted on the ambulance and this trip—I found my mind wandering back to Jongerden. Blame it on anxiety.
A happily married mother of five and devout Christian, Jongerden has the laugh of a woman who doesn’t care if you’re laughing with her. With the help of two full-time workers, some part-time staff, and her husband Bert, she spends between 70 and 80 hours a week tending a 22-strong herd on 40 leased acres in the heart of Chilliwack dairy country. In exchange for feeding and milking the cows, and bottling and distributing their milk, Jongerden—or, more properly, her Home on the Range Dairy—receives $18.50 per gallon from each member of the cow share that owns them, on top of money for whatever extras (butter, yogurt) she makes from the leftovers. Profits have been slim, with upfront expenses for equipment and maintenance fees and cows (a new cow goes for between $1,500 and $2,000), but member contributions allowed Bert to quit his job two years ago to take care of maintenance, deliveries, and quality control and for the Jongerdens to focus on the cow share and on home-schooling their two oldest full-time.
[ READ MORE (Vancouver Magazine) ]
Megafarms force close look at industry's future
Dairy farming in northwestern Illinois is often a family business that has been passed down for generations.
So when California dairyman A.J. Bos in 2008 began building a dairy operation for 5,500 cattle called Tradition Dairy, 30 miles east of Galena, Ill., residents had strong reactions. Some supported Bos' right to run his farm without interference. Others protested what would be the largest dairy in the state, which they fear could ruin their air and water.
[ READ MORE (North Country Times) ]
Organic chicken rules have animal advocates clucking
The choir of clucking from thousands of Rhode Island red chickens inside a Stiebrs Farms hen house creates such a din that it's hard to hear anything else. The chickens follow visitors around, tilting their heads to have a better look.
A few dozen of them amble down ramps onto a grassy lawn, where they peck at the ground and roll in the dirt, an instinctive activity farmers call "dusting."
[ READ MORE (Bellingham Herald) ]
Action Alert: Help Preserve Organic Egg Standards
Imagine 80,000 laying hens in a single building, crowded in confinement conditions, on "farms" with hundreds of thousands or a million birds. Is that organic?
How about a tiny enclosed concrete porch, accessible by only 3%-5% of the tens of thousands of birds inside a henhouse. Does that pass as outdoor access as required by federal organic law?
[ READ MORE (Weston A Price) ]